Saturday, October 29, 2011

Author Carole Nelson Douglas Answers Questions, Offers A Giveaway

d6d833e52bfb0ad8986c69.L._V216641626_I’m delighted to have award-winning author Carole Nelson Douglas here today to answer some questions about her writing experience.

Carole is the author of the Midnight Louie Mystery series. Her latest hardcover release is CAT IN A VEGAS GOLD VENDETTA, the 23rd installment in the series.

Here’s a brief synopsis of the novel: Temple Barr is an ace P.R. wizard when it comes to promoting Las Vegas’ hottest clients. She’s also an amateur sleuth who has caught her share of bad guys.
B-movie actress Savannah Ashleigh begs Temple to investigate the suspicious death of her rich aunt’s handyman. Temple happily takes the case, if for no other reason than to take her mind off her chaotic private life. Her ex-fiancé, the Mystifying Max, is back–minus his memory.  And current fiancé Matt Devine has shown up from a stint in Chicago with the promise of a surprising future. Which may or may not include Temple.
As Temple digs into the man’s untimely demise she finds plenty of suspect and greedy humans swarming around the ailing Aunt Violet, who means to leave her estate to her resident cats. Temple thinks she’s  close to solving the case, but it becomes clear to Midnight Louie, Temple’s roommate and ace feline detective, that there are more deaths both human and feline coming. Add in the return of a mysterious stalker from the past, and it's murder and mayhem on all fronts for Temple, Louie, and the ones they love in the newest story in the Midnight Louie mystery series.
Smart, fun, and filled with intrigue, CAT IN A VEGAS GOLD VENDETTA is an exciting mystery with just the right dose of glamour and heart, sure to please both newcomers to the series and dedicated fans alike. 

Thanks to Carole and Leah at Tor/Forge, I have 3 copies of this delightful book to giveaway. Please see the end of the post for the giveaway details.

Now Carole was gracious to answer some questions for me.

Mason - Have you always wanted to write or was there an event that lead you to writing?
Carole - I always loved to write . . . and draw . . . and act. In grade school I wrote and "produced" plays and created a neighborhood newsletter. I tried writing Hollywood to get someone to make my favorite book into a movie, quick, before I outgrew the lead role of the 8-year-old girl. (It did become a movie eventually, but in a foreign country.)
Nowadays, with the Internet, young talent can break out from home computer podcasts and YouTube posts. Then  . . the common wisdom was no one could make a living at any of the arts. That was the worst thing adults could encourage a child to do. So they were more than discouraging.
I majored in theater and English literature in college anyway, but on graduation, I could only find a flunky job in the local daily newspaper's advertising department. It was either that or--an employment agency told me--be a tutor for the Famous Writers' School, which I thought would constitute fraud on my part. Little did I know . . .
I was thrilled to work for the local newspaper and put out a monthly ad news sheet . . . then I saw an unfair theater review written by a "stringer" for the paper. Indignant, I sat down at a lunch hour to see if I could review another play I'd seen that weekend on deadline.
A friend suggested I show my review to the rather intimidating managing editor. He growled, but bought it instantly for five dollars! That's when I resolved to become a reporter. Within a year, I was perhaps the only reporter there hired without a journalism degree.
Fast-forward 10 years. I'd first been "put" into the then-Women's department, which became "Features," but I was hitting the glass ceiling and not being allowed to write the stories I thought were important to do. Some were getting on 60 Minutes six months after I asked to do them and was refused.
bkvendetta_t600When an article I'd worked on very hard, which I thought was national magazine-level material, was gutted by an editor from another department, I resolved to try freelancing articles to national magazines.
I signed up for a YWCA writing course to get the how-to-submit information in a social setting. Some ridiculed my taking a "rinky-dink" class when I had a metropolitan daily newspaper byline.
I didn't know class members read from their projects during the second hour. Inspired by the creative drive and ideas of these despised "amateurs," I dug out the first chapter of novel I'd started in college to read.
When I finished, there was a long silence, then the instructor said "Get out of this class and finish that novel!" I did, and never looked back. A couple years later Amberleigh sold and became my first New-York published novel of around 60 so far.
Mason - When you first began to write the Midnight Louie Mystery Series did you envision that you would one day be releasing the 23rd installment?
Carole - I knew Midnight Louie had the right stuff to be a long-running and popular character. Then the publisher wanted to establish a title pattern after the first two mysteries, Catnap and Pussyfoot, came out.
Mysteries never are numbered, but I'd seen that the series was so character-rich it could continue as long as, say, a three-year ensemble TV show.
Cat on a Blue Monday was chosen as the new title pattern. It was the third book in the series, with a B on the color word. So . . . I put an internal alphabet into subsequent books. Cat in a Crimson Haze, Diamond Dazzle etc. all the way to Cat in a Vegas Gold Vendetta.
So I did commit early on to a 27-letter alphabet, but I wouldn't have been surprised if Midnight Louie didn't make it that far. He never doubted for a minute. Cat in a White Tie and Tails is coming next year.
It wasn't an obvious way to indicate title order, but readers would eventually tumble to the scheme, and also get a mystery-solving kick when they discovered the internal alphabetic order. And so they have.
Mason - For someone new to your series, do the books need to be read in order or is each a stand alone book?
Carole - I've gotten lots of letters and emails from readers who found the books far along in the series and were intrigued to go back and read from the (now- obvious) alphabetical beginning. After Catnap and Pussyfoot, of course.
And the series order is listed (in reverse, latest first) at the front of every book and in my annual newsletter, which can be subscribed to in e-mail or snail mail format at

Starting with book "L," Cat in a Leopard Spot, the books open with a "Previously in Midnight Louie's Lives and Times" summary of who's who and what's what, just like some TV favorite series.
The main mystery/murder is stand-alone, but the series is richer if you read it all because of continuing character development and subplots. Another thing that keeps the series alive is it bears re-reading. Those readers who go back will discover clues in early books to situations that develop much later. I love to wrap mysteries within mysteries.
Mason - How do you go about doing research for your books?
Carole - Midnight Louie and his "Sam Spade with hairballs" noir detective voice belong in a city with nightlife and chorus girls, crime and entertainment. I'd have never visited Las Vegas (honest) if I'd hadn't had to research it for the Midnight Louie books.
I've been going there since 1985, when it was a sleepy town compared to the massive entertainment mecca it is today. If I can't visit often enough, I now keep up to date via the Internet.
In some instances, I've put fictional elements in Las Vegas, that only came about later, like the interior lobby canal with gondolas called the "Love Moat" in one of the early Midnight Louie books. Now the Venice has one.
Mason - Is research a fun part of writing or just a part of the process?
Carole - Many writers who research are tempted to let that take over and it is so intriguing. I'm looking for the incredibly fascinating small fact nobody knows I can work a whole book and mystery around, and they are always there to be found . . . if your mind works that way.
Mason - If you could go back and do one thing differently at the beginning of your writing career, what would it be?
Carole - Everything I did was inevitable at the time. "They" were right. A career-- making a livelihood--in "the arts," is extremely iffy and heart-breaking at times. If I'd been reared to be more assertive, I probably could have pushed for more where I was, instead of "escaping" stifling situations and moving on. On the other hand, I was never one who could "sell my soul to the company store," as the old song goes.
It's very important to me that what I write addresses issues everyone has in their lives. When I was asked at first why I wrote "genre" fiction, I said, "What I write is principally entertainment, but the best entertainment has principles."  I have seen my readers, they tell me, through chronic pain and serious loss, even life-threatening disease. There's no higher calling for a writer. 
By moving on I developed more aspects of my writing, with the result that I've written books and stories in pretty much every genre, including "mainstream."
Some of the things I did have proved advantageous now. For instance, I always used my own name, no matter the genre. Nowadays, they call that "being a brand."  I blended genres, and that may have confused bookstores about what shelf to put my books on, but now the "shelves" are mostly onscreen and everything I did and will do is together at last.

Carole, thanks so much for guest blogging today. It’s always fun learning background information on an author and how they go about writing.

For more information on Carole and her writing, check out her website at

Now for the giveaway.  To enter, send me an e-mail ( Your subject line should read, “Win CAT IN A VEGAS GOLD VENDETTA.” Your message should include your name and mailing address. The contest is open to residents of the U.S. and Canada only and no post office box addresses can be accepted. Just so you know, I don’t share the mailing information or use it for any other purpose. The deadline to enter this giveaway for a chance at one of the 3 copies of CAT IN A VEGAS GOLD VENDETTA will be 8 p.m. (EST) on Saturday, Nov. 12.

Thanks so much for stopping by. 


  1. Carole, thanks again for guest blogging. Wishing you much success with your writing. I enjoyed your take on wanting to write.

  2. Mason: sent you an email for the contest,but am having trouble with my email. If you get a message without a subject line filled in, that's mine.

  3. Mason - Thanks so much for hosting Carole.

    Carole - Thank you so much for sharing your own journey to writing the Midnight Louie series. I have to say that I really like the way you accommodate new readers of the series without asking regular readers to "sit through" a lot of back history for each novels. That takes talent! I wish you much success.

  4. I'm fortunate to have met Carole Nelson Douglas many times at Cowtown Crimesolvers, she's a delight to have a conversation with and every bit as interesting as her characters.
    Thanks for posting.

  5. Mason - Thank you for hosting Carole and asking good questions.

    Carole - Interesting as always! Also, thank you for standing up for genre fiction as socially relevant. I keep trying to tell people...

    : )


I'd love to hear your thoughts on today's post. Thanks for dropping by.