"In this stellar first in a new series, Martin introduces Roxy Abruzzo, ultra-sexy Pittsburgh sleuth and owner of Bada Bling Architectural Salvage... "
STARRED REVIEW Publishers Weekly
HANK: Nancy Martin's an amazing mixture of Grace Kelly and Rosalind Russell and Dorothy Parker. That's what I think at least. With a little--hmmm...Glinda the Good Witch thrown in. (Since wonderful things seem to happen whenever she's around.) She's also none of the hardest working and most generous people in the biz.
So when Nancy Martin decided to put her hilariously best-selling Blackbird sisters on hold and go for something completely different--many of us thought--of COURSE. Genius. How did she decide to do it? (And--should we?) As always, Nancy knows all. And is here to dish.
HANK: So, Nancy. You have taken the exciting step of creating a brand new series heroine--where did Roxy (the main character in Our Lady of Immaculate Deception) come from, and why? (Set in Pittsburgh, the series stars Roxy Abruzzo, a tough girl from the Rust Belt “with a heart of black and gold.”)
NANCY: I don't know about you, Hank, but I most enjoy reading books that surprise me. And recently I decided I might scream if I read one more mystery about a sweet woman sleuth with a cat and a cop boyfriend and a meddling mother.
Sure, Agatha Christie mysteries always seemed to feature a vicar and the lady of the manor and the attractive young couple, but when do those stock characters become boring cliches?
Television was turned on its ear by the likes of Tony Soprano, Nancy Botwin and Nurse Jackie. But when I thought about our genre, I wondered: Where are our ground-breaking characters? The bad girls, for instance? The characters who take chances, make wrong choices and surprise readers? Are writers limited to only writing about nice girls? I wanted something new to read, and I figured I'd better try writing it.
About the same time I was stewing about all this, my husband and I bought a very old house which is lovely and full of character, but there's always a disaster looming. (Ex: Two weeks ago, our copper gutters fell down. Ack!) During our repairs and renovations, we have met every kind of contractor known to suckers like ourselv----er, I mean typical homeowners.
The crew we hired to fix the porch, for instance, actually included a couple of guys wearing Lojack ankle bracelets, which the contractor tried to convince me were the "latest thing" for engaged couples. The girl gets a diamond, and the guy gets an electronic locator. Needless to say, we decided to hire a different crew when our kitchen renovation became unavoidable. The woman contractor who took charge of that job got me thinking about tough women in non-traditional careers. Roxy started to grow in my imagination--a woman who considers herself an expert in architectural salvage, but actually runs a junk yard and has to be *really* tough to deal with the people she encounters. Roxy's definitely full of surprises.
HANK: The Roxy books have been described as Chickaboomboom. That is--wonderful.
Um, what does that mean?
NANCY: If you figure it out, please tell me! Publisher's Weekly came up with "chickaboomboom" for OUR LADY OF IMMACULATE DECEPTION, not me. I think it means a girl thriller--a hybrid between a mystery and a suspense novel, but with a woman driving the action--lots of action--and, yeah, there's sex, too. But any other writer who wants to try writing "chickaboomboom" should make her own story choices. Labels can force writers to pigeonhole and limit ourselves.
HANK: You've been such a fixture in the mystery world--and by that I mean a pillar, a goddess, a paragon. How do you think things have changed since you started writing? In fact, how have *you* changed?
NANCY: How have *I* changed after thirty years of keeping my butt in the chair to write books? My butt has changed, that's for sure! Otherwise, I hope I've become more generous to other writers, because we're all in this together.
How has our world changed? The publishing biz definitely ebbs and flows. I rode the big wave of the romance genre in the 80s and jumped ship just as the tide receded. I think we've experienced a similar high tide for mysteries in recent years, and now things are beginning to recede again. The marketplace gets flooded. Readers tire of us or get lost. Technology changes the game, etc, etc.
But one big factor that always drives change in publishing is . . . us.
Writers have the power to make things different. We have more control of our fates than we sometimes think. We need to push the limits, come up with new ideas, stretch the boundaries of the wonderfully flexible literary form that is the mystery novel. Take chances--that's my motto these days.
HANK: Check out Nancy's website--where Roxy even has a playlist!
It includes, of course, Naughty Girl, Bad Girl, and of course, um, Respect. (Any ideas for what she should add?) Nancy will stop by to say hi--so questions for Nancy--or Roxy? Bring it on, sistahs. (And bruthas.) As Roxy says--just keep reading, and nobody gets hurt.
Winner of the 2009 Lifetime Achievement award for mystery writing from Romantic Times magazine, Nancy Martin is the author of 48 pop fiction novels in mystery, suspense, historical and romance genres. Nancy created The Blackbird Sisters in 2002--- mysteries about three impoverished Main Line heiresses who adventure in couture and crime --as if“Agatha Christie had wandered onto the set of Sex and The City.” Nominated for the Agatha Award for Best First Mystery of 2002, HOW TO MURDER A MILLIONAIRE won the RT award for Best First Mystery and was a finalist for the Daphne DuMaurier Award. Nancy lives in Pittsburgh, serves on the board of Sisters in Crime and is a founding member of Pennwriters. She blogs at the popular and trend-setting The Lipstick Chronicles.
PRIZES! We are delighted to offer a free personally signed copy of OUR LADY OF THE IMMACULATE DECEPTION to one lucky lucky commenter! Winner announced tomorrow...
(if you don't win, sigh, check out Mystery Lovers Bookshop, which will send you a signed copy!)
and also tomorrow...short stuff. (Clue: If you'll be my bodyguard, I can be your long lost pal...)