Friday, July 10, 2009
THE MISSING INK Blog Tour with Karen E. Olson
Karen E. Olson, author of the Annie Seymour mysteries, has just released the first of her new, Tattoo Shop Mysteries series - THE MISSING INK. I was lucky enough to be able to read an advance copy, and I enjoyed every minute of it. It was very different for me, because I'd really grown to love Annie, who is a very different character from Brett Cavanaugh, Karen's new protagonist, but Brett grew on me quickly. She's very creative and whimsical, but she's also tenacious and, in some ways, much more sure of herself than Annie, from my point of view.
But who cares about my point of view when we've got Karen?
1. What did you enjoy the most about starting the new series?
I had so much fun coming up with new characters, new voices, a new setting. While I was sorry to be leaving Annie and New Haven behind, it was a real challenge and a pleasure to discover that I had more characters in my head than just the ones in the Annie series. It made me realize that I can write outside my comfort zone and be comfortable with it.
2. I know you had to take a trip to Vegas for “research” (just joking about putting it in quotation marks). Tell us about some interesting experiences from your research. Also, did you choose the inspiration for Versailles, etc., based on your trip, or were some of your locations, like the Venetian, set in place ahead of time?
I was in Vegas about 12 years ago for a couple of days, so I had a little bit of experience with it! But in the middle of writing THE MISSING INK I realized I needed to go there again, to see what had changed, to get a little more of the ambiance. We stayed at the MGM and spent a lot of time at the Venetian Grand Canal Shoppes. I’d already decided that Brett’s shop should be there, so I took a lot of pictures and notes. I added some foodie stuff, especially after having the fabulous crepes in Paris. Versailles sprouted from visiting all the crazy, themed resorts. I needed to create a resort, though, because I couldn’t have crimes occurring in real places! One place I hadn’t been to before was Red Rock Canyon, which is stunningly beautiful. Unfortunately it was 110 degrees in June and we couldn’t hike.
3. How was it to write more of an ensemble piece? While there was certainly a wonderful cast of characters in the Annie Seymour series, this series seems to put almost as much emphasis on secondary characters as on Brett. I thought the secondaries were a total hoot, by the way!
Annie is a loner, basically. She doesn’t have a huge circle of friends and that’s okay with her. But Brett is different in that she’s befriended her employees and has good relationships with them. I had great fun with Bitsy and Joel, and you’ll see more of Ace in PRETTY IN INK. I wanted to create more of a world with more characters this time around.
4. Did you go through withdrawal switching from a hard-swearing, hard-boiled reporter character to a Catholic schoolgirl tattooist who calls on her memories of Sister Mary Eucharista for behavior guidelines?
I love Annie, because I know her. I know people like her, and I’ve been like her at times. And I grew to love Brett, who is sort of the anti-Annie, except that she has the same tenacity. I wanted to create a character who was not a stereotype but still had an edge to her. And she’s happy with her life. She’s not grumpy. It’s been so great writing a character who has no angst!
5. They say that all artists paint self-portraits within each portrait they paint of others, and the same can be said for writers and their protagonists. Who is more “you” – Annie or Brett?
Annie started out more me, but grew away from me with each book as I found out more about her. I suppose she is more “me,” in that she’s got the career I had. But Brett is the good girl with a twist, and I’ve always wanted to be more of a rebel. Is that vague enough for you?
6. What are you enjoying most about setting the new series in a place you haven’t lived as opposed to writing about a place where you’re currently living?
Everyone loves Vegas. It’s so over the top, and I feel like my plots and characters can be over the top, too. I don’t have to stick with real locations if I don’t want to, which is fun, and when I was there last year I met a Vegas native who said that the landscape there changes every six months so don’t worry about being true to streets or hotels or restaurants or anything else. It was very freeing. In New Haven, I was locked in and felt an obligation to be as true to the city as I could. Vegas doesn’t care.
7. What is the one, key thing that people should know about Brett?
She is just a nice person with a job she loves that pays the bills and she just happens to get mixed up in solving crimes. As long as people suspend their disbelief about a tattooist turned crime solver, then I’m happy.
8. Are we going to see more of Simon? And do we really have to wait to April 2010 for PRETTY IN INK? Can we get a sneak preview of what Brett will be facing in PRETTY IN INK (other than hilarious names for cross-dressing strippers)?
Simon is not back in the next book. He was going to break her heart, and she knows that. But there is a new guy in PRETTY IN INK, which actually is now scheduled to come out in March. In PRETTY IN INK, Brett gets all caught up in the deaths of two drag queens.
Thanks so much for having me here today!
You can buy a signed copy of Karen's book, THE MISSING INK, by clicking here (Mystery Lovers Bookshop is an independent bookstore in Oakmont, PA), or for regular copies, go to your local, independent bookstore, or get it from any of the usual online or commercial outlets. In our area, it's carried at Nicola's Books, Aunt Agatha's and the big box stores.
You can WIN a copy of THE MISSING INK just by leaving a comment at the end of this post. You have until Sunday, July 19th at 10 p.m., E.D.T. to leave your comments. Cheers!