Author Lauren Carr’s Interview with Black Hippie Chick’s Take on Books & The World
BHC: Tell us a little about yourself.
The easiest way to describe Lauren Carr is in a bullet. “Lauren Carr is a middle-aged church lady who writes murder mysteries.”
My mother used to read Perry Mason to me at bedtime. She was not into Dick and Jane. I’ve always been a reader and a writer. When I started reading, I would rewrite the book’s storyline in my head. It was only natural for me to start writing my own books … and since I cut my teeth on murder mysteries … What else could I write.
The Mac Faraday Mysteries takes place in Deep Creek Lake, Maryland. The first two books in this series, It’s Murder, My Son and Old Loves Die Hard have been getting rave reviews from readers and reviewers. The next book in this series, Shades of Murder, was released in May.
On September 1, Dead on Ice, the first in the Lovers in Crime Mysteries was released. Dead on Ice brings together Detective Cameron Gates and prosecutor Joshua Thornton to investigate the murder of a porn star whose body is found in the freezer of a hoarder house.
BHC: Did you plan to be a writer or did it just happen?
I think writers are born. It’s who we are. Even if I wasn’t writing and selling mysteries, I would still be writing them even if only in my head.
BHC: What are your favorite non-writing pastimes?
BHC: When did you decide to take the step that made you a published author?
It wasn’t really a decision. It was an assumption. I was writing books and I was determined to be published, and I was. After self-publishing my first book back in 2004, I was picked up by a traditional publisher and A Reunion to Die For came out in hardback. I was so proud until I found out that it is very hard to sell a $26 hardback when you’re an unknown. I knew that my next book had to come out in paperback. So I started looking around and discovered CreateSpace in which I could do it myself.
That was when I had an uh-huh moment. All my adult life I had been working in journalism and publishing. Layout and design. Editing. For ten years, I worked for the federal government in their publishing house for government documents. So I published It’s Murder, My Son, the first Mac Faraday mystery through CreateSpace.
Since then I have been helping other authors to realize their dreams of being published through my publishing company Acorn Book Services.
BHC: What is your greatest challenge to over-ride discouragement?
Pay no attention to the bad stuff. This is a big challenge for every author. Every single author gets bad reviews. I don’t know what it is about us, but we can have fifty good reviews, tremendous reviews that are singing our praises. Then, we get one bad review and we can’t stop looking at it and reading it over and over again and taking every criticism to heart. The trick is you have to believe in yourself no matter what anyone says, good or bad.
I have met authors who say they don’t read any of their reviews: good or bad. I tell myself that I’m going to do that, that I get a good review and I have to read it over and over again, and then I get a bad one and it starts happening again …
BHC: Are you a full-time writer?
Yes, and a full time publisher, too. It’s what keeps me off the streets and out of trouble.
BHC: Can you give us a summation of your latest book: Dead on Ice?
Spunky Cameron Gates is tasked with solving the murder of Cherry Pickens, a legendary star of pornographic films, whose body turns up in an abandoned freezer. The case has a personal connection to her lover, Joshua Thornton, because the freezer was located in his cousin’s basement. It doesn’t take long for their investigation to reveal that the risqué star’s roots were buried in their rural Ohio Valley community, something that Cherry had kept off her show business bio. She should have kept her hometown off her road map, too—because when this starlet came running home from the mob, it proved to be a fatal homecoming.
BHC:What inspired the book?
I wrote the first couple of drafts of Dead on Ice a few years ago, but it just didn’t seem right at the time. It was inspired years ago, before the reality show Hoarders was out. Actually, I came up with the idea when people didn’t really know anything about hoarders. I had seen a documentary about a death in New York, of a man who had been smothered to death by newspapers in his home, which was discovered to be a hoarder house. Then, I thought what if. Writers always think “What if ….”
My thought was, what if a body was found inside this hoarder house. Funny that years later, CSI did a storyline with that. But I thought it first. However, it was after I finished Shades of Murder, when I brought Joshua Thornton and Cameron Gates together that I realized I had the fix for Dead on Ice. I had the wrong main characters in the first draft. I wrote the next draft for Dead on Ice the very day after releasing Shades of Murder, in one night.
BHC: Which character was your favorite?
Gnarly. Gnarly is the German shepherd sidekick to Mac Faraday in the Mac Faraday Mysteries. For the Lovers in Crime, I have to say Cameron Gates. She spunky, sassy, and a little crazy—the way I want to be.
BHC: Which character was the most challenging?
Joshua Thornton. I like Joshua, but some readers have said that he’s a little bit hard to warm up to. I think this is because he is the straight man. He’s the responsible one because he has to be, which can make some readers view him as being too tough. So, as the author, I have balance him to keep him the way he has to be, while endearing him to readers. I think Cameron is able to bring that out in him more.
BHC: Can you give us a preview of your book?
“Unbelievable.” Joshua Thornton stepped back from the open freezer to let the Pennsylvania State Police medical examiner get to work.
Tad peered over the medical examiner’s shoulder to get a closer look at the body. Since Hookstown was out of his jurisdiction, he wasn’t allowed to touch. He could only watch another medical examiner work what was her crime scene.
It was killing him. This wasn’t his case. However, Albert Gordon was family. Professionally and personally, he wanted to dive in to clear his cousin’s name.
Out of professional courtesy, Pennsylvania State Police homicide detective Cameron had permitted them to ride along to the scene. In exchange, they would be expected to allow her the same leeway if she needed help in their jurisdiction.
The dented and charred ice box was one of the few things that had survived the explosion intact. The chief forensics
officer told Cameron that it had been found tucked away in a room separate from the one in which the bomb had been placed. Even though the upper floors had collapsed on top of it, the drywall and mounds of junk surrounding it had
protected the freezer from the explosion and fire.
Upon its discovery, the investigators pulled it out from the corner and opened it. The smell of death burst forth like evil escaping from Pandora’s box. After regaining their senses, they peered inside to find a body encased in a stark white tomb.
She looked like she had crawled in and curled up to take a nap. Her makeup was still evident on her leathered flesh. They could see the blue of her eye shadow and thick false eyelashes. Her hair was draped over her face and shoulders. Its platinum color created the illusion of a mermaid captured in a fisherman’s icy net.
Her jeans and matching vest were faded and discolored to the point of only holding a hint of their original hue, but
intact. To fit into the tight confines of the freezer, she was curled up into the fetal position with her high-heeled sandals still on her feet. Her denim hat rested on her knees.
Cameron was gesturing at the now empty corner of the hole in the ground that had once been Albert’s basement. “Was this thing plugged in when the bomb went off?” She couldn’t see any sign of an electrical outlet where they had found the appliance.
With a shake of his head, the officer said, “There was no outlet near it. We found the cord wrapped up and tucked in behind the freezer. You can see the thing is ancient. I doubt if it works.”
Observing the wrecked condition of the appliance, Cameron said, “Certainly not now.”
The photo recordings of the scene completed, the medical examiner started her physical on-scene examination of the body.
Tad watched her. “Any ID on her?”
“Maybe.” She reached down along the wall of the freezer and removed a blue canvas purse covered with beads. She handed it to the detective. “Let’s hope we get lucky, and she has the name of her killer in there.” The medical examiner continued to search the body.
Having no convenient place in the burnt-out basement to spread out the purse’s contents, Cameron climbed out of the foundation to empty the purse on the hood of her cruiser. With her gloved fingers, she picked through the assortment of what appeared to be the usual feminine fare, except for a few additional surprises. There was a pack of Camel cigarettes,
a bag of marijuana with a couple of hand-rolled cigarettes, a wallet, and various cosmetics.
With gloved hands, Joshua picked up the pack of cigarettes. “We can trace the lot number on this pack of cigarettes to find out when they were made to give us an approximate time period of when she was killed.”
“I think you meant me. This isn’t your case, Mr. Thornton. So put that back.” Cameron was already checking out the driver’s license in the wallet.
Joshua placed the cigarettes back in the pile.
“Got a name, Cam?” Tad asked.
“California driver’s license. Expiration date: June 1985. Name: Cherry Pickens,” she answered.
Tad responded to the announcement with a wicked laugh.
“What’s so funny, Doc?” she asked.
Tad regarded the two of them. “We just solved a famous unsolved mystery.”
“Famous unsolved mystery?” Joshua parroted.
Tad gestured to the freezer. “Take a look, ladies and gentlemen. You are looking at Cherry Pickens, a genuine film legend.”
“Cherry Pickens,” Cameron countered. “Never heard of her.”
“You wouldn’t unless you were into porn,” Tad said.
“I didn’t know you were into porn,” Joshua said with a frown.
“I’m not into porn,” Tad replied, “but I am into rock and roll. Back in the early eighties, Cherry Pickens was one of the brightest stars of artistic films.” He held up his fingers in the form of quotation marks when he used the word “artistic”.
“Sex, drugs, and rock and roll,” Joshua said.
Tad nodded his head in agreement. “Drugs are a big part of the scene in pornography, and Cherry Pickens was in it up to her pretty blue eyeballs.” He added, “But she wasn’t just a hooker who did it on film. They have film awards, and she won a couple. In some circles, she was considered a true
actress with the talent to break through into legitimate movies.”
Cameron brought them back to the present. “How did she end up in a freezer, in a farmhouse, in Hookstown, Pennsylvania?”
“That’s for you to find out,” Tad told her.
“You said she won acting awards,” Cameron reminded him. “Are you saying she was actually famous?”
“She slept with all the big hard core rock musicians, most of whom are now has-beens, the ones who didn’t OD or kill themselves that is,” Tad said. “Humphrey Phoenix, the owner of Player magazine, discovered her when she was dancing at one of his sex parties—”
“Now I heard of him,” Cameron said.
“Player magazine was about as hard core porn as you can get,” Tad said. “Humphrey Phoenix was twenty years older than Cherry. He spent a lot of money on her. Then he found out that she was also fooling around with a pop singer while Phoenix was paying for her breast implants and nose job. The FBI believed Phoenix made an example of her by making her disappear.”
“Hookstown is a long way from Hollywood,” Joshua said. “What would a missing porn star be doing here in Cousin Albert’s basement?”
They stared at Tad who had no answer.
“If what you’re saying is true,” Cameron said, “this could be a mob hit, which would make this the fed’s turf.” She sucked in her breath. She really didn’t want the FBI butting their way into one of her cases.
“Albert had no ties to any of that,” Tad told them. “Until the forensics pathologist gets a go at her, we can’t determine the time of death. She could have played it smart and managed to get away from the mob only to get killed over
something else years afterwards.”
“I don’t believe this,” Joshua muttered.
Stretching her back, which had become sore from bending over into the freezer, the medical examiner said, “Right now, the way she’s positioned in this freezer, I can’t find the cause of death. I need to do a full examination at the state lab.”
Joshua went over to peer into the freezer. “Can you find any evidence of sexual assault?”
The examiner poked at the clothes on the body. “Her clothes don’t seem to be disturbed.”
Joshua studied the cap, which contained silk lining. “Looks expensive.”
“They are.” With the point of her pen, the medical
examiner opened the jean vest. “These jeans have a designer label. This lady had the best in clothes.”
“But what was she doing dying here?” Joshua asked.
“And in your cousin’s basement?” Cameron asked. “And was she the reason his house was blown sky high?”
“I think it’s safe to assume she was,” Joshua said. “As big as that blast was, whoever it was clearly wanted everything destroyed.”
“How ironic that the only thing not destroyed was this freezer,” the detective said.
“I can’t imagine Albert not noticing that freezer in his basement,” said Tad.
“You didn’t see his basement,” she countered.
Joshua agreed. “Donny did, and he’s been keeping his room clean ever since.”
Cameron said, “The only reason this freezer survived was because it was surrounded by a whole bunch of stuff that cushioned the impact. Maybe it was behind all that stuff in order to hide it from Albert. How long had he been living here?”
“As long as I can remember,” Joshua answered. “I can see it in the headlines now.”
In a gentle tone, Cameron told them, “At some point, we will have to release the name of the victim. When we do that, your cousin will be declared a closet sex fiend. Suggestions will be made that we dig up the floor with speculation that there are a dozen other women buried under the concrete.”
“Albert was no sex fiend,” Tad said.
Joshua agreed with his cousin. “We’ve known Albert all our lives. He didn’t even date after his wife died.”
“Publicly,” Cameron said. “That’s what they thought about John Wayne Gacy, and he butchered over thirty-three boys in his house, and the neighbors had no idea.”
“Albert was no killer,” Tad said. “He went to our church.”
“The BTK killer was an elder in his church,” Cameron said in a steady tone.
Unable to find words to argue in the face of her facts, Tad sighed. “Josh, you knew Albert. Tell her. He wasn’t a killer.”
“No, he wasn’t.” Joshua placed his hands on her shoulders. “Help us.”
“How?” She held her breath.
“Keep this under wraps as long as you can.”
“That goes without saying.”
In a soft voice, he said, “Give us as much time and
information as you can, to find out who did this.”
“You find out who did this?” she replied. “You keep forgetting that this is my case. You two shouldn’t even be here.”
Joshua corrected himself. “Then you find out who did this. But, in the meantime, you keep this under wraps.”
“Are you talking cover-up?” She shook her head. “I can’t go—”
“Professional courtesy?” Joshua said. “We’ll pay you back when your cases come over to our side.”
She glanced over at Tad. “When I need info from
forensics in West-by-God-Virginia …”
“It’s yours.” He nodded his head.
Joshua cocked his head at her. “What do you say?”
The corner of her lip curled as it always did when a
wicked thought crossed her mind. “Come over to my place later, and we’ll talk about it,” she said in a low, sultry voice.
BHC: What’s the message of your book?
Pride can be a killer.
BHC: What’s your favorite scene in the book?
In Dead on Ice, it the church ladies fight scene. Don’t ask. You have to read the book to find out for yourself.
BHC: How does the book relate to real life?
It doesn’t. It’s purely an escape into a world of romance and suspense where the good guy always wins.
BHC: Which character was hardest for you to part with?
I haven’t parted with any of them yet and don’t intend to.
Lauren Carr fell in love with mysteries when her mother read Perry Mason to her at bedtime. The first installment in the Joshua Thornton mysteries, A Small Case of Murder was a finalist for the Independent Publisher Book Award. A Reunion to Die For was released in hardback in June 2007. Both of these books are in re-release.
Lauren is also the author of the Mac Faraday Mysteries, which takes place in Deep Creek Lake, Maryland. The first two books in her series, It’s Murder, My Son and Old Loves Die Hard have been getting rave reviews from readers and reviewers. The next book in this series, Shades of Murder, will be released May 2012. This will be Lauren’s fifth mystery.
Lauren’s sixth book, Dead on Ice, will be released in Fall 2012. Dead on Ice will introduce a new series entitled Lovers in Crime, in which Joshua Thornton will join forces with homicide detective Cameron Gates.
The owner of Acorn Book Services, Lauren is also a publishing manager, consultant, editor, cover and layout designer, and marketing agent for independent authors. This spring, two books written by independent authors will be released through the management of Acorn Book Services.
Lauren is a popular speaker who has made appearances at schools, youth groups, and on author panels at conventions. She also passes on what she has learned in her years of writing and publishing by conducting workshops and teaching in community education classes.
She lives with her husband, son, and two dogs on a mountain in Harpers Ferry, WV.
Visit Lauren’s websites and blog at:
Old Loves Die Hard…and in the worst places.
In Old Loves Die Hard, Lauren Carr continues the rags-to-riches story of Mac Faraday, an underpaid homicide detective who inherits two-hundred-and-seventy million dollars and an estate on Deep Creek Lake, Maryland, from his birth mother on the day his divorce becomes final.
Mac is settling nicely into his new life at Spencer Manor when his ex-wife Christine shows up—and she wants him back! Before Mac can send her packing, Christine and her estranged lover are murdered in Mac’s private penthouse suite at the Spencer Inn, the five-star resort built by his ancestors.
The investigation leads to the discovery of cases files for some of Mac’s murder cases in the room of the man responsible for destroying his marriage. Why would his ex-wife’s lover come to Spencer to dig into Mac’s old cases?
With the help of his new friends on Deep Creek Lake, Mac must use all of his detective skills to clear his name and the Spencer Inn’s reputation, before its five-stars—and more bodies—start dropping!
Excerpt: Attached separately.
“With it’s tight plot, well-crafted and believable characters, and complex mystery, It’s Murder, My Son is a thoroughly enjoyable read. I look forward to many more Mac Faraday mysteries.” John J. Lamb, author of the Bear Collector Mysteries
“A most unusual and surprising plot, intriguing characters, snappy dialogue, great settings and a dog named Gnarly are the prime ingredients in Lauren Carr’s terrific new mystery, It’s Murder, My Son.” F.M. Meredith, author of An Axe to Grind
What started out as the worst day of Mac Faraday’s life would end up being a new beginning. After a messy divorce hearing, the last person that Mac wanted to see was another lawyer. Yet, this lawyer wore the expression of a child bursting to tell his secret. This secret would reveal Mac as heir to undreamed of fortunes, and lead him to the birthplace of America’s Queen of Mystery and an investigation that will unfold like one of her famous mystery novels.
Soon after she moves to her new lakefront home in Spencer, Maryland, multi-millionaire Katrina Singleton learns that life in an exclusive community is not all good. For some unknown reason, a strange man calling himself “Pay Back” begins stalking her. When Katrina is found strangled all evidence points to her terrorist, who is nowhere to be found.
Question: What do you get the man with everything?
Answer: When that man is the heir of the late mystery writer Robin Spencer, retired homicide detective Mac Faraday, you get him cold case to solve.
In Shades of Murder, Mac Faraday is once again the heir to an unbelievable fortune. This time the benefactor is a stolen art collector. But this isn’t just any stolen work-of-art—it’s a masterpiece with a murder attached to it.
Ilysa Ramsay was in the midst of taking the art world by storm with her artistic genius. Hours after unveiling her latest masterpiece—she is found dead in her Deep Creek Lake studio—and her painting is nowhere to be found.
Almost a decade later, the long lost Ilysa Ramsay masterpiece has found its way into Mac Faraday’s hands and he can’t resist the urge to delve into the case.
A world away, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; former JAG lawyer Joshua Thornton agrees to do a favor for the last person he would ever expect to do a favor—a convicted serial killer.
The Favor: Solve the one murder wrongly attributed to him.
Joshua finds an unexpected ally in Cameron Gates, a spunky detective who has reason to believe the young woman known to the media only as Jane Doe, Victim Number Four, was the victim of a copycat. Together, Joshua and Cameron set out to light a flame under the cold case only to find that someone behind the scenes wants the case to remain cold, and is willing to kill to keep it that way.
Little do these detectives know that the paths of their respective cases are on a collision course when they follow the clues to bring them together in a showdown with a killer who’s got a talent for murder!
<a id=”rc-1d8dec32″ href=”http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/1d8dec32/” rel=”nofollow”>a Rafflecopter giveaway</a>
All books $.99 all week, and FREE on October 31 ONLY
Giveaway As Follows:
Halloween Gift Basket shown above
Halloween Gift Basket to Include:
*Dead On Ice by Lauren Carr
*Lucky Dog Short Story by Lauren Carr
*Deadly.com by Cindy McDonald
*Dangerous Deception by Cindy McDonald (Releases Nov.1)
*The Legend of Tyoga Weathersby by H.L. Grandin (Historical Fiction)
*Night Secrets by B.K. Walker (PNR)
*Immortyl Kisses:Warrior Rising by B.K. Walker (YA/PNR)
*Lauren Carr Swag
*Katie Salidas Swag
*B.K. Walker Swag
*2 Shades of Murder Coffee Mugs (2 Winners – US/Canada Only)
*2 Halloween Lip Gloss Tubes (2 Winners US/Canada Only)
*2 Halloween Hand Sanitizers (2 Winners US/Canada Only)
So this means that There will also be a giveaway not in the basket for extras:
Shades of Murder Mug (1 extra, 2 winners – 1 in basket, one not)
4 Extra Ebooks for Night Secrets and 4 Extra Copies of Immortyl Kisses (1 copy each in basket)
Halloween Lip Gloss (1 in basket, 1 extra)
Halloween Sanitizer (1 in basket, 3 extra)