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Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Good reads

I'm often doling out and accepting book recommendations in real life. Today, I'm not only giving you a recommendation, I'm letting you hear from the author herself, who's also a friend of mine. It's not about crafts -- it's about crime reporting, another topic disturbingly near to my heart.

As some of you know already, before moving to New York City, I was a reporter for about four years at the New Haven Register. One of my first editors was Karen E. Olson, who stayed on the phone with me for an hour when I lost power in my attic apartment during my first week in Connecticut. Since then, she's developed into a fabulous mystery writer, writing about a dogged female crime reporter in New Haven. I devoured her first two books, and her third, "Dead of the Day," comes out today.

Karen is a blogger, too, and asked if she could stop here on her week-long blog tour. I know some of my readers are either reporters themselves, news junkies or just like hearing my crazy stories. So I thought you'd all appreciate hearing from her:

I am not a crafty person. I still have half an afghan I crocheted when I was 12 (I never finished it because I ran out of yarn. I could’ve used this blog then, but the Internet wasn’t even a twinkle in anyone’s eye yet.) But I did have a creative side, and while I wasn’t weaving sweaters, I was weaving stories.

I spent my twenties writing newspaper stories. I covered a lot of planning and zoning and school board meetings. I only covered two murders in my six years as a reporter, and neither of them was a mystery. In one case, a teenager killed his father over a pack of cigarettes, and in the other, a man killed his girlfriend’s former boyfriend. He called the police himself and waited for them to arrive.

When I started writing murder mysteries, I knew the stories had to be a lot more interesting and complicated than any I’d actually written. I also hadn’t liked any of the books I’d read with reporter protagonists, because they really didn’t seem true to the profession. I have tried to be faithful to what it’s really like working at a newspaper — because every newspaper is the same. They’re all in a crappy building with crappy carpets and crappy computer systems.

My reporter protagonist waits for sources to call her, she argues with the editor about how to cover stories, and she’s irritated by a new, eager hire who’s after her job. She uses a lot of four-letter words (I have had readers wonder why a nice reporter like her would use such language), and she drives around a lot, mostly looking for parking. I did have to cross the line a little to give readers what they expect from a mystery and put her in danger in each book.

For the record, I have never owned a gun, although at one paper, I did work with a sports editor who kept one in his car’s glove box. I shot a gun for the first time last year. Let’s just say I’m not making it a habit.

In DEAD OF THE DAY, my third book that’s just out today, Annie Seymour is trying to write a profile of the city’s new police chief. She just can’t pull it together, but when he’s gunned down she’s got the kind of story she can get her teeth into. This book has a lot more action than the previous ones, and I even tackle the illegal immigration issue, although I tried carefully to present all sides and not take one myself. It’s the journalist in me.

I doubt that I will have Annie ever take up knitting, although maybe I will pull that old afghan out of the closet and see what I can do with it while I’m trying to devise my next plot. It’s still remarkably in good shape. But I still don’t have any yarn. Any ideas?


Blogger The_Add_Knitter said...

Thanks Carrie! My mom will love this book as it's right up her (dark) alley!

10:14 AM  
Blogger Miss Scarlett said...

Hey those books sound good - I'll check them out.

12:28 PM  
Anonymous Katie said...

Oooh, I love mysteries! I will certainly check this one out - I'm adding it to my Amazon list now. Thanks for stopping by, Karen! And thanks for hosting, Carrie!

1:36 PM  
Blogger Sarah said...

I love a good mystery novel. I will check out her books. Thank you for the tip.

2:01 PM  
Anonymous Lori G. Armstrong said...

Hey, Karen, I'm with you on the "no-craft" gene. My oldest daughter learned to knit...and has taught daughters #2 and #3 how to. SO, everywhere you look in my house lately, there's a half-finished project, scarves mostly at this point :)

3:07 PM  
Anonymous Katy said...

Heyyyyy, that's one of ours! Great reviews for her earlier books, so I imagine this one will be a winner too...

3:39 PM  
Blogger Karen Olson said...

Thanks so much for having me over here, Carrie! And I wish I had more of that craft gene, but I love your blog anyway :)

5:15 PM  
Blogger Literary Feline said...

I tried my hand at crocheting several times and still haven't had much luck. :-(

Thank you for sharing your personal story about Karen, Carrie. It's always interesting getting to know a bit about a favorite author in her "past" life.

12:46 AM  
Anonymous christa said...

hey, karen. congrats on book no. 3! i also remember you when we were both crouched over crappy computers in rooms covered with acres of coffee-stained carpet. i don't think i ever covered a good murder either, with the exception of the aftermath. court stories tend to be a lot less mysterious.

11:27 AM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

That sounds like such an interesting read! I'll have to keep my eye out for it.

10:11 PM  
Blogger schrodinger said...

Karen might be sad about missing a crafting gene, but I'm sad about missing out on a writing gene. Sounds like an intriguing read.

10:39 PM  

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