Friday, May 20, 2011

Murder with Lipstick

by Susan McBride 

I was fortunate enough to blurb Bethany Maines' debut novel, BULLETPROOF MASCARA, as her fabulous editor at Simon & Schuster is my former mystery editor at HarperCollins (hi, Sarah!).  When I read the book, I knew I'd like Bethany as she has a wicked sense of humor.  Since then, I've come to realize she's truly a Renaissance Woman:  graphic artist, martial artist, runner, writer, pot painter, dog mom, and, starting in June, a Stiletto Ganger.  We're very excited to have Bethany join the fold.  To introduce her to you all, I figured I'd ask some questions, beginning with her new novel released at the end of April. 

Susan:  First off, congratulations on the release of COMPACT WITH THE DEVIL, your second novel after the very entertaining BULLETPROOF MASCARA. Was writing COMPACT very different than writing your first book? Did you feel more pressure?

Bethany:  Well, with COMPACT I didn't change editors several times and there weren't multiple complete re-writes, soooo... no actually I felt less pressure. BULLETPROOF MASCARA took such a long time making it's way into print that by the time I was "supposed" to be writing COMPACT I had an entire rough draft tucked away, so I just pulled it out and freshened it up, which made the whole process go quite smoothly. It didn't occur to me that there could be more pressure until people started reading it. Then I realized that there was a whole level of reader expectation that I wast entirely un-prepared for. I'm still not prepared for it actually. Mostly I'm pulling an ostrich on that one.

Susan:  How do you categorize your novels? When I read BULLETPROOF, my impression was "Charlie's Angels meets James Bond."

Bethany:  That's probably a pretty good summation. I've been telling people that they're action-adventure for girls. I really enjoy action movies, but when I was growing up most of the women in action movies were screamers and/or boobs. I remember enjoying "Total Recall" well beyond the actual quality of the movie because both the heroine and the bad girl (a pre-Basic Instinct Sharon Stone) were ass-kickers in their own right. There have been more of those types of characters in recent years, but when I was a kid I wanted action movies with a woman as heroine - someone that I could pretend to be, while the dudes were pretending to be Van Damme. So when I started writing I wrote what I wanted. Hopefully my books create an action movie vibe but with women of strong character who believe in making their own choices.

Susan:  What, if any, of Bethany shows up in Nikki?

Bethany:  When I set out to write BULLETPROOF MASCARA I knew I was writing the first adventure of a super-spy, so I really thought hard about the problems I saw with "first" novels - both the first novels of writers and the first novels about a character. One of the problems I saw was that first novels often feature characters that are thinly veiled versions of the author. So I tried to make Nikki as different from me as possible. I don't have red hair, I didn't study linguistics, I don't speak French, I'm not super into speed, I'm taller than she is, my parents are still married and my mom's not crazy. This caused it's own set of problems of course, like having to research linguistics and finding someone to translate French for me. I think where Nikki and I overlap is in our attitudes. I have a strong feminist streak (in case you haven't noticed) and I really believe that women should help each other. I also think we share a bit of the same sense of humor and we both love to travel.

Susan:  You have a lot of action scenes in your novels. Does being a runner and a martial artist influence that?

Bethany:  Mostly it shows up in the ways that I don't write action scenes! Not only does my dojo have a strong family feeling ("The family that kicks together, sticks together!" is not just a slogan), but my brother and sister-in-law are also instructors there, and if I wrote something that was too unrealistic or inaccurate I'd hear about it. Talk about pressure! The last thing that I want to hear when I come in to teach my class is, "That is not how you break someone's arm!" Well, I don't want to hear it about something about I've written anyway.

Susan:  What are some of your favorite books? What's at the top of your TBR stack?

Bethany:  Favorite books? That's a long list! Um.... In no particular order, THE BLUE CASTLE (If you haven't read it do it NOW) by LM Montgomery, THE BLUE SWORD by Robin McKinley (or maybe I just like blue...), SNOW CRASH by Neal Stephenson, GUARDS! GUARDS! by Terry Pratchett, THE DEATH IN... series (Zanzibar, Cyprus, Berlin, etc) by MM Kaye, and BEAUTY AND THE BEAST by... Actually I forget who wrote it, but the one illustrated by Hilary Knight. And I'm sure I could think of a dozen more if I thought about it for longer than a minute, but my most recent favorite is THE MANUAL OF DETECTION by Jedidiah Berry. It had a beautiful dreamy quality that was perfectly suited to it's plot.

And as for the TBR stack...I'm dying for HEARTLESS by Gail Carriger to be released. (June 28th! Not that I'm counting!) I'm so addicted to that series (SOULLESS, BLAMELESS, CHANGELESS, look them up if you love a good bodice ripping, vampire, werewolf, mystery type of story). And I've got an interesting YA book called MATCHED that's up next on the night stand.

Susan:  And--because we are the Stiletto Gang--I have to ask if you have a favorite pair of high heels? You get extra points if they're animal print, you know.

Bethany:  Oh no! I don't own any with animal print! But I do have a pair of candy apple red slingbacks that are pretty much to die for.

For more about Bethany and her books, please visit her web site!

6 comments:

  1. Welcome Bethany! So glad you're joining The Stiletto Gang!

    Marian (wearing her bedroom slippers)

    ReplyDelete
  2. Bethany: So glad you are joining us! I'm wearing sneakers right now but will don stilettos at some point today (they give me inspiration to write). Can't wait until you're a "regular"! Maggie

    ReplyDelete
  3. Bethany, I'll echo Marian and Maggie's sentiments! It's great to have you on-board (along with Laura, Maria...and soon Lori!). I loved COMPACT WITH THE DEVIL as much as BULLETPROOF MASCARA. Very entertaining and fun. Can't wait to see what's up next with the kick ass women of Carrie Mae!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Greetings and welcome, Bethany. Loved the sound of your books.

    Marilyn

    ReplyDelete
  5. Welcome, Bethany!! Great interview! Your books sound fabulous! So glad you're part of the gang!!

    ReplyDelete
  6. I'm really excited about joining!! Thanks for being so welcoming!

    ReplyDelete