We’re flapping our feathers with excitement to announce the two newest Chicks to join the coop at Chicks on the Case: Kathleen Valenti and Becky Clark!
Becky pens the Mystery Writer’s Mysteries, and Kathleen writes the Maggie O’Malley Mystery Series.We couldn’t be more thrilled to have these two awesome authors in the nest! For their inaugural post, we asked them some questions so you can get to know them a little better.
Why did you become a mystery writer, as opposed to say, writing romance or science fiction?
Kathleen: I’ve loved mysteries since I could read “See Jane run—from the scene of a crime.”
I was an English lit major and the moment I was free from Swift and Milton, crime fiction became my reading go-to. So writing mystery was a gimme. What was not a gimme was how much harder it was than I had imagined. I somehow thought that being an avid mystery reader would make writing mystery a breeze. It’s like the Olympics. Watch the women’s 100 meter butterfly long enough and you start to think, “Hey, I could do that!”
Becky: My first book, back in 2001, was actually historical fiction for kids. But writing for kids posed a bunch of problems I didn’t want to deal with any longer, not the least of which was that those dang ten-year-olds never seemed to have money in their wallets to buy books. Most didn’t even have wallets! ‘Sup with that?? But then I wrote a couple of YA mysteries which I quite enjoyed. (The process, that is. The manuscripts sucked.) I realized I’d have the same problem with gatekeepers for YA books as I did for middle readers, so I switched to writing mysteries for adults. That’s one answer. The other is that I’ve always been a mystery fan, ever since I discovered Nancy Drew as a kid. I enjoy all the subgenres of crime fiction, but I like to write cozies because I love the “fish out of water” scenarios. In my case with my Mystery Writer’s Mysteries, poor unsuspecting Charlemagne Russo is just trying to write her books when —BLAMMO— a dead body shows up.
Because we stalk you on Facebook, we know you both recently posted pictures featuring your socks! Where do you stand on socks as fashion?
Becky: First off, I do tend to stand IN my socks rather than ON them; I’m not really the Renaissance woman you think I am. And the photo I posted was quite literally the only one of me wearing a fancy pair of socks. Because, c’mon … look at these! The majority of my socks, however, are boring. I do own a lot of boring socks, though, so I guess I feel fairly confident about boring socks as fashion. I did raise a Renaissance daughter, though, who, as a child, never wore matching socks and to this day owns a museum-worthy number of funky socks.
Kathleen: Ha ha! Ah, yes, my running socks of shame. Because I’m incorrigibly lazy, I’m loathe to change from street socks to athletic socks if said street socks are thin enough. My thinking: any sock you run in is a running sock. I’m big into socks, but only because my feet are always cold. I even sleep in them!
How do you procrastinate when you should be writing?
Kathleen: Since I write from home, both as a novelist and for work, procrastination temptation is everywhere. Even scrubbing the toilet takes on an urgent attractiveness when you don’t want to think about the next plot twist or a character arc. My favorite ways to procrastinate are tooling around Facebook, watching YouTube videos, and “researching” things that have questionable ties to what I’m working on. I once spent several hours researching the difference between a Scottish and Irish accent then trying to do them.
Becky: You will always know the day I start writing a new book because I will have the best flossed teeth in town. But I don’t really procrastinate when I’m supposed to be writing. Writing is my full-time job and as silly as I am much of the time, I’m deadly serious about my work. Nobody will read what I don’t write, after all. Publishing is an extremely difficult industry to break into and to remain viable in. The only thing I have control over are the words I write, so I like to do that part. Don’t get me started on the lengths I go to not to exercise, though. If I put that energy into my workouts, I’d have a butt you could bounce quarters on instead of just sitting around wondering why anyone would want to bounce quarters off someone’s butt. *runs off to write this scene*
Tell us three things about yourselves readers might be surprised to know.
Becky: Let’s see, this will be hard because I talk about myself almost exclusively and at great length. One, I was never that “nurturing Mom” to my three kids. From an early age they knew if they barfed on the floor, they’d have to clean it up. If they forgot their lunch/library book/musical instrument, they’d be hungry/bored/in trouble. Bail money would never come from me. But guess what? They never needed me to rescue them. Grew up completely self-sufficient. I believe that the best moms are a little bit selfish.
Two, I resent my happy childhood more than seems reasonable because it means I’ll never be able to write a memoir. “Well-Cared-For in Colorado” … “Camping Trips Where I Never Got Lost” … “My Parents Let Us Have Cute Pets” …. see what I mean? Not a lot of drama, even though with eight kids I’m fairly certain my parents were only half-awake most of the time.
Three, in January 2017 I had a weird benign tumor inside my spinal column, pushing on my spinal cord, that a team of scalpel-wielding magicians removed successfully. I still have residual numbness across my upper back and in my entire left leg, but don’t cry for me, Argentina. I’m pretty much used to it and I can do everything I need to do, but I get these random jolts of electricity shooting up through the bottom of my foot that are indescribable. The closest I can come to making people understand what it feels like is to tell them to put their tongue on a fully-juiced 9-volt battery. You’d be surprised how many people don’t want to do that. Or maybe you wouldn’t. Personally, I thought everyone put their tongue on a 9-volt battery at some point in their misguided youth. Maybe that’s what my memoir should be about … “Battery Tongue — How My Parents Allowed Me To Electrocute Myself On A Regular Basis.”
Kathleen: Just three? Ha ha! KIDDING. I’m pretty much an open book, so I don’t have a ton of surprises up my sleeve. However, it might be (slightly) surprising to know that despite my mild-mannered exterior, I love a wee bit of adventure. For example, I’ve had my student pilot’s license for years. The only problem? I lost the flying bug and doubt I’ll ever get my *actual* pilot’s license.
Another surprise: I can play “The Eye of the Tiger” on my flute. If there’s a Rocky reboot that needs a woodwinds instrumental, I’m ready.
I’m also a huge Led Zeppelin fan. Like…restraining order huge. (Kidding again. Kinda.) I’m thinking if I can somehow combine the second surprise with this one (and get the band back together), we could cut a reaaaaaaaally interesting album. (I’m sure Robert Plant would take my call. Right, Bob? Uh, Bob?)
Becky Clark is the seventh of eight kids, which explains both her insatiable need for attention and her atrocious table manners. She likes to read funny books so it felt natural to write them, too. Publisher’s Weekly says, FICTION CAN BE MURDER, the first in her Mystery Writer’s Mysteries, is a “… funny and affecting view into a mystery writer’s life.” The second in series, FOUL PLAY CAN BE MURDER, comes out April 8, 2019. Learn more about Becky and her books at: http://beckyclarkbooks.com/
Kathleen (aka Kathy) Valenti is an advertising copywriter who pens for agencies in Oregon and North Carolina. Known as an adept storyteller who flexes her writing muscles with evocative description, compelling concepts, and emotional connections, Valenti has written for her supper for more than twenty years. She lives in Oregon where she pretends to enjoy running. The first book in her Maggie O’Malley Mystery Series, PROTOCOL, was nominated for both Agatha and Lefty awards. Her latest entry, 39 WINKS, is a twisty tale involving sleepwalking – and murder. Her third book, AS DIRECTED, releases in March. Learn more about Kathleen and her books at https://www.kathleenvalenti.com/
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