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!