Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Behind the Pages

... with Susan Runholt!

Have you ever wondered what was happening behind the pages? Get to know the author of the Kari + Lucas Mysteries personally.

Q: Are any of your characters modeled after people you know?

Yes, some are. Sometimes characters start out being modeled on people I know, but as I write about them they turn into the characters I'm creating. For example, the stepfather in Rescuing Seneca Crane started out being modeled physically on a dentist I once had. My third book probably has the most characters based on real people. One was modeled on a man I knew many years ago when I lived in Amsterdam, but I wrote him as his young self, and an American rather than a Dutchman. The book is set on safari in Kenya, and the safari guide and several other African characters are based on real Africans.

Q: What’s the first thing you think of when you hear the word “twirl”?

Probably batons.

Q: Have you ever been to the museums or countries that Kari and Lucas visited in The Mystery of the Third Lucretia?

I only write about places I have visited. It's very important to me to be as accurate as possible. So yes, I have visited London, Paris and Amsterdam. In fact, I lived in both Paris and Amsterdam when I was young. And I have certainly gone to all the museums mentioned in the book. Many times, in fact.

Q: What’s your idea of the perfect meal?

Oh dear, that's a difficult one. I do love food. Probably something French. In fact, I recently bought a French dinner at a silent auction for the United Way, and the menu sounds awfully good to me: a leek tart followed by cassoulet followed by creme caramel. But I'm also a great fan of Greek, Lebanese, Indian and Thai cuisine, and some of my very favorite meals have featured Southern cooking. (Corn soufflé, anyone?) Basically, I like food.

Q: Which of your characters do you think is most like yourself?

Oh, definitely Gillian. Although she's a better mother than I could ever be. We have much the same sense of humor and political leanings, we've both been married once and divorced, and we're both writers. We both love the arts in many forms, and are somewhat knowledgeable about them. We love to travel. Yes, Gillian andd I have a great deal in common.

Q: You wrote in your dedication that your daughter helped you write The Mystery of the Third Lucretia. While working on the book, did you two ever disagree with something in the storyline?

Yes, we did. My daughter, was 14 and very rebellious at the time, and she did not want Kari to forgive her mom for yelling at her for the trip into the red light district. Now that she is in her late 20s, I think she might take a different view.

Q: When you look out the window, what’s the first thing that catches your eye?

The cardinal family that lives in the strip of lilac bushes out my office window. I love them year after year.

Q: What’s your story behind getting published?

Oh dear. Let's just say it was exactly 20 years after I started writing mysteries that I had my first book published. I had written The Mystery of the Third Lucretia 14 years before its publication date. What finally got me into the market was winning a British literary award given only to authors who have not yet had a work published. That got the attention of a good agent who then found a home for my book at Viking/Penguin.

Q: Being an author, you might like to play around with certain words or phrases. What’s some of your favorites?

I can only think of one word, really, and that is Uffda, and all-purpose phrase from my Norwegian ancestors which means, roughly, "Oh dear."

Q: What bands or genre of music do you enjoy listening to?

I love classical music, South American samba and tango music, jazz vocals, and rhythm and blues. In R&B I especially like the classic performers like Aretha Franklin, Smokey Robinson, etc.

Q: Do you have a website or blog that readers can visit?

By all means! Susanrunholt.com. There's a lot of information on those pages for anyone who wants to know more about me.

Thank you for stopping by! You are a very interesting person. We wish you good luck on the Kari + Lucas series and all other future releases! :)

Susan Runholt is the author of the Kari + Lucas Mysteries that include The Mystery of the Third Lucretia (2008)and Rescuing Seneca Crane (2009). She shares her teenage heroines' love of art and travel and commitment to feminism.

For the past two decades she has lived in Saint Paul, Minnesota, where she serves as a fundraising consultant for social service and arts organizations. She was named runner-up for the Debut Dagger Award by the Crime Writers' Association of Great Britain.