Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Looking to Grow Up?

Please welcome my Wednesday gust, Michele Drier. Michele was born in Santa Cruz and is a fifth generation Californian. She’s lived and worked all over the state, calling both southern and northern California home.  During her career in journalism—as a reporter and editor at daily newspapers—she won awards for producing investigative series.

SNAP: All That Jazz, Book Eight of The Kandesky Vampire Chronicles, was published June 30, 2014.  The Kandesky Vampire Chronicles paranormal romance series include SNAP: The World Unfolds, SNAP: New Talent, Plague: A Love Story, DANUBE: A Tale of Murder, SNAP: Love for Blood, SNAP: Happily Ever After? SNAP: White Night and SNAP: All That Jazz.  SNAP: I, Vampire, Book Ten in the Kandesky Vampire Chronicles is scheduled for publication early 2015.

She also writes the Amy Hobbes Newspaper mysteries, Edited for Death and Labeled for Death. A third book, Delta for Death, is coming in 2014.


I want to be an archeologist when I grow up.

That would be so cool...except I’m old enough that my knees wouldn’t hold up on a dig and I’m sure I’d lose my reading glasses at least once.

But I refuse to give up my love of research, of digging through information until I find those facts that answer questions, like “why?”

Mysteries, whether murder or otherwise, are the ultimate quest for “why,” as well as “who,” “when,” and “how,” and in my years as a journalist, I asked those plenty of times.

Now, writing mysteries, I still ask them, but my plots hang on them AND I have to know the answer before I write.

In my mysteries, my protagonist, Amy Hobbes, the managing editor of a daily newspaper works with her cops reporter, Clarice Stamms, to peel the onion back and find the kernel of “why.”

Having been close to crime and murders for much of my career, I discovered that an awful lot of murders are similar...and that there are usually only two motives: sex and money.  Unfortunately most murders today have some connection to drug and/or human trafficking. There are millions—maybe billions—of dollars at stake and the murder rate escalates as the value if the commodity rises.

Every so often, though, a murder stands out. Like the Yosemite Murders that happened while I was an editor at the nearest mid-sized daily in Modesto. I’m still haunted by the “why” although Cary Stayner had plenty of devils that led him to be a mass murderer.

To answer the “why,” mysteries are set against a larger issue. In Edited for Death, the issue was the theft of looted Nazi art works by a young GI. In Labeled for Death, it was the lure of substituting high-priced grapes with cheap varieties in some of California’s fine wines.

And Delta for Death is set against California’s water exceptional drought and a proposal to build tunnels under the Delta and ship northern California’s abundant water to central and southern California. There’s an old saying in California, “Whiskey is for drinking and water is for war.”

Even though I thought I knew some of the water history of the Delta, research—time in the California collection at a couple of libraries, online archives of the local newspapers,and lunch with one of the deputy directors of the California Department of Water Resources—gave me both more information and more research paths to follow.

I’m pretty sure that my days as a beginning archeologist are long gone. At least, though, I can do this research and digging without leaving town.

That’s bittersweet. I’m never going to discover a lost city like Troy in California’s Central Valley, but when I lose my glasses, I know they’re somewhere in the house.

What do you want to be when you grow up?






Michele Drier said...

Thanks so much for having me as a guest, Judy! Now I really need to buckle down, finish my research and write!

Polly Iyer said...

Oh, I always wanted to be an actress when I was young. Not in the movies but on the stage. That helps me become my characters.

I thoroughly enjoyed Edited for Death, Michele, and found the subject matter interesting. Water problems in California go way back. I remember the movie Chinatown was about water. Best of luck with the third book in the series.

Gloria Alden said...

Interesting blog, Michele. I think I've become what I really was meant to be and that's a writer. As a kid, I wanted to be a mother and a teacher. I did that. Then later in my career as a teacher, I wanted to be a writer so I started that when still teaching. The difference now is I have more time to pursue my love.

I found your comments interesting about the California drought. My daughter just bought a home in Benicia, and I went out in July to help her move in. A lovely place, but oh the drought. She told me about that idea of piping water from northern California further south. She's very much an environmentalist and is very frugal with her water use. As for here in Ohio, I've had almost nine inches of rain this week. Wish I could send some of it your way.