Guest Chick: E. J. Copperman

Leslie here, pleased to present the fabulous E.J. Copperman, whose newest mystery, UKULELE OF DEATH, released just last week. And if his many hilarious past books are any guide–and based on his hilarious post today–it’s a good bet this new one will be a hoot, as well!

Who Do I Write For?

Okay, fine; it should be, for whom do I write? You feel better?

Either way grammatically, it’s not an idle question. There is some push-and-pull in the publishing biz: If you want to keep being published, you have to sell enough books to keep a publisher interested. That can mean that you should write what The People want, if you can figure out what that might be.

But there’s no way to write effectively if you’re not keeping yourself interested in the process. The average reader spends a few hours with one of my novels (assuming they finish). I spend a few months. Losing interest in the story or the characters would be nothing short of disastrous.

So do I write to amuse myself, or to entertain the hypothetical reader I have in my head? The easy answer is, both. But the easy answer isn’t always the most honest one.

For one thing, how do I know what my readers want? A very small percentage of them (at least I hope it’s a very small percentage) will drop me an email every now and again, mostly to ask if there will be more books in the Haunted Guesthouse series (answer: No, and it wasn’t the author’s choice). I run into readers at Malice Domestic and other conferences and we have some fun talks, but I don’t want them to pitch me ideas; I will, in fact refuse to listen if they try.

So the takeaway from all that is they’d like more Haunted Guesthouse, and since two publishers have already decided against that, it’s very unlikely to happen. Oddly, that’s what led to my latest novel, UKULELE OF DEATH.

This begins the Fran and Ken Stein (I’ll give you a second) mystery series, about two siblings who are, let’s say, unique in ways that nobody else is unique. For one thing, they’re unusually big and strong. For another, they have to plug themselves into a wall socket every few days to maintain their energy.

It’s complicated, but all is explained in the novel.

Fran and Ken were born – well, they were never born, truth be told – when an editor suggested a new series that could tap into the appeal of the Guesthouse books, something a little paranormal again. “But NO ZOMBIES,” she said. I was fine with that.

There had been vampire sleuths and werewolf sleuths and for all I knew Creature From the Black Lagoon sleuths, but as far as I could tell, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley had not inspired any mystery novels and that seemed a shame. So I started thinking about Fran and Ken.

In UKULELE OF DEATH, our two heroes (?) have opened a detective agency that specializes in helping adopted people find and connect with their birth parents if everyone is amenable. And they’re asked by a new client to find a rare ukulele that she believes could lead to locating her birth father.

You have to trust me that things go steadily downhill from there, and that’s where the fun lies.

So the idea for the series was born when an editor suggested something readers might want, but the concept was purely my own and something I could find interesting to explore.

Maybe the easy answer is right after all. I write for myself and for the readers.

Readers: What do you think it means to be “different”?

E.J. Copperman is an alias. It’s a useless alias since any simple Google search will cough up the author’s legal name, so you have to wonder why we bother. Nonetheless, UKULELE OF DEATH is E.J.’s 30th published mystery novel (under two names) and the Haunted Guesthouse series, Asperger’s Mystery series, Agent to the Paws mystery series and Mysterious Detective series are still out there if you look hard enough. E.J. lives in New Jersey and likes it, so keep the Jersey jokes to yourself.

15 thoughts on “Guest Chick: E. J. Copperman

  1. Okay. To tell you the truth, I saw this book at Malice. The title intrigued me, but I had run out of room in my suitcases (you don’t know this, but I bought 9 packages at the charity auctions!), so I wrote the title down to order later.
    Now that I see this post, I am definitely ordering it!
    What do I think it means to be different? Something a cozy mystery author finds funny. If said author thinks it’s funny, there’s like a 95% chance I will agree, because cozy is my comfort zone. I know, what a cop out!
    What do I think it means to be different? Taking a real world situation, a news article, a movie plot, a book in the wild, and asking myself “what if?”
    This has been done before, but what if?
    Interesting, but what if?
    Big problem, but what if?
    This is what went down, but what if?
    Like when I saw a movie about a butler academy, and asked what if someone turned the old trope of “the butler did it” on its arse?
    Having the what if’s make me laugh and think of new what ifs. That’s what makes an author and their art different for me.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. This reminds me, Hestia. There’s a great story in the newest Malice anthology (Mystery Most Traditional) by Chris Chan. It’s called “The Butlers’ Anti-Defamation Society,” and it’s a hoot!

      And hurrah on those auction wins, along with giving to a great cause!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I don’t think I mentioned this to you, but I love this title. And yes, easy to *think* we know what readers want, but not so easy in practice.

    “Different” is whatever makes you, well, you – what sets you apart from others. Hopefully, all of us have something.

    Liked by 4 people

  3. Congratulations on the new book, E.J.! To me, different is something outside of our expectations. It can be good or a bad thing. Regardless, being different makes the world more interesting. Cheers!

    Liked by 4 people

  4. Glad you’re here on the Chicks today, E.J.! Love your series title and the siblings at the heart of it!

    I agree that being different involves taking your uniqueness–and magnifying it. And I think our individualities actually draw people closer to us.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. There has never been a better title. I spoke to you briefly at Malice (a question neither of us knew the answer to, and which I forget anyway), but I did NOT pitch anything. Everyone must buy this book!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Pitching doesn’t happen very much, to be honest. But you have to stick your fingers in your ears and start singing loudly when it does.


  6. To me, being “different” often means merely following your own path, without worrying about what others do or think. Which can be pretty darn difficult to do. So, vive la difference!

    Congrats on the new book, E.J.–which looks absolutely marvelous!–and thanks so much for visiting the Chicks today!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. This is every kind of awesome and I can’t wait to read it! As far as being different, the older I get, the less I worry about *anything.* I’ve never really cared about what people think of me, probably because I come from a huge family and was inoculated against that from an early age. The people who get me, get me. The people who don’t are—in the words of my 3yo granddaughter—dumdumheads. And sometimes it’s a weird Venn diagram!

    Liked by 2 people

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