I have a special treat for you today. I'm sitting here with my friend and author, Marcia Buompensiero. Marcia is the author of Dirty Little Murders and writes under the pen name, Loren Zahn. Welcome, Marcia. Let's start by finding out a little about you.
I live in San Diego, California. Married, yes to my long-suffering husband, Joe. For any writer, a long-suffering spouse is a necessity! My son Dave is a photojournalist with five Emmys under his belt for news reporting. He is also the inspiration for my mystery novel protagonist. My stepson Matt is equally talented and writes political satire blogs.
How long have you been writing, Marcia?Putting pen to paper—since grammar school. However, I really began crafting fantasies with imaginary friends as early as five. That got me into trouble and expelled—my first day—from kindergarten. It was during nap time when, armed with my mental storyboard inspired by my favorite Robert Luis Stephenson classics, Robin Hood and Treasure Island, I stood atop my folding cot and incited my classmates to riot—or I scared them—memory is fuzzy on that.
What type of writing do you normally do?My Theo Hunter mystery series fits the mystery/suspense/romance genre. I am also working on a fictional three generational family saga that incorporates actual events from my own family history.
Give us a brief synopsis of Dirty Little Murders.
San Diego – A sparkling city by the bay—but its shining image hides dirty secrets. Theo Hunter’s job is to dig them out. She's good at it—too good. But her career as an investigative reporter is nearly destroyed after her honest reporting embarrassed her newspaper’s biggest advertiser. She lost her job, reputation, and the man she loved. As Theo begins to rebuild her ruined life, her friend Stella goes missing. When Stella’s body washes up along the marshy US-Mexico border, her death is ruled accidental drowning—Theo doesn’t buy it. Despite a police cover-up led by her ex-fiancé, Theo unravels the dark secrets of Stella’s double-life and her connections to the city’s corrupt top officials. The political scandal she uncovers could bring down the city’s leadership. But before Theo can expose their corruption, she is thrust into the cross-hairs of a vicious killer.
What prompted you to write this book?
Dirty Little Murders is a work of fiction. While the idea for the novel’s elements was drawn from a real political scandal involving three San Diego city councilmen indicted for corruption several years ago, the murders were fictional and the characters are figments of my imagination. Any similarity between them and their exploits as depicted and any person living or dead is purely coincidental. As an author, I am captivated by the idea that real suspense and mystery happen every day in our lives. How well do we really know those in our communities and neighborhoods? The people we work, live and play with? Nothing is as scary as the sociopaths who live among us. When self-preservation is at risk, they will gain our trust and stalk the halls of our daily lives, waiting for the right moment to catch us alone.
How long did it take to write it?
Less than one year. The basic outline, plot and scenes were developed in two months. The research, fact-checking, editing, and rewrites took another six months. Most writers will agree that editing is never done. Most books would never be published if someone (usually the publisher or editor) didn’t yank the manuscript from the author’s hands.
Do you have a favorite line from the book?In one scene, Theo Hunter is describing a vicious political battle fueled by religious zealot extremists. She says, “I decided a long time ago, just because you go to church, it doesn’t necessarily make you a Christian any more than standing in your garage makes you a car.”
Is it published and, if so, when and by whom?Dirty Little Murders was published in 2009 by Xlibris Publishing.
How can my readers get a copy of the book?Thank you, for the plug! It is available on Amazon.com and Xlibris.com.
Tell us about your character, Theo Hunter.Theo is a principled young investigative reporter dedicated to uncovering corruption. This gets her into trouble—professionally and personally. It complicates her love life with police detective Frank Marino who thinks she takes dangerous chances and wants her to quit her job. Their on-again/off-again relationship is awash in conflict. Theo is dedicated to her friends, especially her best friend Abby Archer. Abby is Theo’s true north when it comes to philosophy and judgment. If Theo followed Abby’s advice more she could avoid some near-fatal situations. But, then, we’d have no story. What’s the fun in that!
What’s next for you?I am in final editing (yes, final—my editor says so) of the next book in the Theo Hunter series, Dirty Little Lies, which will be published in the fall of 2014. Here’s a brief synopsis:
All hell is about to break loose in San Diego. A retired priest is murdered and a note at the scene brands him a rapist. Father Tony Machado—a one-time student of the dead priest and now a US Navy Chaplain—thinks it’s a set up. When Father Tony asks his old flame Theo Hunter to set the record straight, she agrees to help against her better judgment. Theo interviews several men, upstanding pillars in San Diego’s social and business community, who were once students at a prestigious boy’s school where the dead priest taught for thirty years. The men all vouch for his reputation—case closed. Theo is about to wrap up her findings when one of the men is killed. Within days another is murdered. When she uncovers evidence that ties them and the murdered priest to a decade’s old unsolved crime, her gut tells her someone is trying to settle an old score. Theo narrow’s her suspects to two—one the killer, the other the next target. Finding out which is which puts Theo dead center in the killer’s sights.
What is your advice to would be writers?
When I started, I was clueless about the publishing industry. Make no mistake, it is big business. Anyone who hopes to be successful will find that even with a traditional publisher the author must be willing to do a certain amount of marketing on his/her own. Unless you are James Patterson, Stephen King or J. K. Rowling, you will have to learn to sell yourself as well as your work. The business of marketing may be daunting, especially to writers who are often reclusive, do your research. There are publications about all aspects of the business. Acquaint yourself with them. Step out of your comfort zone and meet fellow authors. Join writer critique groups and find a writers organization that will encourage and help you to grow. I found the San Diego Writers/Editors Guild (SDW/EG) to be a good fit for me. My association with its members who are professionals in the writing field has been a tremendous help.
What do you wish you knew when you started your writing career?It would have been helpful to understand more about the publishing and marketing end of the business. As I said, research and reading about publishing will help to some extent, but my involvement with SDW/EG has taught me much more and exposed me to so many industry professionals who are willing and anxious to share what they have learned.
Oh, and don’t expect to make millions! Writing is a labor of love—which, as many authors will tell you, is its own reward.
Thank you, Marcia. It's been a pleasure!
Quote of the Day: There will be time to murder and create. Thomas Stearns Eliot.