MA: I’m pleased to welcome back to my blog Lotus Landry, author of Skookum Man, who first guested with me back in October 2010. You can go back and read about her debut appearance with me here: Western Romance, Chick Lit, Feminist…all Descriptions of Mike Angley’s Guest Author, Lotus Landry and her Novel, ‘Skookum Man.’
Welcome back, Lotus! I know you are anxious to talk about your second novel, but remind us again why you chose novel writing in the first place when you penned Skookum Man.
LL: I had a strong romance plot in mind for my first novel, Skookum Man, set in the Pacific Northwest. The plot plays off the dynamics of how a fur trapper’s original native family is confronted by a second refined imported wife from abroad. I especially wanted to portray a feminist spirit in the wilderness of the 1800s. I grew up in the Northwest and was aware of the stories about the fur trapping economy and the schooners.
But the second book, DOA in the HOA, is set in modern Southern California where I have lived for some time. The economic and social focus has undergone such a complete transition that I wanted to reflect this newer lifestyle—to even exaggerate it—in the novel. Most of the community residents have occupations that were not typical fifteen years ago. For instance, there is a housing stager, a uniformed dog employee at LAX, a document shredder, and some career criminals. There is also a rise in the importance of the pet culture and the pet economy. (As for the human economy in the story? Airline flight cabins become dysfunctional. Government finance becomes dysfunctional. Exploding hedge funds become dysfunctional. Socially networked coworkers become dysfunctional.)
MA: That’s quite a different setting from the Pacific Northwest. What does DOA in the HOA mean? What’s it about?
LL: This translates as ‘Dead on Arrival in the Homeowners Association’. Roommates, Christine Amador and Pistachio, team up to solve a mystery that starts in their Southern California neighborhood. The neighborhood, filled with quirky pets and people, is managed by a Homeowners Association.
The police tell them there is no credible evidence a crime was committed. Will Christine’s computer acumen and Pistachio’s skills as an exhibition cage fighter help them solve this Cozy Mystery? The book contains iconic features of Orange County and its history (including fruit fly emergencies, bears, red tides and such).
MA: Are you a martial arts expert or did you do some research to help you develop Pistachio?
LL: I did research on exercises of mixed martial arts for the character of ‘Pistachio’. I also visited a facility and watched videos and followed female fighter web pages.
MA: And Christine?
LL: Christine is worried throughout the story, but she admits that she gets too distracted sometimes by everyday business (as an Online Social Reputation Manager) to resolve problems. For instance, she can’t explain the absence of someone she depends upon and wonders if her ex-husband is connected to her problems.
MA: Did any of your real-life experiences factor in to the plot at all?
LL: Excellent Question! Two factors helped to germinate the book.
1) I couldn’t understand why some of my close relatives attend cage-fights. In fact, one of my relatives has two personal trainers. He does workouts to avert weight and cardiac problems. It works for him. I wanted to understand their hobby better and that is one reason I undertook this book. I made one of the female characters a cage-fighter.
2) My hairdresser was witness to a murder where the discovery of the victim hinged on the finding of a breast implant (with serial number) inside of a body floating in the Newport Harbor. A similar object confounds Christine in my fictional novel, but I won’t give it away here.
MA: Will there be any spin-off stories from either the DOA in the HOA or Skookum Man?
LL: My subtitle, “A Christine Amador Mystery” does open the door to having a sequel, especially if a plot about online sleuthing comes onto my radar.
MA: Do you write anything other than novels?
LL: I have enjoyed writing socially networked blogs (27 of these) about various topics, including travel ones about places I have visited on the West Coast.
The travel ones have titles such as:
Houseguests in the OC
Palm Springs Follies
Other current blogs I write try to involve people in using their hands in doing crafts. It turns out that the craft articles about ‘making things’ are the most popular. (I have a hunch that it is part of human nature to want to make things.)
MA: Lotus – thanks for stopping by and telling us all about DOA in the HOA. If my readers want to learn more, please visit: www.matooskie.com.