Denise Hamilton needs little introduction. I mean, you all know she’s been nominated for an Edgar, the Willa Cather and the UK’s prestigious Creasey Dagger, so why do I need to tell you all this anyway? Well, darlings, because I want to remind you what a terrific writer she is, and hush…don’t tell her I said this…but she’s one hell of a gal as well. I mean, even Publishers Weekly said – ‘Like Raymond Chandler, Hamilton describes California in gritty, lyrical prose…’ They said more, so get thee to her website. And when you get there, be sure to note what Denise is doing with Akashic Books and International Thriller Writer’s new anthology. But FIRST, be sure to pick up her new book-out now – PRISONER OF MEMORY – the fifth in the Eve Diamond series – where Denise, once again, writes what she knows – and encompasses her own family Russian heritage this time to bring you an espionage thriller par excellence!
And now – a few things you never knew about Denise Hamilton!
EE: How emotionally tough was it for you when you turned down Hooter’s offer of ten grand a week for a two-week appearance?
DH: My agent’s working on getting them up to twenty grand.
Ohh la la! My kind of gal!
EE: How do you spoil yourself?
DH: I read for pleasure after my kids go to bed. I read omnivorously, in mystery, spy thrillers, memoir, literary fiction, history. Just read an extraordinary book set in 1919 Siberia called The People’s Act of Love by James Meek. My mother was of Russian heritage (and I’ve liberally borrowed from my family history in my latest Prisoner of Memory) so I have a fondness for that part of the world. Next up: The Marsh Arabs, a very old book by one of those wonderful Victorian era Brit explorers. Since we are so involved in the Middle East, I want to read about the history of the part of the world that is now Iraq.
Terrific idea! The more we know, the more we can understand, and perhaps…well, never mind.
EE: Any truth to the rumors around L.A. that Melanie Griffin claims Eve Diamond’s lover, Silvio, is a dead ringer for Antonio Banderas and Melanie wants to know how you’re so acquainted with Banderas’ amorous style?
DH: Funny you should ask. Melanie Griffin and I actually attended the same high school for a time – Corvallis – a girl’s Catholic prep school in Studio City run by nuns that closed rather than go co-ed. She was two years older than me. She left school to marry Don Johnson!
Hmmm…I love the way Denise skirted my question, don’t you? We’ll have to revisit that one of these days.
EE: What best selling book do you wish you’d written?
DH: Purely for filthy lucre, the DaVinci Code, of course. For artistic transcendence as well as a fast-moving piece of commercial fiction, how about The Spy Who Came In From The Cold?
Ah, excellent choice! But then, your taste is always impeccable.
EE: My spies tell me that Mick Jagger offered you a private evening of love songs if you’d cast him in your next Eve Diamond book. Care to comment?
DH: My husband quickly put the kibosh on that.
LOL! Can’t blame him one whit. Mick may be getting long in the tooth, but I hear he’s still got that whatever it is about him.
EE: Okay, Denise –everyone has a Walter Mitty dream – what’s yours?
DH: This isn’t too Walter Mitty-ish, but I adore traveling and would love to be able to pick up and go ANYWHERE in the world with my family, without the contortions of balancing pets, school, work and finances, for long periods to experience different cultures. We were in Seville last summer, and that’s a place I’d like to spend more time in. Other than that, I’m pretty darn happy with my life.
Maybe not Walter Mitty-ish, but it’s a great dream, and I hope you’ll soon see it happen.
EE: Which sex symbol do you think you most resemble?
DH: I’d pick someone really noir, smart, funny and sexy from the 1040’s films. Barbara Stanwick, who plays a card sharp who seduces Henry Fonda in the movie –‘The Lady Eve,’ comes to mind. Someone like that.
Exactamento! Those Hollywood gals of that era still have it all over today’s pseudo glam’s. And Barbara Stanwick was one of the best. Another excellent choice. But then, you’ve got great style, so I’m not surprised.
EE: Talk around the book biz is that you turned down Oprah because she wanted to co-write your next best seller. What’s the scoop on that?
DH: Oprah, please call me at home to discuss this. We can still make it work!
Ohhh…call me after you talk to her, ka? I promise not to tell a soul.
EE: We in the mystery world know you as a lovely, courteous and generous person. But come on, Denise – you gotta have a vice. Go ahead and let it out. We’ll understand.
DH: I love to escape the real world by diving into books. This is not always a good thing. It makes me anti-social. And takes up most of my free time.
Drat! She skirted that one too.
EE: Okay, let’s try another one. While I know you to be gracious at all times, I’d like to think you’ve got a smidgen of a temper. Something must tick you off. Care to share?
DH: Oh, let’s see. L.A. drivers, people who give you incorrect directions and cause you to be 45 minutes late to a signing in a town you’ve never been to before, waiting on hold, incompetence in general, people who ooze insincerity, when my cat uses the sofa I’ve just had re-upholstered as his big $1,500 scratching post.
Whew. I feel better. You just covered a few of mine too! Especially incompetence and ‘insincerity oozers’. Hey, wait…I think you just coined a new word, Denise.
EE: Your reputation as one of the most engaging mystery writers is well known, but I’ve been told you’re an authority on Danielle Steel. Would you like to kill that myth? Or…gasp…can it really be true?
DH: I’m co-writing my next book with her.
EE: Who would you love to do a book tour with?
DH: I love to tour with Julia Spencer-Fleming. We get along like a house afire, both have kids, love to gab. Sometimes we’re so busy dissecting a book or yakking about our stuff that we miss the freeway exits.
Well, you wouldn’t want me in the car – I’m totally direction challenged. I’m lucky to find my front door. But it’s great to know you and Julia have so much fun together.
EE: We’ve all got a bad habit of some sort. What’s yours?
DH: I drink too much coffee and then get quite anxious.
Well, it sure as hell doesn’t show up in your writing!
EE: Writers seem to have favorite words or phrases they constantly over use. Got any for us to avoid?
DH: She ‘headed’ for the door. Another little verbal tic I see all the time is: ‘She ‘filed’ that away for now.’
Damn, I’d better go check my new book and delete all of those.
EE: Who would be on your ideal convention panel?
DH: Well you of course, Elaine! Plus Oprah and Danielle Steel. Wouldn’t we have a lot to dish about?
Oh, honey, that’s a date! I’m ready! And did I say how flattered I am?
EE: Which writer would you like to have all to yourself in a cozy corner in the bar at the next con?
DH: Oh that’s an easy one! Neil Gaiman. His "Neverwhere" is one of my favorite books – takes place in an alternate London, a cat’s whisker away from our own, and yet completely different.
Okay, I’ll stand look out.
EE: Rumor has it that you’re not taking George Clooney’s calls anymore. Is it that goofy smile of his, or his penchant for acting like Harpo Marx?
DH: It’s nothing but a rumor. I greatly admire and respect how Clooney is using his Hollywood clout to get movies made that are profound, intriguing, provocative, intelligent. We need many more like him. Syriana was a bit too convoluted for me, but it was an important film for out time, raising questions that need to be in the public debate.
Damn! She did it again! I mean, I agree with all Denise said, but that wasn’t the answer we wanted, was it!
EE: Okay, we’ll get serious now. What’s next on the list for Eve Diamond?
DH: A standalone, set in 1949 Hollywood. It’s two years after The Black Dahlia murder and the Cold War and the Hollywood Blacklist are starting, the 1950’s and retrenchment of gains women made during the war are around the corner, gangsters like Mickey Cohen are having shootouts on Sunset Boulevard, the cops and DA are dirty, movie special effects are getting very interesting, and pow! A starlet is found dead in a ravine.
That, and I’m editing Los Angeles Noir, a short story anthology of all new work set in different neighborhoods of L.A. that features authors such as Michael Connelly, Janet Fitch, Naomi Hirahara, Paula Woods, Robert Ferrigno, Susan Straight and many others. It will be out in Spring 2007 from Akashic books.
A schedule not for the faint of heart! But then, you are, without doubt, one of Mysteryvilles very best – and speaking for myself, and your legion of fans, all best to you, Denise!
And many thanks for being such a good sport and going On The Bubble!
Great interview, Elaine! Makes me jealous. And Denise, always gracious, always witty, always inciteful. I’m going to get her for that one of these days. A terrific debut.
This was so much fun to read! You are a great interviewer, EE, and YOU are a great interviewee, Denise!
Thanks for this…
Elaine, thanks for the peek into Denise’s glam LA life! The interview reads like a best-seller.
Dang, girl! What a gas to read. I wish I had half your wit!
Aw, shucks, you guys! Thanks for the kind words, but you really need to thank Denise for being such a good sport and being quick on the draw. She’s a true gem.
Denise is indeed a gem. She’s my senpai. What’s a senpai? Well, you just have to stay tuned to a future installment of Murderati!
Well, I know what a senpai is, but my lips are sealed. What? You did not know I lived in Hawaii? Eh,neh?
So-ka. The Evil E is everywhere.
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