JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: Michele Drier's first mystery, EDITED FOR DEATH, got an enthusiastic thumbs up from her fellow reporter Hank Phillippi Ryan. Michele previously published the Kandesky Vampire Chronicles, a series about sexy vamps who run celebrity scandal sheets (IN TOUCH suddenly makes sense, doesn't it?) So what got her into penning this:
It wasn't just so she could run for president of the Sisters in Crime GUPPIES (although sheAmy Hobbes never expected to solve anything tougher than a crossword puzzle. When she left her job as a journalist in Southern California, she planned to give the adrenaline a rest, but her next job, managing editor of a local newspaper, delivers some surprises. After a respected Senator and World War II hero dies and two more people turn up dead, the news heats up. Both victims had ties to a hotel owned by the Senator's family. With the help of reporter pal Clarice and the new man in her life, Phil, Amy uncovers a number of shadowy figures, including a Holocaust survivor who's spent sixty years tracking down Nazi loot. It's a complex and dangerous puzzle, but Amy can't walk away until she solves it.
totally is!) Turns out the real-life stories she covered put her in mind of murder...
Edna Buchanan, the Miami Herald’s Pulitzer Prize-winning veteran cops reporter, had a big following before she started writing novels. Probably her most famous lead, "Gary Robinson died hungry." was taped to thousands of reporters’ computer monitors around the country.
Covering the cop shop doesn’t always result in interesting, bizarre stories, but a lot of the time it involves murder. And beyond the grisly serial killers, the mass murderers, are quirky ones.
The drug dealer whose pals shot him, stuffed his body in a sleeper sofa and were sitting on it watching TV when the cops arrived.
The real estate agent who was shot with a crossbow while waiting for clients in an empty house.
I spent about twenty years, on and off, in newspaper newsrooms around California. I didn’t cover the police beat, but I assigned the reporters who did, and I edited their stories. And what stories.
When I was at the San Jose Mercury-News, there was a rash of serial killings in the Santa Cruz Mountains. With typical gallows humor, somebody would say “any new bodies,” every morning and get a sour look. Six young women disappeared and the bodies of another woman and her friend turned up before Edmund Kemper turned himself in. He also killed his grandparents in an earlier spree.
In the little town of Lodi, a tweaker broke into a house where three teen girls were. He assaulted two of them and kidnapped the third. Two days later, with the local police, sheriff, the California Highway Patrol and the FBI on his trail, he let the girl go in a local pasture and surrendered. He called my police reporter and gave her an exclusive jailhouse interview. The next calls I got were from both the DA and the Public Defender’s offices, trying to subpoena the reporter’s notes. The first time in memory that both the prosecution and the defense wanted unpublished information.
Later in Modesto, a woman, her daughter and a friend disappeared from a motel on the edge of Yosemite National Park. We were the closest large newspaper and covered the disappearance, the search, the FBI work, the family, the discovery of the burnt car, finding the bodies, the murder of a young Park worker and the eventual capture of Cary Stayner.
As we covered murders over the years I thought this is what I’d use if I ever wrote a novel—how newspapers cover murders, how they play them, how much they interact with the police and how journalists dig to find facts.
One of my favorites: My police reporter covered an arraignment. The bad guy pled guilty. She wrote a brief. Then I watched her on the phone, getting agitated. When she hung up she said it was the bad guy, yelling at her for saying he pled guilty. Why? Because, he said, “I told you I was innocent!”
What’s your favorite stranger than fiction story?
Michele Drier was born in Santa Cruz and is a fifth generation Californian. She’s lived and worked all over the state, calling both Southern and Northern California home. During her career in journalism — as a reporter and editor at daily newspapers – she won awards for producing investigative series.
Her mystery Edited for Death, called “Riveting and much recommended” by the Midwest Book Review is available at Amazon. She’s working on the second book in the Amy Hobbes Newspaper mysteries, Labeled for Death, out in spring 2013.
Her paranormal romance series, SNAP: The Kandesky Vampire Chronicles, is available in ebook, paperback and audible at ebook retailers. All have received “must read” reviews from the Paranormal Romance Guild. SNAP: The WorldUnfolds, SNAP: New Talent, Plague: A Love Story andDanube: A Tale of Murder are available singly and in a boxed set at Amazon, B&N and Kobo. The fifth book, SNAP: Love for Blood rated 5 stars, is now out. She’s writing SNAP: Happily Ever After? for release in summer 2013 and a seventh book in late fall 2013.