Monday, April 27, 2015

Ask an International Guy of Mystery

Dear Guy,
For years I have been trying to remember the name of a song. Its lyrics run through my head every day like a stream of oily effluent rushing down a storm drain:
Oh, them golden slippers!
Oh, them golden slippers!
Golden, golden, golden slippers,
Golden, golden slippers!
Do you have any idea what the name of this song is and who wrote it?

Perplexed in Pendleton, Oregon

Dear Perplexed,
I had to coerce some of my sources in the intelligence community to help me track this down. There are three possibilities, which I'll share with you:
One is "Pair Two-Thousand-Twenty-Three", written by Imelda Marcos and sung by her husband, Ferdinand, with the accompaniment of the Philippine National Choir.
Another is "I Wish I Was a Girl" by J. Edgar Hoover, the founder of the FBI.
Lastly, "Them Golden Slippers" by The Ozark Snake Charmers, with special guest, Billy Graham.
I hope one of these rings a bell for you!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Interview with Holli Castillo
The International Guy of Mystery found Holli Castillo on a balcony at the Maison Bourbon in the French Quarter, where she was doing clandestine surveillance for a law firm while dictating notes into her phone for a future mystery novel and film treatment. She answered his questions by way of paper airplanes flown between the balcony and the sidewalk bench where the Guy (in disguise) was sitting and eating deep-fried popcorn shrimp slathered in Cajun hot sauce.

IGM: If you had to give a quick, one-sentence description of your novel or series to a Hollywood mogul, what would you say? 
HC: Here's my pitch for Chocolate City Justice – Navigating the flood of Hurricane Katrina with an NOPD detective and two cats, prosecutor Ryan Murphy finds herself fleeing gang members, rogue police officers, and the wrath of the storm, all the while gathering clues to solve the mystery of who is paying the Ninth Ward Warriors to terrorize the city.

IGM: What inspired you to write your series (personal experience, books you love, real people and events, etc.)?
HC: My series was inspired by my personal experience as a New Orleans prosecutor.

IGM: Yikes! That sounds scary! Next question: What gives you the most joy as a writer?
HC: When readers e-mail me and ask when the next novel is coming out because they can’t wait to find out what happens to my protag, Ryan. It doesn’t get any better than when my characters are as real to my readers as they are to me.

IGM: What is the hardest thing about writing?
HC: Finding time to write is the most difficult part of writing. I have a “job-job” that I do from home, two teenage daughters, a husband, three dogs, and two deaf cats, all of which compete for my attention. I also write screenplays and t.v. pilots and I just started producing my own films, so it’s hard to juggle everything that needs to get done.

IGM: I think one of your deaf cats just jumped on my lap. How do you come up with the titles for your books?
HC: My husband and my kids name all my work. I’m terrible with titles and actually don’t enjoy the naming process. Except for my characters. I love naming characters.

IGM: Tell a little about your process. Do you know how it should end before you start?
HC: I always know how the story is going to end, but then I usually try to add a twist I hadn’t planned.  I do a scene by scene outline ahead of time, although the scenes get rewritten and moved around constantly. If I didn’t outline, I wouldn’t know how to stop adding scenes into the novel.

IGM: Pretend you are fielding a baseball team with your favorite writers. List them by position.
HC: We are a football city (if you didn’t guess my favorite football team is the New Orleans Saints you don’t know anything at all about me or the city of New Orleans.) 
IGM: I thought the New Orleans Saints was a glee club. OK, go on:
HC: I suggest you remain in disguise. 
IGM: Yikes!
HC: I can’t picture any of my favorite writers playing football, so I’m going to use my next favorite sport, women’s gymnastics.  Ernest Hemingway would do the vault, because he seems like he would run fast because he was a sportsman.  John Kennedy Toole would do the floor, but he would probably fall a lot and not be very good.  Julie Plec (who writes and produces Vampire Diaries and the Originals) would do the balance beam because she looks kind of short and short women have a lower center of gravity and do better on beam.  She also does a fantastic job of balancing the two shows she writes.  John Sandford would do the bars, because if he is like his character Lucas Davenport, he is fearless and aggressive, two traits necessary to excel at the bars.

IGM: I can't stop seeing Hemingway in women's gymnastic tights doing the splits...OK, last question: Pretend your book is being made into a movie. What actors would play the lead characters? (Note: if your book is being optioned for a movie, you may wish to send several thousand dollars to the International Guy of Mystery Foundation as a tax write-off).
HC: Casting my protag Ryan is difficult because she is short, but Anna Kendrick is about the right height and could do a lot with the role. If I wasn’t casting by height, Emma Stone, Jennifer Lawrence, Emily Blunt, or Emma Watson.
Ian Somerhalder, Damon from The Vampire Diaries, would definitely get the role of Shep, my lead male. I didn’t have anyone in mind when I wrote the character, but the first time I saw Ian Somerhalder on TVD, I immediately thought that is Shep, exactly as I described him.
Jason Momoa would get the role of the second lead male and third member of the little love triangle, undercover detective Monte Carlson.

I would pick some of the Wahlberg boys to play Ryan’s brothers, actor Ryan Reynolds for the villain in Gumbo Justice and Jared Leto for the villain in Jambalaya Justice.

Monday, April 13, 2015

Ask an International Guy of Mystery

                  Dear International Guy of Mystery,
One of the great international mysteries in our time has to do with finding the secret messages buried within the songs of the Beatles. I have spent something like fifty years trying to determine whether or not Paul is dead, and I still don’t know the answer. We’re told that the walrus was Paul, which I think means that he secretly died and was replaced by a look-alike. Also, what does the number nine really mean? Or Honey Pie? I’d like to know if you have some light to shed on this subject, though I must warn you that I will probably disagree with you, since I tend to disagree with everybody on this subject.
Roy “Ringo” Randolph, Redmond, Oregon

Dear Roy Ringo,
I agree that the Beatles hid some intriguing messages in their lyrics for people to get obsessed with until they lose all friendship with the real world, but I’m sorry to hear that you have spent so much time on the subject of Paul’s death since he keeps performing in public and appears to be the only one who didn’t die. You will probably disagree, but it’s clear to me that you’re a complete idiot.
What’s hidden in the early lyrics and now fairly obvious to me is the homo-erotic subtext. Why did they care so much about wearing tights? When they sing “Hold Me Tights” in their quaint Liverpudlian style, one has to wonder (“You don’t know what it means to hold me tights”).  Indeed: What does it mean to hold their tights? They come right out and blurt it out in an early song celebrating the very odor of a man’s body, (“I Want a B.O. Lover, Baby, I Want a B.O. Man”), but few critics or fans have noticed, and since my sources say that most British artists are gay, nobody cares.
I think you should get outside of Redmond more often.

Friday, April 3, 2015

Ask an International Guy of Mystery

Dear International Guy of Mystery,
I have been reading British mystery authors for most of my life and consider myself something of an Anglophile. In fact I usually speak to strangers in a British accent and fancy myself expert in this genre, so I was gobsmacked when I heard that Elizabeth George is an American! The bloody twit who told me this was none other than my cheeky husband, and we had quite row. Is the blackguard right, or am I right that she has to be a Brit?
Brassed-Off in Benton County, Oregon

Dear Brassed,
I was astonished to find out that your husband is actually right! How could an American woman write with a British accent? Inspector Lynley is more English than Austin Powers! It doesn't make sense to me; in fact, I think there may be something rotten in Denmark. When American writers and film makers have English characters in their stories, there's always something wrong with them: they're either evil geniuses, or they're smart but homely or cowardly. Not so with our Elizabeth George!
Here's my theory: she has an evil twin or a madwoman friend who was raised in London. The twin is locked in a castle tower somewhere, like they often do in England, and she sends Elizabeth George the stories, maybe in exchange for something American that she can't get in the British insane asylum (like good movies or tacos).
Thank you for alerting me to this international ruse!
International Guy of Mystery