Please welcome Clare O'Donohue, author of the "Someday
Quilt" series, introducing her exciting new series featuring television producer
Clare's new novel is both suspenseful and engaging, and one that not only will fans of her previous series love, but one that will surely bring her an entire new group of fans who will eagerly await her next outing!
Clare OíDonohue Interview:
New Mystery Reader: Tell us a bit about your new series: who is your new heroine and, in this first tale, just how does she get involved in her first mystery?
Clare O'Donohue: The new series, the Kate Conway Mysteries, features a Chicago-based freelance television producer dealing with an exciting but sometimes unethical profession and an always confusing personal life.
In the first mystery, MISSING PERSONS, Kate is in the middle of a divorce when her about-to-be-ex-husband dies. His cause of death is listed as ďunconfirmedĒ and Kate becomes the number one suspect in his possible homicide. And to make matters worse, her late husbandís girlfriend, a wealthy and ridiculously nice woman, wants to be Kateís friend.
With all that on her plate, Kate still has to make a living, so sheís producing a true crime show about a missing 22-year-old nursing student, and finds that this seemingly perfect woman may have had a dark side. As Kate investigates both the womanís disappearance and her husbandís death, odd happenings and veiled threats make Kate worry that she may soon become a victim herself.
New Mystery Reader: Your first series, the ďSomeday QuiltĒ titles, is proving go be pretty successful. So what enticed you to start a new series?
Clare O'Donohue: I love my Someday books, and will have a 4th in that series, THE DEVILíS PUZZLE, out in the fall. I started the new series because I wanted to stretch myself, and try new things. I noticed at book signings that whenever my day job as a TV producer came up, people were fascinated, so it seemed like an obvious choice for a character. I didnít know when I wrote it if my publisher would be interested, so in many ways, I was writing it as an exercise Ė just to see if I could find a voice and a world different from the one Iíd already created in the Someday books.
New Mystery Reader: Fans of your first series will no doubt be a bit thrown by your new one; whereas, your first was a cozy type series, your latest is anything but. What would you like to say to your fans regarding this new venture and its differences from the first?
Clare O'Donohue: Iím a little nervous about that. MISSING PERSONS is more cynical, darker, and definitely more sarcastic than my Someday books, but itís still me. Itís still about love, and friendship and trying to find a place in the world Ė though from a very different point of view. I hope my fans will give it a try and let me know what they think.
New Mystery Reader: As mentioned above, these two series are quite different, with your latest being much edgier and far from ďcozyĒ as your first. Whatís it like from your perspective, writing such different books filled with such different types of characters?
Clare O'Donohue: In a word, fun. I donít think actors want to play the same role their entire careers, and I donít think most authors want to write the same characters for their entire careers. Stepping into different worlds, different viewpoints and experiences allows me the freedom to express different ideas. There are things that Kate can and would do that Nell, in the Someday books, would never do. And vice-versa. It really opens things up for me, and hopefully, keeps me fresh and interesting.
New Mystery Reader: Your latest features a producer of made-for-television type documentaries. And I for one will never view them the same. Did you ever feel like the magician giving away the secrets while writing this and revealing so many of the inside details?
Clare O'Donohue: Itís funny you should ask that. I gave a few of my producer friends a sneak preview and every one of them expressed concern that I was telling too much about the behind-the-scenes reality of TV. Personally, I think thatís what makes Kate so authentic.
New Mystery Reader: The realism you bring to this story is no doubt attributed to your past as a producer, and you bring up some rather disturbing qualities that must be had by one who does this for a living. Which did/do you find most disturbing?
Clare O'Donohue: Like Kate, I take the position that people have every right to turn down a chance at being on television. Some do. Most, however, agree to an interview because they have their own reasons for wanting to do a show, whether itís to tell their side of the story, plug a business, or just get their 15 minutes of fame. In many ways, once they say yes, theyíre opening up the possibility of exploitation. Itís not every show or every network, but it does happen. The reason it happens is that television needs to be entertaining, and the truth sometimes needs to be heightened to make it entertaining.
I try always to be clear with people how their interviews will be used. For example, if someone in a true crime show is going to be the fake suspect to mislead the audience before the real killer is revealed (all true crime shows do it), then I tell the person before the interview even begins. It makes me feel better and lessens the chance Iíll get an angry call. Having said that, some of the things Kate does in the book are similar to things Iíve done to get an interview. But I have a line that I donít cross, as does Kate, and every other producer I know. I just think the line is different for different people.
New Mystery Reader: So many of these true crime tragedies are now being shown as entertainment. How do you feel about this as a producer and author as opposed to what one might expect one to feel as a victim being depicted in these dramatized crimes?
Clare O'Donohue: Iíve had the opportunity over the years to sit with more than a few families of murder victims both as a newspaper reporter and a TV producer, and itís never easy. Itís a difficult balance sometimes to get the story you need, but also be as respectful and caring to the family as possible. Itís the families that stay with you, the pain and the anger and the emptiness. I think itís become an unfortunate side effect of the true crime genre that the emphasis has been put on the science or the cops or the killer, and the victimís family is there to provide color commentary. Every producer Iíve ever worked with has great respect and sympathy for these families even as we press forward to do our jobs. If we are ever delicate anywhere, itís in these situations.
New Mystery Reader: I found your latest to be both heartbreaking and realistic. What is the most difficult aspect for you to bring to these stories?
Clare O'Donohue: While I was writing, I sometimes cried as Kate found herself mourning her late husband. She did it privately, in part because thatís who she is, but also because of the situation Ė they were estranged at his death. I think once the anger from the divorce was no longer relevant, she realized there was still a lot of love there, but of course itís too late. Anyone of us who has ever had unfinished business with someone and didnít get to have that elusive ďclosureĒ can, I hope, relate to her situation. Luckily Kate has such a sarcastic sense of humor that it lightened the mood.
New Mystery Reader: Which of these series do you find more enjoyable to write? Or if not enjoyable, at least ďeasierĒ?
Clare O'Donohue: At the moment the Kate Conway series is easier because itís newer so there are more options for the characters. But when I work on a Someday book itís like spending time with old friends. IĎve found that going back and forth is really fun, like spending time with different friends who have different interests.
New Mystery Reader: Why did you start your publishing career with the less edgier series?
Clare O'Donohue: In my first draft of THE LOVERíS KNOT (my first novel) Nell was more sarcastic, but my editor at the time requested I tone it down. I didnít realize then cozies were supposed to be less edgy, and Iíve since found several that actually arenít. Wendy Lyn Watson and Jess Lourey both write mysteries with bite and still could qualify as cozies. Since my first book, Nell has found a stronger voice and sharper humor, which I think works well with her growing confidence as an amateur sleuth.
I set it in a quilt shop because Iím a passionate quilter, so it was truly a ďwrite what you knowĒ decision. As I said earlier, I didnít realize that my job as TV producer would be interesting to anyone until I was at book signings, but I also think that I couldnít have written MISSING PERSONS as my first book. Itís my most complex novel, with characters of ambiguous morality, and I think I needed experience to find the right way to tell Kateís story.
New Mystery Reader: And, finally, what can fans expect next?
Clare O'Donohue: The next Someday book, THE DEVILíS PUZZLE, is out Sept 27th. In this one, Nellís mystery is very close to home Ė literally in her back yard, where she discovers a skeleton thatís connected to events in the townís past.
And Iím currently writing the second in the Kate Conway series, which will hopefully be out in the Spring of 2012.
Clare OíDonohue is the author of MISSING PERSONS, the first in the Kate Conway Mysteries, as well as three Someday Quilts Mysteries (THE LOVERS KNOT, A DRUNKARDíS PATH & THE DOUBLE CROSS). Clare began her writing career as a newspaper reporter for a small weekly paper outside Joliet, Illinois. She covered everything from school board meetings to murder trials, and wrote a weekly column. For the last thirteen years she has worked in television, writing and producing for shows on HGTV, truTV, The History Channel, Food Network, A&E and others. She continues to work as a producer and lives in Chicago, IL.