Interview: LynDee Walker

June 21, 2013 Interviews 4

Yay! I’m really excited to have LynDee here at Lit, etc today! I adored her debut novel, Front Page Fatality and it really is a fun read. You can read my review here.

If you’re interested in reading Front Page Fatality, it’s currently 99 cents along with the rest of the Henery Press titles. If you’re a fan of cozy mysteries, I highly recommended checking what Henery Press is offering. Feel free to click the banner above to take to the Henery Press site and browse through the catalog.
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Q. Tell me something about LynDee Walker other than the standard bio on your website.
I’m a big Disney geek. My hubby and I take our little monkeys to Walt Disney World every other year, and I spend a good deal of the time between trips planning the next one. I love plants, but my thumb is definitely not green. I try, though. Hmmmm. Oh—here’s something I’m getting ready to do again: I have super thick hair, so I grow it out long and then get it dramatically chopped every 18 months or so, and donate the ponytail. My hubby and oldest daughter are already bemoaning the loss of my long hair, but it’s for a good cause, and will be way cooler for summer.

Q. What makes mysteries so special?
Where do I start? I think every great story has some element of mystery to it, whether it’s discovering something about a character, a place, or the story. But mysteries as a genre have always been my favorite to read because they have it all: action, intrigue, excitement, and often romance. I love being carried away with a great heroine or hero on a search for the villain. And I adore a good series, where I can follow the same characters on different adventures. It’s like making friends.

Q. What’s the process you follow when writing a mystery? Do you know the answer (who done it) and work backwards, or do you let the characters lead to you the answer?
I usually start with the answer and work backward, but my current project, the third Nichelle Clarke novel, has proven problematic for that. So I’m writing with a general idea of who might’ve done it and the specifics of what happened, and I can’t wait to see how it ends. It’s definitely good motivation to sit down and write!

Q. What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I have a couple, I think. One is that I can write pretty much anywhere, because years of working in noisy newsrooms gave me an uncanny ability to tune out background noise. I love to write outside, so spring, summer, and fall are my favorite times to draft a novel.

Second, kind of in the same vein, is that while I listen to mostly country music, if I have my choice for writing music, it has the be the 90s station. I have no idea why that is, but it’s true.

Q. What part of the writing process is the hardest for you, whether it’s first draft, rewriting, or editing?
The middle of the rough draft is always the hardest for me. I usually have a good idea of the beginning of the book and the end, but drafting the middle trips me up sometimes because I don’t work from an outline, so I can end up following trails that don’t work and having to go back and delete a lot. But not knowing where the story’s going is one of the things that makes writing fun for me, so I’m okay with that.

Q. As a first-time author, how many projects and stories did you discard along the way to Front Page Fatality?
Fiction projects? One. I have about 20 pages in an older file that I may revisit someday, because I think it’d be a fun story to tell. But really, until I started writing Front Page, I didn’t think I could write a book. Journalism and fiction are two very different beasts. After I finished it, there were times when conventional wisdom might have said to trunk it and do something else, but I stuck by Nichelle. Front Page was the only piece of my fiction my mom got to read before she passed away, and she believed in it enough for both of us, so I was determined to see it published.

Q. If you could describe Front Page Fatality in 3 words what would they be?
Smart, sassy mystery.

Q. You have a journalism background. How difficult was it to incorporate aspects of that environment and write about it?
It wasn’t hard at all, except maybe for having to be mindful that it’s been 10 years since I worked in a newsroom, and technology and dynamics have changed a lot. I wrote the rough draft to reflect the newsroom as it was 10 years ago, actually, and had to go back and add in Facebook, Twitter, texting, and downsizing.

Q. What type of research did you did conduct for Front Page Fatality? Are any of the news stories Nichelle covers based on any real events?
I did get into the trunk of a friend’s car. That was claustrophobia-inducing, but I know that scene works. I interviewed a drug processing technician from the state forensics lab, too, and learned some very interesting things about the criminal world.

There’s at least one thing in every book that I swiped from my days as a reporter. Of course, car crashes and murders do happen, but in Front Page the “real life” story is the one about the abandoned casket. I will never forget how indignant that man sounded when he told me the PD asked him what was in this casket he found in his driveway.

Q. If Front Page Fatality were made into a movie, who do you picture playing each character’s part?
Oh, goodness. I never know how to answer this one, because the characters look like themselves to me, not like actors. I will say that Trevor Donovan would do just fine as Grant Parker, and Christian Bale would make a very nice Joey. Nichelle is harder for me to cast. The closest I can come is Lauren Graham in her late 20s, but short of finding a time machine, I don’t know how to accomplish that. Jenna could be played by Keri Russell, and Bob by Ned Beatty.

Q. Nichelle is sassy and tough. What characteristic do you think all heroines should have?
Brains. I like smart women in my books.

Q. The Nichelle Clarke series is based in Richmond. Why Richmond and how much have you fictionalized of the city?
My family moved to Richmond several years ago, and I love the city. It’s beautiful, and there’s so much history and so many possibilities for a young reporter in that part of the country. I tried to stay true to the spirit of the place, but the Telegraph is a fictional newspaper, and the Generals are a fictional major league baseball team. We actually do have a minor league team now, but when I wrote the rough draft we didn’t, and I figured if I was going to give Richmond a team, I might as well go all the way with it.

Q. Grant Parker and his love for baseball is evident in Front Page Fatality. Richmond’s baseball stadium, The Diamond, is home two teams, Virginia Commonwealth University Rams and the Flying Squirrels (a Double A team). Why did you choose America’s favorite pass time as Richmond’s major league team? Did you consider any other sports as possibilities?
You know, I didn’t. Maybe it’s because my hubby was a baseball player when we were younger, but Grant was always a baseball player to me, and the team was an outgrowth of that character trait. I do love The Diamond, though: it’s a beautiful ballpark, and the perfect size for a fun family outing.

Q. Without giving away spoilers, let’s talk for a moment about Grant and the ever so sexy Mafia boss, Joey. I have a favorite, but does Nichelle have one? Might we get to know Joey a little more?
Nichelle does not have a favorite, necessarily, though I will say she and Grant are getting to be good friends, and there might be another guy competing with Joey for her attention. Nichelle has definitely not seen the last of her sexy not-so-bad-guy friend.

Q. You signed a two book deal with Henery Press, two more books about Nichelle and her fabulous shoes. Any clues on what we can expect in book 2, Buried Leads?
Buried Leads was so much fun to write, and I can’t wait for it to go on sale. Here’s the back cover copy:
When an Armani-clad corpse turns up in the woods, crime reporter Nichelle Clarke smells a scoop. A little digging, and Nichelle uncovers a web of corruption that stretches all the way to Washington, D.C. Politics. Murder. And a dead lobbyist. It’s everything Nichelle’s ever dreamed of.

The cops are playing it close, the feds even closer, and Nichelle’s afraid her boss will assign the story to the political desk any day. Richmond’s new ATF SuperCop makes an arrest before she can say “Louboutin,” but Nichelle’s gut says he’s got the wrong guy.

Her sexy Mafia boss friend warns her off the case, her TV rival is hot on her designer heels, an ambitious copy editor wants her beat, and victims are piling up faster than she can track them down. As Nichelle zeroes in on the truth, it’ll take some fancy footwork to nab this headline before the killer nabs her.

And pretty quick after Buried Leads, I have a Nichelle novella due out as part of an anthology in December. It’s called The Heartache Motel, and features novellas from Larissa Reinhart and Terri L. Austin, too. We had a blast writing them, and they share a common setting: a seedy, Elvis-loving motel in Memphis. With crime. And drag queens.

Q. Finally, and on an entirely unrelated note, who would play you in a film of your life?
Oh, my! *laughs* I don’t think my life is particularly film-worthy. Ummmmmm. Maybe by the time I’m older it will be? So I’ll say … Shirley MacLaine. She looks nothing like me, but I love her attitude and humor.

Epilogue

01. Favorite season in Richmond?
Summer.

02. Flats or heels?
I do love my heels, but they hurt my feet. So flats. Or, more likely, flip flops.

03. Late night or early morning?
Late night.

04. Favorite TV show?
Bones.

05. Favorite ice cream flavor?
Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla.

06. Shopping weakness?
Shoes. I have way too many.

07. Favorite summer read?
Funny, with romance and mystery. Set at the beach gets a bonus point.
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Author headshotAbout LynDee
LynDee Walker grew up in the land of stifling heat and amazing food most people call Texas, and wanted to be Lois Lane pretty much from the time she could say the words “press conference.” An award-winning journalist, she traded cops and deadlines for burp cloths and onesies when her oldest child was born. Writing the Headlines in Heels mysteries gives her the best of both worlds. Her debut novel, FRONT PAGE FATALITY, is an amazon new humor #1 bestseller. LynDee adores her family, her readers, and enchiladas. She often works out tricky plot points while walking off the enchiladas. She lives in Richmond, Virginia, where she is working on her next novel. You can visit her online at www.lyndeewalker.com.

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