Wednesday, February 15, 2012

A Dead Red Heart by Rebecca Dahlke | Interview | Cozy Mystery

Following the sound of the blender into the kitchen, I jiggled the pharmacy bag under my dad’s nose.
He turned off the blender. “That our meds?"
I was having a hard time keeping a straight face. He was dressed in a dazzling green polyester slacks and a white shirt with a big collar. The seventies were all over the pages of Vanity Fair and Vogue, but somehow the retro look didn't quite translate to sixty-eight-year old men with thinning gray hair and jug-handle ears. I cringed at the matching lime green suit jacket hanging on the back of the chair.
I put the bag on the table, drawing out one small bag for him and another for his buddy, Spike.
“Okay. Heart meds, Lasix, arthritis pills, and Spike’s crazy pills.”
“He can hear you, you know.”
I looked down at the small brown Chihuahua, his tail beating an uneven rhythm in time to some inner demon. When he lifted a lip and snarled, I said, “And not a minute too soon, I see. When do you think the vet will take him off the Prozac?"
My dad uncapped the bottle and tipped out a pill. The dog's ears went up in trembling anticipation. “He’s much better, don’t you think?”
I studied the floor trying to find something kind to say about our resident Cujo, then got an eyeful of my dad’s shoes. He followed my stare down to his feet. "White for summer, right? They're already patent leather so I don't have to polish ‘em. Lucky for me, huh?"
I worked my lips around the laughter bubbling up, imagining my father in retro style leisure suit, escorting his latest squeeze to a potluck at church, or better yet –a funeral and its wake. I slid a glance at the blender looking for a reasonable topic of conversation, but since the frothy blue concoction might or might not have Viagra as its key ingredient, I blurted, “You need a haircut!”

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What do you think makes a good story?

I write what I like to read; the drama, pathos and humor that surrounds a dysfunctional family. Toss in tension between lovers, rivals, and a dead body or two, and I'm happy.

Tell us about your family?

Lalla's dad, Noah Bains is very similar to my own father, who owned a successful Aero Ag company for over thirty years. Running his business for two seasons gave me the idea for my Lalla Bains series. Yes, I've stretched his character a bit, but my dad was also prone to totally unsuitable quotations for advice, and his gray eye-brows were frequently used as signal flags when he was distressed. My mother was a lovely artistic and charming woman who lived a happy and full life, but that's not what makes for an interesting story, does it? My son, John, followed in his grandfather's footsteps and could fly anything with wings and a prop. Unfortunately, he died from a work related Aero-Ag accident in 2005.

Are the names of the characters in your novels important?

Well, besides the obvious goof of three characters with names that start with the same letter or sound, e.g, Pam, Dan, Jan… and I can say this with laughter because I've done it! Names can give the reader a sense of who that person is, for example: Lalla is a nick-name and it's a silly sounding name for a beautiful New York model, but it was given to her by her dead brother and she's completely at ease with keeping and using it. I hope it shows the reader her sense of self and her loyalty to her family. Noah and Caleb are biblical names and I used them because they show strength. They're also leadership names, though Noah is older than Caleb, Caleb is also a leader as Sheriff, and his last name is Stone. I love the sound of Caleb Stone. The man is, as Lalla discovers in the first book, A Dead Red Cadillac, a rock. Other names in this book also have a purpose: Del Potts, two single syllables for a man who appears to be a fool, but is he? Roxanne owns the local café… The name Roxanne is two syllables and the sound is hard because she's a strong, opinionated woman. Her daughter Maya is beautiful and smart, her son Terrill is strong. Detective Rodney is a harsh sounding name… as is the man. And, last but not least—the beautiful red-head and new officer in the Modesto police department—Pippa Roulette. Now, what would you expect from a name Pippa Roulette?

Who are your books published with?

After years of submittals and rejections and one short stint with a small press, I'm now a very happy Indie author. Right now all of my e-books are on Amazon and they are doing remarkably well. I have the Lalla Bains series available in print at my website.

How do you react to a bad review of your book?

I have a good snot-sob and then dry my tears and move on. Painful as bad reviews are, I have to accept that my books aren't for everyone. They're meant to be entertaining mysteries. If you want James North Patterson, he's down the hall, two doors on the left.

Tell us about your next release?

As of this writing I'm almost finished with my third Lalla Bains mystery titled, "A Dead Red Oleander." The cover will have the face of a billy goat munching on a stem of Oleander. (Yes, I know, it's poisonous).

My 4 Star Review of A Dead Red Heart

I sort of fell into the job of running a crop-dusting business when my dad decided he’d rather go on a cruise than take another season of lazy pilots, missing flaggers, testy farmers and horrific hours. After two years at the helm, I handed him back the keys and fled to a city without any of the above. And no, I was never a crop-duster.
I write about a tall, blond and beautiful ex-model turned crop-duster who, to quote Lalla Bains, says: “I’ve been married so many times they oughta revoke my license.” I wanted to give readers a peek at the not so-perfect -life of a beautiful woman. Lalla Bains is no Danielle Steele character, she’s not afraid of chipping her manicure—scratch that, the girl doesn’t have time for a manicure what with herding a bunch of recalcitrant pilots and juggling work orders just to keep her father’s flagging business alive.
I enjoy writing with humor, and if you enjoy my books, I'd love to hear from you! Here's my e-mail.
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