Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Carolyn Rose's No Substitute for Murder

Carolyn J. Rose is the author of a number of novels, including recent indie titles A Place of Forgetting (ranked in the Kindle top 1,000 in January), An Uncertain Refuge (ranked in the Kindle top 2,000 in Jaunary), and No Substitute for Murder. A mainstream mystery, Hemlock Lake, was released by Five Star in 2010, and two Oregon-coast mysteries (The Big Grabowski and Sometimes a Great Commotion) penned with her husband, Mike Nettleton, came out through Krill Press in 2009 and 2010. In addition, she has six novels available through SynergEbooks.

She grew up in New York’s Catskill Mountains, graduated from the University of Arizona, logged two years in Arkansas with Volunteers in Service to America, and spent 25 years as a television news researcher, writer, producer, and assignment editor in Arkansas, New Mexico, Oregon, and Washington. She lives in Vancouver, Washington, and founded the Vancouver Writers’ Mixers. Her interests are reading, gardening, and not cooking.

She’s addicted to Cheetos but made a rule that she can only have them when she’s on vacation or when she finishes writing a book.

How many books have you written?

14 if you count the two that are in first-draft form and will come out later this year.
Give a short synop of some of your most recent books.
No Substitute for Murder
Divorced from a philandering con man and downsized from her job as a talk radio show producer, Barbara Reed is desperate for money. She’s got a mortgage, a college loan, an aging car, and a ten-pound dog named Cheese Puff.

With her unemployment checks running out, she signs on as a high school substitute teacher and learns what stress is all about. When she finds history teacher Henry Stoddard strangled with his own outdated tie, her stress level soars into the red zone. Then she’s assigned to cover his classes.

Stoddard was a bully and a blackmailer. The list of suspects is a long one, and police put Barb at the top. When she discovers a second body, the noose of circumstantial evidence tightens.

With help from the showgirl widow of a reputed mobster, a trash-scavenging derelict, and members of the Cheese Puff Care and Comfort Committee, Barb struggles to keep a grip on her job, her sanity, and her freedom.
Here's my review: for No Substitute for Murder:

As a former educator, I have to admit that Carolyn Rose's account of subsitute teaching cracked me up, mostly due to her humor. The first character she introduces is Wilhemina Frost, affectionately called Big Chill, who schedules subs for teachers. I could swear I worked with this woman for six years. LOL. And who among us hasn't worked with someone who was "a festering boil on the backside"?

I enjoyed the main character, who admitted to having "a water glass figure" and her narration about subbing and getting herself involved in a murder investigation through no fault of her own.

I giggled throughout the novel, vowing to read another book by Carolyn Rose. If you enjoy a mystery with plenty of chuckles, check out No Substitute for Murder.

A Place of Forgetting
1966. As summer ends in Maplekill, New York, the dreams of 19-year-old Liz Roark turn to dust. A girl known only as April arrives carrying a duffel bag of bright clothing and an engagement ring from Liz’s childhood sweetheart Ben Hoyt, a Marine missing in action in Vietnam.

Grieving for Ben and for what she thought was love, Liz flees small-town sympathy and humiliation, heading for Chicago to study journalism. But April hijacks the journey, steering them to a remote Arkansas farm and a psychic she hopes will validate her yearning for fame and fortune.
Ripped off and stranded on the psychic’s mountaintop with only a few dollars and a copy of Walden, Liz learns powerful lessons about trust, betrayal, deception, determination, love, and whether the psychic’s vision of tragedy must come to pass.

An Uncertain Refuge
A child orphaned by violence. A woman sworn to protect and raise him. A killer come to claim him. A few deadly minutes in An Uncertain Refuge.

Kate Dalton lives by the rules of honesty and fair play until she steps between a battered woman and the man intent on killing her. Amanda Blake barely survives; her ex-husband dies by Kate’s hand. The repercussions force Kate from her job at a domestic violence shelter. Fleeing unwanted publicity and yearning to break with her past, she heads to the Oregon coast, burdened by a coerced promise to Amanda—to care for the nine-year-old son of the man she killed and shield him from the truth.
For several weeks Kate holds a tattered web of lies together. Then Way-Ray’s vengeful uncle murders Amanda, an ambush journalist tells the story, and the boy bolts in horror. Aided by a dangerous man she doesn’t quite trust, Kate searches for the boy she’s come to love. But a sadistic killer intent on claiming his kin is watching every move.
Hemlock Lake
For generations only a few families held title to land in the isolated Catskill Mountain community of Hemlock Lake. But with the turning of the century one man, lured by easy money, sells his inheritance to a developer of luxury homes. As the contractor bulldozes farmland and forest, neighbors cry environmental rape, and someone threatens to burn what is built.
Hoping to stop the arsonist, but tormented by personal demons, Sergeant Dan Stone reluctantly returns to his family home on the shores of the lake. The previous autumn his wife died in its dark waters and his brother put a bullet in his brain. That tragedy sent Dan’s father drifting toward death.

Isolated by his pain, Dan is thrust into the no man’s land between newcomers and longtime residents who stonewall his investigation into threats, graffiti, theft, and a blaze that nearly kills the construction foreman. Townspeople blame outsiders, eco-terrorists, a ragged tramp haunting the woods and the mysterious creator of rock cairns that often mark the sites of crimes to come. But as summer sizzles on, the arsonist turns killer, and Dan suspects it’s someone he knows well: a firefighter, a friend, or a woman with a killing in her past.

The Big Grabowski and Sometimes a Great Commotion are cozy mysteries set in the quirky town of Devil’s Harbor on the Oregon Coast. The Hard Karma Shuffle and The Crushed Velvet Miasma, are set in Portland, Oregon, and feature Paladin, a tie-dye wearing accidental detective. Consulted to Death, Driven to Death, and Dated to Death feature TV news assignment editor Casey Brandt solving crimes in Albuqerque, New Mexico and on a vacation in the Catskills. And The Hermit of Humbug Mountain is a young-adult fantasy set on the Oregon Coast.

How do you motivate your protagonist—with fear, desire, both or something else?
Pain and fear of loss (of any kind) are great motivators, and desire is also strong. I always consider the characters’ core human needs—for love, respect, justice, etc. I ask myself what they want most and what they’re willing to risk to get it. A character with a hole in his soul he’s trying to fill gives me more mileage than one who wants to catch a killer because it’s his job.

How do you make certain that you’ve included all necessary elements in the book? Do you use specific techniques like maps or timelines?
Oh, yeah. I’m a Virgo, so I’m all about calendars and chapter logs. They’re especially important when you’re plotting a mystery because you can’t have the sleuth thinking “on Tuesday they found the body” and the reader saying “they found the body on Monday, you dope.”

In some books I used the calendars to kept track of things like phases of the moon because they were important to the story.
Interesting. What sets your book apart from others?
My name on the cover? LOL

No, seriously, in my more recent books I would say it’s the description and the link to character. I used to just describe things, but lately I have the point-of-view character respond to that description with thought or opinion or action. I think that deepens both description and characterization.

Is it available in print, ebook, and Kindle formats?

Yes – paperback, Kindle, and Nook.

What has been your most rewarding experience during the writing process?
Hearing from readers who find me through my website or review my books.

When writing, how do you determine when enough is enough?
Did I mention that I’m a Virgo? I could go on revising forever. When I think I have enough, I send the manuscript to my best friend from second grade. She tells me where I need a little more description or information, or writes “whoa, mommma,” when I’ve put in too much.

Everyone needs a friend like that.
Can you tell us your writing goals for 2012 or beyond?

In the next year I’ll release a sequel to Hemlock Lake entitled Through a Yellow Wood, and a sequel to An Uncertain Refuge that I’m calling By the Sea of Regret. During 2013, I’ll write the third book in the Hemlock Lake series.

Where can folks learn more about your books and events?
Check my Amazon author page.

Thanks for dropping by, Carolyn. Continued success. I'm looking forward to reading more of your books.


Jonathan Wilhoit said...

Another great interview with a very interesting author. Thanks for bringing Carolyn to our attention!

Susan Whitfield said...

Jonathan, Carolyn's a hoot. I hope you get a chance to read her books. As a former high school principal myself, I enjoyed No Substitute for Murder very much.

Carolyn J. Rose said...

Jonathan, thanks for the nice adjectives.
And Susan, thanks for putting aside your "serious principal hat" when you read the book.

Susan Whitfield said...

Carolyn, remember that this former principal writes murder too;-)

jenny milchman said...

Carolyn is one funny lady and writer, and I can't wait for the sequel to HEMLOCK LAKE!

Carolyn J. Rose said...

Jenny, I'm hoping to have it up by May, but I'm tearing apart the first chapter now - you know how it goes when you don't like a thing you've written - I'm hoping it's just the full moon.