I don’t know who the hell Donna Moore’s muse is – but I want her!
Ken Bruen has called her ‘The Dorothy Parker of Scotland’! Who’s gonna argue with him? Charlie Stella said – ‘It’s like having Groucho Marx feeding you one-liners over your shoulder the entire trip.’ I ain’t gonna argue with Charlie either. GO TO HELENA HANDBASKET is one of the funniest books to come out in a long time. And I especially loved Reed Farrel Coleman’s – ‘Sam Spade in a skirt on acid.’
While a string of top-notch writers are obviously enthralled with Donna’s wit, I would be remiss in not reminding all of you that Donna has been regaling ‘4MysteryAddicts’ for some months prior to publication with her hilarious bus trip stories – and I think the members of that august on-line mystery group would be the first to take pride in saying how much they’d encouraged her to write a book! And aren’t we glad that she did! And – aren’t we glad that THEY did!
So, come along with me – and meet Donna Moore.
EE: At what point in your exciting life did you decide to get off the bus?
DM: I’m never getting off the bus – that’s where my most exciting things happen. Blimey, is there any way I can make that sentence sound any weider? I’m sure people think that my tales of the number 62 bus are made up or exggerated. Well, the numbe 9 can be just as bad. My most recent experience was sitting on the bus on the way to work, and this woman sitting ten seats behind me with her two male companions – all of them dressed in identical flammable shell suits and Burbery baseball caps and dripping enough gold to melt down to make a life size statue of the Empire State Building. This woman had a voice like a foghorn and proceeded to relate to the patrons on the bus the most intimate details of her life. When we were all agog, she dealt the killer blow. “Ma man came oot the jail early last week, ‘an when he got tae the door he didnae huv his key, so he jist booted the door in.” Apparently, his first words to his lovely lady were “Surprise! I’m hame!” I felt like turning around and saying “Could he not just have brought you flowers?” The the thing that really galled her about the whole episode was not the fact that her door was now hanging off, nor that it had a whopping dirty great boot dent in it, nor the fact that she’d got a bit of a shock as she was watching Eastenders. No, it was the fact that the electricity man was now able to get in and sort out the electricty meter that she had fraudulently fixed so that she could get free electricity. She was even thinking of calling Scottish Power to complain. I would love to have heard THAT conversation!
Uh, Donna? I think maybe you need to try another bus line.
EE: Isn’t it true, Donna – that you’re madly in love with Bob Hoskins, and patterned Robin Banks after him? Well, okay – so you made him a bit taller, but still?
DM: Isn’t EVERYONE taller than Bob Hoskins? We have the same test for telling a good book me and Bob. Apparently when he gets a new script he takes it to the loo and if he’s sitting there and his bum goes cold and numb then he knows the script is a good one and he accepts the role. I’m the same. The number of times I’ve fallen off the loo reading a Ken Bruen…
Charming. Thank you for sharing that with us. I’m sure Ken is delighted to know he is found in all the better places…
EE: Rumors abound that now that Helen Mirren has let Jane Tennison retire, she’s interested in playing Helena, but you’re trying to convince her to play Heidi instead. So, what’s the scoop on that? Think Helen can handle that role?
DM: Well, having seen the last episode of Prime Suspect, I’m beginning to think it was the cocktails that were the attraction, rather than the role of Helena. And let’s face it, Elaine, ANYONE can handle the role of Helena. She’s so dim. For some reason my family think she is based on me. I have no idea why.
Surely you jest! You’re not at all like Helena. Well…maybe a little bit…uh, now that I think about it, there is a similarity. I mean, not physically,of course. Maybe they mean your great sense of adventure? Actually, you’re…well, nevermind. Oh, wait! I know! It’s the shoes. That’s it, the shoes.
EE: And speaking of shoes (!) – I understand Imelda Marcos is angling for a spot in the Guinness Book of Records for having the most shoes – and she’s challenged you to surpass her. Is it true you’ve enlisted David Corbett to go under cover and get Imelda’s shoe count before you embark on your shopping spree?
DM: When they raided her wardrobes they also found some bulletproof bras. I asked David to sneak out a couple of those for me. You can never have too much bulletproof lingerie can you? Apparently she was most annoyed when it was reported that she had over 3,000 pairs of shoes and was reported to have said, “I did not have three thousand pairs of shoes, I had one thousand and sixty.” Yeah, like that makes a difference Imelda. For the record, I only have 100 or so pairs (do you like the ‘or so’ by the way?)
Like it? I love it. Never, ever, cop to the number of ANYTHING you have. Keep ’em guessing, chickie. That’s my motto.
EE: Whispers are rampant that you tried to drink John Rickards under the table at Harrowgate, but Steve Booth talked you out of it. Care to comment?
DM: Since I was not at Harrowgate this year, I believe that must have been my body double Angelina Jolie. Oh, wait, I keep forgetting she turned down the role and it ended up going to Jabba The Hutt.
Sure. Okay. I’ll print that answer – but Donna – ain’t nobody – especially Evil E – is gonna buy it.
EE: Now that you’ve finally buckled down and written your first book (after dozens of us have badgered you for months and months), could you possibly have a Walter Mitty dream left? If yes, spill it, doll face.
DM: Yes. Being a rock chick. I want to be a drummer with a rock band. Firstly because I have always loved the drums and used to practice on anything handy – pans, arms of chairs, my little brother’s head. Secondly becasue I have always loved reading about those outrageous riders the big stars ask for when they go on tour – you know – they want a bowl of M&Ms in the dressing room but with all the brown ones removed, or they want tea made from leaves grown on the eastern slopes of Mount Fuji and picked at dawn by naked castratos playing the Alpenhorn. Iggy Pop apparently once asked for seven dwarves and some broccoli. He was asked why he wanted the broccoli since he doesn’t eat it and he said he just wanted to throw it away. Why did no one think to ask him what he wanted the dwarves for? What was the question? Oh yes…well, I wrote to Green Day and asked them to bear me in mind when they were next on the lookout for a new drummer. They were VERY interested…until I told them my drum teacher had sacked me after three lessons. Actually, he didn’t so much as sack me as retire from teaching the drums. He was only 35 too. I sent him a postcard to the Happyvale Sanitorium for Traumatised Musicians, but never head back. Strange.
How about sending him a copy of GO TO HELENA HANDBASKET? Hell, it might cheer the poor sod up.
EE: You’re having six guests for dinner (Yes, Donna – you are! Why? Because I am Evil E and I get to call the shots). Who would they be, and what will you serve?
DM: Gawd, I KNEW you were going to ask this question, Elaine – and I still never thought about it. It’s a tough one. There are so many people I would love to invite to dinner. If I’m cooking then first and foremost a doctor would be imperative. But assuming I’m getting it catered (by far the best option) then I think it have to be Mae West and W.C. Fields (because I think they would both be great fun), Cary Grant (because he was so charming and sophisticated and a wonderful comic actor), Caligula (because he wa so completely bonkers and a fascinating character), Lola Montez (a really bad exotic dancer from the Victorian era knows as ‘La Grande Horizontale’. She was the mistress of people such as Franz Liszt, Alexander Dumas and King Ludwig of Bavaria. She had a horrendously bad temper and carried a whip which she used on lovers, unappreciative audience members and newspaper reviewers and she once shot at a presumably disappointing lover as he ran down the street with his trowsers around his ankles), Oscar Wilde and Johnny Depp. And-Johnny Depp is staying to help with the washing up, no matter how hard he struggles to get away. There, I did it (desperately hoping Elaine doesn’t notice that I picked 7).
Tell you what – after Mae takes off with W.C. for a private show, and Oscar & Caligula leave to compare lovers, you keep Depp in the kitchen, and I’ll sit with Cary & Lola and take notes. Cary could give me a few pointers on timing, and Lola…well, hell, I’ll think of something.
EE: The word around Mysteryville is that you agreed to be photographed reading Ken Bruen’s book if he’d stop teasing you about your shoe problem. Huh? I mean, it’s not like he needs the exposure. So, Donna – what’s the real story here?
DM: With the photo you mean? Well, my enormously talented photographer friend, Stuart McAllister (several of my friends want to hire him because, as they put it, “he makes even YOU look reasonably good, Donna”) told me that he wanted to take a picture of me reading a book that meant something to me. Ken’s books were an obvious choice. I hope it doesn’t detrimentally affect his sales. Sort of like a Pavlovian reaction on behalf of the book buying public – “No, Ethel, I can’t buy The Guards – for some reason it has an association that makes me shake and sob with fear.”
Oh. Yes, I can see your point. Maybe you two better forget that promo idea of Ken being photographed reading your book? I mean, why tempt fate, huh?
EE: Oh, this just in – Mark Billingham is on the line and wants to know if Helena will do a club act with him next week in Leeds. What should I tell him?
DM: Having seen Mark do stand up, I think she’d much prefer to be in the audience – he’s hilarious. But could it not be Leeds? The only time I was in Leeds – I was…errr…fortunate enough to stay in a hotel slap bang in the middle of the red light district. I could tell the prostitutes because they were the ones wearing short denim skirts, turquoise leg warmers and white high-heeled boots in November. It was like The Hookers From Fame. The alleyway right outside my window was a hive of activity all night. I couldn’t eat sausage for a month.
Well, hell, Donna – that’s what you get for insisting on five star hotels. But listen, try Jimmy Dean brand. It comes plain, or spicy. Your choice.
EE: Okay, let’s get serious (?) here – which writer would you love to have all to yourself in a cozy corner of the bar at the next con?
DM: The choices are endless, but sadly no one is queueing up for that rather dubious pleasure. Present company excepted, I think it would be Barbara Seranella. She is great fun and I always love spending time with her, but feel as though it’s always too short. Or Tony Broadbent becasue he does the most amazing Cary Grant impersonation and is just as charming. Or Joe Lansdale. I met him briefly recently and was in awe.
Well, that’s kind of you to include me, but hey – Barbara Seranella is one hell of a great broad – and I’d move over for her any time. So – Tony Broadbent does Cary Grant, huh? Hmmm. I’ll have to remember that. You WILL introduce me, won’t you?
EE: You’re moderating a panel – and you get to choose six panelists. What is the theme, and who are they?
DM: Ken Bruen, Eddie Muller, Bill Fitzhugh, Steve Brewer, Victor Gischler, Jim Born, David Corbett and Gary Phillips (obviously, math is NOT my strong point). No theme – I would just let them chat for several hours. They are all funny with great stories. Or, I would reprise the one and only panel I have ever done with Al Guthrie, Charlie Willimas, Ray Banks and Jason Starr – brilliant panelists and great sports who made a very nervous first time moderator almost enjoy the experience.
That will be me in the green visor outside the panel room selling tickets. As soon as you firm up the deal, I’ll get set up with eBay too, okay? Sixty-forty sound okay to you?
EE: Who would be your two idea book tour mates?
DM: Good grief, Elaine! Your questions are so tough! Twist Phelan and Meg Chittenden. I love them both to bits. They would be wonderful traveling companions and it would be a hoot. If they are not free, then Reed Farrel Coleman and Simon Wood who both have knack for making me laugh.
Stick to cabs with Twist. She has a knack for hiring deranged drivers. And Meg is fun. The three of you, however, could be dangerous. Maybe you ought to go with the guys?
EE: My number one spy tells me that the UK’s M16 brought you in and has demanded that you abandon your plans for a Helena Handbasket sequel. I understand you’ve come too close to describing one of their top operatives and they fear you may have blown her cover. This is serious, Donna! How are you handling this?
DM: They tried to poison my margarita with thalium, but I have a cast iron constitution and just asked for another jug.
Spoken like a true Scottish lass! I’m so damn proud of you! But maybe you should find another favorite drink and throw them off?
EE: So, Donna – word on the street is that Virgil is really a dog. This is outrageous! Cat lovers are up in arms, committees are being formed, banners are being printed as we speak. Please, please tell us this isn’t so!
DM: I asked Virgil for a comment on this. He glowered at me with his one eye and held up the middle claw of one paw. He then used his cat litter tray and, strangely enough, the results seemed to spell out the message, “Swivel, lady.” Take from that what you will.
Uh, I think we got the message loud and clear. But, hey – can I borrow Virgil for a week or two? I’d love to teach my cat that middle claw trick.
Well, what can I say to Donna Moore – other than thank you? I guess I could tell her what a joy she is, how much fun this was, how much I loved GO TO HELENA HANDBASKET – but then – she already knows all of that – so I think I’ll just wish her the very best of luck – a zillions book sales – and, oh yes – get off the phone and get cracking on Helena’s next adventure.
I hope you’ll all come back next week – I have a special treat for you. December will be a pastiche of interviews – some of the funniest – and some of my favorites.
Wit of the week: Alfred Hitchcock’s description of drama: Life with the dull bits cut out.