Friday, April 4, 2014

You Calling Me a Screwball?

Rosalee Richland is the pen name of two square dancing writers -- Cyndi Riccio and Rhonda Brinkmann -- who joined forces to create the Darla King cozy mystery series and Darla's own blog. We tried to have Darla interview me -- one fictional character interviewing another fictional character -- but the FCC said we couldn't do it. Here's "Darla" asking questions of The Famous Author.

What prompted you to write a series rather than a single book and to re-issue it beginning in 2013?

I wrote BIG NUMBERS with no thought of a series. But when the publisher tells your agent they want a second book with the same protagonist, though, most writers don't say no. I sure didn't. I like writing Austin Carr -- he's sort of an alter ego -- and I hope I earn enough readers to keep going. That's why I was thrilled when Eric Campbell of Down and Out Books said he wanted to reissue the first two and publish a third -- BIG MOJO -- for the first time. I believe in Austin and don't think until now he's gotten a fair chance to prove himself. New York says the public won't care about a stockbroker. And it's true not everybody likes him. But for the first time in seven years the Austin Carr stories are being read, reviewed, and purchased. Austin definitely has some fans.

The Austin Carr Series is referred to as a “screwball” mystery rather than a “cozy” mystery or simply a mystery. How did you choose this description?

Screwball is what I've heard agents and booksellers call mysteries by Janet Evanovich, Carl Hiaasen, Lisa Lutz, Tom Dorsey, and others. Funny mystery I've heard as well, perhaps slightly more often. I think of Austin as a screwball so as far as I'm concerned, it fits. One important thing: My books aren't cozies. There is some violence. People fight and die on the page. Though usually played for laughs, there are also sexual situations, and Austin makes jokes and references to his sex life. More than one reviewer has said he thinks like a seventeen year old.

Is there any significance to the name, “Austin Carr”?

I thought it sounded a bit goofy and that's what I wanted for the character. If you imagine Bugs Bunny as his mentor, it's easy to understand Austin. After I wrote the book, I discovered Austin Carr is the name of a very successful college and professional basketball player from the 1980s. I probably plucked it from my sports news memories.

Your other works include noir, crime, and horror. How different is it to write the Austin Carr series in comparison?

After four completed novels with Austin as the protagonist, his world is a very comfortable place. I have ventured out to write other things over the past five years (one thriller is still circulating), but it was warm and fuzzy coming back to Austin for Down and Out and the reissues. Right now I'm giving BIG MOJO the once over and discovering I have more to say. Because so much of my life parallels Austin's, it's as if I've spent the last forty years doing research for the series. I have so many more exciting places I want to send him.

How would you describe the audience who will most enjoy reading BIG MONEY?

I'd say a well developed sense of humor is key. But thanks to Goodreads and their giveaways, I have REAL pictures. I give away books, so right now on Goodreads I can see a name and picture for over 1,000 people who wanted to win my book in a drawing. In the majority of cases, these are people who have seen the cover, read the description, then filled out their address trying to win the book. Of course not all of these people are going to like my book if they win, but all those faces give me a very good idea of my market. I was told the mystery market is 75% women, mostly middle aged and college educated. My market looks to be 90% women, from 19 to 73.

What else would you like to share about yourself and your books with your readers?

Austin's two children will require more and more attention from him as the series progresses. Like most of us, Austin Carr's worries and troubles are complex, varied, and often fanned by the flames of family.

Thanks so much for joining us Jack!  I definitely fall in the market and enjoyed reading about Austin Carr!

Thank you, Darla. 

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