While I’m out in Arizona plotting awesome books and attending the Desert Dreams conference, Elaine Viets is filling in for me.
I am SO excited to have Elaine here. She’s funny and talented and beautiful! Plus she has the most fabulous car! I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Elaine a few times in Florida. Unfortunately, my picture filing system involves no labeling so finding a picture of the two of us or her Jag is impossible. But that’s okay. She’s sent great pictures!
So without further ado, take it away, Elaine
Sue Grafton’s private eye, Kinsey Milhone, has been married and divorced twice. She’s a loner who had lovers, but a jaundiced view of marriage. Grafton supposedly didn’t want to write the Nick and Nora Charles dialogue a happy couple requires.
Helen Hawthorne, my Dead-End Job private eye, is also divorced after an unhappy marriage. She’s bitter about marriage and wary of romance.
But while Kinsey stays happily – and successfully – single in the 1980s, I wanted Helen Hawthorne to change and grow in the present. Helen has made two life-changing moves.
In the next book, “Pumped for Murder,” Helen and Phil opened Coronado Investigations, their private eye agency, at the Coronado Tropical Apartments, where they live. Now, in my new mystery, “Final Sail,” Helen and Phil work two cases.
Married romance gave me major headaches.
I had to worry about their living arrangements. The Coronado, an Art Moderne complex, was built – and furnished –in 1949. The apartments are small one-bedroom units. Helen and Phil didn’t really want to leave the Coronado. They like its mid-century style and their neighbors. Margery Flax, their landlady, is Helen’s surrogate mother.
The new couple decided to stay at the Coronado and keep their old apartments. Most nights, Helen sleeps at Phil’s place. She thinks it makes their married love feel illicit. But if Helen needs to be by herself, or Phil wants to play his music extra loud, they retreat to their separate apartments. Helen’s six-toed cat, Thumbs, doesn’t care where they live, as long as he gets fed on time.
But there was another headache: I believe married couples should be equals. I had to make sure that Helen and Phil had equal roles in each mystery. In “Final Sail,” both detectives take undercover jobs: Helen works as a stewardess on a luxury yacht and Phil is the estate manager for a woman who may have killed her rich husband.
As for writing that snappy dialogue, it turned out not to be so difficult. Helen and Phil are bright, funny people. Marriage wouldn’t change that.
In “Final Sail,” Phil calls Helen on his cell phone and reports what happens as he tails Blossom, who may be a self-made widow. Blossom tears out of her mansion to a grungy convenience store on the other side of Fort Lauderdale. Here’s a sample:
“Is she going to a Seven-Eleven?” Helen asked.
“Too high-class,” Phil said. “This is a nameless, paintless cinderblock dump. Sells giant sodas, cigarettes, lottery tickets and chili dogs with a side of salmonella. It’s also a pickup spot for day laborers. I’ve passed it early in the morning when the contractors’ trucks arrive. The day laborers are a rough-looking crew. A sensible woman wouldn’t walk into that store alone. Hell, I’d think twice about it. It looks like a hold-up waiting to happen.
“At least this part is easy. Blossom’s flashy red sports car sticks out like a sore thumb in the lot. She’s parking the Porsche by the door, next to a beat-up van with its back doors wired shut. Wait! She’s getting out.”
“She’s not going inside, is she?” Helen asked.
“She’s heading toward the door. Is that woman nuts, wearing jeans that tight? Now she’s sashayed past the door to the payphone. She’s gripping her purse and she’s got an orange card in her hand, like a credit card. Man, that phone looks filthy. I don’t know how she can hold the receiver to her face. She’s punching in numbers. Looks like someone answered. Now she’s talking and giggling. Blossom looks like a very merry widow.”
“Can you hear her?” Helen asked.
“Not across the street,” Phil said. “Can’t get too close. But I can take some pictures. She’s still talking and laughing. That’s right, Blossom, smile for the camera. Gotcha!”
Phil got the photos that would lead to a break in the case in “Final Sail.”
“Final Sail” will be published May 1 as a hardcover and an e-book. You can preorder your copy and read a sample chapter here: www.elaineviets.com
Here’s the 40-second book trailer: http://tinyurl.com/8a77vah
Cyndi: Since this is Everybody Needs A Little Romance, what’s your idea of romance?
Elaine: Giving the one you love unexpected gifts. Tuesday, Don brought me flowers for no reason. For Valentine’s Day, I gave him a hubcap for his 1986 Jaguar. We’ve been married 40 years.
Cyndi: Great answer! I love this series. FINAL SALE sound like a great read.
Thanks so much for being here today.
So what questions do you have for Elaine? Let ’em rip!