AN OLD FRIEND MURDERED AND A NEW FRIEND IN JEOPARDY
#DisguisedDetectiving Maizie Albright might have once played a (teenage) private investigator on TV, but she’s now living the (adult) part. Her (mother’s) name is on her business cards. Her (boss’s) appointment book is brimming with new clients. And her bank account has grown large enough to finally trade in her dirt bike for an actual new (pre-owned) vehicle.
And then there’s Wyatt Nash. Love of her life. Future father of her…
And then there’s Wyatt Nash. Future partner in her business. Not now. Later. Right now, they’re waiting for Maizie to get her PI license and for Nash to get out of the red so they can get on with…
Just what, Maizie isn’t so sure. But she is sure about one thing. She’s ready to take on her own cases. To prove she’s more than just a (washed-up actress) assistant private eye.
When Maizie finds her costume designer friend killed during a masquerade gala, it’s the opportunity Maizie hoped she’d never get. An investigation into an old friend’s murder. But one that’s also put her new friend in jeopardy.
While the police begin their inquiries, Maizie starts her own case. She’s needling Black Pine’s wealthy do-gooders, threading through lies, stitching together clues, and ripping out false leads. Her investigation may cost Maizie her job, her relationships, and her life. But by unspooling the truth, Maizie’s darned if they stop her from catching a killer who’s sew evil, it’s shear madness.
LKBR: Thank you for joining us today, Larissa.
LR: Thanks so much for having me here! I love how much you support writers and book lovers!
LKBR: Please tell us a bit about 18 1/2 Disguises.
LR: It’s the seventh mystery in the Maizie Albright Star Detective series, although you can read it as a stand-alone. Maizie’s an ex-celebrity, who as a teen, played a detective in a popular TV show. After a public Hollywood meltdown, a kindly California judge sent her home to live with her father in Georgia and to find a new job. Of course, she wants to become a private investigator, the role she loved. In Georgia, it takes two years of apprenticeship, and in the first book, she (eventually) convinces Wyatt Nash, the only PI in town, to mentor her.
By book seven, Maizie is still in her apprenticeship period and she’s no longer working for Nash, but they are dating. However, the honeymoon is over in both respects.
When Maizie and her friend Rhonda finds Maizie’s old friend, a costume designer, murdered, Maizie chooses to investigate her friend’s death on her own.
I’ll just say, a personal investigation like this changes you.
Actually, that’s what Nash told Maizie. I didn’t say it. He did.
LKBR: What are you plans for this series?
LR: I’m planning 19 CRIMINALS now! Originally 18 1/2 DISGUISES was going to be a novella bridging 18 CALIBER and 19 CRIMINALS. (I did this with 17.5 CARTRIDGES IN A PEAR TREE). I had 18 1/2 mapped out, but when I started writing, the story took off and when it ended I was at 380 pages.
So 18 1/2 is not a novella…
LKBR: Are you working on any new projects?
LR: I’m starting 19 CRIMINALS. And I planned to work on more Finley Goodhart Crime Capers (The Pony Predicament) this year. I also have a small town women’s fiction on the back burner.
I also started a new job on February 1, have a daughter graduating high school in May, and another playing travel club volleyball.
So we’ll see how 2021 shakes out. Lol
LKBR: When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?
LR: Literally as soon as I could write. I was four when I started making lists of words I knew. I expanded that to stories in first grade, and in second grade, I made little magazines of stories and sold them door-to-door for a nickel. I won a national writing award in fifth grade and received the Quill and Scroll award in high school.
I’m from a very rural small town. I didn’t know people like me could become an author. I hoped to write for a travel magazine, but, in high school, I worked on my small town newspaper and discovered I hated calling people on the telephone. Or interviewing them in person. (I’m a bit of an introvert and this was before email.) So I gave up on that dream and became a teacher instead.
Some year later, I had the time to return to writing. Within a year I had my first manuscript. I rewrote it, then wrote another one the following year. That was PORTRAIT OF A DEAD GUY, which sold the next year. I’ve been doing this for ten years now and I love it!
LKBR: Was getting your first book published everything you thought it would be? The feelings? The process?
LR: It was exciting, that’s for sure. The process was completely new to me, although I had an idea what editing would look like. What surprised me was the time line. I had no idea a book that was already written could take so long to get published and PORTRAIT OF A DEAD GUY was published fairly (about six months). I was also very naïve about marketing and that side of the business. I’m still learning!
LKBR: How did you handle it when changes were made to your first manuscript? I don’t have a thick skin, so I know how I would have felt.
LR: I had a short career as an art student, so I was used to critiques. For the first and second books, they were kind of fun. My editor would say, “you really need to take this character (Shawna Branson) and develop her into an antagonist.” I love that. I can do that. Give me an idea and let me run with it. Especially if it’s an antagonist because I love writing antagonists. They get the best lines.
When I work with one editor, I love the process. There were a few books where I had a committee of editors and I didn’t like that. They all wanted something different and I found it really hard to please everyone and keep what I thought was integral to the story.
LKBR: What is your favorite part of being a writer?
LR: I love the emails and other interactions I have with readers. It’s like getting a whole new set of friends. That’s a tie with coming up with new story ideas. That’s so much fun.
LKBR: Have you ever read a book that has stayed with you long after reading it?
LR: All the time. And I re-read books all the time. I’m a big re-reader. It’s always because of the characters. They become like old friends. I recently went on a Jennifer Crusie binge and re-read all her books.
LKBR: Why are reviews, good or bad, so important to authors?
LR: In terms of selling books, they’re essential these days. As a reader, I’ll look at reviews before buying a book, particularly for a new author (to me).
Personally, I’ll only leave reviews for books I really liked or loved. If the book didn’t speak to me, it doesn’t mean the book was bad, just not for me. I don’t want to keep someone else from reading it for that reason. Not only is it bad book karma, I was brought up with “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”
LKBR: On what sites do you recommend readers leave their reviews?
LR: Definitely wherever they shop for books, like Amazon. Amazon can make or break an author’s career and reviews make a lot of difference. That’s just the way it is. I also recommend Bookbub and Goodreads.
LKBR: If you could spend one hour with a reader, what would you want to talk about?
LR: Whatever they do for a living, where they grew up, what their interests are. I love learning about people and where they come from. People are so interesting. Everyone has a story.
LKBR: Thank you so much, Larissa for letting us get to know you better!
LR: Thank you, Lisa, for giving me your time. Great questions!