Category Archives: Elaine Flinn

ON THE BUBBLE WITH LINDA RICHARDS

I’m a great admirer of Linda Richards.  Naturally.  I mean, she wouldn’t be here – On The Bubble – if I wasn’t, right?  Right.  She’s genuine, full of the devil, a wicked e-mail pal, a multi-talented reporter, stock trader – and one hell of a mystery writer.  And I particularly admire those who take plunges.  And Linda and David (life-mate and an extremely talented photographer and graphic artist) did – they took a chance on something they wanted to do – JANUARY MAGAZINE – and it quickly became one of the most respected internet stops for book lovers.  But that’s just Success Story No. One.

Success Story No. Two?  Three terrific mysteries with a protag – Madeline Carter – who is not only fun to hang out with, she’s wonderfully wry – and savy as hell!  Madelines’ first appearance – as you already know – was in MAD MONEY.  I loved that book!  And then I met up with her again in THE NEXT EX.  Now I’m tagging along with her in CALCULATED LOSS – which just came out.  Grab it!  You’ll thank me.  Have I ever steered you wrong?

So get your morning coffee handy, or your afternoon whatever – and join me whilst I chat with Linda.

EE:  Linda, at what point in your career did you find it necessary to break your addiction to watching back-to-back reruns of ‘I Love Lucy’? 

LR:  Who told you I had broken it?  They lie like a bad rug!

Lie like a bad rug?  Where’s my notebook?  I gotta steal that one.

EE:  Is it true you listen to Tchaiksovsky whilst you write?  I hear your nearest neighbor is having a breakdown because you play Swan Lake over, and over and over.

LR:  And over and over and…but it’s very aerobic, actually.  Not the playing, of course.  But the dancing.  On my deck.  In a tutu.  It clears the mind.

It may clear YOUR mind, but what about the neighbor?  Oh, wait.  Maybe shes complaining because her husband is watching you dance? I mean – that tutu must be absolutely fetching.

EE:  Okay, forget the neighbor.  It’s her problem.  So, tell me about your favorite retreat and what you do there.

LR:  There are those who would say I live on retreat.  I can’t help it: it’s the life I’ve helped build.  But when I want to get away from my retreat-like life, I take a bath.  Plots get untwisted when I’m floating in the tub with the intention of disengaging my mind.  Go figure.

I can relate to that.  Driving or a long shower does it for me.  Besides-it’s a hell of a lot cheaper than flying to Cannes.

EE:  Everyone has a Walter Mitty dream.  Now, some of my guests have come up with some really goofy ones – but I’m sure your’s will be just terrific!  So, Linda – what’s yours?

LR:  I don’t dream about Walter Mitty at all.  He’s not my type:too meek.  And, anyway, isn’t he married?

That wasn’t the answer I was looking for.  But what the hell.  Oh, uh, no – he’s not married.  He’s dead.

EE:  Okay, Linda – here’s a hot one.  Word on the street is that you’re ghosting Joan Rivers new biography.  Care to comment?

LR:  I didn’t realize that had gotten out.

Gotten out?  All of Mysterville is on fire with the rumors!  Hell, even Rush Limbaugh is talking about it…and Letterman!  And I hear Penzler is foaming at the mouth.  Did you know she rejected him?

EE:  Okay, now that we can consider the rumors true, here’s the next one.  Since Joan’s latest face lift didn’t work very well-I’m told she’s begging you to have plastic surgery to look like her so you can do her book tour.  What’s the scoop on that one?  You can tell me.  You know I can keep it zipped.

LR:  Yeah.  Right.  You’ll keep it zipped.  You and your damned bubble.  But, (ahem) seriously…I’m considering her offer.  Can you imagine what Joan Rivers’ book tours look like?  The limos, the line-ups, the general perks?  It’s tempting.  I tell you.

On my ‘book tours’ I’m lucky if they don’t mix-up my half-sweet mocha and bring me a cappuccino.  And the last media escort they toured me didn’t have anything like a limo. I don’t know what it was except it looked like something out of the Flintstones:  I had to poke my feet through the floorboards to help with the impulsion when we where going uphill.  (Good thing I wasn’t wearing my Manolos.)  And another thing…everyone keeps cracking wise about Joan’s surgery.  But let’s be honest: don’t you think she looks fantastic for 112?

Ah, the life of a writer, huh?  But if it helps to know – I didn’t get a limo either.  But, Linda!  Just think of what the Rivers tour will be like!  And did you know she always has an assistant with her?  I’ll be free soon, and I take quick notes.  I can even carry a few books. Ohhh…I can see it now!  The long line of fans, the guest appearances on TV, the five star hotels…the cover on People.  Uh, all for you of course.

EE:  My spy up your way tells me that the local Mycological Society is planning on naming you Woman of the Year!  What an honor!  But – is it also true that you’re supposed to provide proof of your culinary skills besides your foraging expertise?  I mean, isn’t that a bit strange?

LR:  OK:  I know that’s supposed to be tongue-in-cheek, but it’s skating close enough to the truth that I’ll just leave it alone.  As you know, I actually do enjoy collecting edible mushrooms in the fall and my skill at identifying edible varieties is locally renowned. (I don’t wear Manolos for that, either.)

Guests at my table know that my mushroom risotto might boast lobster mushrooms and chanterelles that I’ve collected with my own little hands.  And no (I think I’ll head this one off right now) none of my future mysteries feature death by poisonous mushrooms.  My mysteries are of a more urban nature than my current life.  I write better outside of the landscape.

Linda and I have traded mushroom hunting stories and I wanted her legions of fans to know how very much accomplished she is in this most specialized and dangerous field.  Knowing the difference between what’s good and what isn’t – ain’t an easy task.

EE:  A new spy of mine (who may not last if this rumor proves to be untrue) tells me that Pam Anderson wants to option your Madeline Carter series, but you turned her down.

LR:  It’s a lie.  I didn’t turn her down.  Pam Anderson would make a terrific Madeline Carter.  OK: so Pam is about a foot shorter than I ever envisioned Madeline and slightly more…er…zaftig,.  But…and here I go trying to pull the tongue out of your cheek again.  I’m sorry ..Pam has a much better sense of comedic timing than people give her credit for.  Something about being blinded by the boobs, I guess.  People can’t seem to see past the upholstery.  But she could do it, sure.  It would just be very, very different than I ever envisioned it.

Plus Pam is Canadian so you hafta to know there’s a good girl under all that goop and plastic:  the heart might be obscured, but it’s certainly there.

Well, in that case…?  I mean, who would have thought, huh?

EE:  I understand you have a bad habit of belting out ‘Singing In The Rain’ when you hit the nasty brick wall when you’re writing – and David (bless his heart) – claims you’re tone deaf and is begging you to find another tune.

LR:  Oh but I already have!  Now it’s ‘Creep" by Radiohead.  It delivers a whole different vibe.

Uh, yes…I can see where it might.  But hey, if you’re happy?  And David’s happy?  Why not?

EE:  Who would be your ideal panel mates?  Come on now, don’t be shy.  Go for it.

LR:  That’s too hard!  The panel would be big enough to fill a whole conference.  Seriously:  I’ve enjoyed every panel I’ve been on.  They’ve all been terrific panel mates.

Very diplomatic! But then, you are the epitome of discretion.  I tell everyone I know that.  Call me later, okay?

EE:  Whispers are rampant that you’re not really Linda L. Richards, but the long-lost granddaughter of Al Capone and you’re hiding from Geraldo Rivera who is still looking for Al’s buried loot-and he swears you know where it is.

LR:  Gack!  But your sources are good.  Only it’s Jimmy Hoffa and Katie Couric.

What??  Hold the presses!  Oh, could this be the end of Katie’s new CBS job?

EE:  Which writer would you love to have all to yourself in a cozy corner of the bar at the next ThrillerFest? 

LR:  Why you, of course, Elaine darling.  We’ve many battle tales to swap over as many glasses of wine.

Oh, gosh.  I’m flattered.  Really, I am!  I mean, of all the big names you could have mentioned?  But hey, we could really run up a bar tab, huh?  Remind me to tell you about….well, later.

EE:  Which writer would be your ideal book tour mate?

LR:  Joan Rivers.  No wait…we already did her.  Neil Gaiman, I think.  Or Anne Rice.  The two of them have the most interesting people turn up at signings.  Gaiman told me he once had a woman ask him to sign her body.. I don’t remembe where.   Some place not so subtle, I’m thinking.  The intention was she was going to have the signature tattooed in place immediately after.  I can’t remember if he did or not, though.  I suspect he did.  And Anne Rice has people come in costume: dressed as various characters from her many books.

Gaiman, huh?  Hmmm.  How nice of him to comply.  Anne Rice’s characters in costume?  Really?  I mean, fangs, and blood and…Oh my..I think I can miss that.

EE:  You’re having six guests for dinner.  Who would they be, and what would you serve?

LR:  The possibilities are too vast, the combinations too inviting.  Let’s try this just for fun:  Otto Penzler and Paris Hilton (wouldn’t they be a cute couple?), Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie and Jennifer Aniston (just so we could watch them throw things, maybe food) and you, Elaine.  Because you wouldn’t want to miss all the fun.

And what to serve?  Well, (she said modestly) I’m a fabulous cook, so the choices here are also vast.  The whole cooking thing surprises people who meet Madeline before the meet me because Madeline does not and can not cook anything beyond rice cakes and toast.  And I…well I reverse engineer things I try in posh restaurants just for kicks.  I’m a kook that way.  And nothing relaxes me more like making a good bernaise.  I’m a fairly serious foody.  And I’m not a blonde ex-stockbroker, either, so I don’t get the big confusion.

So…what to make…I seem to have mushroom risotto on the brain now, so that seems to be a good place to start.  And risotto is a good dinner party thing, because you can bring it close and then just leave it alone in the kitchen while you enjoy drinks and canapes with your guests, then you can scurry back to the kitchen and finish the risotto in the last 15 minutes before serving.

Penzle & Paris??  A match made in heaven!  Pitt, Jolie and Aniston?  And moi??  Oh, I can’t wait!!  I wouldn’t miss that for the world.  I’ll even wash the dishes to get in on that one.  Besides, mushroom risotto is one of my favorites.  Uh, could you do a show and tell with the bernaise?  I never could get that to come out right. 

Well, see what I mean about being multi-talented??  Not only does Linda put out a premier review site, she has a blog, she’s one hell of a mystery writer, she’s an expert on mushrooms in the wild, and she COOKS??  Oh, but I feel so unaccomplished.  But even so, I still think the world of her.  So visit Linda at: http://www.lindalrichards.com   And January Magazine at: http://www.janmag.com

And while you’re at January Magazine-don’t forget to click on THE RAP SHEET – with J. Kingston Pierce.  And DON’T FORGET TO PICK UP CALCULATED LOSS!!

Thanks to Linda Richards for being a terrific guest – and for putting up with me.  She didn’t have to, you know?  But then, I only invite the best and the brightest.  And next week?  Ah…a big surprise is in store for you. He’s a debut writer who is already the talk of Mysteryville!   

ON THE BUBBLE WITH DYLAN SCHAFFER – PART TWO

Being an upstanding member of MURDERATI and Mysteryville, I embrace and honor my commitment, I try to comport myself in a professional and responsible manner, I understand and applaud objectivity and I am always compassionate, trueblue and humble-no matter the arrows of slander slung.  I will honor my pledge to present to you – our wonderful and tolerant readers of Murderati and On The Bubble – the second portion of my interview with Dylan Schaffer as promised.

Do I do this under duress?  Nay.  Do I do this with fear of litigation beating in my breast?  Nay.  I do this because I can walk the plank.  I can face the music.  I can look into the mirror and know for certain the answers to my simple questions are indeed the words of Dylan Schaffer and not a figment of my imagination.  They are presented below in the exact manner in which they were offered to Mr. Schaffer – and his answers are EXACTLY as submitted to me. 

And now, Ladies and Gentlemen, I rest my case.

EE:  Rumor has it, you’re ready to take a chance agai, and do that Sci-fi/Vampire book that’s been haunting you for years.  Can you discuss this, Dylan, or is it somethingyou can’t talk about until daybreak?

DS:  I thought you’d never ask.  But I’m tickled that you did.  I don’t know, I just got a bug up my butt and said, this time I want to do something different. The new book is a one-off.  I’ll  never do anything like it again.  So I figured why not.  Why the hell not.  You live once, right?  You can’t take it with you.  Am I wrong?  So I rolled the dice.  I put myself out there.  I’m sure lots of people will laugh at me, but I’m too old and too hung over to care.  I wrote a little diddy about the book, my friend and I had a few cocktails and we shot the video (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v+A9Kbo4vz1TU ). Tongue remains firmly in cheek, believe me.  I don’t take myself too seriously.  I’m not expecting a call from MTV any time soon.  But I’ll say this: if you watch the video, and you don’t smile, I’ll pay you five bucks.  (Not the rest of you, just Elaine).

Make it ten and I’ll frown.  For fifty I’ll cross my eyes.  For a hundred, I’ll hide my eyes.

EE:  My favorite little spy told me that your lovely wife, Jane, has asked you time and again to turn the radio up when you’re clacking away at your keyboard.  Apparently, and this is what I was told – you type so fast, she can’t hear herself over the noise.

DS:  It’s true.  Jane can’t stand the sound of the keyboard.  I’ve heard her scream at the top of her lungs, "Jane, Jane, Jane’s in pain, typewriter clicking makes me insane."  But believe me, that’s not the worst of it.  Jane has major sensitivity issues.  She says magazines smell like rotting flesh.  She can’t go near melon of any kind.  And if you want to see her do a jig, just mention Spiro Agnew.  She doesn’t sleep much.  Actually, I’ve never seen her sleep.  She always walks backwards. She insists on feeding meters with pennies though the parking time never goes up.  Look, she’s a freak.  Cute, smart, but twisted beyond all help.  The good news for me is that none of Jane’s peculiar, alarming, or downright psychotic character traits are of much concern because, well, because my wife’s name is Jen, not Jane.

I knew that.  I wasn’t sure if you, in your obviously demented state, knew it.

EE:  I go crazy when I hear things like this, but Mysteryville is abuzz about the rumor that you and David Corbett are planning to kidnap Barry Eisler at Bcon and demand the name of his hair stylist.

DS:  Here’s a true story.  My law class was filled with opportunists, numbskulls, and future fascists ( I count myself among at least two of these groups).  One of my classmates was a tall, thin, dark haired beauty named Terri with a smile so wide I sometimes feared falling in.  We weren’t friends, exactly.  We didn’t socialize,  I knew next to nothing about her life.  But if she was sitting alone studying in the cafeteria, I’d set my booksdown and say, "What can I buy you to tell me why I shouldn’t hurl myself off the 6th story terrace?" She’d smile and say, "What?"  She was often lost in her head, or in contracts, or something.  And I’d say, "Terri, what the hell’s happening?"  And she’d say, "Nothing, how are you?"  And she meant it.  That was the crazy thing.  She actually liked me.  She wanted to know how I was.  I didn’t even want to know how I was.

To escape the chattering law student voices I played (badly, so badly) a baby grand piano in the lobby.  Terri would sit on a couch nearby.  When I stopped she’d say, "You play so beautifully."  Later I learned she was a trained musician who knew quite well how miserably I hacked at the keys.  After law school I lost touch with Terri.  And Corbett married her.  A few years later she died of ovarian cancer.  When David and I learned the connection, it joined us permanently.  Plus, the guy’s a genius.  I like geniuses.

How wonderful the two of you have such lovely memories.

EE:  Whispers are rampant that you are determined to take tap dance lessons so you can do a Gene Kelly and boast to your friends, "I made it through the rain.’  I mean, it was a great film, but?

DS:  Speaking of Gene Kelly, did you know that there’s a gene the makes developing a beer belly much more likely.  I just made an appointment to get tested.  I don’t want to be one of those old guys who can’t see his pecker.  Thank God for modern science.

Alas, dear readers, Mr. Schaffer has plummeted once again.  Further proof this man is not himself.

EE:  I know the bar scene at Bcon is like it’s just another New Year’s Eve, but putting that aside, which writer would you love to have all to yourself in a cozy corner of the bar in Madison?

DS:  Really there’s only one writer for me, and that’s Denise Mina.  I know she’s attached, and so am I.  I’m not a cheater and she doesn’t seem like one either and probably her man is nine feet tall and would wring me like a soggy sock.  But this is my chance to tell the world — it’s Mina for me, baby.  Me and Mina.  If her new book, The Dead Hour, doesn’t win every award this year I’m personally going to beat up some people.  I may not be Barry Eisler, but I took a lot of Tae Kwon Do, people,and when it comes to defending my woman, well, let’s just say you don’t want to test me.  Give her those awards or you’ll have to deal with me.

Tragically, I can’t be at Bouchercon because I’ll be on tour trying to drum up readers for my little memoir.  If you see Denise, tell her I say hello.  (Please don’t show her this because I’d like her to think of me as a colleague and not as a stalker.)

Don’t show her this?  Ohhhh, but I’m laughing here.  But hey, I’m easy to get along with – have your people call my people.  We’ll see what we can work out.

EE:  Ahem.  Trying to get the feeling again that I alone am conducting this interview, tell us who wold be your ideal tour mate.

DS:  You mean other than Denise Mina?  No.  If not Denise, I’d really prefer to be alone.

Ha!  Count on it, pal!  I can make that happen.  You’ll be alone.  I mean REALLY alone.

EE: Whew.  Looks like we made it! The end is near.  Last question – you’re having six guests for dinner. Who would they be, and what would you serve?

DS:  Before I answer your question, Elaine, I want to say what a pleasure it’s been to be On The Bubble.  I was humbled, honored, thrilled, tickled, and generally feeling pretty randy when you said you’d decided to interview me.  It wasn’t always comfortable, though.  You’re a tough one.  You prod,  you poke, you unmask like Larry King after a gum massage.  I feel found out in all sorts of unpleasant ways.  Pain and suffering, emotional abuse,economic loss, defamation — I’ve been through the ringer and lived to tell the tale.  My attorneys will be in touch.  If I were you I’d start transferring assets.  So,thank you very much.

Now, what was your question?

What can I say, dear readers?  Reality for Mr. Schaffer has obviously lost all meaning.  I must admit my replies to his answers have been altered from the original.  Considering his assault on my veracity, I found myself unable to continue my normal playful and affectionate attitude.  This interview has become a sham, an embarrassment, if you will.  Civility has flown out the window.

Your aid in underscoring my sterling character is appreciated – so please do – with all honesty – SAVE ME FROM THIS DERANGED MAN!!!  Help me to know I am not imagining this nightmare, this journey into madness, this fall into the depths!  So please do hit that ‘comment’ button and let me know that you are with me-that you verify my sterling character – that you will fight this good fight along side of me.  For without your support, I may not have the will to continue my weekly inteviews

ON THE BUBBLE WITH SARAH WEINMAN

Wanna know what’s going on in BookBizVille?  Well, there’s only one place for one-stop snooping and that is at Sarah Weinman’s CONFESSIONS OF AN IDIOSYNCRATIC MIND.  Razor sharp observations, always the first with the inside scoop, delectible books featured on ‘Pick of the Week’, an international readership comprising of some of the biggest names in the biz – and one of the most widely read blogs on the net.  I mean, hell, even The Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, and USA Today (just to mention a few), have talked about CONFESSIONS!

Oh, and then – between commercials and the weather report – Sarah contributes to Galleycat (a terrific publishing news blog), does a crime fiction column for the Baltimore Sun, and is the fiction editor for SHOTS.  In her spare time (?), Sarah writes short fiction-which has appeared in Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine, Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, and published in Dublin Noir, Baltimore Noir and Damn Near Dead.  I won’t list all the prestigious newspapers her articles and reviews have appeared in – well, maybe just a few – how’s Newsday?  Or, the Globe and Mail for starters?   We won’t even get into the fact that Sarah has an M.S. in Forensic Science from John Jay College of Criminal Justice.  I mean, enough with the envy, okay?  It’s bad enough to feel so under-accomplished, did we need to know that too?

I was yakking with Sarah the other day, and this is what we talked about:

EE:  My favorite new spy told me you’re working on a blockbuster tell-all about a famous literary giant who is – in reality – Carmen Electra.  When can we expect to see this in the bookstores?

SW:  Alas, your spy had a couple of things mixed up – that blockbuster tell-all will reveal that…Kaavya Viswanathan is really James Frey.  Because A MILLION LITTLE OPALS just didn’t  work at the ed board meeting, so it had to be scrapped.  Even though it would have been much pithier.

Shucks.  Guess that means there won’t be a guest spot on Ophra then, huh?  Darn.

EE:  Rumor has it that you are really one half of a set of twins.  I mean, Sarah, there must be something to this – how else can you manage to do reviews, articles, write short stories and daily stay on top of every bit of news about the book biz?

SW:  Not having a day job makes things much, much easier.  But for this, I have to misquote Lawrence Block when he was asked how could he be so prolific:  he just wanted to keep people from finding out how lazy he was.  Terror borne out of procrastination works real wonders, let me tell you!

Ahem.  Not that I’m prolific, but the terror thing?  I can relate to that.  But, seriously – I play Solitaire all the time because I like it.  I mean, I don’t really look at it as procrastination.  What?  Really, I don’t.  I’m serious here.  Stop laughing, okay?

EE:  Listen, Sarah – we have to get something cleared up here.  The fact that you completed your M.S. in Forensic Science greatly worries your legion of fans.  You’re not thinking of donning a white coat and leaving all of us news starved writers afloat, are you?

SW:  Oh God no, though I do sometimes look at the job postings at the American Academy of Forensic Science and realize that no, I don’t want to leave New York.  More to the point, the degree was amazing, I learned immeasurable things – but labwork and I just weren’t  meant to be friends.  I still think I’ll find different ways to make use of it, even if it’s just to pen crime novels in a forensic setting.

Whew.  Good news for us, but maybe not for Patricia Cornwell or Kathy Reichs.  Not to worry, Sarah – mums the word.  I haven’t talked to Cornwell or Reichs in days.  Well, Cornwell and I actually aren’t buds anymore.  I mean, she’s just gotten so stale, you know?  I told her that, and she…well, never mind.

EE:  Okay, let’s talk about panels.  As a much sought after panelist at all the major cons, tell us who would make up your ideal panel?

SW:  Anyone who has funny stories to share and an ability to keep the panel moving without taking it over completely.  Because if I’m moderating a panel, it’s their show, not mine, so I want to make sure they put on the best possible one.

No names, I see. Okay, very diplomatic – very discreet – but no fun!  Guess we’ll have to fill in the blanks for ourselves.

EE:  Word around Manhattan is that you turned down a dinner date with Mel Brooks to discuss the intricacies of short story writing.  This can’t be true, can it?

SW:  He wanted to go to Elaine’s.  I wanted to go to Michael’s.  We had to agree to disagree, unfortunately.

Well, hell, I don’t blame you!  Too bad Mel didn’t realize that Michael’s was THE place for the literati.  But then, what do movie people know?  Listen, chickie – you’re better off without him.

EE:  Whispers are rampant that a certain hunky new writer is sending you roses and chocolates so can become a Cabana Boy.  What say you about that?

SW:  Roses, yes.  Chocolates, no.  I can be bribed, people, so please, make it chocolate, preferably 70% dark and up.

Hey, guys – are you listening out there?  The lady wants CHOCOLATES!  And none of that Godiva stuff, okay?  Hint:  zChocolate.com is the place to go.  Sarah would love that nifty mahogany box filled with goodies made by Pascal Caffet (Forbes said he was the best in the world!) and it’s a bargain at $171.40.  I mean, what’s a few bucks to be immortalized as a Cabana Boy?

EE:  Uh, besides the bribe, er, I mean the chocolates – just what does it REALLY take to be a Cabana Boy?  And further and further more – a Cabana Girl? (hint, hint)

SW:  That secret is locked in the same safe that contains the exact GPS location of the Bermuda Triangle and the recipe for No 1. Pimms.  And you need Top Secret Clearance, at best,to get it.

I can handle that.  But, I must say – I prefer adding champagne instead of lemonade.  I mean, it’s so much better with the gin and aromatics. Don’t you agree?

EE:  Here’s an easy one, Sarah – the Walter Mitty dream thing.  What’s yours?

SW:  To be able to make a living for the rest of my life doing a wide variety of writing-related tasks.  That’s the practical version.  The not-so-practical version is to make my operatic debut at the Met and my jazz debut at the Village Vanguard, but then practicalities take over and remind me that I tried that song-and-dance years ago and it didn’t work.

Well, hell, Sarah – not that we (your legion of fans) don’t want you to stop writing, or keeping us up to date on the book biz, but really – your Un Bel Di rivaled that of Callas, and Diana Kral’s version of East of The Sun can’t hold a candle to yours.

EE:  You’r having six guests to dinner.  Who would they be,and what would you serve?  Or, since most of my previous guests refuse to cook – which restaurant would you take them to?

SW:  I do love to cook, but I get stressed out if I have to deal with cooking for more than one person-me.  For guests, I’d limit it to writerly types:  Shel Silverstein, Angela Carter, Terry Teachout, Sholom Alichem, Janine Boissard, and Dave White because he wouldn’t know who any of these people are.

Uh, Dave?  It’s okay – I’ve only heard of two of them myself. 

EE:  Crimeville is all abuzz about that new debut writer who’s sending you hate mail because you haven’t selected his/her book as a ‘Pick of the Week’ over at Confessions – even after you praised the work.  How are you handling this, Sarah?  Actually, what we REALLY want to know – is who the hell is he/her?

SW:  What can I say?  Bloggers have feelings too.  We’re not the automatons that the mainstream media makes us out to be, dammit!

Of course you have feelings!  Ignore those media types.  Why, you’re a fun gal -friendly, sweet, charming, full of the devil and you love No 1. Pims!  But, uh, Sarah?  That wasn’t what I asked you, but hey – if you don’t want to go public, that’s cool.  I’ll call you later,okay?  If I pick the right name, just tap on the phone with a pen, or something. 

EE:  Okay, Sarah – here’s a real hard one;  You’re on a book tour – who would be your ideal tour mate?

SW:  Jennifer Jordan, for the banter, the camaraderie and the incredible tangents.  If only she’d get her damn book done, too…

I love Jennifer!  Oh, to be a fly on the wall around you two!  Hey, I’ve got an idea…how about if we…

EE:  Last, but most pressing question:  When the hell do you find time to sleep?

SW:  Most of the time I get about 8 hours a night.  It goes back to that procrastination/terror cycle.  I’m telling you, this really works!

Not for me.  I just pick up a copy of …….’s book, and I’m out like a light.  I keep a copy next to my bed.  It works every time. 

Many thanks, Sarah – for playing On The Bubble with us – and for the absolutely terrific job you consistantly do to keep us all in the loop.  A round of applause, if you please – for Sarah Weinman! 

ON THE BUBBLE WITH TESS GERRITSEN

Oh boy, where to start with this fabulous woman?  You already know she’s a NYT Bestseller – an international supernova with TEN Medical Suspense novels under belt-but did you know she also wrote NINE Romantic Suspense novels as well?  And you also know Tess is a physician – but I gotta tell you -that mock autopsy she did with Doug Lyle at ThrillerFest was a show stopper!

Not only is Tess Gerritsen one hell of a stunner – which is easy too see – (so let’s just all get over our envy) – she is also warm, generous with her thoughts (check out her blog) – an Edgar nominee- has a terrific laugh and a wicked sense of humor.  I had to keep that in mind whilst I read her latest – VANISH – because that’s what she did to my sleep.  It vanished.  I had to finish the book in one evening!  I now have new wrinkles around my eyes thanks to Tess.  What the hell.  But I’ll make Tess pay – she owes me a drink next year at ThrillerFest.  But wait!  There’s more!  Her latest-keep-you-up-all-nighter – THE MEPHISTO CLUB – will be out on August 29th and is already making huge waves with the critics.  I’ll be sure to limit myself to one chapter each night so I can get some sleep.  Yeah, right.

EE:  So, Tess – tell us at what point in your career did you find it necessary to kick of those Manolo’s and switch to Nike’s?

TG:  I’m too cheap to buy Manolo’s.  I’m a girl who’s favored bare feet since I was a kid, and would probably break a leg if I tried to wear a shoe with a heel taller than 3 inches.  You’ll be able to recognize me as the gal with the ugliest but most comfortable shoes in the room.

Okay, that spy is off the payroll.  She told me…well, anyway –  you looked pretty stylish in Phoenix

EE:  Is it true you listen to Perry Como whilst you write?  Do his soothing tones help you conjure such mayhem?

TG:  You’re thinking of my mother.

Whoops, there goes another spy!

EE:  Okay, here’s an easy one:  What is your favorite retreat?  And what do you do there?

TG:  My own head.  And I do everything there.  Not all of which I can talk about.

Really.  Hmmmm.  Oh, we’ll really have to have that drink!

EE:  Everyone has a Walter Mitty dream, what’s yours?  75,000 words or less.  I normally say to keep it clean, but after that last answer-I’m intrigued.

TG:  Brad Pitt decides Angelina Jolie just isn’t hot enough for him anymore, and then his gaze meets mine across the room, and…   No, honestly, I’m already living my Walter Mitty dream.  I still can’t believe I’m getting paid so well just to make stuff up.

Aw, shucks – you had me going there.  But hey, if you’re happy?

EE:  Word on the street is that Orlando Bloom is after you to star opposite him in the next ‘Pirates of the Caribbean: The Quest for Tess’.  When do you see your calendar clear to begin?

TG:  Five minutes ago.  (Will I get to keep the sex scenes?)

There’s a slight problem – it’s a bit iffy at this point.  But I think I’ve got everyone conviced you can keep them as long as you promise to get back to work on your next thriller.  See, the powers that be are afraid you might run off with Orlando…but not to worry, okay?  I’m on the case.

EE:  Rumor has it that your medical colleagues asked you to stick to writing suspense thrillers because your beauty is too distracting in the OR.  Well, Tess?

TG:  The real reason my medical colleagues think I’m a natural-born thriller writer is because  they’ve seen what I look like after a night on call.  That was pretty scary for them.

Oh, will you listen to her?  Doesn’t she ever look in the mirror?  I’d kill to look like her

EE:  So, about that little tete-a-tete you and Alex Kava had with Dominick Dunne at ThrillerFest last month?  Wanna explain?  Alex hinted that it had to do with body parts and take-out containers – and something to do with next year’s ThrillerFest.  How about it?

TG:  I have no recollection of such events.  Why doesn’t anyone believe me?

Okay, okay – mum’s the word.  My lips are sealed.  Zip.  Zip.  I’ll call you later, okay?

EE:  Suspenseville is abuzz about that bunch of good looking new writers surrounding you at the bar in Phoenix.  I mean, all that laughter?  Surely you all weren’t talking about those take-out containers.

TG:  Those good looking guys were writers?  I thought they were cabana boys.

Uh, well – actually they were writers – but in disguise as cabana boys so their wives wouldn’t catch on.  Like I said – I’ll call you.

EE:  I understand you have a habit of dunking croissants in your espresso.  Is this before you add lemon, or just with cream?

TG:  What, do you think I’m a savage?

Hell, there goes another spy down the tubes.

EE:  Okay, forget the stuff those incompetent spies told me – tell me who would be your ideal panel mates.

TG:  Neil Nyren, M.J. Rose, and Jason Pinter.  They know everything there is to know about the business of publishing.  All I’d have to do is sit back and let them talk.

Now that’s what I call good planning.  Verrryy astute.  I like that in a woman.  Maybe I should get a seat in the front row?

EE:  I hear that you plan to do a duet with Michael Palmer at next year’s ThrillerFest Gala.  Care to tell us what song are you two working on?

TG:  Michael knows what I sound like.  So he’ll stand on stage with his hand over my mouth and it’ll be his solo.

Um, I hate to break this to you, Tess – but that ain’t what he’s planning.  I hear he has a Nelson Eddy-Jeanette McDonald type of thing in mind – and he’s working on ‘Ah, Sweet Mystery of Life’ as your duet.  Kinda apropos for two doc’s doncha think?

EE:  Whispers are rampant that your publisher has hired two bodyguards to escort you on your next book tour to keep the dozens of male fans at arms length.  Care to comment?

TG:  The first thing I’m going to do is fire the bodyguards.  How dare they try to keep me away from my male fans?

Right!  My thoughts exactly!  The cretins

EE:  Okay, Tess – I’ve been easy on you, but now we want to know which writer would you love to have all to yourself in a cozy oorner of the bar at the next ThrillerFest?

TG:  Joe Finder.  But he already knows that.  Maybe that’s why he keeps avoiding me.

I think he’s just shy.  But ohh…he is such a hunk!

EE:  Now here’s a real dumb question, but what the hell.  What would you be doing if you weren’t writing?

TG:  I’d be dead.

I know that every writer reading this will understand that

EE:  On a lighter note -who would be your ideal book tour mate? 

TG:  Joe Konrath.  I want to watch the consummate salesman at work.  Besides, he already knows where all the bookstores in the country are located.  But since I’m not a big fan of lice, I get to choose the hotels.

And I’d bet that Joe would be so thrilled to have you with him -he’d even spring for the bill if the publisher balked at Five Star accommodations!  Right, Joe?  Hello?  Joe?  I think we lost him Tess.

EE:  We’ve heard you’re a genuine gourmet cook, so invite for us – six guests – who would they be – and what would you serve?

TG:  Do they have to be living people?  Because Cleopatra and Helen of Troy would certainly be on my dream list.  But if they have to be living, then I’d choose journalists.   Journalists have always been my heroes.  I want them to explain to me what the hell is going on in the world.  I’d invite Seymour Hersh, Christiane Amanpour, Helen Thomas, Paul Krugman, and David Gregory.  And as a sixth, I’d add David Letterman, just to make sure we laugh once in awhile.  What would I cook?  Are you kidding?  I’d have it catered, so I wouldn’t miss a single word!

Hey, I can whip up a great spread for you.  I’d even keep my lips zipped if I could hover in the hall and listen in.  You set the date, send out the invitations – and I’ll conjure up a menu.  Call me, okay?

And that, boys and girls – is the one and only Tess Gerritsen.  Mark your calendars for August 29th and pick up THE MEPHISTO CLUB!  Oh, almost forgot – Tess has a short story in THRILLER as well.

Thank you, Tess – for joining in the fun and for being such a good sport!

ON THE BUBBLE WITH CHASSIE WEST

I must confess that I adore this woman so much, I’m having one hell of a time coming up with an intro that doesn’s sound soppy.  It’s hard to describe so warm a heart, so giving a soul, or so fine a writer, but more – so fine a lady.  I mean, you all know Chassie is beloved by so many in our mystery community, so I’d merely be shouting to the chorus.  Maybe a recap of her writing prowess would be a good place to begin. 

Chassie got her feet wet in the young adult genre, then on to teen romance and adventures and then two Nancy Drew’s!  Add to that – three romantic suspense novels for Silhouette as Joyce McGil –Through The Looking Glass and Unforgivable made Waldenbooks bestsellers list and that one was the very first adult romance to feature an African American protagonist.  It wasn’t any wonder she received the 1989-1990 Lifetime Achievement Award from Romantic Times for New Series Author, and then to top that off – the 1990-1991 Career Achievement Certificate of Excellence for Series Romantic Fantasy!  Foreign rights offers arrived faster than the Concorde.

From those wonderful achievements, Chassie went on to mystery.  And thank God she did!  Else we would never have met her wonderful Leigh Ann Warren.  Leigh Ann arrived in Sunrise – this one snagged an Edgar nomination.  Then came Killing Kin – Edgar and Anthony nomination.  And on to Killer Riches and her latest, Killer Chameleon – a pick of the week by Sarah Weinman.  Out now for Chassie, is a new anthology from Avon – Bark M For Murder – with J.A.Jance, Virginia Lanier and Lee Charles Kelly.  Chassies story is Nightmare In Nowhere.  And, at the moment, Chassie is working on a standalone that will leave you breathless!

Oh, one last thing – before we chat with Chassie – I have to tell you that were it not for this incredible woman, I’d not be writing.  But don’t hold that against her, okay?   Chassie believed in me, and kept me rowing in that damn boat that often felt like it was ready to sink or capsize.  And I’m not the only published writer who can lay claim to that – you’d be surprised who some of the NYT bestsellers are who got a ‘green light’ from an editor because of Chassie West.

Now come have fun with us!

EE:  At what point in your career, Chassie, did you find it necessary to tell Otto Penzler you didn’t write cozies – and that Leigh Ann Warren is a cop?

CW:  Hey, hey, hey!  No way are you getting me in Dutch with the Otto Penzler.  I’ve never met him, at least as far as I know.  I do remembe reminding a certain reviewer who shall remain nameless taht he hadn’t felt that KILLING KIN, the second in the Leigh Warren series, was worth of an Edgar nomination.  Since I hadn’t the foggiest who he was at the time, it didn’t have much of an impact.  Besides, it was obvious that the Edgar judges disagreed with him.

Oh, man!  If Otto is reading this – he’s gonna be ticked that you don’t remember him.  But, okay – if you say so.

EE:  Is it really true you listen to Bach whilst you write? 

CW:  Occasionally, but Rachmanioff’s my man.  Just leaves me in puddles.  And the Swingle Singers.  Used to listen to Gregorian chants until I realized I was falling asleep in front of my computer.  And Lou Rawls until I realized I was getting horny.  Definitely counterproductive when you’re trying to write.

Lou Rawls?  Oh, yes!!  He was THE ONE!  Remember ‘You’ll Never Find Another Love Like Mine’?, or hey – what about ‘At Last’?, or "After The Lights Go Down Low’?, and then there was…oh, excuse us.  Back to the interview.

EE:  Whew.  Where those hot flashes, Chassie, or what?  Okay – uh, next question.  Everyone has a Walter Mitty dream, what’s yours?  50,000 words or less, and keep it clean, okay?

CW:  Well, hell, if I’ve got to keep it clean, I can’t answer it.  Next!

Clever you!  Okay, you get a free pass on that one.

EE:  Word on the street is that Halle Barry was going to option one of your Leigh Warren books, but she didn’t think she was beautiful enough to portray her on the screen.

CW:  I should be so lucky!  Besides, Leigh Ann isn’t beautiful; even she will admit that.  A notch or two above average, according to her.  Of course if Barry wants to mess her up a little to take on the role, that’s fine with me.

Can I tell Halle that?  I’m supposed to get back to her. I mean, I told her that myself, but hearing it from you would make all the difference.  Sit tight – leave it up to me…we’ll be in LaLa Land before you know it.  You are taking me along, aren’t you?  I promise to be good.  Honest.

EE:  Rumor has it that you’re working on a standalone that will make that TV show ‘Medium’ look like a kid’s picnic.  How about an advance hint?  Just between us here, okay?  Our lips are sealed.  Sorta.

CW:  I thought somebody was hacking into my computer!  Well, now that you’ve spread my work in progress all over the Internet, yeah, I’m working on a standalone.  And yeah, it deals with psychic stuff.  But no spooky dreams.  I mean, when does the poor woman on ‘Medium’ get any therapeutic sleep?  She needs one of those by-the-numbers mattresses.  Mine is a more who-dunnit with a tad of interference from the Other Side confusing the issue and mucking up the works.  I may never see it on a store bookshelf, but there are some books you’ve just got to write, and this was mine.

Hehehehe! That was moi hacking into your computer.  And I’m waiting for more!  So get with it, okay?  It’s got legs, kiddo!  Even Halle thinks so, she said…ooops.  Scratch that.  I didn’t tell her a thing.  Really.  We were talking about something else.  Er, someone else.  That Brit actor, Sean Bean.  Yeah, that’s what it was

EE:  My favorite little spy told me that you get weak in the knees over a certain actor.  Uh, care to share here, Chassie?

CW:  Look, lady, the last thing I need is Denzel’s wife putting out a contract on me!  Everybody lusts in their hearts every now and again.  Don’t they?

Uh, yeah.  Sure.  We’ll talk.  But not here, okay?

EE:  Okay, Chassie, after clueing us in about chants, what’s your favorite retreat and what do you do there?

CW:  Any place it’s 80 degrees or better, near water and if there are mountains as well, I’m in heaven.  Hawaii does it for me.  Think I must have been Hawaiian in a previous incarnation.  And what do I do there? Besides sitting overlooking the water and pounding my laptop?  As much as nothing as I can beside just wallowing in being there.

Oh, I can relate to that!  My heart still lives there too.  Da kine Islands pono!  Maybe I lived there too in another life and meeting you on Maui back in 2000 was a ‘reunion’ of sorts?  And maybe we were sistahs?  Must be.

EE:  Mysteryville is abuzz about that dinner you had last week in D.C. with a guy that could be Stedman’s twin.  Is this true?  Are you the reason for his split with Ophra?

CW:  You really are trying to get me killed, aren’t you?  There’s not a word of truth in the rumor.  Well, maybe a syllable or two.  But that’s all.  Honest.  Ophra used to live in my condo development.  That’s the closest I am to anything of hers.  I’m in no way responsible for who looks like who.  Or should that be whom?  Never mind.  It ain’t true!

Killed?  What?  I’m only passing on rumors here. Damn, but you’re a cagey one!  Okay, I believe you.  Sorta.

EE:  I understand you have a bad habit of crossing your eyes at birds when they land on that huge deck of yours.  I mean, come on, Chassie! That’s just not fair.

CW:  Look, I like birds as much as the next person, but bird poop is another matter.  Besides, I’m doing it for their own protection.  I’ve got cats.  Get it?

Uh, yup.  Loud and clear.  Actually, that’s really very creative of you.  Hmmm.  Might try it myself.

EE:  Here’s an easy one finally – who would be your ideal panel mates?

CW:  Uh-uh.  Ain’t going there.  Too many of my friends are writers.  Let’s just say I feel most comfortable with panel membes who make me and the audience laugh.  And think.  Not necessarily at the same time.

Damn!  You’re a hard nut to crack.  Diplomatic as all get out.  But then, I already knew that. But hey, I tried.

EE:  Whispers are rampant that the CIA wants you back in the fold.  What’s with that?

CW:  You bring this up considering what’s going on in D.C. with the special investigator and civil suits and stuff?  I know nothing.  I repeat, nothing!

Well done, Ms. West.  A representative from our office will be contacting you soon to begin re-entry into the system.  Until that time, please be careful what you say to Evil E.  We’ve got her on our radar, and keeping a close watch.

EE:  Ignore that man.  I don’t know how the hell he got in here.  Anyway, which writer would you love to have all to yourself in a cozy corner of the bar at the next ThrillerFest?

CW:  No contest there.  Lee Child.  I’d love to pick his brains about Jack Reacher and how he came to be.  I’m heavily into character and Reacher’s one complex so-and-so.

Lee Child and Reacher again???  Why does that duo keep cropping up here?  I’m gonna have to get them both On The Bubble.

EE:  God forbid – but what would you be doing if you weren’t writing?

CW:  To paraphrase the son, ‘rolling around heaven all day’.  I can’t envision life without writing.  It’s like oxygen.  A necessity.  I can’t not write.  Period.

Thank heaven (no pun intended) for that!  Can you hear the hallelujah’s from your thousands of fans?  I can.

EE:  Who would be your ideal book tour mate?

CW:  I’m gonna take the easy road on this one: you.  How’s that for sucking up?

Excellent!  But then, I knew you couldn’t stay mad at me even though I’ve asked you some pretty dumb questions.  But you drive, okay?  You know I’m direction challenged.  Hell, you still have to point me in the right direction when we get out of elevators.

EE:  Okay, now that we’re best buds again, here’s the last question, and the easiest.  Hehehe.  You’re having six guests for dinner.  Who would they be, and what would you serve?

CW:  Sorry, this needs revising.  I’d be willing to take guests out for dinner and they could like it or lump it, but I don’t cook.  And for six?  You jest.  As for who, if you insist:  Stephen King, Grace Edwards, Kay Hooper, Walter Mosley, Suzanne Brockmann and Nora Roberts.  In payment, all I’d want them to answer is: how in the world do you do that?  There are qualities about their writing I’d love to master.  It would be worth having to declare bankruptcy after the dinner to get those answers.

Au contraire, dear, dear Chassie.  How in the world do YOU do it is more like it

And Chassie?  Aloha Kaua – A hui hou kakou!   

Mahalo nui loa,

xoxo Ileina

ON THE BUBBLE WITH ALEX KAVA

Touted (and rightfuly so) as the master of psychological suspense – with six blockbuster books-a short story in ‘Thriller’s (ITW Anthology) – over three million books and published in twenty-two countries – could it happen to a nicer gal?   If you don’t believe me – just pick up Alex’s newest – A NECESSARY EVIL and when you can’t turn off the lights when you go to bed – just don’t blame it on me.

We had a little chat , and here’s what Alex had to say:

EE:  I was wondering if that music on your website is what you play whilst you scare the heck out of us.

AK:  It’s absolutely impossible for me to write with any music playing or I start singing along, humming,tapping, dancing – none of which is a pretty sight.  I prefer silence or I can’t hear the voices.  We all hear voices, right?

Uh, yes …but not quite as scary as you hear!

EE:  Word is, Alex, that Ralph Lauren has been badgering you to be his new’ Florida Face’, but you’be been putting him off.  What’s the lowdown on that?

AK:  Ralph refused to replace that little embroidred polo player with a Westie.  How can you reason with a man who doesn’t see that trend coming?  (By the way, I happen to have three Westies.)

Well, hells bells, I don’t blame you at all.  No sense in being behind the curve.  Three Westies?  Oh, I love those little critters!   

EE:  Other than writing those mega-best sellers, which talent would you most like to have?  Don’t tell us you’re still hoping to go on the poker tour either, okay?

AK:  Scorpion killer!  I actually tried it at this year’s ThrillerFest.  (Seriously, I found one in my cottage.) But I was told squeezing a scorpion between a Kleenex with your bare fingers is NOT the way it’s done.  In my defense, it was the closest weapon I had available at the time.

You could have shown the scorpion the cover of your new book – it would have keeled over with fright!

EE:  We all have a fiction heroine, or hero – so other than Mrs. Danvers and Heathcliff, who might they be?

AK:  Scout Finch from To Kill A Mockingbird.

Ohh, yes.  Wonderful choice!

EE:  Here’s a killer question – who would be your ideal panel mates?

AK:  That’s a tough one.  Over the years I’ve had the privilege of being on panels with some incredible authors.  Maybe it’d be fun to take some of my favorites and combine them into one panel: Peter Robinson, Laura Lippman, William Kent Krueger, Gregg Hurwitz and Lee Child.

We could sell tickets to that one!

EE:  My new spy hit me with a real juicy tidbit.  He swears up and down he saw you and Tess Gerritsen in a huddle with Dominick Dunne at ThrillerFest.  So…what was that all about, hmmm?

AK:  For those who might not know, Tess did an autopsy at this year’s ThrillerFest.  Now just think on those same lines for next year but add Dominick to the mix…well, I hate to spoil the surprise.  As a hint I’ll tell you that Tess needed to use some of my research I did for SPLIT SECOND on putting body parts in take-out containers.  Which by the way, a few weeks ago when the New York Times reviewed the ITW anthology, Thriller – that was my short story’s "Pie Topped With Spleen" that made it into the headline.  I couldn’t have been prouder.

Oh.

EE:  Excuse me for a minute.  I need to take a deep breath.  Okay.  I’m fine now.  Uh, so, Alex, uh…I’m almost afraid to ask, but which writer would you love to have all to yourself in a cozy corner of the bar?

AK:  Jack Reacher.  And don’t tell me he wasn’t there this year, because I know I saw him.  Oh, wait, you said writer, not character.  Hmmm….I’ll have to think on that one.

Whew.  Lee?  Pssst…think ‘Pie Topped With Spleen’ if she finds you, okay?

EE:  We all have a Walter Mitty dream or two – what’s yours?  Keep it clean, and under 50,000 words.

AK:  But I thought I just answered that in the question above?  Jack Reacher all to myself in a cozy corner of the bar.

Oh, right.  Sorry.  Yes, you did say Reacher.  Well, I’m sure he’d be delighted.

EE:  Okay, Alex – get serious, okay?  So – if you were to plan a special dinner party, say – six guests – dead or alive – who would they be and what would you serve?

AK:  Me prepare dinner for six guests?  What are you, nuts?

Thank God you don’t cook!  I was ready for you to say ‘Pie Topped With Spleen’!!

EE:  What book do you wish you’d written?

AK:  To Kill A Mockingbird – it’s still my all-time favorite.

You had me scared for a minute there.  I was afraid you were gonna say The Silence of the Lambs.

EE:  Rumors running around Thrillerville is that you turned down a small part in The Soprano’s.  Uh, why?  I mean, here you had an opportunity to play Tony’s biographer and you said ‘no’???

AK:  Umm…are you saying I didn’t get the part?  Because no one’s called me yet.

Uh, gosh, do you think it might be they read your short story in Thrillers?

EE:  Okay – last probing question, Alex:  Who would you love to do a book tour with?

AK:  You have to ask?  Jack Reacher.

I shoulda known!

Ladies and Gents of On The Bubble: A huge round of applause for Alex Kava!  A terrific writer, an absolutely delightful gal with a wacky sense of humor and more – and I didn’t even have to drag her here screaming and stomping her feet.  But, I must confess – the minute I found out she had three Westies – I decided to go easy on her.  I mean, Westies are cute as hell – but they can be very protective! 

Oh, by the way – check out Alex’s website!  It has to be one of the most creative author sites on the web!  It is truly a knock out.  http://www.alexkava.com

And – if you’re a member of International Thriller Writers – Alex is the Chief Award boss this year.  A call has gone out for judge volunteers for next year’s Thriller Award – so give her an email if you’d like to be considered.

   

ON THE BUBBLE WITH IAN RANKIN

One does not ‘introduce’ Ian Rankin.  His name says it all.  I mean, really, what could I possibly add to that?  Nineteen Inspector Rebus novels, three Jack Harvey novels and scores of short stories – not to mention one of best damn television series around?  It’s been said a zillion times – and by far better scribes than moi.

Well, I could tell you that he’s wonderfully witty, charming and erudite – but you know that.  I could also mention that he’s broodingly handsome and that his dangerously mysterious eyes just drive me nuts (yes, even old broads like me can still feel the heat in them)-but you know all that too. 

So let’s just get on with the interview before I melt away….

EE:  Ian – at what point in your career did you find it necessary to give up lawn bowling and get serious about writing fiction?

IR:  I’m not yet old enough to take up lawn-bowling… I started writing at a young age – I was in my teens when I started to get poems published.  I was twenty-five when I wrote my first Rebus book.  But it took a while for me to taste success.  I went full-time in 1990, by dint of moving to the middle of nowhere in France (I couldn’t speak French and had no chance of finding a job)  But it was 1997 or 98, with over a dozen books under my belt, when I started to make it onto the bestseller lists.

I just love overnight success stories!

EE:  We’ve all got a bad habit or two, what are yours?

IR:  I have plenty of bad habits.  I am an irascible drunk.  I bite my fingernails.  I listen to progressive rock.  My diet is a disaster – I am a chocolate junkie.

Ohhh…my kinda guy…wish we lived closer.

EE:  But seriously, Ian – tell us, if you will – what you feel your biggest challenge is as a writer.

IR:  My biggest challenge as a writer…trying to make each new book better than the one before.

I guess that was a dumb question on my part.  Every book you’ve written is superb.  And then some.

EE:  Word on the street is that you and J.K. Rowling have discovered your etheral muses are in love and you’re both getting mixed signals late at night as you each work on your latest books.  Further rumor is that you’ve engaged a medium to break up the romance.

IR:  I haven’t noticed myself channeling Harry Potter yet, though it’s true that JK has said she may try her hand as detective fiction one of these days.  I live two doors down from Alexander McCall Smith, and I think that could make for some wierd from of cross-fertilization…   Mama Ramotswe meets John Rebus, no hold barred.

Uh, Ian?  Maybe we should talk about this?  Just think of the ticket sales!  The movie rights!  I’ll call you, okay?

EE:  Everyone has a Walter Mitty dream – what’s yours?

IR:  A rock ‘n roll star, no question.

I can picture that.  You’re dressed in black…your guitar is silver…your hair is in your eyes…your…oh, yeah…I see it now…

EE:  Pardon me while I catch my breath here.  Uh, let’s see…okay, how about – what best selling book do you wish you’d written?

IR:  There are many books I wish I’d written, everything from Catch-22 to The Black Dahlia, The Big Sleep to Name of the Rose to A Clockwork Orange…

Icon’s all – and so is Rebus.  See?  I can be serious when it’s appropriate.

EE:  Where is your favorite retreat?  And what do you do there?

IR:   I suppose my office is my retreat.  I read and listen to music there.  And when I head out, I stop off at the Oxford Bar (same pub Rebus uses) to quench that eternal thirst.  Small pleasures.

Meet you in the back booth?  Same time as before?

EE:  Which writers would be on your ideal convention panel?

IR:  I’ve been on some great convention panels.  It’s always fun when Val McDermid or Mark Billingham is around.  Peter Robinson, Denise Mina, Larry Block…I like people who are down to earth with a sense of humor.

A panel like that would be standing room only!  Save me a seat in the front row, okay?

EE:  Is it true ‘The Belles of St. Trinians’ with Alastair Sim is your favorite movie?  Or, is it really ‘Bela Lugosi Meets a Brooklyn Gorilla’?

IR:  My favorite movies include:  Goodfellas, The Godfather,The Big Chill, Clerks, Gregory’s Girl…  I do like those St. Trinian’s flims though…all those skirts and stockings…are those films still legal?

Goodfellas? The Godfather?  Oh, yes – you are truly a man after my own heart!  By the way-sorry to say – the St. Trinian films have been banned now, but – uh, I know a guy who can get them for you.

EE:  Let’s talk about book tours.  Who would you just love to tour with?

IR:  I do like doing book tours with other authors.  How wild could it be touring with James Elroy?  James Lee Burke also sounds like a fun person to do some talks and signings with.  The problem, of course, is that his signing line would be longer than mine (in the USA, certainly, and probably elsewhere).  So the ideal person to tour with would have to be a beginner with no fan-base.  That way I’d get to be smug every time.

Uh, darrling Ian?  I’m free after September 1st…

EE:  Steve Booth is being accused of exaggerating the dangers of walking his beloved Peak District to keep Starbucks and tourists away – and now – we hear that you are following this ruse with your new gorgerous book – ‘REBUS’s SCOTLAND’.  Isn’t it true this book is meant to discourage those hoping to see a dark, damp and dreary Edinburgh?

IR:  The entire Rebus series has been a thwarted attempt to stop people discovering the wonderousness of Edinburgh.

What??  You mean all this time we’ve been falling in love with Rebus you really just meant to keep us away??  Ohh..I feel so violated!

EE:  I don’t know if I can go on now.  But…okay…tell us then which writer would you like to have all to yourself in a cozy corner of the bar at the next Bouchercon?  Or, ThrillerFest?

IR:  A cozy corner in the bar… sounds like it would have to be a writer of the opposite sex.  I only ever get to see Laura Lippman at conventions, and then usually only for a quick gossip.  So maybe Laura.  But then the same is true of S.J. Rozan, Linda Fairstein, Kathy Reichs… So that’s just me and four women then.

Terrific choices.  But, uh…I was hoping that…  Well, nevermind.

EE:  Rumor seem to follow your every step – and the latest is that you are, in truth, John Rebus and not Ian Rankin.  Clear this up for us, okay?

IR:  I’m so unlike John Rebus it’s not true.  On the other hand, there’s a guy who drinks in my local bar and his name is Joe Rebus and he’s much the same age, build, etc, as John Rebus, so that is pretty wierd (I only met Joe after I’d written nine or ten Rebus books).  John Rebus would not like me if he met me.  Maybe he’s my Mr. Hyde…  Or (scarier thought) he may even be my Dr. Jekyll!

Hell, I’ll take all of you.

EE:  Whispers are rampant that you’ve stopped taking calls from Paris Hilton.  Is it because she claims you’ve fashioned Siobhan after her and she wants a bigger role in the next Rebus?

IR:  Paris wants everything bigger and more exciting.  I just can’t satisfy her any longer.  Siobhan isn’t based on anyone.  She’s also not as blonde as she appears in the latest TV versions.

Thanks for debunking that horrible rumor!  Whew.  It just killed me to ask you, but someone had to put a stop to her. 

EE:  And finally, Ian – oh, how hard this is to ask (even more than the Paris saga!) – but…but…is it really true that Rebus’s chair has been stolen and the thief is threatening to list it on eBay unless you write him into the next book as the hero who saves Rebus’s life?

IR:  If Rebus’s chair were stolen, the lazy sod would lie on the floor rather than go buy a new one.  Me, too, come to that.  But I do write real people into my books all the time.  Problem is, they have to pay charities or the privilege – stealing my mate’s chair isn’t going to make me write anyone into my book…  And if they don’t like that, well, they can sit on it…and rotate.

That would – as they say – be a Kodak moment!

Many, many thanks to you Ian – for taking the time to be with us today – and for being such a great sport and a true gent.  And Rebus fans!  Mark your book buying calendar for Ian’s newest Rebus -THE NAMING OF THE DEAD out this October.

ON THE BUBBLE WITH LAURA LIPPMAN

Were I a young gal dreaming of being a writer, I’d have to say I’d want to be like Laura Lippman when I grew up.  Since that possibility no longer exists (!) – suffice it to say that Laura would still be the model to emulate.  Her great talent, beauty, brains, her warmth, crackling wit, generosity and welcome smile – all wrapped up in one long-legged supernova is just too damn much for one woman to have – but this lady has it all.  And then some. 

And then there are the books.  Oh, boy.  Fourteen books and a combination of damn near every nomination and award that’s out there.  Laura has won the Edgar, Shamus, Agatha, Anthony, and the Barry – and nominated for Best P.I. from Romantic Times.  And there is little doubt her latest – NO GOOD DEEDS – due out this July – will most likely bring more nominations and awards.

I could go on and on – about this terrific lady – but all of you out there already know all this, so let’s get on to some fun with Laura Lippman.

EE:  Okay, Laura – I’m going to start off the bat with one of the hottest rumors running around Mysteryville.  In fact, it’s so hot – cell phones are sparking.  Can it REALLY be true you’re not taking Jude Law’s calls anymore???  And all because his so-called excessive craving for Greek food at midnight was the last straw?

LL:  More his excessive cravings for nannies.

Huh? That’s it?  Nannies?  But…but…I heard he swore on bended knee that he was cured.  Well, okay.  But hey-that does leave him open ladies and I’ve got his private number. Email me -but be warned-the highest bidder, okay?

EE:  Okay, after that bombshell, we’ll go easy on you. Who are the seven people you’d invite to dinner?  And why?

LL:  I’d like to invite the seven people who are the angriest/most disappointed in me, so I could say ‘I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, would you like some mashed potatoes?

Since I can’t imagine anyone angry or disappointed in you, I’ll have to assume they would be whoever you beat out for an award.  Unless, they would be Jude Law’s former girlfriends.

EE:  Because I don’t want you to think I’m angry/disappointed in you for dumping Law, here’s another easy one:  Which Rock & Roll star would you trade places with?

LL:  Chrissie Hynde

Excellent choice, but somehow I kinda thought you might say Diana Krall.  Silly me, huh?  Maybe it’s just that you two resemble each other?  No?  You don’t think so? 

EE:  So, Laura – what’s your Walter Mitty dream?  Come on, don’t be shy.  We all have one. Time to share.  Just keep it clean, okay?

LL:  I would love to be a cabaret or jazz singer, preferably performing "If They Ask Me, I Could Write A Book"  Or dance with Mark Morri’s troupe.

See??? I told you Diana Krall!!  Hahahaha!  I knew it all the time!  You’re such a little wench!  Uh, I like the song choice too.  It’s has legs.

EE:  Now we’re getting somewhere.  Here’s the next toughy – Who would be on your ideal convention panel?

LL:  I’d reunite the Toronto Five – Mark Billingham, Ian Rankin, Karin Slaughter, me and our moderator, Peter Gutteridge – and add John Connolly, who was supposed to be there.

The Toronto Five.  Very sinister sounding – ominous even.  So, who are these people?  Do they write those ‘dark and stormy night kind of books’?  Should I look them up on the web?

EE:  While I look that group up, think about which best selling book you wish you’d written.  Besides yours, naturally.

LL:  Jane Eyre

Oh, I remember that one.  And I remember how much I hated her cousins.  Spunky gal, that Jane.  Kinda reminds me of you.

EE:  Here’s an easy one:  Who would you love to do a book tour with?

LL:  My own bed.  I get terribly homesick.

Aw, come on, Laura!  Names!  I wanted names!  Now I can’t tease your choices.

EE:  Word is you’re a gourmet cook.  So tell us what you would serve to seven guests, and who would they be?

LL:  So NOT a gourmet cook.  But a game one.  And when I have people over, I like to serve a Southern picnic – cold fried chicken, deviled eggs, redskin potato salad, and Coca-cola Fudge Cake.  I also like to make my own potato chips.

Southern picnic, huh?  I’m free most weekends.  I have a great mayonaise cake I make-I could bring it.  But, uh-who else is coming?  Please note dear readers of On The Bubble – La Lippman skirted the guest list.  But that’s okay.  With a circle as wide as hers – she no doubt feared she might leave a favorite friend out.  We’ll give her a pass on this one.

EE:  Which writer would you love to have all to yourself in a cozy corner of the bar at the next Bcon?  We’ll keep this from David.  Sorta kinda honest…

LL:  Martha Lawrence.  I miss her.  Or James Crumley, but you need a stick to beat off all his fan boys.

I wish I’d had a chance to meet Martha Lawrence.  As for Crumley!  Oh, to sit and talk with the man Ray Bradbury named as a character in his trilogy (the detective ‘Crumley’) would be an incredible experience.  I think David would agree.

EE:  We hear (I get around more than one might think) that those photo shoots you did for Victoria’s Secret were spectacular, but due to book commitments, you backed out and they’re considering suing you for breach of contract.  Any chance you might renegotiate?

LL:  I think you got it wrong.  The contract was for Vittorio Segretto, an all-you-can-eat pizza place that I bankrupted.

No, no, dear heart – I NEVER get things wrong.  My sources are impeachable – but being that you’re such a creative writer – I like what you’ve come up with – and we’ll let it stand.  (Oh, that pool lounging ensemble looked just great on you.  Do you know if they’re planning to sell it in plus sizes?)

EE:  Okay, Laura – here’s a biggie that needs to be addressed.  A rampant rumor around Mysteryville is that you actually wrote Mystic River, and Dennis Lehane wrote To The Power of Three.  This dastardly rumor really needs to be put to rest!  Here’s your chance to tell the world the real skinny.

LL:  Again, things have gotten horribly muddled.  Harlan Coben wrote all the Tess Monaghan novels; I wrote Tell No One, but missed the fine print that said I had to Tell No One.

Whew!  Finally!  The air is clear!  The gossip will cease!  The rumors are put to rest!  The royalty statements might be screwed up, but now…now the world knows the truth! 

EE:  Oh, hey – it was whispered in my ear (naturally) at Bcon/Chicago – that you love to pamper yourself with Doritos and Sangria every full moon.  Isn’t that a bit tough on the waistline?  Or, is this some new beauty ritural that keeps that big, wide smile on your face?

LL:  Sangria, yes, but with homemade guacamole.  (I prefer the recipe in the Gourmet cookbook.)

Guacamole?  Aha! Of course!  Avocados are wonderful for the skin.  And if I remember correctly, only California avocados work best.  Those imports?  Phewey.  Buy American!

EE:  What about the latest buzz that Eva Longoria has been badgering you to buy that knock-out gown you wore to the Edgar’s last year?  Terri Hatcher called me last night and told me, so we know it’s the gospel truth.

LL:  Given that the gown was an ABS knock-off of someone else’s previous awards ceremony gown, I’m pretty sure that Eva Longoria would have no use for it.

But, Laura! She doesn’t have to know, does she?  I mean, I won’t tell.  And it was stunning!  Of course, she won’t do it justice, but do we really care?

EE:  Okay, while you think it over-and decide what you’re gonna sock her for the gown, I have to let you in on another about-to-be-breaking-news-flash.  My spy in Vegas (no not that Elvis look-alike that stalked you at Bcon/2003-he’s not working for me anymore. But that’s another story) – tells me that you’ve instructed your publisher not to give into the threats from that mega rich casino owner who is claiming you wrote NO GOOD DEEDS in his  coffee shop. And – that he was so taken with you, he personally waited on you!  All the poor man wants – he claims – is to be acknowledged as your muse, but you won’t even send him an autographed copy. 

LL:  I love you, Elaine, but you clearly have the worst sources in the world.  Who are you talking to, Jayson Blair and James Frey?

Uh, no – it was…well, I can’t really say.  My lips are sealed.  I mean, I have to protect my sources.  Surely, as a former journalist – you understand that, right?  But he had gorgeous hair and the dreamiest blue eyes…and…and…well, nevermind.

EE:  Okay, last – but not least – how tough was it for you to turn down that weekly six figure salary from Hooters? 

LL:  Who said I turned it down?  I can carry those orange shorts.  Literally.  Wadded up, they fit in one hand.

Atta, girl! Hey-a couple of weeks can buy a lot of ink, paper and that new computer you’ve been eyeing.

Many thanks to you, Laura – for being On The Bubble – for being a great sport – and for being one hell of a great gal and friend.  They don’t make many like you anymore.  But what the hell, right?  More fun for us that way.  Oh, and did I tell you about…oops. Sorry.  I forgot we’re still live.  I’ll call you.

NEXT SATURDAY – I’ll be at ThrillerFest in Phoenix, I know you’ll miss me – but don’t despair – please come and visit with Kris Montee-one half of P.J. Parrish fame!  This is a very funny lady, and a very savvy writer who knows the book biz like few others!  Kris is on the road promoting her and her sister, Kelly Montee – new book – AN UNQUIET GRAVE.  This NYT best selling duo are quite something else!  I could talk to them for hours.  And I have.  With a few drinks, naturally.  If you’re a ‘writer-in-waiting’, a new writer or an established writer – or simply a lover of mystery – tune in.

And maybe-just maybe- if you’re all good children – I just might tell you about all the going’s on at ThrillerFest when I return.  Well, maybe not everything…but we’ll see.  I’m sure you’ll be dying to know how well I hold my own on the panel I’ll be on.  It’s on Friday (11:00-11:45) and titled – WHAT IS A THRILLER? I mean, can you imagine me with Raymond Benson, David Dun, Bob Levinson, Jim Rollins and Sandy Balzo as our moderator?  Hells, bells – that’s thrilling enough! Raymond and Jim have promised to hold my hand. I told them I was nervous. Clever, huh? Moi? Nervous?  But I promise to behave myself.  After all, when one is presenting the innagural annual award for Best First Novel, one must display a sense of dignity.  Right? And I can do that. Really, I can.  So, darlings, until then…

ON THE BUBBLE with JIM ROLLINS

Jim Rollins is one of the few men I take to bed who can keep me up all night.

Well, it’s true.  His chapter endings are such cliff-hangers, I can’t let go of my anxiety.  But then, what can you expect from this best selling author of SEVEN pulse racing thrillers?  Oh, and then he’s also a best selling fantasy author of THREE different series under the name of James Clemens!  And then of course, he also has a Ph.D in veterinary medicine, his undergraduate work focused on evolutionary biology-he’s an amateur spelunker and a certified scuba diver.  Other than that, he’s just your ordinary regular guy.  Yeah. Right.  A super human dynamo is more like it.  Lest you think me gaga, be sure to pick up his newest – BLACK ORDER – out June 27th and see for yourself.

Now, come meet Jim Rollins and discover why he is the newest member of my secret loves club.   p.s. I have six now, and room for one more.

EE:  Sean Connery called me last night, and after swearing me to secrecy (HA!), he told me that  George Lucas has read all of your best sellers and is planning on offering you zillions to stop writing because you’ve already covered many of the plots he had on the back burner.  And, he’s terrified Steven Spielberg will get to you first.  So, Jim, daaahhhling, wasup?

JR:  Yes, I’ve had to run electronic surveillance sweeps to make sure my home is not bugged.  And I didn’t fall for that trick of sending Harrison Ford to my doorstep.  He said he was just coming over to borrow a cup of sugar, but I knew he was really a Spielberg/Lucas mole.  And that new stud earring Harrison is now sporting…plainly a sophisticated camera.  Amateurs!

Oh, and here I thought Connery was letting me in for a scoop!  You knew all the time!  But then, I’d not expect less from you.

EE:  So, Jim – isn’t it true your hobby as a caver is really a cover up for the work you’re doing for N.S.A.’s search for Atlantis?

JR:  Just between you and me…who the heck caves for fun?!?  The mud, the claustrophobia, the cold.  Of course, thre is more to it than a mere ‘hobby’! And that Atlantis rumor was merely a cover story to hide the real truth.  I discovered the moldering bones of Jules Verne clutching a strange map, and I’m still following those clues.  Unfortunately, last year, I transposed two Latin verbs in one of Verne’s codes and ended up in Dan Brown’s basement.  But now I’m back on track.

Dan Brown’s basement???  Ohhh….hope he didn’t see you.  Where you able to take a peek at what he’s working on next?  He hasn’t read any of your books, has he?  Just kidding.

EE:  I understand you’re a movie buff, Jim – and that ‘Way of the Vampire’ and ‘Season of the Hunted’ are your favorites.  Any others you think we might enjoy?

JR:  I would like to take this opportunity to make a personal plea to Hollywood.  Can we PLEASE have more movies based on video games?  This is a trend that is barely tapped.  I think Christian Slater was robbed of an Oscar for his performance in ‘Alone in the Dark’. And where is the long-awaited Ms. Pacman movie?  We’ve been clammoring for it for decades!  And c’mon, ‘Tetris: The Movie’ practically writes itself!

So, so true!  Tell you what – I will personally call Ron Howard today and pass along your brilliant suggestions.  And if he doesn’t bite, I’ll just tell him that Tom Hanks is on the other line ready to call you himself. 

EE:  Back to the book biz for a minute:  What best selling book do you wish you’d written?

JR:  Without a doubt …The Old Testament….and of course, its sequel, The New Testament.  Just think of the royalties, and all those movie deals!  Mel Gibson alone would owe me a small fortune.

Brilliant choice!  The drama, the setting, the cast!  Oh, yes!  It’s all there.

EE:  We’ve all got a bad habit or two.  Or, maybe three?  How about you, Jim?

JR:  Answering interview questions.  I really have to break this habit.

Aww, but you’re so darn much fun

EE:  Okay, I’ll lighten up on you then if you hate these things.  How’s this?  Give us a hint of what would be a perfect day.

JR:  I’ve always thought it would be cool to live one of those apocalyptic days…you know, with flesh eating zombies.  I would then have a really good excuse not to go to the gym.

Flesh eating zombies??  Ewwww.  Wouldn’t the end of the world be a better choice?

EE:  Let’s try the ‘lighten up’ thing again, okay?  Who would you love to do a book tour with?

JR:  Only you, El…can I call you "El"?  Think of the lonely road together, the whispers across late candle-lit dinners, debating the works of Proust, shakespeare, and Lemony Snicket…then the occasional longing glance out of the corner of the eye, the sudden smile, the laughter that hides something more.  Where might it lead?  More than just the New York Times bestseller list?

OHHHHHH….HELP!  I’M MELTING FASTER THAN THE WAX ON THE CANDLES AND IT’S NOT HOT FLASHES!  DARLING!  OF COURSE YOU CAN CALL ME ‘EL’….JUST CALL ME!

EE:  Whew!  I’m not sure if I can go on here.  Pardon me for a moment whilst I fan my face.  Okay, I’m fine now.  I can do this.  Other than writing two series (!), what do you consider your biggest challenge?

JR:  It has to be my role as an international man of mystery.  It gets so tiring doing all those quick changes in disguise:  the modeling clay, the fake teeth, the tinted contact lenses.  The dry cleaning bill alone ate through my last royalty check. But at least the world is a much safer place.

The hell with the world, where shall we meet?

EE:  Sorry about that.  Okay, back to the interview.  Which writers would be on your ideal convention panel?

JR:  Anyone who really hates me.  Panels should be like reality television…bitter rivalries, back-stabbing, finger-pointing, alliances, betrayals.  A panel is not a panel without a really good fistfight…or at least one person out of the room in tears.  Even if it’s me.

We could sell tickets to that.  Let’s talk, okay?  In fact, now that I’ve got Ron Howard slobbering over you, we might even strike a deal with him to film it.  Think of the possibilites! Syndication even.  Reruns! We’d have that private island you’ve been lusting over.

EE:  Oh, my head is spinning with deals, but on to the next question.  Is it really true you listen to Led Zepplin when you write your thrillers – and that’s why your chapters always end as cliff hangers?  I mean, your pacing is heart racing!  Play fair with us, Jim! We really need to know this kind of stuff so we can copy you.

JR:  Led Zepplin?…not any longer, El (can I still call you, El?).  My current rave is mash-ups, where a DJ mixes two different musical styles together.  What I’m listening to right now is a mash-up of Barbra Streisand’s ‘Funny Girl’ and the Sex Pistol’s ‘Anarchy in the UK’.  In fact, I think Johnny Rotten and Barbra should tour together.  Think of them:  the lonely road, the whispers across late candle-lit meals, debating the works of Proust, Shakespeare…where might THAT lead?

But…but …wasn’t that our romantic evening?  Sigh.  I knew it was too good to be true.  Oh, well…into each life some rain must fall.

EE:  One of my sources tells me your neighbors are up in arms about your fans hanging around your front door lately.  Dogs, cats and all manner of animals who were once your patients when you were a vet – miss you so much they can’t stay away.  How have you managed to handle this, Jim?

JR:  Oh, I have an open invitation to spay or neuter anything that lands on my doorstep. So I guess I owe Harrison Ford an apology.  He really should not have come knocking when I had a scalpel in hand.

Oh, crimey!  Does Callista know?   Man, is she in for a surprise.  But – my lips are sealed.  She won’t hear it from me.  Unless, of course, our candle-lit dinner is off.

EE:  Okay, back to the writing life again.  Who is your favorite dead author – and why should Ophra select him next?

JR:  I’d say Jules Verne.  Mostly to see if he’d hop up and down on Oprah’s couch like Tom Cruise.

Wasn’t he the biggest jerk?  I think Verne would at least do it with more elan.

EE:  Which writer would you love to have all to yourself in a cozy corner of the bar at ThrillerFest?

JR:  Any writer who is willing to buy a guy a drink.  That’s my favorite sort of writer.

Really?  So, uh…Jim…I’ll have a Gentleman Jack and soda, what are you having?

EE:  Before the hot flashes start again, we’d all like to know what is your favorite retreat?

JR:  Without a doubt: the retreat of the Athenians during the Peloponnesian War.  I have the entire battle done in a diorama in my basement, each figure carefully crafted out of stale marshmllo Peep left over from last Easter.  Oh, wait, is that the ‘retreat’ you mean?

Uh, actually, no.  But, if it works for you….we’ll go with it.

EE:  And last, but not the least – what is your secret energy source?  You not only write two best selling series, but took on the mantle of Chief Award Judge (overseeing a gaggle of committees) for International Thriller Writers first ‘Thriller’ award.  I mean, come clean with us, Jim.  I’m worn out by three in the afternoon.  Whatever you’re using, want some!

JR:  It’s a combination of cold fusion and again those stale marshmallow Peeps (they do come in handy…even if they are the creation of demonic forces).

Oh, well…thanks, but I think I’ll pass, okay? 

AND – many, many thanks to Jim for being On The Bubble!  By now you’ve surely gotten an idea why I just love this guy! 

P.S.  Next Saturday – On The Bubble is taking the day off.  I’ll be at ThrillerFest in Phoenix, and since I won’t be here to ‘interact’  and miss all the fun, I’ve invited Kris Montee of P.J. Parrish fame to step in and regale you.  This is one funny, savvy and absolutely delightful lady – and you won’t want to miss what she has to say!  But – I’ll be back on June 24th with Laura Lippman On The Bubble.

I’ve got a great line up coming your way – but if there is a favorite author you’d like me to include on my victim list – give me an email and let me know.  I’ll track her/him down and grill the hell out of ’em.  No one escapes Evil E.

ON THE BUBBLE with LOUISE URE

Louise Ure’s FORCING AMARYLLIS is so filled with entrancing prose it made me want to throttle her. Oh, don’t get me wrong-I adore Louise-but damn, it’s just not fair to be that talented.  But, honest person that I am – I admit I am insanely jealous of the way she crafted a story so compelling, so filled with Southwestern imagery (as only a fourth generation Arizonian can) you can feel feel the blistering Arizona sun bouncing off the pages!  It’s no wonder Kirkus, Booklist, Library Journal, Publishers Weekly and a score of other reviewers gave this debut glowing praise.  FORCING AMARYLLIS is out in paperback now-so if you missed it (I wouldn’t admit that if I were you!)-go get a copy and plan to be mesmerized!

Oh, did I tell you another reason why I’m so jealous of Louise?  Wanna really feel underaccomplished along with me?  Okay, try this on for size – she speaks seven languages, she races Shelby’s and has a pilot’s license.   Just your garden-variety suspense writer, huh?  Yeah. Sure.  But don’t hold this against her – I mean, she has her good points – she puts up with me, and also has a great sense of humor.  She’d have to – to agree to be On The Bubble.

EE:  Isn’t it true that writing suspense novels is really a cover up for your many trips to Arizona to go treasure hunting?

LU:  Too true.  But one man’s treasure is another man’s taco.  In truth, I set my books in Arizona so that I have another good reason to go home and sample my mom’s homemade tacos and green  corn tamales.

Oh, sure – give us another smoke screen.  But then, homemade?  Honest?  Uh, did I ever tell how much I love tamales?

EE:  My Number One Spy has just informed me that on your last trip to Tucson for research for your new book – THE FAULT TREE – you made some very strange trips out of town.  To be specific-the Superstition Mountains-and you had some pretty spiffy surveying tools in your car.  Does the Lost Dutchman Mine ring a bell?

LU:  Those weren’t surveying tools; they were dowsing rods!  Finding water would be a bigger treasure in the desert than that silly Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine.

Okay, okay – you wanna play that game, I’ll bite – for now.

EE:  But if you’re really only looking for water, then what the hell were you doing at Weaver’s Needle?  Maybe you wanna pretend you’re not after the Lost Dutchman, but come on, Louise – isn’t tha Needle one of the landmarks on those old maps to old Peralta Mine?  Another fabled lost treasure?

LU:  That wasn’t me, it was Twist Phelan.  (You know how often we’re mistaken for each other.)  Twist is the one who’s conversant in phrases like scree, dryfall, rappelling, and chute.  I’m the one who says there aren’t enough chairs in nature.

Twist?  Are you sure?  Damn my spys!  Not worth the free books I give ’em.  But then, you two do look alike.

EE:  But I’m still not buying into your answers.  I mean, considering your amazing linguistic skills, I find it hard to believe that your fluency in Spanish and Portuguese is not playing a part in this caper of yours.  It’s just not a coincidence they are needed to decipher the Peralta stone table found in 1952?

LU:  I’ve always wanted to get my hands on those; I’m sure they misread the clues.  Carvings of a horse a witch, and the misspelled ‘corazon?’  Those aren’t hints to the location of a lost gold mine, they’re ads for some great ‘ranchera’ and mariachi songs.

Oh, sure – now you want me to believe that too?

EE:  Since I’ve let the cat out of the bag about your flying skills – thought your secret was safe, huh?  How about explaining why Pari hired you to take her over the desert in New Mexico?  Was it to check out those new circles allegedly made by UFO’s?   

LU:  Oh, I’m not trying to  hide the pilot part;  I’ve been flying for about thirty years now.  But I have few takers for passengers these days, ever since I ran out of gas and had to land on I-10 near Picacho Peak.  And then there was the time I forgot to tighten the lug nuts on the engine cowling.  I think Pari was very brave to have asked for that New Mexico flight.

Brave?  I’ll say she was brave!  Bet she won’t go up with you again after reading this! 

EE:  Well, since I’m not getting anywhere with your treasure hunt questions, let’s go to more banal subjects.  Here’s a hard one:  What is your fondest ambition, besides outselling Dan Brown?

LU:  To have Barbara Kingsolver say:  "I’ve always wanted to write like Louise Ure."  Or even to have Barbara Kingsolver say, "Louise Ure?  Who’s that?"

Oh, I thought maybe you might mention…well, nevermind.

EE:  Here’s a toughie:  tell us your Walter Mitty dream in less than 50,000 words.

LU:  Ah, the lottery fantasy!  Not the measly ol’ California lottery.  The BIG ONE.  And every week I imagine who I would tell first (after my husband, of course).  Maybe my publisher?  Maybe that nasty new writer who crowed about her big advance?  Maybe the high school counselor who said she thought I’d be real good in retail?

Oh, by all means – the nasty new writer who crowed about her big advance!  And how about that other new one who’s head is so big she can’t get through the door and said…well, nevermind.  We’ll dish later…

EE:  By the way, Louise – driving race cars is -well, a pretty tough hobby.  How hard has it been for you to show up all those macho race car drivers when you take to the speedway in your 1966 Shelby 350 GT?  I mean, they must really have some testosterone fits!

LU:  At first, they were a little unnerved when I suggested we repaint the car from it’s original black and gold to match my new driver’s suit.  They finally came around when I offered to file my fingernails into the shape of Phillip head and regular screwdriver shapes to help with their repairs.

You did what???  Ohhh, Louise!  How utterly brilliant of you! 

EE:  Hey, how about this just in from my spy in L.A.?  Word is that Meryl Streep has asked you to be her language coach on the movie she’s doing for a famous Bollywood producer, but you turned her down?  She called me this morning, crying huge tears.  She said you were the only one she could trust to teach her Bahasa Malay, and could I intervene?  Jeeeezzzeee, Louise!  How the hell could you be so cruel??  I mean, Meryl Streep???  She even promised to thank you at the Oscar’s when she wins her award!

LU:  Dear, sweet Meryl!  I heard her first attempts and they sounded like a javelina in a rut.  But, if you insist, I’ll teach her the key phrases.  She’ll need, "Waiter, I need more Gin."  And – "When’s the next plane to Bali?"

Oh, come on!  Give it the old try, okay?  There’s tickets to the Oscar’s in it for us, kiddo.  Just think about it-the red carpet, the Vanity Fair party after, the table hopping, the suite at the Beverly Hills Hotel…

EE:  Whilst you think that over, tell me which writer you’d like to be with in a cozy corner of the bar at Thriller Fest in a few weeks.

LU:  You, of course!  Cause you have all the dirt on everybody!

Yes, the Shadow knows all.  Muhahahaha….We’ll have the waiter leave the bottle on the table.

EE:  In that case, since you know my vast network has allowed me to be privy to ALL – how about coming clean about that little tete-a-tete you had with Bruce Willis last week in L.A.?  For once, I did my own leg work and it was moi sitting at the next table.  Yeah, that was me in the long red wig.  I didn’t catch everything – but I did hear Bruce mention that old Bogie movie – The Treasure of the Sierra Madre.  I mean, it did kinda make me think he’s in on your treasure hunt.  And it does kinda fit in with all those trips out there, doesn’t it?  See? I got you good on that now!  No more of the looking for water stuff now!

LU:  My lips are sealed.  Well, not quite sealed, but almost closed in a smirky sort of way.  Bruce did comment on that great red wig of yours – he’s a real connoisseur of hairpieces.  As to anything else we discussed?  ‘Waiter!  Another margarita, please!"

Damn, but you’re a tough nut to crack!  Okay, okay…don’t tell me then!  See if I care.

EE:  You’re also a tough interview!  We’ll just have to go back to the easy stuff.  So, Louise – who would be your perfect book tour mate?  And don’t say Barry Eisler!  I’ve got dibs on him.

LU:  Oh, that’s easy: Tony Bourdain.  He’s a fine mystery writer, he smokes, he drinks, he’ll eat anything, and he’s sexy as hell.  Aside from that, we’d be guaranteed massive crowds at every stop.  Of course, if he’s busy, Barry wouldn’t be a bad stand-in.

Hmmm.  Could you use an assistant?

EE:  If you were to write an epic – which country would you use for a setting?  I mean, hell – you do speak seven languages – this should be an easy question!

LU:  It should be easy, but it’s not.  Let’ see, I speak French, but do you set that story in Dijon orDa Nang?  Is the Italian epic set in Lucca or Little Italy?  Hell, you could set the English one in Singapore.  Come to think of it, I’ve always wanted to write a story about the Japanese occupation of Singapore.  Guess that’ll have to wait until the Arizona trilogy is done.

And I don’t really speak seven languages, just six.  Unless, of course, you count that Masters degree I have in verbal abuse.

Ohhh…I like the Singapore idea!  Sure you don’t need an assistant?

EE:  Okay, let’s get serious.  Tell me about that job you once had – watching for the Loch Ness monster.  Really, Louise…that was rather bizarre.  I laughed when my sources mentioned it.  But I have to admit I was taken aback when they went on to say you’d actually taken photos of Nessie coming up for rays-but the photos went missing the next day.  Is that REALLY true???  Do you have any clue who took them?  Could it have been that waiter at the local hotel you got chummy with?  the one you later discovered was really an undercover with MI 5?  And how the hell did you find out about him?  Oh, the intrigue is just killing me!

LU:  Yes, the pictures did go missing and yes, the waiter was definitely a spy, but in this case the two things are not related. You see, he was showing me how to set up my pup tent on the banks of the loch (and why are those things called pup tents?  Is it because they’re only big enough for small dogs?) when I slipped and…

Again! She did it again!  You’d think by now I’d get a straight answer from her?  Huh?  Wrong.  Okay, I’ll play her game.  How the hell should I know why they call them pup tents?  I don’t camp out.  I only stay at five star hotels.  We are, after all, the Evil E.

EE:  Here’s your last chance to come clean.  What’s with the clay raisin animation saga that set the television commercial industry all agog?  You know the one I’m talking about, Louise!  Those commercials for the Dancing California Raisin’s? They were hysterical, but did you really okay one of them to be a Michael Jackson look-alike?  Ewwwww.  How could you?

LU:  Hey, it wasn’t my idea!  Michael Jackson approache us,asking if he, too, could be a California Dancing Raisin.  Said he wanted to be remembered as fondly as that ‘other Michael’.  ‘Huh?’ we had no ‘Michael’s’ on the raisin crew.  "You know, Michael Angelo."  Ah…that other ‘Michael’!

So we made the commercial with a Jackson-like raisin singing and dancing to a crowd of other anthropomorphic fruits.  Within a week we go so many calls from angry parents about the Strawberry swooning when the Jackson-raisin grabbed his crotch, that we pulled it of the air.

I’m laughing so damn hard … I can’t think of a thing to say!  In fact…I had to type this twice!

Thanks Louise – for being so much fun, for being fearless, for adroitly not giving me straight answers, and last, but not least -for writing FORCING AMARYLLIS!

EE:

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