Guest Author Jean Erhardt!
In Small Town Trouble, the first in a series, we get acquainted with Kim Claypoole’s irreverent and witty ways of dealing with the peculiar characters and events that she finds in her life. I poured Jean a cup of coffee (she appreciates the good stuff) and asked her some questions:
How much of yourself is hidden in the characters in your book?
The protagonist, Kim Claypoole and I are alike in a lot of ways. We share the same sense of humor and both have a penchant for damsels in distress. For years, I worked as a private investigator and personal protection specialist aka bodyguard. On one memorable occasion, I was holed up for two weeks in a high-end, high security hotel situation with a loaded .38 and a female client from a country which started with I. She was in the process of divorcing her crazed, psychopathic husband who was richer than God. She chain smoked long, rainbow colored cigarettes, drank gallons of Persian tea and carried on lengthy boisterous phone conversations in Farse at all hours of the day and night. By the end of the two weeks I was almost hoping that her husband would show up and shoot me. But things turned out well for both of us. I got a big paycheck and she is now living happily ever after under an alias enjoying her multi-million dollar divorce settlement in an exotic, sunny locale.
How much of a story did you have in mind before you started writing?
I had Kim Claypoole, and I knew I wanted to set the mystery series largely in the Great Smoky Mountains.
What genre(s) do you write?
I used to write morose short stories about loss and betrayal and picaresque-like novels. Now it’s mystery.
How do you develop and differentiate your characters?
My characters seem to develop and differentiate themselves.
Do you have specific techniques you use to develop the plot and stay on track?
I let the plot take it’s own course.
How (or when) do you decide that you are finished writing a story?
When it feels really DONE and I have sufficient word count.
Is there a message in your writing you want readers to grasp?
I want readers to be entertained and excited about reading the next book!
What are you working on right now?
I’m working on the fifth book in the Kim Claypoole mystery series. I have also just begun to write a new mystery series featuring Portland, Oregon PI, Haley Hammel, which I am excited about.
Have you always wanted to be a writer?
I think so!
At what age did you discover your love of writing?
I wrote my first mystery story in fourth grade and had a blast doing it.
Do you remember the first story that you wrote?
Yes, it was a mystery story about a girl who hears strange noises coming from the attic. Had a really cheesy ending.
Are you self published or working with a publisher. if a publisher, how were you discovered?
Untreed Reads is my ebook publisher. And Lethe Press for the paperback I had a little help from a writer/teacher friend, Joyce Thompson with getting into print. She has a great new mystery out titled How to Greet Strangers: A Mystery.
What is the most difficult part of the whole writing process for you?
Finding time! I work full-time in cemetery and mausoleum sales.
What do you like to read? Do you have any favorite authors?
Mysteries and great short stories. My fave mystery writers are Kinky Friedman (very funny guy!), John D. MacDonald and Robert B. Parker. I also like Janet Evanovich’s early Stephanie Plum books. For stories, it’s hard to beat Joy Williams.
Which authors influence you the most?
Probably Kinky Friedman, Robert B. Parker and Ian Fleming.
If your book was made into a TV series or movie, which actors would you like to see playing your characters?
Actually, Small Town Trouble has been optioned for a movie. Screenplay done. Director/producer Mike Bizzarri is going after funding as we speak. I would love to see Maria Bello as Claypoole. Or, of course, Ellen Degeneres!
Where can people learn more about you?
I invite readers and writers to visit my webpage and Facebook links. I love hearing from readers and writers and do my best to respond promptly!
Is there anything else you’d like to tell us about yourself?
I am truly grateful to the creative and energetic book bloggers who work hard to champion writers and books! Also, a huge, big thanks to the readers out there for making what we do worthwhile.
Thanks so much, Jean, for stopping by!