Monday, July 16, 2012

Interview with Lauren Carr

Lauren, welcome to Hardcover Feedback! Would you tell us a little about yourself?
Certainly! I’m a middle-aged mystery writer and the author of the Mac Faraday Mysteries, which takes place in Deep Creek Lake, Maryland. The first two books in my series are It’s Murder, My Son and Old Loves Die Hard. They’ve have been getting rave reviews from readers and reviewers. The next book in this series, Shades of Murder, which was released last month.

A lot of people are on Twitter these days, so can you describe Shades of Murder for us in 140
characters or less (which is the size of a tweet)?
Mac Faraday is heir to an unbelievable fortune—it’s a masterpiece with a murder attached to it.

When did you begin writing Shades of Murder? What inspired this book and how much research was involved in writing it?
Shades of Murder took about the same length of time to write as it does to have a baby. I started thinking about the book last year when some readers of my first series, the Joshua Thornton Mysteries, said they wanted me to go back to Joshua Thornton. My last Joshua Thornton mystery was A Reunion to Die For, which was released in 2007. It is now in re-release. But I love Mac Faraday. I mean I love Joshua, too. But I was at a different place emotionally when I wrote that series. Joshua is more serious than Mac. Then, I thought, what if I brought the two of them together? Two mysteries in one? Yeah!

As far as research, I had to find out how the various different law enforcement agencies work together on a case, especially when you have two murders, at different times, in different states that end up being connected. For that, I went to a source that I have who used to be a homicide detective. As you write over the course of years, you will find that you accumulate sources that you can count on to go to when you have a question in research.

What or who made the biggest influence on you wanting to become a writer?
My mother. We’ve shared this love of murder mysteries. She noticed early on that I have this tremendous imagination. It was something she didn’t squelch, but encouraged.

What was the first book you ever wrote about and was it ever published?
My first book was the Great American Catastrophe. I was eighteen years old and wrote my first book on an electric typewriter. This was before computers. So we aren’t talking about a word processing program, folks!

Determined to be a novelist, I devoted a whole summer to my masterpiece. The television was off. Meals consisted of peanut butter sandwiches that were quick and easy to make. Hours that I used to sunbathe for a golden tan were spent composing. I stopped going out with my friends. Not a minute that could be devoted to literary creation was wasted. At the end of the summer, I proudly emerged from my bachelorette apartment pale, thin, and socially bankrupt. In three months, I had written the Great American Catastrophe, all 846 pages of it in hardcopy. 

The only thing is, at eighteen years old in a small town in Ohio, I had no idea what to do with it. This was before Internet. I couldn’t e-mail it to an agent and do you know how expensive it is to copy 846 pages? It’s now boxed up in my mother’s basement and I hope no one ever reads it. 

Do you have any writing habits that people might find unusual?
I can write anywhere and everywhere. I have a writer’s studio, but if I’m inspired first thing in the morning, I’ll write on my laptop in bed. Next thing I know, it’s noon and I’m still in my jammies. Or I’ll end up in front of the fireplace. My husband will find me everywhere with my laptop perched in my lap except my studio, not because I don’t like it there, but because I keep getting dragged away into the zone.

Do you have a favorite character or one that is especially close to your heart?
Gnarly. I’m a sucker for dogs, especially loveable bad dogs.

What is the best gift you have ever received, do you still have it and who gave it to you?
My son. I consider him a gift from God. Yep, I still have him.

What is something that you have always wanted to do, but just haven't gotten around to it yet?
Read all of the works of Agatha Christie in chronological order from her first book all the way to her last.

If you were stranded on a deserted island, what three things would you hope to find in your suitcase?
One gallon of ice cream (I love ice cream). The complete works of Agatha Christie in chronological order. I guess now I’ll have time to read it without being interrupted. And a cell phone with a fully charged battery and a really strong signal.

What is your all-time favorite book?
The Alienist by Caleb Carr. I really liked the chemistry of the characters and it was an intriguing mystery.

Other than yourself, who is your favorite author?
Tess Gerritsen

If a TV show was based on your life, what type of TV show would it be (i.e., comedy, drama, suspense, etc.) who would you choose to play the leading character (you), and what would the theme song be? Why?
Situation Comedy about a middle-aged wife of a church business manager and mother who writes murder mysteries. I am considered quite a character among friends, family, and my husband’s co-workers.

Once, a young pastor visiting our church, upon learning that I write murder mysteries, asked me, “Do you ever kill anyone you know?” He had a worried expression on his face. 

I replied, “Of course. I also kill complete strangers.”

Leading Character: Elizabeth Shue to play me. On CSI, she is really good at coming across as both smart, funny, and sexy.

Theme song: Anita Renfroe’s The Mom Song, sung to the Willliam Tell Overture. This song really captures the tone of our home.

What do you like to do in your spare time?
Cook. I am a gourmet cook and love to try new recipes.

Are you an early bird or a night owl?
Both! I am the first one up in the morning. My Australian shepherd Ziggy is a morning dog. He is up at the crack of dawn. So I have to let him out. I will get to working on writing and my publishing business, Acorn Book Services. At night, after dinner, I will work on my own books. So I’ll work late and am often the last one to bed at night.

No, I’m not Superwoman. Often in the afternoon, if everyone is gone and the house is quiet, I will take a nap.

What is your favorite TV show and/or movie?
Leverage. The plots and storylines are so very clever with all their twists and turns. They get me every time. I love it.

If you were throwing a dinner party and you could invite five people (fictional or real, dead or alive), other than family or friends, who would you invite and why?
Erle Stanley Gardner. Perry Mason. Agatha Christie. Lieutenant Columbo. Cary Grant. Just think of all the lively stories they would tell about everything that they have seen in their lives.

If you had the opportunity to go anywhere you wanted, at anytime in history, where would you go and why?
I would have to say Hollywood in the 1950’s. Hollywood’s heyday. I’d give anything for the opportunity to work with Alfred Hitchcock on some of his great movies like Rear Window or North By NorthWest.

What are you currently working on?
I’m starting a new series called the Lovers in Crime mysteries. (Don’t worry! I haven’t quit the Mac Faraday Mysteries! The next installment in that series will be next spring!) Coming this fall, Dead on Ice introduces a new series featuring Joshua Thornton and Cameron Gates. In Dead on Ice, Pennsylvania State homicide detective Cameron Gates is tasked with solving the murder of a porn star whose mummified remains are found in an abandoned freezer in Joshua’s cousin’s basement.

For this book tour, I am holding a contest for readers to name the female porn star found in the freezer. Not only are they to supply the stage name the star used in her films, but her real name from her childhood in the Chester, West Virginia/Pittsburgh area. The winner will receive all three Deep Creek Lake mysteries, plus a print edition of Dead on Ice upon its release, as well as a Lovers in Crime coffee mug. Contest is running from June 1-July 31.

Readers are to submit their entries to me via e-mail: writerlaurencarr@ Subject line is to read Name the Porn Star. Be sure to include your name, e-mail address, and mailing address. The winner will be decided by me and my muses (my two dogs).

Where can people connect with you online?

Thank you so much Lauren for being on Hardcover Feedback!

ABOUT Shades Of Murder:
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!

  • File Size: 304 KB
  • Print Length: 232 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1470082446
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Publisher: Acorn Book Services (May 7, 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0081BZB4K
  • Available to purchase at Amazon: KINDLE & PRINT


“What does the letter say?” Archie came back in from the kitchen. With the scissors, she broke
through the plastic cord wrapped around the box.
Mac was still reading the first letter. “It’s a bunch of legal mumbo jumbo. This guy, Archibald
Poole, died. He had left this to Robin Spencer. In the event of her death preceding his, it was to be
passed on to her next of kin. Since that’s me, I get it.”
Archie stopped snipping. “Archibald Poole?”
Gnarly stopped sniffing.
“Did you know him?” He was breaking through the seal of the white envelope addressed to Robin.
“Creepy old man. One of those eccentric rich guys. He didn’t make it all on the up and up. I think
Robin remained friends with him because he was good material for her books. He lived in a big
mansion up on top of a mountain in southern West Virginia.”
Mac was only half paying attention. “He left Robin a painting.”
With one end unsealed, Archie peered inside the box to see that the contents were wrapped in
brown paper and padding.
Sitting on the top step leading down into the dining room, Mac read the letter out loud:

Dearest Robin,
If you are reading this, then I’m dead and you are now observing my gift to you. So, what
do you leave to the girl who has everything? When that girl is Robin Spencer, it’s a mystery.
You will find that I have left you an Ilysa Ramsay painting. That alone makes it worth
a fortune. But, ah, my dear Robin, this is not just any Ilysa Ramsay painting. It is her lost
You will recall that Ilysa Ramsay was brutally murdered on your own Deep Creek Lake in
the early hours of Labor Day in 2004. At the same time, her last painting was stolen from her
studio where her dead body was discovered. She had unveiled what she had declared to be
her masterpiece to her family and friends the same evening that she was murdered.

Grasping the frame wrapped in packaging, Archie tugged at the painting to pull it out of the box
while Mac continued reading:

Everyone in the art world has been searching for Ilysa Ramsay’s last work of art. With only a handful of people having seen it; and no photographs taken of it before its theft; its value is priceless. 
As my good luck would have it, a month after her murder, my guy called me. He had been contacted by a fence representing someone claiming to have the painting and wanting to unload it. Being familiar with Ilysa Ramsay’s work, I was able to authenticate it. Also, I had seen reports from witnesses who had described it as a self-portrait of Ilysa. 
As I write this letter, Ilysa’s murder has yet to be solved. Nor do I know who had stolen the painting. It was sold to me by a third party. 
And so, my dear lovely Robin, I leave this task to you. Here is the painting that the art world has been searching for, for years, and a mystery of who stole it, along with who killed its lovely artist. Enjoy, as I know you will!
My Love, Archibald Poole

Her yellow suit droopy, Archie slapped her hat down on the dining room table, and ripped through
the padding to reveal the painting of a red-haired woman lying across a lounge with a red and green
clover pattern. She was dressed in an emerald gown with a ruby red choker stretched across her
throat. Ruby red jewels spilled down her throat toward the bodice.
Gnarly sat on the floor at Mac’s feet to gaze at the painting.
They studied the image together.
“Just what I always wanted,” Mac said. “A stolen priceless painting with a dead body attached to it.”

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  1. Hey, Megan! Great site and interview. Glad to be here to meet your readers! Thank you for having me.


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  3. Thank you for hosting Lauren today. Great interview. Lauren I love new recipes, though I'm no gourmet cook I do love cooking :).