Our newest Miss Demeanor (beating Connie Berry by three days!) is Laurie Chandlar, author of the Art Deco Mystery Series. I had a chance to ask Laurie some questions and this is what she had to say:
Your series is set in New York City in the 1930s. What drew you to that time period?
I’ve always loved historical fiction and mysteries, but when I moved to New York City shortly after 9/11, I saw the city in a different way and it inspired me. The was broken and yet there was such compassion, amazing art, humor, and an indomitable spirit. At the same time, I’d picked up a biography on the city’s 99th mayor of the 1930s and 40s, Fiorello La Guardia. When I saw his gumption, his hilarious maneuvering of politics and the press, and his artful and fearless spirit that always fought for the little guy, I began to realize that the Thirties is often overshadowed by the Depression. We think of shanty towns and soup lines. But there was so much more than that going on. It was very similar to my time when I moved to New York. The art and architecture was stunning. The humor and cocktails were flowing. The absolute vitality even in the midst of the Depression, was beautiful. It’s a recurring theme of beauty out of ashes. I wanted to write that part of the story.
Do you have a favorite Art Deco building?
I just adore the Chrysler Building. It points to both a modern future with the metal work, but has a lot of natural motifs like leaves and vines on the bronze elevator doors. There’s even an abandoned club where the male business movers and shakers used to hold court: the Cloud Club. (I’ll be writing about that place;-). I love them all, though. Rockefeller Center, Radio City Music Hall, Empire State Building… Even a less recognizable one that I stumbled into recently when I popped out of the subway at a different exit than I usually take: the Chanin Building. The coolest thing is that all those buildings are loved by many, AND they all were built after the stock market crash. Talk about beauty out of adversity.
You seem to have a fabulous collection of shoes. Do you have a favorite pair?
Hah! Like choosing my favorite child! Lane Sanders, my protagonist, wears her high heeled red Mary Janes a lot, so I like to wear red shoes at author events. My latest favorite pair was actually made by a friend of mine for Malice Domestic who is a visual artist and author: K.C. Nelms. She took red high heels and made an Art Deco Mystery collage with them. Just stunning.
I love hearing “Path to Publication” stories. Would you share yours?
Sure! Actually writing the book took me quite a long time to figure out. You know, in the midst of a busy life with jobs, two children, etc… But once I figured out how to start (doing it in small, doable, consistent increments), then I was on a roll. Then I did a lot of homework on finding an agent, and I did secure one. But then it took about five years of slowly submitting my first book before I got a three book deal. Here’s what I learned: keep working and don’t give up. It takes four years to get a bachelor’s degree. Two more for a masters… Just because something takes a while doesn’t mean it’s not worth it. I get really annoyed when I hear of people giving up after just a year of hunting. If you’re a writer, it won’t be easy to give up. There was no way I’d stop, I needed to find out what was going to happen with Lane and Finn and the gang. Keep writing. I kept writing during the search and by the time I got a three book deal, I’d had two and a half books completed. Lastly, you don’t have to do it by yourself. I WISH I’d known about Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America and all the amazing book conferences like Malice, ThrillerFest and Bouchercon. I did NONE OF THAT and I wish I’d just known! Don’t wait to get involved until you get a book deal. You’ll actually increase your talent and your chances of getting the book deal by getting involved.
Your most recent novel was nominated for an Agatha and you are just back from Malice Domestic. What was that like?
It was AMAZING! The Gold Pawn, book 2 in the Art Deco Mystery Series, was nominated for Best Historical. It was such an honor. I truly love my other nominees and their work: Edith Maxwell, Victoria Thompson, Sujata Massey, and Rhys Bowen. The whole conference was so fun getting to meet with other authors and lots of readers. The banquet where I hosted a table was beautiful and so encouraging. There is just nothing like book people. It doesn’t matter your age, religion, gender, social status, cat or dog person. When you love books, you instantly and genuinely bond with other book lovers.