We have mystery author, Sally Carpenter, visiting with us this week. I read Sally’s The Baffled Beatlemaniac Caper and really enjoyed it. Now, let’s get to know Sally.
Patricia: Sally, where did you grow up? Did your childhood contribute to your desire to be a writer?
Sally : I was born and raised in southwestern Indiana, the same setting as my book. Growing up I read a lot because that wasn’t much else to do. My family lived in the country outside a small town, Princeton, pop. 10,000. We didn’t go into town frequently and when we did, the only entertainment was a bowling alley and a single-screen movie theater. During the school year I checked out books from the school library and in the summer I hung out at the public library during the day while mom did the shopping. In eighth grade I won the library’s summer reading contest by reading the most books. I made up stories, too.
In the evenings we watched TV (only three channels!) and that helped to inspire my series character who starred in a fictitious TV show. In high school I was active in the school drama club and plays, which also helped to develop my storytelling skills.
Patricia: Where do you live now? Do you use that locale for settings in your novels?
Sally : I’ve lived in Southern California since 2000. As a kid I dreamed of going to Hollywood, so here I am. I came to LA to break into TV writing and ended up writing mystery novels! But that’s okay. I live west of LA in Moorpark, which is considered a “small town” even though it’s three times the size of Princeton. The hero of my books lives in LA because he works in showbiz.
Patricia: What inspired you to write your most recent novel?
Sally : More than a decade or so ago VH1 started running “The Monkees” TV show again, which I hadn’t seen since I was a kid. I fell in love with the guys and became a super fan—going to concerts, collecting stuff, talking to fans, reading about teen idols. I was taking a college course in playwrighting at the time and wrote a one-act play about an aging star meeting one of his fans. The play was a finalist in a playwrighting contest and one of the judges said, “I can see a bigger story here.”
In 2008 a local library hosted a panel discussion with members of Sisters in Crime. The program inspired me to start writing mysteries (and to join SinC), so I took the teen idol character and turned him into an amateur sleuth.
Patricia: Did you plan to write a series before or after you wrote the first book?
Sally : I always knew this would be a series before I started. As a kid I wanted to create and star in my own TV show so I think of the individual books as episodes in my TV series.
Patricia: Name three of your favorite authors in the mystery genre.
Sally : Arthur Conan Doyle (Sherlock Holmes) and Richard Levinson/William Link (Columbo) would be tops. I also love the Holmes on the Range series by Steve Hockensmith.
Patricia: What are your favorite things to do when you’re not reading or writing?
Sally : I don’t have much time left over when I’m not reading or writing! I work a full-time job at a community newspaper to pay the bills then come home to write. I’m also a play critic for the newspaper so I occasionally review the local community and school productions. I spoil two black cats. I enjoy watching old movies and the classic TV shows I grew up with; I have an enormous home video collection. I like to help out the city library; next month I’ll be reading books to preschoolers for a session of PJ Storytime. On Sundays I go to church. Not exciting but I like to keep the drama on the page and out of my life.
Patricia: Do you like to travel? If so, what are some of your favorite places to go?
Sally : I wish I could travel more but with a full-time job and limited finances I don’t go far. One of the local libraries takes day trips to museums and interesting places in LA and I usually take those excursions. Some time ago a local group hosted a location tour in LA to see places where various Laurel and Hardy movies were filmed. Some of those houses/places still look the same!
Years ago I was with a traveling drama troupe and we toured Western Canada. I’ve been on a weekend cruise to the Bahamas and would love to take a weeklong cruise. I like the whole shipboard experience. In 2014 I plan to go to Monterey Calif. for the Left Coast Crime convention.
Patricia: How would you describe yourself personality wise?
Sally : Introvert, funny, spiritual, smart, loving, independent, loyal friend.
Patricia: What’s your favorite color? Why?
Sally: Green. It’s the color of grass and represents growth (also coincidentally the color of money but that doesn’t mean I’m greedy). Blue is runner-up because my eyes are blue and I look good in dark blue clothes; my series protagonist has blue eyes too.
Patricia: How would you finish this sentence? If I won a million dollars, I would . . .
Sally : pay off my debts, buy a house, invest the money so I could afford to write full-time and give to charity.
Thanks for having me, Patricia! This has been fun!
Yes it has, Sally. Thanks for being my guest this week.
To read more about and/or to order a copy of The Baffled Beatlemaniac Caper go to: