- Interview by Crime Fiction Coordinator Scott Montgomery
Minerva Koenig will be speaking and signing her second Julia Kalas book, South of Nowhere, on Friday, February 26th, at 7 PM. She is joined by Trudy Nan Boyce, speaking and signing her debut, Out of the Blues. You can find copies of Koenig’s latest on our shelves and via bookpeople.com.
With her second Julia Kalas book, South Of Nowhere, the short, round, and tough heroine finds herself with a body in a barn she’s converting, her boyfriend stuck in Cuba, and a wild adventure south of the border. We caught up with her to ask her a few questions about the book.
MysteryPeople Scott: How do you think Julia has changed in your mind since Nine Days?
Minerva Koenig: If you mean how has she changed from my first book to the 2nd, I would say that she’s become more cautious. My intent was always to have my sleuth start out very ballsy and brash, and develop into someone softer as she matures throughout the series ~ she gets some hard edges knocked off in South of Nowhere, and I intend to continue that trend. Which is not to say that she’s going to turn into Miss Marple. I want to create a character who is tough in an unusual way ~ she can do the hard thing when necessary, but it costs her, and it makes her a wiser and more compassionate human being in the process.
MPS: The border plays a large role in the story. What did you want to convey about it?
MK: I have always been fascinated with borders, and I can’t tell you exactly why. The thing I wanted to convey about the border between Texas and Mexico is that it is not a physical demarcation so much as a psychological one, and that the two countries have always had something of a symbiotic relationship. We tend to have this stereotypical view of Mexico as a country full of people who want to get into the U.S. and avail themselves of our wealth and benefits, when really, the relationship is more interdependent and complex than that.
MPS: There are some great Native American women in the book. what drew you to write about them?
MK: As with borders, I also have a curiosity about indigenous North American populations. I was not a popular teenager, and as a hedge against the cold, cruel culture that shunned me, one of my favorite mental games was to think back to what the world must have been like a hundred years before ~ what the people were like, how different day to day existence was, what they wore, what they ate, what their settlements looked like, etc. I liked to imagine how the U.S. might have been different if it had embraced the native populations instead of trying to exterminate them. At 16, it was enough to imagine that it would have been a world in which I was much more alluring and in demand, but the fantasy developed into a genuine adult interest as I read American Indian history. I wanted to write some contemporary Native characters, because so much of what is written about them is in the past tense, which is weird to me, because many of those cultures are still very much alive. I want to do my part in keeping them alive.
MPS: You have a lot of fun with Hector. What makes him a good sidekick/love-interest?
MK: I like to think of Hector as the kind of boyfriend I would be if I were a man. He’s intelligent, laid-back, and a natural feminist, by which I mean that he is content to let Julia do what she thinks is best in her own life, and not feel emasculated by it. He’s got plenty of testosterone to go around, and he knows it.
MPS: What was the biggest challenge from going from the first book in a series to the second?
MK: The deadlines! My God, the deadlines! It took me four years to write Nine Days, and I had the luxury of letting it rest for months at a time and honing every sentence. Naturally, I assumed my publisher would be happy to get my second manuscript just whenever I was ready to send it in. LOL. I will say, though, that writing to a deadline probably made the second book better than it might have been otherwise. I had to streamline things and not just wander aimlessly about with the plot to see what worked and what didn’t.
Minerva Koenig will be speaking and signing her second Julia Kalas book, South of Nowhere, on Friday, February 26th, at 7 PM. She is joined by Trudy Nan Boyce, speaking and signing her debut, Out of the Blues. You can find copies of Koenig’s latest on our shelves and via bookpeople.com. The event is free and open to the public. You must purchase a copy of the author’s latest in order to join the signing line.