When I’m not writing, I’m reading - and one of my favorite literary genres is chick lit, particularly mysteries. Give me a candy colored book, with a headstrong heroine embroiled in a harebrained whodunit, and I’m a happy gal.
Writing an engaging chick-lit mystery is, undeniably, an art...but author Kyra Davis also has the formula down to a science. In 2005, she released her first book, Sex, Murder and a Double Latte. That summer, while browsing the fiction section of my local Barnes & Noble, the colorful title and cover caught my attention; so I decided to take a chance on an unknown author.
The exploits of protagonist Sophie Katz had me laughing out loud and turning pages at a feverish pace. The story was so entertaining that I bought a book light, to read into the wee hours without disturbing Mr. Spoiled Pretty’s beauty sleep. When the series’ second and third installments (Passion, Betrayal and Killer Highlights and Obsession, Deceit and Really Dark Chocolate) hit shelves in 2006 and 2007, I was first in line to snag me some more Sophie.
Next month, the long-awaited fourth book, Lust, Loathing And A Little Lip Gloss, makes its debut - and I’m so excited, I almost can’t stand it. How did I make it through last summer without Sophie shenanigans?
I’m so keyed up that I needed something to tide me over until the novel’s June 1st release. So I contacted Kyra Davis and proposed a Q&A; and despite her busy schedule, she happily agreed to talk literature and lip gloss.
Enjoy the interview!
SP: Give us a teaser about your new book, “Lust, Loathing And A Little Lip Gloss.”
KD: Sophie has finally decided that she is ready to make a lifetime commitment to the one she loves…a three bedroom Victorian with a yard. She wants the house so badly she’s willing to deal with the fact that her obnoxious ex-husband is the realtor representing it and she’ll meet all of the seller’s crazy conditions. She’s not dissuaded by the house’s possible dark history or even the accounts by some that it’s haunted. It’s not until people associated with the house start dying that she becomes concerned particularly when she begins to suspect that she herself is a target.
SP: Are you anything like the series’ protagonist, Sophie Katz?
KD: People always assume that Sophie and I are one of the same but that’s only true in the most superficial way. That is to say that we share the same ethnicity, she lives in San Francisco and I have lived in San Francisco and we’re both authors. But her approach to life is incredibly different than mine. We have different issues and different ways of expressing ourselves and our relationships to our families and partners are about as dissimilar as you can get. And yet I can’t completely disassociate myself. Sophie came from my mind, which means she’s a part of me just as her friends are a part of me. I guess you could say that they are individuals and I’m the composite character.
SP: When did you know that you wanted to be a writer?
KD: When I started writing the first Sophie book (Sex, Murder And A Double Latte). I was just messing around at the time I started penning that story. It didn’t occur to me that I might want to publish it until I was about fifty pages into it.
SP: Where do you like to write your books (in bed, a coffee shop, an office)?
KD: Starbucks. Starbucks is my office and my energy source. It completes me.
SP: Of all the books you’ve published thus far, what was the most difficult one for you to write? Do you have a favorite of them all?
KD: This last book, Lust, Loathing And A Little Lip Gloss, is my favorite book so far. Before I wrote that I would have said that Passion, Betrayal And Killer Highlights was my favorite Sophie book and that So Much For My Happy Ending was my favorite book overall.
On an emotional level So Much For My Happy Ending was the most difficult to write because it was basically a fictionalized memoir. But So Much For My Happy Ending has also been my most rewarding work thanks to the dozens of emails of I’ve gotten from women fresh out of destructive relationships who were inspired by that novel. I’ve even heard from a few women who found the strength to leave abusive relationships that they were currently in after reading So Much For My Happy Ending so that book will always have a special place in my heart.
SP: Is there a genre you haven’t written in yet that you would really like to try?
KD: FANTASY! I love all those books about witches and vampires. I was able to play with some fantasy elements in Lust, Loathing And A Little Lip Gloss by having Sophie buy a house that is believed to be haunted but I had to be very cautious about how I crafted the story so as not to stray too far from the story’s genre. In the end the reader will be able to decide if they think there was ever anything supernatural going on or not.
SP: What comes first: the title or the idea?
KD: Always the idea. If I had my way I’d come up with a title after the whole book was completed but unfortunately the art department at my publishing house needs the title before my editor needs the finished book. Obsession, Deceit And Really Dark Chocolate is an irritating example of that issue. I had to give the art department a title about six months before my manuscript was due and the result was that the title didn’t fit the novel as much as I would have liked it to.
SP: Do you put friends or relatives in your books? Have any of them recognized themselves?
KD: I’ve often used friends as a jumping off point for characters. People don’t recognize themselves because by the time the characters are developed they really are their own people. What amuses me is how people who I NEVER thought of while writing the book think a character is based on them. If they like the character I rarely tell them they’re wrong.
SP: How do you come up with the names for your characters?
KD: I’m not good with names. I didn’t even name my own son. I just accepted the first name his dad suggested. So with the exception of Sophie (who is named after my grandmother) my characters get their names from whatever newspaper or magazine happens to be near by. I’ll take the first name of one journalist and the last name of another. If that doesn’t work I drag out the baby name book.
SP: Who is your favorite literary heroine and why?
KD: At the moment I think it’s Tiffany Aching from Terry Pratchett’s YA series. Most men don’t write women well but Pratchett’s the major exception. Tiffany is smart, she takes care of people without ever getting sentimental or in anyway syrupy about it and she’s seriously tough without losing her femininity.
SP: What's the last book you read that you couldn't put down?
KD: The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls. I had it with me everywhere just so I could sneak in a few pages between errands. I left it at my boyfriend’s apartment one day and as soon as I realized what I’d done I ran to the bookstore and bought myself another copy because I simply couldn’t wait for him to return it to me.
SP: If Lust, Loathing And A Little Lip Gloss was made into a movie, who would you want to play the lead role?
KD: I would LOVE to see Rashida Jones in the role. She does comedy and she projects certain strength. She ethnically ambiguous and…. well, I could go on and on. Rashida if you’re reading this give me a call.
SP: Okay, you know I have to throw in a beauty-related question. Speaking of lip gloss, which ones are your favorites?
KD: I’m a MAC girl. They have every color you could ever want and an awesome applicator.
SP: Is this the last of the series, or is Sophie just getting warmed up?
KD: Vows, Vengeance And A Little Black Dress is the Sophie book I'm writing now. Look for it in June 2010.
Kyra and I are so excited about Lust, Loathing And A Little Lip Gloss that we're teaming up to give away five autographed copies!
To enter, send an email to email@example.com. Be sure to include your full name and mailing address. The subject line should read "Lust, Loathing And A Little Lip Gloss Giveaway." The contest ends at midnight (EST) on Sunday, May 31st. Five winners will be chosen at random from among the entrants. On Monday, June 1st, I'll announce the winners' names. Please, only one entry per person; duplicate entries will not increase your chances of winning. Contest is open to U.S. and Canadian residents.
Good luck...and may the lip gloss be with you!