Meow – my guest is author Diane Vallere!
R: Tell us a bit about yourself and how you became interested in writing.
Having grown up reading Trixie Belden and Nancy Drew, I always wanted to write a mystery series, but I lacked ideas. My first foray into writing was actually Batman/Catwoman fan fiction (still unfinished). Eventually I discovered the humorous mystery genre (Lawrence Block’s Burglar Who…, Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series, Sarah Strohmeyer’s Bubbles books) and realized there was a whole genre of mystery series for adults. That’s when I first had the idea for a former fashion buyer amateur sleuth.
R: You write four different series! Can you tell us a bit about each of them?
The Style & Error series is the first that I wrote, and they feature former fashion buyer Samantha Kidd. In each book Samantha takes on a different job in the fashion industry. They are the most openly humorous of all of my series. I can put Samantha in situations that don’t fit my other amateurs, and I can see her enrolling in the citizen’s police academy and taking PI courses so she becomes a better investigator. (And Samantha has a black cat named Logan.)
The Madison Night mysteries (formerly subtitled Mad for Mod), feature an interior decorator who specializes in midcentury modern design and models her appearance and her business sense after Doris Day characters. Madison is in her late 40’s and is a reluctant sleuth. The chaos of mysteries around her have pulled her out of her self-imposed personal isolation, and forcing her to see that being alone isn’t what she wants. (Madison has a Shih Tzu named Rock.)
The Material Witness Mysteries feature Polyester Monroe, who inherits the fabric shop that she was born in (thus her name—though she goes by Poly). Poly is an old soul in a twenty-eight year old body, cherishes her family, and tries to make peace among friends and their own estranged families. She is a fixer: she sees problems and wants to fix them, whether they are her own problems or they belong to others. (Poly has two kittens: Pins and Needles.)
And to be fair, my fourth series doesn’t start until February! But that will be the Costume Shop mysteries, featuring Margo Tamblyn, who moves back to a small town in Nevada to help run her dad’s costume shop. Her mother died when she was born, and her father raised her on his own. He frequently dressed her in costumes for back to school clothes, so now in her thirties, she still has a love of costumes and wears elements of them every day. (Margo has a cranky gray cat named Soot.)
R: Tell us about your latest release, Crushed Velvet
In CRUSHED VELVET, Poly is awaiting the delivery of a proprietary blend of velvet for the re-opening of her fabric store, but when the shipment arrives, her friend’s husband is found dead underneath it. Now she has to help prove her friend’s innocence while getting the store ready to open. No easy feat!
R: Your series centers around clothes and clues! Are you a fashionista in real life?
I love clothes and accessories. I love getting dressed up. For as long as I can remember, my outfits have had themes: Coco Chanel (lots of pearls), Rhoda (head scarf and caftan or poncho), Sherlock (tweed cape), flight attendant (neckerchief shirt, and suit). I dress up less now that I write full time, but still I think clothing is fun! I have many items that I keep just in case I ever need them for a special event, and I can dress for almost any decade at a moment’s notice J
R: Do you have an “how I got my agent” story you’d like to share? How did you feel when you got the call your first novel had sold?
My story is a bit roundabout, and I joke with my agent that she rejected me four times before signing with me.
I’d been planning to self publish my first series, and I’d asked a fellow author to blurb it. She passed the manuscript to her editor, who asked if I’d be willing to rework it to fit their line. I politely declined, but offered an alternate idea: the material witness series. After submitting sample chapters and a proposal, they showed interest, so I approached my (now) agent and asked if she’d consider representing me.
R: What’s a must have for you when you are writing? What aids the creative process?
Because I spent so many lunch breaks writing in the years when I worked a FT job, I can write almost anywhere. I do need a notebook to scribble thoughts midway. My process is a little disorganized, so I have to capture all scraps of ideas as they happen so I can revisit them later.
R: What is one thing your readers would be most surprised to know about you?
Have you ever heard the story about the launch of Spanx and how Sara Blakely (the founder) demonstrated the benefits of her prototype footless pantyhose to the Neiman Marcus hosiery buyer in the bathroom of Neiman Marcus? I was the buyer.
R: What is the craziest thing you've ever done?
Moved from Pennsylvania (where I’d lived my whole life except for college) to Dallas, TX.
R: What do you hope readers will most take away from your writing?
The idea that if you’re not happy in life, you can change your future.
R: Where can we find out more about you and your work?
You can always come visit my website at www.dianevallere.com, or come to any of my bookstore events (always listed on the site)
R: Do you have any advice for beginning writers?
Read a lot. Read as much as you can. Read widely. Read the bestsellers. Read in the genre that you want to write.
R: What question do you wish interviewers would ask you? And what’s the answer?
Q: Why were you writing about Batman and Catwoman? A: I have no idea.
Just for Fun:
Night or Day? More difficult than you’d think! Madison Night is inspired by Doris Day!
Dog or Cat? (answer carefully) Cat J
Beach or Pool? Beach
Steak or salad? Steak
Favorite Drink? Pellegrino
Favorite Book? The Phantom Tollbooth
Favorite TV Series? Alias, That Girl, Murphy Brown
Favorite Movie? Some Like it Hot, How to Steal a Million, and Sixteen Candles
Finish this sentence: If I could meet anyone in the world, past or present, it would be John Hughes_
If I had just one wish, it would be_I’ve seen too many Twilight Zones to know that this is a bad question to answer!
If I could trade places with anyone in the world, it would be nobody. I’m pretty happy where I’m at.
You can find Diane at:
Diane will give away a fabric book cover to one lucky commenter! and Berkley has donated a copy of CRUSHED VELVET as a prize for another lucky commenter! To enter, leave a comment with your name and email address! For extra entries, you can do any or all of the below:
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Winner will be chosen at random using random.org. Don’t forget to mention all you’ve done in your comment. Good luck! Contest ends midnight, Monday, September 14.