This Thursday, July 26th, we’re happy to welcome bestselling Austin author Victoria Laurie to BookPeople. She’ll be here signing Lethal Outlook, the latest in her series featuring psychic Private Investigator, Abby Cooper. We asked Victoria some questions about the series, her writing, and her own experience as a psychic.
MYSTERYPEOPLE: As a newcomer to the series, I was surprised at how dark many of the plot elements were for a “light mystery”. Do you feel a writer should put some dark into the light?
VICTORIA LAURIE: It’s interesting that you should see some dark elements in the plot, Scott. I don’t know that I give putting in dark or light elements much thought when I’m crafting the stories. Mostly, I try to come up with a really good mystery, and that almost always involves a murder. Murder is a pretty messy business, so what I’m really going for is something that doesn’t feel contrived or convenient, but rather something more real. Wherever I can I do try and bring some humor and fun into the story too. I’m striving to have the reader go through a whole gamut of emotions. I want my readers at times on the edge of their seats, at other times moved by a touching moment, or maybe indulging in the romance between Abby and Dutch, and at other times laughing at some crazy hijinks or a bit of quick-witted banter. At the beginning of each new story I craft, I set out to entertain myself, and as I have the attention span of a gnat, I figure if I’m not bored, then odds are my readers won’t be either.
MP: You do a wonderful job of establishing the relationship with Abby’s PI pal, Candice. How did you construct her as both a friend and foil for Abby?
VL: Well, in Candice’s case, I’m actually writing what I know. Candice is a conglomeration of three of my closest girlfriends. And as good girlfriends often do, these three amazing ladies laugh at all my jokes, push me to stop whining when I’m cranky, eat better, exercise more, and support me through both good times and bad. They’re sisters from other misters and I know in my soul that if I ever called any one them in the middle of the night and said, “There’s a dead guy in my living room, and I killed him,” they’d be all, “Sit tight. I’ll bring a shovel.” 🙂
MP: Abby is still going through physical therapy as a result from a previous adventure. Was it frustrating writing your heroine with a more limited physical capacity?
VL: No, that was actually done on purpose. I wanted Abby to be physically vulnerable in this book, and force her to use her own smarts to get herself out of the dicey situations I had set up for her. I also wanted her to rely on the other regular characters in the series, because Abby can be a stubborn, independently-minded person at times. Her reliance on those sub-characters also pulled them into the story a little more, which kept me entertained throughout the crafting of the manuscript and allowed my fans to spend some time with characters they’ve come to know and love.
MP: You push the idea of of the first person narrator, where Abby seems to be literally talking to the reader. Where did the idea come from?
VL: I think it developed over the years through email correspondence with my agent, Jim McCarthy. Jim isn’t just a crackerjack literary agent, but he’s also a very dear friend of mine, and we have identical senses of humor, (dangerous!) so, years ago, whenever we would correspond via email, we sort of started to put in parenthesis what we were really thinking, something like, “Dear, Jim; My! What a large advance you got me! (Sooo, like, what? You couldn’t get them to add another zero???) And he’d reply, “Yes, I worked very hard to get you the very biggest advance I could! (When you write the next Twilight, I’ll get you more money, toots!) 🙂 It started getting laugh-out-loud funny. I tried the technique a few books back and really liked the effect. It allows the reader to participate in the story almost on an intimidate basis, as if I’m telling only them what Abby’s really thinking. They’re part of the inside joke, and that can really make it fun.
MP: As someone who is and writes about a psychic what are some of the biggest misconceptions about them?
VL: Oh, SO many misconceptions, so little time! Pretty much everything ever shown in the movies or on TV about psychics is wrong! It irritates me no end actually. We’re constantly portrayed as scarf-clad nut jobs, who faint at the first sign of an intuitive insight. It’s ridiculous. Mostly people seem to think we’re weird, and we’re so not. Most of the really good professional intuitives I know are very down to earth, very regular – even boring – people. The majority of legitimate psychics don’t think we’re “special” or “gifted,” either. That’s the thing that I think frustrates me the most. Reading someone’s energy is a talent, a skill if you will, like being able to sing well. It’s a technique that requires lots and lots of practice, energy, and patience…it’s not a “gift.” And when we do read for someone, even though it sounds like we’re just talking, we’re actually working very hard. I’m completely spent after a night of clients. It’s work, even if it doesn’t look like it.
Also, another HUGE misconception is that we intuitives are “on” all the time. Nope. My radar is only working when I’m doing a reading, the rest of the time I am blissfully ignorant. And, something else most people don’t realize; we aren’t very intuitive about ourselves. Using intuition is an outward projection. I can read for a total stranger far better than I can see my own future, which is the downside to being a psychic. It’s a major bummer at those times I really need to make a major decision! (And why I have two BFF’s who are also psychic!)
MP: What do enjoy most about writing?
VL: Ha! What do I “enjoy” about writing? Well, many years ago I probably would have said that I enjoyed the crafting of a new story, or seeing where my protagonist would lead me, or spending time with my favorite characters, but that novelty wore off about book seven, I think. 🙂 Writing has become my job, and I don’t know that I “enjoy” it as much as it brings me a deep sense of satisfaction every time I finish another book. But for the most part, writing is work. It’s hard. Sometimes, it’s even torturous. There are far more days that I’d rather be reading someone else’s book than writing my own, and the constant unyielding pressure to continue to write three series a year can be a total drag. Still, I do have moments within each manuscript that bring me great joy, but they aren’t every day, which is what makes them so special I suppose. 🙂
Join MysteryPeople as we welcome Victoria Laurie to BookPeople this Thursday, July 26th at 7p. She will give mini-psychic readings for select audience members at this event. Audience members will be selected by random drawing.