Pink Fuzzy Slipper Writers and Visitors to Our Blog.  

 I have met wonderful authors at writers conferences. Those first few conferences I was agog when I actually spoke to the gods and goddess who created the stories I loved. I had borrowed their books from libraries and saved to purchase a few of them. I never expected to have those wonderful folks as MY guest on OUR blog.  To thank Erica, please comment or ask a question.


Welcome, Erica Spindler. Your generosity still astounds me and your books enthrall me.

Q: How did you become a writer?
Well, I've always loved to read. As a kid I'd stay up half the night, reading under the blanket by flashlight. But I was an artist, not a writer -- at the University of New Orleans I earned an MFA in painting, with a minor in printmaking.

One day, suffering with a bad cold, I went to the local K&B drugstore for some medicine. And the cashier dropped a free Nora Roberts romance into my bag. When I got home there was nothing worth watching on TV, and I had nothing else to do, so I began reading it.

I’d never read romance, and I was hooked! I read every romance I could get my hands on, in a kind of romance reading frenzy. It wasn't long before I decided to leave paints and brushes behind and try my hand at writing romances. As soon as I did, I knew I had found my true calling.

Q: Did you sell your first book? Have you always written thrillers?
No; I still have it in a drawer. I should have titled it Fatally Flawed -- I had used every romantic cliche. But on my third attempt I sold HEAVEN SENT , a romance novel, and was on my way. After about a dozen romances I literally stumbled into suspense.

I created a story titled Forbidden Fruit that had a minor subplot involving a serial killer in New Orleans. I had so much fun writing the cop/killer episodes that I had to write more of them. With my next book, Fortune, I included more thriller elements. As time passed, those elements took over.

With my most recent books--BLOOD VINES, WATCH ME DIE and DON’T LOOK BACK (June, 2013)--I’ve circled back to my roots, incorporating more relationship, romance and women in jeopardy elements, but still including the CSI stuff I love.

Q: What’s changed about your writing along the way?
Going from the romance genre to thrillers is more than a matter of exchanging love scenes for crime scenes. In romance, the reader is looking for a more sensuous--and more emotional--experience. In the thriller, pace is more important. To maintain that pace, I keep the plot complicated but the writing lean. No unnecessary scenery. Emotional baggage and angst have to be kept to a minimum--and focused on the life and death situation at hand. I often employ short chapters that end with a cliffhanger. Bye-bye leisurely, sensuous stroll, hello breakneck sprint.

Q: You have written both stand-alone novels and ones that feature recurring characters. Do you have a preference?
I enjoy doing both. My stand alone novels offer new settings and characters to explore. My recurring characters are like a nice visit home.

Q: Having become known for your stand-alone novels, why try recurring characters?
Before I had finished my novel COPYCAT, I knew that I wanted to bring its protagonists, Detectives MC Riggio and Kitt Lundgren, back in another story. It was similar with SEE JANE DIE’s Stacy Killian, though with her it felt like less of a choice because her character came on so strongly she nearly took over the novel. I literally told her to “Back off!” and promised her her own book, KILLER TAKES ALL.

The most unexpected revisit of characters was in LAST KNOWN VICTIM. When Katrina hit New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, KILLER TAKES ALL had just landed in bookstores. Suddenly, the story felt wrong; New Orleans had been changed forever. I realized I had to bring back Stacy, Spencer and the entire Malone clan - and pick them all up after the storm. How did they fare during the storm? How about after? How did the disaster affect their lives and relationships? It also gave me a chance to expel some of my “Katrina demons” through my writing.

Now, I routinely visit Stacy, Spencer and The NOPD’s Malone clan. I set so many books in New Orleans, it would just be weird not to.

Q: How would you describe your muse? How do you come up with your ideas? 
My muse is extremely friendly and not as temperamental as some. She has not refused me yet, thought she does need to be coaxed once in a while. When the going gets rough, I try to take myself away from the work for a while: shop, go to a movie, take a walk. It generally does the trick.

My ideas always spring from personal experiences or observations. For example, the idea for BONE COLD was sparked by a fan letter from a child; my most current novel, WATCH ME DIE, by an article about a New Orleans stained glass restoration artist and what she went through after Hurricane Katrina, BLOOD VINES, on a trip to California wine country, a comment a winemaker made about ways to kill people in the winemaking process. Next year’s release, DON’T LOOK BACK, was inspired by the recent high profile trials of Casey Anthony and Amanda Knox. In both, the defendants’ odd behavior painted them guilty in the eyes of the public. Although I think Casey Anthony did get away with murder, I was intrigued by the idea of a character who looks guilty as hell, but is innocent; a character who is tried and acquitted, but remains guilty in everyone’s eyes. DON’T LOOK BACK’s Katherine “Kat” McCall was born.

I’ve come to call these observations or instincts my “dark gift’ -- just the place my twisted brain takes stuff, turning it into something pretty damn frightening.

Q: What do you love and hate about being a writer?
I really do love being a writer, pretty much everything about it. I get paid for making stuff up. I entertain people. I see justice done- the literary kind- every time the bad guy gets his and the hero triumphs.

What I don’t like--really hate--are the days the words won’t come. When I feel like I’m in a literary hole I’m trying to claw out of, and beating my head against the wall at the same time.
Luckily, those days are way fewer than the ones where the words flow without clawing or head banging. Whew!

Q: How much research do you do for your novels?
I research every part of a story that I know nothing or very little about; it may include police procedure, technical terms, or simply a locale. Detail is absolutely essential in the thriller and I’ll dig until I get what I need. I’ve found that nothing can provide that detail as well as a person actually in the field--be it the lingo of a psychologist or the day-to-day routine of a homicide detective. The professionals I’ve contact have been very open and helpful, if not a little curious about why a “southern belle” is interested in post-mortem stomach contents. While interviewing the New Orleans Coroner, he replied, "Now why would you want to know about that? It's nasty."

Q: Does living in Louisiana influence your work? Did Hurricane Katrina?
Katrina profoundly affected everyone who lived within her reach, basically the entire Gulf Coast. We’re all changed. Some are dealing with PTSD and depression, lingering uncertainty or fear, a heightened awareness of just how at the mercy of Mother Nature we are and how precious life is. And how fragile the brick and mortar lives we build around ourselves are. That heightened awareness, the in-your-face, everything can be swept away, you-are-so-not-in-control, has deeply affected me as both a person and writer.

Obviously, Louisiana plays a big role in the stories I set here. But it sneaks into my stories sent in other locales, as well. For example, Louisiana snuck into BLOOD VINES through the kitchen door. While Sonoma, CA is far from New Orleans, LA it’s also a place in touch with it’s senses, a place whose culture revolves around food, drink and revelry. I fell in love with the area the way I fell in love with New Orleans, and that can’t help but come through in the writing.

Q: Who has been the greatest influence in your life? How?
My mom. She taught me about unconditional love and hard work. She taught me that a woman can do or be anything she sets her mind to, and of the importance of believing in yourself.    She taught me about bravery, stubbornness and taking risks. And she taught it all by example. What a woman she was!

Q: What’s on your bucket list?
First, to see my kids grown and happy. Then, since I was an art major, I’d like to travel and see the works of art I studied--including the art and architecture of Egypt, ancient Greece and Rome. I’d love to rent a cottage in a vineyard or a casita in Santa Fe for a season, write and absorb the local color. It’s weird, but the older I get, the longer the bucket list.

Q: Besides writing, what are other forms of art and creativity do you indulge in?
I actually was an artist before I was a writer. My degrees are in the visual arts and I showed extensively before I “found” writing. Once I did, I gave up painting and never looked back--until recently. With a bunch of friends I went to a place called Corks and Canvas--where you drink wine (always a good thing) while everyone attempts to copy the same painting. (Ours was one of Cajun artist George Rodrigue’s Blue Dogs.) I had so much fun, I’ve decided to pick up my paint brushes again--with or without the wine.

Q: Who’s your present celebrity crush? Name a past (and hopefully embarrassing) celebrity crush.
Actually, my most recent celebrity crush was the embarrassing one--American Idol winner David Cook. Why embarrassing? Let me put it this way, just after DC won, my husband told our youngest son “Your Mommy’s a cougar.” (I am not!)


As for past celebrity crushes, they include a string of super cool, crime fighters: Michael Cole who played Detective Pete Cochran on the 70’s hit The Mod Squad, Jimmy Smits’ Detective Bobby Simone on NYPD Blue and Bruce Willis’ sexy everyman hero in the Die Hard series. But the one who started it all, my first HUGE, super crime fighting celebrity crush: Mighty Mouse.

Q: Who is or was your favorite pet? What made him/her so great?
A brain-damaged, three-legged squirrel named Buddy. (I’m not joking.) I don’t know if he had fallen out of his nest or been stepped on as a baby, but he wasn’t your average squirrel. We found him and took him in and he quickly became one of the family.    (I assume Buddy used a litter box, but I’m just guessing because I have no recall about that part of living with Buddy--the innocence of youth.)
When we got up in the morning, he would too. We’d hear him coming down the hall with his step/drag/step gait. He liked to play and be petted. Who would have thought a squirrel could be so cool?

Q: Final question: What’s new for you? What’s next?
I’ve got some really fun stuff going on right now. I collaborated on an novella in 3 parts with thriller writer friends Alex Kava and JT Ellison. It’s titled SLICES OF NIGHT, a story that follows one killer as he travels through each of our character’s jurisdictions. I’m first with Stacy Killian in New Orleans, then JT’s Taylor Jackson in Nashville, finishing up with Alex’s Maggie O’Dell in Omaha. It’s available for download on Kindle, Nook, etc. We had so much fun, we’re planning another.
In addition, I own the electronic rights to six of my early romances. I’m in the process of updating them for release on Kindle and Nook. The first, CHANCES ARE, is available now. The second, WISHING MOON, I hope to have available for sale by September.




And, as I mentioned earlier, DON’T LOOK BACK is finished and due out in hardcover and ebook June, 2013.

Q: Anything else we should know?
I’m active on Facebook (Erica Spindler author) and Twitter (@ericaspindler). Come and interact with me there!

If you comment or ask a question, you will be included in the drawing for a copy of Watch Me Die!

18 comments

  1. Mary Marvella // July 16, 2012 at 1:33 AM  

    Mighty Mouse! He wasn't always a mouse in my imagination.

  2. Edie Ramer // July 16, 2012 at 10:53 AM  

    Erica, thanks for sharing your author's journey. I was in New Orleans prior to Katrina, and I'd love to visit again. I hear it has a lot of the same vibe going. But at the same time, I'm sure it will be sad to see some of the changes.

    Love the cover of Chances Are! That would definitely catch my attention.

  3. Autumn Jordon // July 16, 2012 at 1:07 PM  

    Hi Erica and welcome to the PFS. Thank you so much for taking the time to answer all Mary's Fab questions. (Great job, lady) I love your cover for Blood Vines and must download it.

    I write RS too, and I'm always pulling ideas from daily events. Getting them all on paper is the trick. How do you decide which ideas are the best for commerical fiction? And can you give us any research advice?

    I have to tell you, I'm a JT fan. I have my fingers crossed for her in the RITA. So, I will be reading that story too.

    Thanks again for sharing your journey and knowledge.

  4. Judy // July 16, 2012 at 2:34 PM  

    Erica, what a thrill to have you here! I've read your books and loved them! Interesting how such a creative person could change from art to writing but then creating a novel is like using paint brushes to put words on paper...

  5. Nightingale // July 16, 2012 at 5:23 PM  

    Super covers and great interview. So much enjoyed learning more about you since I am familiar with your books.

  6. Barbara Monajem // July 16, 2012 at 8:51 PM  

    What an enjoyable interview. I was just north of New Orleans during Katrina, so I particularly appreciate stories about that time and place -- they feel very, very real to me.

  7. Connie Gillam // July 16, 2012 at 9:06 PM  

    Great interview, Erica. I love your books.

    New Orleans means a lot to me since a few of my family members currently live there. The city will always have a place in my heart.

  8. Scarlet Pumpernickel // July 17, 2012 at 12:52 AM  

    Erica, welcome to the pink fuzzies! It's so nice to have you drop by for a visit. MM and I were in New Orleans back in February and really enjoyed our visit, we were pleased to see the city recovering. Enjoyed your interview. I look forward to reading your next book.

  9. Mary Marvella // July 17, 2012 at 12:54 AM  

    Edie, Autumn, Judy, Barbara, Connie, & Linda! Thanks for commenting,

  10. Mary Marvella // July 17, 2012 at 1:00 AM  

    Hey, Scarlet!

  11. Jenna Blue // July 17, 2012 at 10:01 AM  

    Hi Erica (& Pink Fuzzies). I've recently discovered your books, Erica, at the suggestion of a critique partner who claimed my writing was similar to yours. (I only wish!) Really enjoyed COPYCAT with the dual female leads & can't wait to read more. Thanks for your thorough answers today, enjoyed this interview so much! Found you on Twitter easily, and love the WATCH ME DIE sidebar treatment. Great cover! I'm a book designer by day, so my vote counts for sure! ; )
    Jenna Blue

  12. Mary // July 17, 2012 at 10:30 AM  

    Good morning all!

  13. Erica Spindler // July 17, 2012 at 11:03 AM  

    Good Morning and thank you all so much for your wonderful comments! Yes, NOLA is a very special place for me too. While post-Katrina has been difficult, it's still an amazing city - very resilient! Some portions of it are still sad to see, but much has been restored and it's thriving once again!
    Autumn, I'll get back with you this afternoon with an answer to your question.
    Thanks again for your wonderful comments and many thanks to Mary! It was a pleasure working with you!
    Erica

  14. Pamela Varnado // July 17, 2012 at 4:27 PM  

    Hi Erica, thanks for visiting with us. I was happy to read that Nora Roberts was your inspiration for writing. She inspired me also to start writing. It's amazing what one great story can do.

  15. erica Spindler // July 18, 2012 at 6:09 PM  

    Autumn, sorry for the delay! In terms of which ideas are best for commercial fiction, I just go with my gut. It's whatever really calls to me. I feel like if I'm obsessed or fascinated by a story or idea, others will be, too. (Full disclosure: It's back-fired on me a couple times.)

    As for a research tip: When you go to research an unfamiliar location for a setting, contact a realtor ahead of time, explain what you're doing and who you are, and arrange for them to show you property. I go with an idea of who my characters are going to be so I can have the realtor show me where a cop would live, a teacher or a wealthy entrepreneur. This makes writing so much easier and realistic for readers from that place!

  16. erica spindler // July 18, 2012 at 6:11 PM  

    Thanks, Jenna! Glad you found me!

  17. Mary Marvella // July 19, 2012 at 10:21 PM  

    We were spammed, so I deleted the 2 comments after I smacked the spammer!

  18. Josie // July 23, 2012 at 8:49 AM  

    Hi Erica,
    A sincere welcome to the PFS writers and thanks to MM for having you here. My writing inspiration was the great Judith McNaught. Her historicals are wonderful.