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October 20, 2011

Author Interview: with our PP Gal--Liz Lipperman!

Liz Lipperman is one of nine children and grew up eating casseroles. She spent many years working as a Registered Nurse saving lives, before she gave in to her life-long passion of finding ways to kill people and writing about them. Born and raised in Ohio, she's lived in many places, including Saudi Arabia and Taiwan before finally settling down in a small suburb north of Dallas. When she’s not writing, she enjoys all sports, especially the NFL, traveling, and spending time with her four grandchildren. The first book in her debut cozy mystery series, Liver Let Die, releases October 4th from Berkley Prime Crime. Mortal Deception, a stand-alone romantic mystery will be available soon from Amazon. Check out her website for trailers and excerpts.

How long have you been writing? How did you get from a medical career to writing romance?  Funny that you asked. I audited medical records for the last 15 years of my career. In the 90's, I decided to get a Professional Arts degree, and took a creative writing class as an elective. With the enthusiasm from my professor, I decided to take a shot at doing what I'd secretly wanted to do all my life. I chased the romance genre for a lot of years and got a lot of dings in contests and from professionals. When I finally realized dead bodies were showing up in all my stories, I had to take a hard look at my writing. I am definitely a mystery writer, but my stories all have strong romances in them. So, as of right now, I am officially starting a new genre--romantic mysteries.

Who is your favorite author(s) and why?  I read so many different genres. Nora Roberts is definitely my favorite for romance, and I would have to say I love Jenny Crusie's romantic comedies. I started out reading Kathleen Woodiwiss and devoured Sandra Brown. I am all over the charts with favorites like James Lee Burke, Clive Cussler, Richard North Patterson, Grisham, Cleo Coyle, and way too many more to list. Suffice it to say, if it makes me laugh or cry, or I have to figure out the mystery...I'm there.

Tell us about your new book.   Liver Let Die is the first of the Clueless Cook Mystery Series. My heroine, Jordan McAllister, is a wannabe sports reporter who follows her college fiancé all over Texas and ends up in Dallas where he is the heir apparent to the sports anchor at a local TV station. It doesn't take long for the busty weathergirl to steal him away, and Jordan is left trying to find a job so she doesn't have to go back home to Amarillo and face her parents and four brothers and hear them say, "I told you so." She ends up in Ranchero, a small town near the Oklahoma border and the only job she can get is writing the personals. When the culinary reporter breaks her hip in a jet ski accident, the editor offers her the gig. Jordan jumps at the chance, seeing it as one step closer to her coveted sports job. Her first assignment is reviewing a newly reopened steakhouse north of town, which presents a problem right off the bat since she doesn't eat much red meat and hates fancy food. She takes the recommendation of her hunky waiter and orders foie gras (fatty duck liver) which ends up in her purse. The next night her waiter is found under the stairwell outside her apartment stabbed to death, and he has her name and phone number in his pocket. She becomes the prime suspect in his murder ...and the main course on the murder menu.  

Here's an excerpt: Jordan dropped her review on Dwayne Egan’s desk and stepped back to await her fate. She’d spent the entire morning researching foie gras on the Internet and had come away outraged and ready to make a stand on the issue.

That was before Egan grabbed the report and lowered his eyes to read, and all her bravado dissipated. Shifting nervously and second-guessing herself, she tapped out the melody of a rock song along the side of her slacks with her fingers.

Too late to change her mind as Egan motioned for her to sit.

 She eased into the chair behind her, eyes fixed on the editor while he finished the first page and flipped to the second. Her nerves were like aliens ready to burst through her skin.
“You actually ate this?” he asked, finally glancing at her over the top of his silver-rimmed reading glasses.

“Yes and no,” she replied. “Mostly, no.”

 Egan had already turned back to the report, re-reading the first page. “And this is how they get the duck liver?”

Her eyes lit up. Maybe he wouldn’t scream at her after all. “Yes sir. They force-feed the animals to fatten them up.” She paused, remembering how the pictures had sickened her, how seeing the tubes shoved down their throats had nearly made her gag. “The ducks are kept in tight cages so they can’t exercise or even move around.”

“Geez! And they’re serving this right here in Ranchero?”

“Yes,” she answered quickly. “At a price that would water your eyes.” She stopped, not sure she wanted to remind him how much she’d charged on the company card.

Egan dropped the report on his desk and leaned back in the chair, hands behind his head, making his ears protrude even more. “This is going to ruffle a few feathers at Longhorn Prime Rib.” He grinned, obviously pleased with his play on words.

Jordan shifted in the chair. “I was totally complimentary about the restaurant in general.” She thought about the Chocolate Decadence Cake that had doubled as breakfast that morning. “The desserts were phenomenal and the service – fantastic.”

Egan studied her face, his head tilted as if in deep thought. “I had you pegged for a simple meat and potatoes girl. For the life of me, I can’t figure out why you’d order this when you’re obviously so outraged at how they get it.”

Here it is! This was where she’d have to admit she was clueless when it came to fancy food. This was where he’d realize what a big mistake he’d made giving her the job.

“The waiter recommended it. Said it was imported from Canada. Since I knew it was too expensive to ever try on my own, I went with it.”

“I still find it hard to believe you’d even order the dish, knowing how you feel about it.”

“I thought it was chicken,” she blurted, looking away for a moment, imagining the pink slip falling from this week’s pay envelope.

Egan threw back his head and laughed. And continued to laugh until Jordan finally gave in and smiled.

“So, let’s see,” he began when he was finally able to speak. “I have a culinary expert who has no idea what she orders at restaurants.” He slapped the desk. “That’s rich. Loretta would never see the humor in that, of course, nor would she be caught dead ordering anything but a thick, juicy steak.”
He leaned forward and lowered his voice. “And just between you and me, she wouldn’t know foie gras from chicken piccata, either, even if it bit her on her overpaid butt.”

“I’m sorry, sir. Maybe you should give this job to someone else.”

 His eyes bored into her. “Are you joking? This is going to grab the attention of every animal lover in Ranchero who probably has never even looked at Loretta’s column before.” He slid the papers across the desk. “Take this down to the copy room ASAP. I want it in tonight’s edition.”

Stunned, Jordan grabbed the report and headed for the door.

“Oh, and McAllister?”

She whirled around, expecting her little bubble of excitement to burst like a piñata at a birthday party with eight year old boys on a sugar high.

“From now on, you’ll do two columns a week with recipes and food information. Fancy food like this. A couple of exposés would be great.” He rubbed his hands together. “If my gut is right, with the exception of the restaurant owner, the good citizens of this fine town are going to love you.”

“What about the Personals?”

He smiled. “Look at this as a freelance opportunity,” he said. “And the Personals as your day job. Now go.”

Jordan wondered how he could say that with a straight face, but she was too excited to care. She hurried out the door, surprised to see Jackie Frazier smiling. She’d obviously been eavesdropping. She imagined her, as Roseanne Roseannadanna saying, “It’s always something,” and she smiled back.

Who knew fatty duck liver could wipe the sarcasm off the secretary’s face and maybe even jump-start her career?

What is the appeal of writing mysteries?  I love tricking the reader with red herrings. If I'm reading any other genre, I want to scream, "Kill somebody. Blow something up."

What kind of writings turns you off? What stops you from writing? Sloppy writing when the author doesn't even bother to fix repeats or tries to get too cutesy. This isn't always newbie writers, either. I also am not a big fan of flowery descriptive writing. "Kill somebody, dammit!!"

As for what stops me from writing, I am an admitted procrastinator. If I know I have to have something done, I wait until the last minute to do it. Only recently I discovered I do this because I am a crisis junkie. I do my best work under pressure. So, as my panic rises and my deadlines loom, I know I am just getting in the groove.

How have you shocked your readers?  I don't know about my readers since I really don't have any yet,  but I know I shocked the heck out of my hubby one day. I writing raunchy villain sex. God only knows what that says about me. One day, I ran a scene by my husband. He kept saying, "OMG. OMG." Finally, he asked if my CP allowed me to write like that. My CP and I still laugh over that. And once I let a dear friend take one of my manuscripts on a road trip. Her hubby was bored and asked her to read it out loud. (This was my Colombia story and the sex scene comes near the end.) When she read it, he got serious and said maybe they should pull over for a minute. Then he asked her if she thought I really knew all that stuff. Now when he looks at me, I can see the question in his eyes. I finally said. "Okay. I'm not saying I do and I'm not saying  I don't, but the entire 400 page manuscript takes place in Colombia, and I've never been there." I still see him looking at me funny, though.

How do you get your ideas? What is your writing day like?  The idea for this series came to me one night while I was sleeping. The editor had read a paranormal mystery of mine and loved it but couldn't use it. (too much bad language, sex and gruesome murder scenes.) She asked my agent if I could write a cozy series. When my agent asked me, I said no, but decided to sleep on it and give her my final answer in the morning. I woke up with this great idea and wrote three chapters and a synopsis. A week later, I had a three book contract. 

As a sidenote, my editor asked for the ghost story again and is trying to figure out if she can place it somewhere in her lineup. Fingers crossed

Another time, I got this great idea from a 20/20 program, and my paranormal series comes from growing up with 5 sisters. 

Can you share three writing tips?  Never let anyone tell you that you are not a writer. You are only that when you quit writing; never give up on yourself. In today's market, selling to NY is harder, but there are other venues open. My agent says this is a great time to be a writer; never send out anything that isn't your very best; and a fourth - every writer should have at least one great critique partner who isn't afraid to tell her when there are problems, yet can tell her in a way that doesn't destroy her self-confidence.

 Fill in this blank: Your ideal fictional hero would think you gorgeous if I had Farah Fawcett's hair (mine is thin and baby fine,) Eva Longoria's body (I'm cute and chubby,) and could cook like Paula Deen (I am a pretty good cook!).

How much do you love cake?  OMG, I love cake. Matter of fact, all my books have recipes at the back. I sent in ten, expecting the editor to pick one or two, and she kept all ten. Liver Let Die has FOUR cakes. These are Jordan's Ho Ho Cake, Myrtle's Mandarin Orange Cake, Myrtle's (she owns the local diner in the story) Chocolate Chip Coffeecake, and the Longhorn Prime Rib's Chocolate Decadence Cake.


Pamela Stone said...

Good morning, Liz. Great interview. Liver Let Die sounds awesome. Although, given your desire to kill or blow things up, I intend to stay on your good side.

We share very similar tastes in authors also. Nora always tops my list. But I've also spent many an afternoon reading Sandra Brown and Kathleen Woodiwiss.

Good Luck with your writing!

Vicki Batman, sassy writer said...

Hi, Ms. Lipperman. I loved Liver Let Die. The title alone is hilarious.

You are the best and I am so happy for you.

PaRTy on!

Alisha said...

What a wonderful interview and a great excerpt! I love stories with food. And I love cake! And your journey to publication is very inspiring. Thank you so much for sharing, Ms. Lipperman!

Kathy Ivan said...

Good morning, Ms. Liz

I loved Liver Let Die! Such a cute story and vivid characters. I can't wait to read the next book in the series.

Looks like we read a lot of the same authors, too!

Enjoy your success, you've definitely earned it. Wishing you many sales!

Angela Hicks said...

Great post, Liz!!!

The part about shocking your husband and your friend's husband made me laugh so hard!!!! What a great way to start the day! I can't wait to read your book. The excerpt is fabulous. I love your writing style and your voice!
Congratulations and good luck!!!
Have a wonderful day!
Angela Hicks

chris keniston said...

Yup- liver let die is a great curl-up-in-bed-and-read book

I can hardly wait to give my mom her copy for christmas!!

as for the friend's husband- I'm guessing that's why I don't let any of the men I know read my writing - LOL.

Sylvia said...

Hi Liz,
I can't wait to read Liver Let Die. Here it is lunchtime and I really would like a piece of cake!

I hope you're our next NYT best-seller.

Liz Lipperman said...

Hey, Pam, that doesn't surprise me that we like the same authors. I have to add you to that list, although I am still waiting to get the time to hit the kindle. I know I like what you bring to the Princess sessions.

Liz Lipperman said...

Good afternoon, Vicki. As you know I'm babysitting my two granddaughters all day. Just got the 2 1/2 yr. old down for a nap and the 7 month old just woke up.

Sheesh! How did we do it?? I can't even find time to go to the bathroom. I know, TMI.

Anyway, thanks for the great questions. And I feel the same about you and your stories.

Liz Lipperman said...

Hey, Alisha, I wish I had some of that cake now. the mandarin orange cake is to die for. I always get lots of compliments on it.

And where can I sign up to take your course on review writing? If that is any indication of what I'll find in your book waiting on my kindle, I need to jump right on it.

Liz Lipperman said...

Kathy, you're another one whose voices that I love. Thanks for the nice words about LLD.

AS for the next book in the series, you already know how it turns out since the Princesses plotted it.

Liz Lipperman said...

LOL, Angela. What is it about men and their fantasies?? I'm glad it made you laugh. And thanks for the kind words.

Liz Lipperman said...

That's a good thing to do--not letting a man read your writing. I'll have to remember that. I remember a Houston author talking a long time ago about her first romance. She said it was a sweet romance but she knew hubby would get kidded about the bodice rippers at work. So she told him to tell them there was absolutely no sex in it.

Well, that happened in a crowded room one day, and when he repeated his wife's words. some good old boy in the back yelled, "You can't write what you don't know!"

Liz Lipperman said...

Ditto on wanting the cake, Sylvia. As for the NY Times, forget it. I'll be happy with just getting decent reviews. Just got a really crappy one over at goodreads. The lady absolutely hated me. Oh well!

Sylvia said...

I'll go out and put a review for you on Amazon and Goodreads, once I finish the book.

I hope to get to go to your booksigning on Saturday. I'm suppose to stay off my feet as much as possible, so I may not be there long.

Liz Lipperman said...

Ooh, Sylvia, I had forgotten about your surgery. Hope you are on the mend, and don't worry about coming to the signing. It's a long way and you need to elevate that leg.

And thanks for the reviews. Ask Alisha for lessons. OMG! She writes great ones.

Karilyn Bentley said...

Hi Liz,
Great interview. I love the excerpt! Looking forward to reading the book! I love chocolate cake too. Yummy!

Good luck with your release!!!

Phyllis said...

Hi Liz,

I've been trying to leave a comment since this morning. Between work emergencies and home Internet acting up, I'm trying this third attempt on cell phone. Please forgive any typos the phone "thinks" I mean.

Okay, question: if you are do interested in bodies and bombs, why didn't you go into the field of coroner or cop?

Can't wait for the signing!


Liz Lipperman said...

Karilyn, thanks for the nice words. And don't you have a release out now, too? Why don't you post the link, so we can go there and download it?

Liz Lipperman said...

Phyllis, my first book involves the cartel in Colombia where there are both explosions and guns. Actually, my ghost paranormal mystery has them both, too.

As for your question, I don't read police procedurals, so I would have no clue how to write them.

And the coroner thing has already been done by Patricia Cornwell. Who could follow that?? Besides, I like writing characters who accidentally fall over a dead body. What's the fun in writing it from an expert view?

Looking forward to seeing you Saturday.

Caroline Clemmons said...

Looking forward to this book so much, Liz. I love your humor when talking to you, so I know this will be a fun read.

Jodi said...

Hi, Liz. Getting in here rather late, but had to say how much I loved your interview... Funny, you sound just like you! And the excerpt - fantastic! I know your sales will be phenomenal... How could they not? You already have a great and loyal fan base.

Jodi aka Joelle Walker

Liz Lipperman said...

Caroline, you are one sweet lady. I love how thoughtful you are. I'm looking forward to getting to know you better.

Liz Lipperman said...

Jodi, you are also very kind. I love that you drive all the way to Dallas just for the meetings.

Thanks for the good wishes.