Rebecca Dahlke, is an established and successful author in the mystery genre, although her books come liberally spiced with humour and a small side of romance.
I have now read and published my thoughts about three of her books, including two from the innovative and highly entertaining, Lalla Bains series, plus her stand alone novel ‘A Dangerous Harbor’.
The official blurb on Rebecca’s website, gives you a taster of what this amazing person is all about, however I decided to invite her along to Fiction Books for a chat, so that I could ask her all those ‘need to know’ questions which were left unanswered …. If you are intrigued by any of the book images you see and would like to know more about Rebecca’s writing, clicking on any of the images will take you to a full synopsis.
First of all, Rebecca, I would like to thank you for agreeing to stop by Fiction Books to have this chat with me. I would like you to know just how much I have enjoyed talking with you over the last few months and what a great experience and privilege it has been to read your books.
‘A Dead Red Cadillac’
QI see that your first writing experience was with a writing group in the East Bay Area. Did this start out as something you did for enjoyment, or was the intention always to strive towards becoming a published author?
That’s a good question, and my answer may surprise you. I started out thinking all I wanted to do was be published, then as my granddaughters were born, I thought it would be something fun for them to associate with, since their daddy was a crop-duster. And then when he died in a work related accident, and their mother wouldn’t allow me to see them any more, I continued with the series in the hope that someday they might see my books on-line and remember me. And I always dedicate these books to their daddy and to them.
QDid a love of reading have anything to do with inspiring you to think of taking up the writing challenge and what was the catalyst which finally moved you to take up the pen?
Oh yes! As soon as I realized that I could sign my name, stand on tippy-toe to hand the librarian my card and enter the elite world of books, I was in heaven. I had that library card, worn and tattered and much loved for many years.
QYou seem to be heavily involved with SinC (Sisters in Crime) and I wonder how much encouragement you took from belonging to such a support and networking group, also would you recommend becoming part of a mentoring group to any aspiring new author?
Thanks for mentioning Sisters in Crime. This is the very best organization for women who write mystery and/or suspense! They do a tremendous job of mentoring authors … and I have to say that 25% of the membership are now men … yes! Equality is important at SinC. There is a national organization with plenty of state and regional chapters. I’m happy to have a Tuscon, AZ chapter which is close enough to drive to for meetings once a month.
QWas introducing a touch of humour to your stories intentional, or was it something which simply evolved naturally as the plot developed?
Humor … I cut my teeth on Janet Evanovich’s books, and I’m pleased and flattered when reviewers compare my books to hers.
QCan you foresee a time when you might consider switching genres away from the mystery/suspense and trying something new, or is that firmly where your heart lies?
Reader and reviewer comments are ten to one – humor to mystery. They all comment on the family dynamics and how much they enjoy the antics of my characters, as opposed to the mystery. Then again, every once in a while, a reader will say, “Didn’t see that coming!” So, I’m good with mystery. I Do think about the alternatives: Historical? .. Too lazy to do the research. Fantasy? .. I’d write about bad faeries and piss everyone off. Horror? .. I’m scared just thinking about it, much less the thought of writing it. The end result is, I have wonderful readers and reviewers who continue to write and tell me that they can’t wait until the next book. What more could a writer ask for?
QFollowing your family tragedy in 2005, I can well understand why you decided to rest your pen for a while. It was interesting that you then decided to continue with the Lalla Bains series, by completing her second adventure ‘A Dead Red Heart’. So was writing about crop-dusting a catharsis, or just a story which needed to be finished?
I stopped writing because ‘I lost my sense of humor’. It was as devastating to me as if I’d lost my sense of smell. or sight. I certainly lost my sense of direction for five years, as writing was a needful, daily event in my life. I’m known to be a pretty happy person. I am seldom without a smile on my face and I’m happy to say that I’ve got my sense of humor back
QI notice that, in 2012, midway through the Lalla Bains series, you switched publishers. Despite searching, information about Dead Bear Publishing is scarce, so I wondered whether that is a name under which you publish independently and if so, what made you consider the transition?
I went from a small publisher, books languishing on shelves of small bookstores and no sales to speak of, to being an Indie, independently published author, on Amazon. I have never been happier. I use Amazon’s Create Space for print books. There’s never been a better time to be an Indie author and I’m loving it!
QThe main protagonists in your books, all seem to be strong and fiercely independent women, is this something which has simply evolved as you have started to develop a storyline for them, or a deliberate style of writing and a calculated part of the plot development process?
I’m glad you noticed! Some people see Lalla as pushy, irritatingly tenacious and annoyingly tough … and others see her as a good friend, fiercely loyal and deeply caring. It all depends on your perspective, doesn’t it? And there’s Pearlie; Lalla’s Texas cousin in A DEAD RED OLEANDER. One reader thought she was terribly mean. Well … yes. But, she’s bound to grow on you later, right? I had a great time writing in Pearlie. So how did I come to write about this kind of woman? This is the kind of woman I never knew I wanted to be, since I didn’t start out this way in life, but now I see that certain characteristics, the ones that men take for granted, as something that should be an integral part of every woman.
QI have read that ‘A Dead Red Oleander’, is the final installment of the Lalla Bains story, which is a real shame. I hear that you already have the basic concept for a new series, based in Arizona, so does this include another feisty female lead character on the drawing board, ready to fill Lalla’s shoes?
I have a secret – shhhh – don’t tell anyone, but I’m moving Lalla, Pearlie, Noah and Caleb to Arizona … Caleb takes a job as Sheriff in the old mining town of Wishbone, and since California rules were crowding Noah’s goat farming, he goes with them. And then Pearlie is convinced that this is the perfect place to put out their shingle as private investigators. No worries that they’ll have to fight competition for this business (or any business) and besides, it’s Arizona, she can carry her weapon on her curvy hip and no one will give it a second glance.
QI can see how, with your obvious love of sailing, the premise for ‘A Dangerous Harbor’, was conceptualized. I have read however, that Katrina Hunter isn’t set to have her own series of adventures, so I wonder whether a series of stand alone novels, which reflect your love of the open waters and all things nautical, is on the cards?
I thought this would be a stand-alone, but when I wrote ‘THE END’, I realized that it should continue, so instead of continuing the characters, I’ve put Leila and Gabe on Pilgrim, the boat Katy sailed to Mexico, and moved the venue along into the Sea of Cortez between Baja and mainland Mexico. I’m presently writing ‘Hurricane Hole’ (2nd in the Pilgrim’s Progress), and hope to have it up on Kindle late 2012
QThere seem to be two schools of thought, about whether you should write about what you know, or not. Which side of the discussion and debate do you err on?
The Dead Red series is based on my experiences running my dad’s crop-dusting business, and of course, my son was a great sounding board for the flying. He even contributed a song, the lyrics of which are in ‘A Dead Red Cadillac’. So for me, writing about what I know, has been very successful.
QI love your painting, particularly the way in which your capture the sky, in its myriad shades and colours. I read that you generally paint from photographs, so I was wondering, do you set yourself time aside each day to paint, or is your art purely for escapism and something which you need to crave doing, before getting your brushes out?
Thank you so much! I’ve been painting as long as I have been writing, but I love writing. I presently have a triptych sitting on my shelf waiting for completion, but since I’m fortunate enough to have readers who buy my books, I guess it can wait – I’d rather write!
QYou already appear to have a busy and fulfilling social life outside of writing, but is there one thing that we don’t know about Rebecca Dahlke that you can share with us … what do you like to do to relax after a busy day?
I love the outdoors and walking my dogs early in the morning or late afternoons (when it cools), is a relaxing time for me. I also really enjoy cooking dinner for my friends and husband. He does so enjoy eating!
I am so pleased to hear that Lalla isn’t going to be consigned to domestic wedded bliss just yet. I am certain that moving to Texas isn’t going to hold her back any, and with cousin Pearlie on home turf, I am sure it won’t be long before the two of them are up to their pretty little necks in trouble once again!
Thank you so much for taking the time to answer my questions, it has been a pleasure to have you visit Fiction Books and I am certain that my readers will enjoy our interesting little chat.
Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to post here to your readers. And, mentioning readers, I love to hear from anyone who has questions or comments: firstname.lastname@example.org https://rpdahlke.com/