Can you tell us a little about your latest book? When did it come out? Where can we get it?
The Baffled Beatlemaniac Caper is a humorous mystery released in 2011 by Oak Tree Press. The book was a Eureka! Award finalist for best first mystery novel in 2012 at Left Coast Crime. Print and ebook versions can be ordered from Amazon.com or BN.com.
“Baffled” is the first book in the Sandy Fairfax Teen Idol mystery series. Sandy is a 38-year-old former ‘70s teen idol who starred in the hit TV show Buddy Brave, Boy Sleuth but his career stalled after cancellation. Now he’s a recovering alcoholic seeking a comeback and solving mysteries along the way.
Is there anything that prompted your latest book? Something that inspired you?
I’m a huge Monkees fan and that got me interested in teen idols in general, their lives and careers and how one copes with fame and fortune. Teen idols are interesting characters but writers were ignoring them.
I also love those 1970s TV detective shows that were short on police procedural but long on personality and charm. I thought it’d be interesting to write a character that started off playing a detective on TV and ended up as an amateur sleuth solving real cases.
Wow! So, when did you know you wanted to write? Or has it always been a pastime of yours?
I’ve always enjoyed reading. I spent most of my childhood summers at the public library. Growing up I often received books as presents. Some of my grade school teachers read books aloud to the class. As a child I made up stories about the characters on my favorite TV shows. That’s probably why my series protagonist is a former TV star.
I’ve written on and off over the years, sold some short pieces over the years, but became more serious about writing in the mid-1990s. I started writing mysteries in 2008 after I attended a panel of mystery authors hosted by Sisters in Crime.
Do you have any favorite authors?
Arthur Conan Doyle, of course. Richard Levinson and William Link, who created many of the great TV detective series. I have a number of friends who write. I hate to single out anyone but lately I’ve read Steve Hockinsmith, Stephen Brayton, William Doonan and Jim Callen.
Do you write in a specific place? Time of day?
I write at home. I can’t concentrate in coffee houses or other places that are noisy and busy. I work a full-time day job to pay the bills, so I write some evenings and mostly on weekends. I run errands during the week so on weekends I can focus solely on writing.
Are there any words you'd like to impart to fellow writers. Any advice?
Don’t start writing with the expectation of instant fame and fortune. A few authors hit the jackpot with big sales, but most don’t. If you’re writing only for the money, you’ll be disappointed. Your first book is the “calling card” that gets your name out there and will probably earn little money. Authors increase their sales by writing more books. As more product is available, sales and interest will increase, but promotion is a slow, on-going process.
Here is the blurb for The Baffled Beatlemaniac Caper.
In the 1970s teen idol Sandy Fairfax recorded six gold records and starred in the hit TV show Buddy Brave, Boy Sleuth. Now it's 1993 and he's a 38-year-old recovering alcoholic desperate for a comeback. An easy gig as the guest celebrity at a Beatles fan convention in the Midwest turns deadly when a member of the tribute band is shot. When the police suspect Sandy, the boy sleuth is back in action to find the killer.
Here is an excerpt from The Baffled Beatlemaniac Caper.
I turned to face the formidable flatfoot. Braxton pounded questions at me as I rubbed my bloodshot eyes. I couldn’t concentrate.
“Look, detective, I’m exhausted. I’ve had a long day that started before sunrise three time zones ago.” I glanced at my wristwatch: nearly 1 a.m. Pacific or Central time? I couldn’t remember if I reset my watch after my flight landed. “Can this wait until tomorrow? I mean, later today? The body can’t get any more dead than it is now.”
Braxton glowered at me so hard that if looks could kill, he’d have a second stiff on the floor. “You claim the victim was still alive when you came in the room?”
“Yes, sir.” I squeezed against the wall so the paramedics could carry out a stretcher with a black body bag strapped to it. As much as I wanted to look away, I couldn’t peel my eyes off the corpse.
“Did the victim do or say anything that might identify the murderer?”
Braxton waited, his pen poised over his notebook page. “Well? What was it?”
I licked my dry lips. I felt terribly thirsty. I knew Braxton would hate my answer. “He said, ‘Rocky Raccoon.’”
Sure enough, he frowned at me. “Is that a joke?”
“No, sir. That’s exactly what he said.”
“Is that the name of the murderer? An animal? What’s a Rocky Raccoon?”
“It’s a song.” Bunny stepped up beside us as she closed the zipper on the pouch that hung from her waist. “By John Lennon and Paul McCartney. Paul sings lead. It’s on disc one, side two, track five of The Beatles’ 1968 double record ‘White Album,’ which isn’t the name, but everyone calls it that because it was issued in a plain white cover with no artwork. I have a 1978 French import reissue with the records in white vinyl.”
Braxton stared at her, too stunned to take notes, but I took it in stride. Fans possess encyclopedia knowledge of the minutest trivia.
She has a master’s degree in theater from Indiana State University. While in school her plays “Star Collector” and “Common Ground” were finalists in the American College Theater Festival One-Act Playwrighting Competition. “Common Ground” also earned a college creative writing award. “Star Collector” was produced in New York City and also the inspiration for her book. Carpenter also has a master’s degree in theology and a black belt in tae kwon do.
She’s worked a variety of jobs including actress, freelance writer, college writing instructor, theater critic, jail chaplain, and tour guide/page for a major movie studio. She’s now employed at a community newspaper.
Her first book in the Sandy Fairfax Teen Idol mystery series, The Baffled Beatlemaniac Caper, was a 2012 Eureka! Award finalist for best first mystery novel. The second book, The Sinister Sitcom Caper, will be released in late 2013.
Her short story, "Dark Nights at the Deluxe Drive-in," will be published in the 2013 SinC/LA anthology, Last Exit to Murder.
She’s a member of Sisters in Crime/Los Angeles chapter and “mom” to two black cats.