Thursday, September 8, 2011

Denise Hamilton Does A Little DAMAGE CONTROL

The Stiletto Gang is thrilled to have award-winning crime novelist Denise Hamilton with us today, talking about her latest novel, Damage Control, which is a departure from her series featuring Eve Diamond. Damage Control is already earning accolades from the publishing trades, including a starred review in Publishers Weekly, which called it "Excellent!"  So I thought I'd pump Denise for some information about her intriguing new book.

Susan: Damage Control is a standalone political thriller. That’s a new direction for you. Were you inspired by Weinergate or Arnold Schwartzenegger’s love child scandal?

Denise: Damage Control was already heading to the printer when those scandals broke. But if there’s one thing besides taxes and death that is eternal, it’s political sex scandals. I researched a bunch of them and it seems that powerful people are also risk takers. Add a gigantic ego, money, power and minions scurrying around doing your bidding and it’s no wonder they feel invincible. One book I found fascinating was The Politician: An Insider’s Acount of John Edward’s Pursuit of the Presidency and the Scandal that Brought Him Down by Andrew Young. He was the aide who took the fall for his boss and claimed he’d fathered Rielle Hunter’s love child.

The book had all sorts of great inside details that found their way into Damage Control. My faves:

(1) The ‘bodyman’ is the guy who travels with the politician, checks into the hotel, drives the car, holds the suitcase, takes all the letters and notes that people give the politician at public appearances and hustles him away afterward.
(2) Politicians often have groupies. Edwards had male as well as female groupies.

Susan: But it’s not all politics. Tell us about Maggie Silver’s love life.

Denise: My heroine is an ambitious young PR executive at a crisis management firm. They’re the folks that actors call when they caught with a hooker at 4 am on Sunset. They’re the number that celebrity athletes have on speed dial when a hotel maid accuses them of rape.

Maggie’s divorced and there are sparks flying with three guys: a co-worker, an old childhood crush and a doctor. But Maggie’s a slave to her 24/7 job. She’s always on call and keeps having to cancel her dates. Those big clients don’t pay $750 an hour to be kept waiting.

Susan: So is that really how much they charge?

Denise: Some do. It’s on par with what celebrity lawyers. Another route is to keep the PR firm on a retainer. Say $10,000 a month. Whether or not they clean up any messes that month.

Susan: Back to Maggie’s love life. You’ve been known to write some steamy sex scenes.

Denise: Actually, I often pare them back. It makes me blush too much when I re-read them.

Susan: So will Damage Control make readers blush?

Denise: Hmmm…there’s a nighttime scene in an infinity pool with a great view high in the Hollywood Hills. A little Laphraoig has been consumed. And well, some people forgot to bring their bathing suits.

Susan: Ha!  Love it!  Maggie’s also a big fan of perfume. Stealing from life there, are you, Denise?

Denise: It’s true! I got a day job last year – as perfume columnist for the Los Angeles Times. ( ) It’s monthly, which leaves me plenty of time to bludgeon, stab, poison, run over and shoot people.

Susan: That is so cool! What sparked this perfume interest?

Denise: I’ve always had a keen aesthetic appreciation for smells. My mom had a shelf of classic French perfumes, and I’d amuse myself for hours as a child, sniffing them. Putting on perfume for me was always part of getting dressed. But I tumbled down the fragrant rabbit hole into obsession when I bought a bottle of Donna Karan’s Chaos at a thrift store for $29.95. It was discontinued and selling for $250 on ebay so I kept spritzing it to see what made people go nuts for this blend of spices, incense and woods. The fifth day, I suddenly got it. And then I began collecting. I find perfume online, at antique shops. Friends give me their grandmothers’ old bottles. Half-century-old perfume can still smell divine if it’s kept away from heat and light. So then I made Maggie Silver a budding perfumista. And that sniffer of hers comes in handy by the book’s end.

Susan: Will you ever bring back your series sleuth Eve Diamond?

Denise: I’ve got three projects in the works. It depends on what Scribner would like next. Thanks so much, Susan, for giving me the opportunity to be an honorary Stiletto-for-a-Day. Y’all are very kind.

Denise Hamilton’s crime novels have been finalists for the Edgar, Anthony, Macavity and Willa Cather awards. She also edited Los Angeles Noir and Los Angeles Noir 2: The Classics, which spent two months on bestseller lists, won the Edgar Award for “Best Short Story” and the Southern California Independent Booksellers’ award for “Best Mystery of the Year.” Denise’s new novel, Damage Control, was published by Scribner on September 6, 2011 and has already received a starred review in Publishers Weekly, a rave advance from Kirkus, and kudos from James Ellroy who called it "A superb psychological thriller."

Twitter: follow me @DeniseHamilton_
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  1. Denise, we're thrilled to have you visit with us today at Stiletto. Hope you sell a million copies of DAMAGE CONTROL!!!

  2. Denise, great to have you! Can't wait to read the new book; it sounds like it's right up my alley. But the most important question: what perfume would you recommend for someone with a severely heightened sense of smell that would be an everyday fragrance? (It's me, btw. :-) I'd love any suggestion!

    Thanks for visiting Stiletto. And for adding to me TBR pile. Maggie

  3. Hi, Denise, so glad to see you on The Stiletto Gang. Your book sounds fantastic!


  4. My copy has been ordered and (I'm hopeful) will arrive today. I can't wait to get started on it.

  5. Denise here...thanks all you lovely stiletto ladies for inviting me to recommending a perfume, what have you worn and liked in the past? and what notes do you like, eg citrus, fresh, spicy, musky, incensy, floral?

  6. Denise, a former (ahem) Chanel No. 5 wearer. I like fresh and I guess more citrusy now that I'm no longer wearing my grandmother's scent. Maggie

  7. Denise, I think we need to have you on someday just to talk about perfumes!!!

  8. Denise here-I still love Chanel no 5.
    But if u like fresh citrusy i'd rec Annick Goutal, mebbe Eau du Sud or Eau de Hadrien
    Wld love to guest blog on perfume.

  9. I love Eve and I can't wait to read Damage Control. It sounds fabulous. Thanks for stopping by the Stiletto Gang!

  10. I just added Damage Control to my "next trip to the bookstore" list.

  11. Thanks, Denise. I'm glad you still like Chanel No. 5, too. Thanks for the recommendations. We've got to have you back to post about perfume. Maggie