An artful combination of humor, sex and savagery make Arlene Kay’s mysteries unique. The published author of INTRUSION; DIE LAUGHING; The ABACUS PRIZE; and this year’s Boston Uncommon Series (SWANN DIVE; MANTRAP; GILT TRIP; & SWANN SONG), is a former federal executive with one of those alphabet agencies who traded the trappings of bureaucracy for the delights of murder most foul. She wisely confines her crimes to fiction.
What is the inspiration for your latest book/source of ideas?
Several years ago, The New York Times reported the presumed suicide of a young banker. She was brilliant, beautiful and successful in her career. For some unknown reason she accessed the roof of a highrise to which she had no connection and plunged to her death. Ironically, she was scheduled to meet pals for brunch that very morning.
I read that and said, “Wait just a minute …”
That was the impetus for SWANN DIVE, the first book in the Boston Uncommon Series.
MANTRAP(book #2) was inspired by an obituary for a scion of Italy’s richest family who died while bicycling in South Africa. Suspicious, no? GILT TRIP (book#3, Oct’14) grew from my reaction to those annoying television ads hawking gold. I wondered how buyers would know if what they received was really gold. An article in the Boston Globe about a movement to make ugliness a protected class under the law spawned SWANN SONG, the final book in the series. (2015). Plot ideas abound if a writer is sensitized to them.
Please, give us a description of a hero or heroine?
I love Eja Kane, the protagonist of the SWANN Series, and readers have told me they can identify with her. She’s bright (all my heroines are), passionate, and somewhat insecure about her appearance. Most of all she is a loyal, steadfast friend to those she cares about. Eja is a mystery writer which means she is also incurably nosey. In MANTRAP, she risks losing everything she holds dear in order to find the truth.
Deming Swann: He’s the kind of guy you run into everywhere: brilliant, gorgeous, and filthy rich. (LOL) He has loved Eja since they were in pre-school, even though they sparred about almost everything, and Eja ultimately married someone else. Deming can be pompous (a touch of Mr. Darcy here), but he has a sensitive streak a mile wide. Naturally, he has fantastic hair. That’s one cliché I happily plead guilty to.
How likely are friends/enemies/acquaintances to appear in your novels?
A lot of quirky characters populate my books. Some of them are reminiscent of people I have known. Confession time: it pleased me when at least one victim was remarkably like a dreaded former supervisor. (hearty LOL). Over the years, I worked in 12 different states, so I got the chance to observe a lot of humanity,”nature red in tooth and claw,” as Tennyson said.
Tell us about Critique Groups and partners.
I belonged to a critique group for 7 years, and it equipped me to become a published author. I still have a writing partner who helps to ground me. From those sources I learned humility and the grace to listen, improve, and accept criticism. (even when they were SO wrong and I vehemently disagreed with it).
I am an unabashed anglophile and as such I love Shakespeare, Jane Austen, and most Brit crime writers. Thumbs down to the dreary fellows—Dickens, Hardy etc. The dour Russians don’t do much for me either.
Among contemporary American writers, I adore Joseph Heller, William F. Buckley and Gore Vidal. I also have a secret crush on Nelson DeMille. They all write witty, snarky characters and make me envious of their vast talent. Elizabeth Peters made me appreciate how effective the alliance of romance, sprightly dialogue and mystery can be.
Do you belong to Writing Organizations?
I belong to Sisters in Crime; Romance Writers of America; International Thriller Writers; and Kiss of Death, as well as my local mother ship, the Cape Cod Writers’ Center. I’ve learned so much from all of them.
PRECIS OF MANTRAP(Book #2 of Boston Uncommons Series)
Was Dario Peters’ death a tragic biking accident, or cold-blooded murder? He was rich, arrogant and cruel but the apple of his doting grandma’s eye. She begs amateur sleuths Eja Kane and Deming Swann to come to Cape Cod to investigate. They can’t resist even though their relationship and their lives are imperiled.
Thank you to Marian and Arlene for being with us today!
Wishing you many sales! – Susan