Friday, May 22, 2015

Welcome Our Weekend guest....Elaine Viets to the Blog!

          “Checked Out” is Elaine Viets 14th Dead-End Job hardcover mystery from Obsidian. South Florida PI Helen Hawthorne searches for a missing million-dollar painting in a Florida library with an organic mouse catcher and a ghost who may be all too real. The New York Times praises Elaine’s “quick-witted mysteries.”

“Shop till You Drop,” her first Dead-end Job Mystery, made the list of 16 Florida Must Read Books, along with John D. MacDonald, Carl Hiaasen and Elmore Leonard.

Elaine recently took the MedicoLegal Death Investigators Course for forensic professionals, given by St. Louis University. She lives in Fort Lauderdale. She’s won the Anthony, Agatha, and Lefty Awards.

Q: Welcome Elaine! Tell us a little about your background.

A: Thanks ROCCO! I live in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, with my husband, newspaper reporter Don Crinklaw, and two cats, Harry and Mystery. I grew up in St. Louis and was a  reporter and columnist for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch for 27 years, and a syndicated columnist for United Media in New York. Then I started writing mysteries for Dell.

           My first four-book mystery series featured six-foot-tall newspaper columnist Francesca Vierling and was very dark. I have two other series, the cozy  Josie Marcus Mystery Shopper Mysteries (ten books) and the traditional Dead-End Job series (14 books), as well as short stories.

           I’m currently writing a new dark series featuring Death Investigator Angela Richman. Death investigators work out of the medical examiner’s office. At a death scene, the DI takes care of the body, measuring, documenting it, photographing it, etc. The police investigate the rest of the scene. Recently, I  took the MedicoLegal Death Investigator Training Course for forensic professionals, given by St. Louis University.


Tell us about your Dead-End Job series. How did that come about?

A: RandomHouse wiped out the division that published my Francesca Vierling series. While my agent looked for a new publisher, I went to work at a Barnes & Noble in Hollywood, Florida. When I was a bookseller, people treated me differently than when I was a columnist for a major newspaper. My time at the bookstore was the inspiration for my Dead-End Job mystery series, and I wrote Murder Between the Covers, the second Dead-End Job mystery.

Q:You also write the “mystery shopper” series.  Are you a shopaholic?

A: No, I’d rather shop on the Internet and avoid the mall. I don’t like big crowds – except at my book signings.


Q: How do you “get to know” your characters before and while you’re writing the books?

A: They seem to come alive for me as I write. I can see Helen’s landlady, Margery, with her gray hair and wild purple outfits, even smell her cigarette smoke. I hear her funny, sarcastic jokes. I imagine the sunset salutes by the pool at the Coronado Tropic Apartments, and hear Phil, Helen’s husband and PI partner, popping the top on another beer. The Florida  air is very soft and everyone is slightly sweaty.

          My great-uncle saw people in his mind and they talked to him, and he lived in a nice, padded room in a big building. But I get paid for my fantasies.

Q: How do you construct your plots? Do you outline or do you write “by the seat of your pants”?

A: I outline, but that outline is a road map, not a superhighway. If I get deep into the book and the plot outline isn’t working, I turn off that road and go in a different direction.

I agree with Sue Grafton who said she wrote seven novels before she started writing mysteries because mysteries have complex plotting. In traditional mysteries, all the clues to the murder must be there, with enough red herrings to lead readers to the wrong conclusion while they enjoy a satisfying ending.

Q: Which do you consider more important, plot or character?

A: Character. If readers don’t like your characters, they won’t care about your plot.

Q: What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a writer and what inspires you and keeps you motivated?

A: My first series, which featured newspaper columnist Francesca Vierling, was cancelled after four books in 1999. I was devastated. That’s when I went to work at a bookstore selling other authors’ novels. And discovered “clerk abuse.” If customers had had a bad day at home or at work, they’d take it out on the bookstore clerk. Working there was the inspiration for my long-running Dead-End Job mysteries.

My motivation? I love spinning tales and hope my readers enjoy them.

Q: What are you working on now and what are your future writing plans?

A: I’m starting my next Dead-End Job mystery, The Art of Murder. The fifteenth Dead-End Job mystery takes place at an offbeat museum with a romantic history. I’m also writing a short story and working on the Angela Richman Death Investigator series.

Q: What is a typical workday for you and how many hours a day (or week) do you devote to writing?

A: I get up about eight, have breakfast and start work about ten a.m. I write until noon, when I stop for tea, then go back to work until three o’clock when I have lunch. I write from four to seven p.m., then go for a walk along the water or work out at the gym. I write seven or eight hours a day, seven days a week.

Q: What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done?

A: You want me to mention that here? No way, Rocco.

Q: What’s one thing your readers would be surprised to find out about you?

A: I wanted to become a contemplative nun, a Pink Sister. Those are German nuns who spend their days in prayer and silent contemplation and wear very cool pink habits. I was the only girl in a house with three younger brothers. A life of absolute silence seemed like a good idea – until I discovered boys who weren’t my brothers.

Q:What question do you wish interviewers would ask? (And what’s the answer?)

A: You’ve asked me about everything but my shoe size. (It’s 11B.)

Where can we learn more about you and your books?

On my Website,

I blog for the Femmes Fatales with eight mystery writers, including Charlaine Harris, Dana Cameron, Catriona McPherson, Donna Andrews, Dean/Miranda James, Hank Philippi Ryan, Toni L. P. Kelner, Mary Saums, Marcia Talley, Kris Neri at

And I’m one of 11 writers who blogs for the award-winning The Kill Zone.

Just for Fun:

Night or Day? Night

Dog or Cat? (answer carefully) Two cats, a pedigreed French Chartreux named Mystery and Harry, my striped rescue tabby.

Beach or Pool?   Beach

Steak or salad?  Salad

Favorite Drink?  Dragonwell Green Tea

Favorite Book? The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain.

Favorite TV Series?  Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Favorite Movie?  Burn! with Marlon Brando

Favorite Actor: Leonardo DiCaprio

Favorite Actress: Helen Mirren

Dirty Martini or Pina Colada? Pina Colada

Hawaii or Alaska? Hawaii

Finish this sentence:  If I could meet anyone in the world, past or present, it would be Mark Twain.

Where you can find Elaine:

Usually at my desk in Fort Lauderdale, writing, assisted by my two cats, Harry and Mystery. But I’m on tour May 1-12, traveling from Maryland to North Carolina to St. Louis. Then I come home for more signings in South Florida. To find out where, click Events at

Online, you can find me at:

Facebook: ElaineVietsMysteryWriter

Twitter: @evmysterywriter

Folks, Check out the free “Libraries Are Like Vegas” poster and her monthly book giveaway Contest  at

Thanks to the good folks at Berkley, we have one copy of Elaine's latest book to give away!  to enter, leave a commnt with your email address below!  The winner will be chosen by  Contest ends midnight, May 25.  For extra entries you can:

FB about this contest
Tweet about this contest
Friend me on Facebook
Follow ROCCO on twitter @RoccoBlogger

Good luck!


  1. Wonderful interview and where WILL you discuss the craziest thing that you've ever done. ;-)

  2. Great interview! I love this series.

  3. Great Interview!

  4. Taking the forensics course is an incredible length to go to to learn about what your are writing, but I appreciate it as a reader! It drives me bonkers when writers don't do their homework.
    As for clerk abuse, that goes for nearly every job, especially if the worker wears a uniform; people get pushed around in their jobs, they push someone else around. It's an awfully low point in human nature.
    Sign me up! I loved the answers here and am really interested. I wish Elaine continued success.
    I follow on Twitter; I tweeted
    I am a Friend on FB' I shared on FB
    I follow the blog

    1. Sad but true, Tonette. What amazed me was how many kind people I met when I did those dead-end jobs. They were burdened by debt and family worries but remained cheerful. I admire them greatly -- I whine when I'm unhappy..

  5. Great interview(er and ee). Love to learn more about wonderful authors. Thanks for the opportunity to win a book! kayt18 at comcast dot net

  6. I can't wait -but must - for the new series.

  7. Thanks for the interview with Elaine Viets. I always enjoy learning more about the author when looking at their books.

  8. Thanks for the interview---but sadly there are too many real dead end jobs now. Hope to win the book. I also follow you on facebook and twitter in addition to being an email subscriber.

  9. Nice interview. Great series!

  10. Love the series. Thanks for the interview and giveaway.

  11. Excellent interview, Rocco and Toni. It's always fascinating to read about new authors a d their inspiration. Elaine Viets is a new author to me, and I look forward to reading her books. We're friends on Facebook, I follow your blog and I follow you on Twitter. Ruth - Ruth Lyons Mazur

  12. Elaine's books sound like great reads and I look forward to reading them. If not familiar with her work, but I like being introduced to new authors. We're friends on Facebook, Toni, I flog your blog, but I'm not on Twitter. Thank you for the chance to win this book. j_mazur@msn.som

  13. Your books sound wonderful. And I agree people do treat you different depending on your job.
    Theresa N