Friday, August 1, 2008
In The Handbasket: Julie Kramer
I'm so excited to introduce Julie Kramer to you all. I devoured her debut novel, STALKING SUSAN, just hours after the ARC of it arrived here at chez Benedict. STALKING SUSAN introduces Minnesota's own Riley Spartz, a--and I just have to say this--girl reporter who discovers that a serial killer has been targeting women named Susan over a period of years. It's a compelling thriller with a delicious mystery at its heart, and Julie's makes-it-look-easy prose style is enough to make any writer jealous. Julie also has a solid background in television and television reporting, so it's no surprise that she writes with striking clarity about the subject.
USA Today loved STALKING SUSAN. But before you click over to read the rave, here's Julie, who was sweet enough to jump into The Handbasket to answer a few questions. I wish I had had her record her answers--I adore her Minnesota accent!
What adverb would you most like to see removed from books or the English language in general?
Totally, as in "totally destroyed." My pet peeves is when newscasters use it to describe the aftermath of a house fire.
What was your favorite news story that you worked on during your career?
It's hard to pick a favorite because I've covered a lot of ground as a television news producer - investigative stories, feature stories, breaking news. I love stories in which I've brought about change, like good laws being passed or bad laws being revoked. The day after we aired a series on the Minnesota Board of Pardons (granting secret pardons to criminals and wiping their records clean so that no one - not employers or even law enforcement could access their past) the state legislature voted unanimously to end the practice. This move came after we showed child molesters getting jobs around children and armed robbers being hired as police officers and arsonists becoming firefighters. No surprise, they committed new crimes with the aid of their newly cleaned up background records.
In FIGHTING FOR A SMILE, I showed how, through botched paperwork, the Minnesota Veterans Administration was pulling the teeth of aging war heroes, then refusing to give them dentures. Heroes from World War II and Vietnam waited toothless for nearly a year, devastated by a lose of self esteem. After we aired the story, the government appropriated money to hire private dentists to immediately correct the problem.
In COMING UP SHORT, I uncovered Minnesota dairies shorting school children by not putting enough milk in the carton for school lunch contracts. That changed after our report.
Have you ever lied about your age?
What book(s) were you forced to read as a child or teen that you really hated then, but are glad now that you did?
No one ever had to force me to read. I grew up on a farm along the Minnesota-Iowa State Line and was one of those kids counting the days until the bookmobile returned. Please, I'd pray, let there be a new Phyllis A. Whitney novel. I have boycotted WAR AND PEACE for the past twenty years because of what Tolstoy did to Anna Karenina in the classic by that title. I don't regret reading the book, but I think the point was made - you can't build happiness on the misery of others - without...well I don't want to spoil the ending for those unfamiliar with the work. Just be aware, the novel can be interpreted as a warning as to what happens to women who follow their passion.
Would you ever consider writing a prequel to STALKING SUSAN? Riley's courtship and relationship with Hugh Boyer has so much depth.
I hadn't thought of that, but it's a great idea and I will certainly mull that one over. Right now I've just finished a sequel to STALKING SUSAN. I didn't want to write back to back serial killers (although my publisher probably would have been okay with that) so this book features a missing person case. I've covered numerous such cases as a journalist and felt there was much I could bring to the discussion and controversy regarding which missing persons get media attention. In MISSING MARK, my reporter-heroine spots a want ad reading "Wedding Dress for Sale: Never Worn," and is drawn into a dangerous missing person case during sweeps month.
Patrick, Spongebob, or Squidward?
I don't understand the question, probably because my kids are teenagers now. But I recently watched the new Batman movie with my sons and am in awe of the story and the moral issues it tackled.