Monday, March 11, 2013

Blog Tour: Fashion Victim (#1 in the Paige Tourneur Missing Husband Series) (A Paige Tourneur Mystery) by G.T. Herren


Follow the tour HERE


ABOUT THE BOOK:  To hear her buddy Chanse McLeod tell it, Paige Tourneur is rotund, cute as a button, a truly bad driver, and the best friend a gay P.I. could possibly have.

Now Paige gets a chance to tell it herself in her own witty and worldly-wise way. Please! Is that really her name? Seems like she has quite a past, and in Fashion Victim, it’s starting to haunt her.

Since his first novel, Greg Herren’s fans have been begging him to spin off their favorite character, the hard-drinking, hard-bitten, smart-mouthed red-headed reporter with the heart of gold and the unlikely name. 

In her first solo outing, she’s long since left the Times-Picayune, played out a stint on television, and has now landed a job at Crescent City Magazine, which sends her out to do a personality piece on bitchy fashion designer Marigny Mercereau. Only Marigny ends up dead fifteen minutes before her fifteen minutes of fame.

Twisting through Marigny’s creepy past, Paige is accompanied, as always, by best friend Chanse, her cop buddies Venus Casanova and Blaine Tujague, and (finally!) by the perfect man: her new boy friend, Blaine’s brother Ryan. So what happens when a woman meets the perfect man and her past comes calling?


Fashion shows are not my thing, as a rule. But this had been Marigny Mercereau’s first show in New Orleans since Hurricane Katrina, and my boss decided this was a big enough deal to warrant putting Marigny on the cover. She was getting the full treatment—coverage of the runway show, a cover shoot, and an in-depth interview. I wasn’t convinced she deserved it, frankly. Don’t get me wrong—I knew it was a good thing that the House of Mercereau was open for business again. Any business coming back since Katrina was terrific, a sign that things were getting back to normal—whatever that meant in New Orleans.
But a cover story on a business whose primary clientele was rich women, drag queens, and high school girls in the market for a prom dress?
I pointed out to my boss this was hardly a newsworthy enough story in our post-Katrina world to warrant such coverage—even if Marigny was a huge advertiser, which she never had been and was unlikely to become. Since I’d gone to work at Crescent City we’d moved away from being a fluff magazine about the city to doing more in-depth investigative pieces—because as a monthly, we could do the kind of in-depth reporting the city’s daily and weekly papers couldn’t, and we were doing quite well with this kind of hard-hitting journalism.
I didn’t understand the return to fluff, but gave in with good grace.
Choosing your battles wisely is becoming a lost art.
I didn’t even bat an eye when the interview was assigned to me—at Marigny’s request. I knew her—I’d dated one of her sons briefly in the pre-Katrina world, and for some reason Marigny liked me. She seemed rather pretentious to me, and her sense of humor was odd…and it’s not like I was really into the entire fashion scene.  But before I had a chance to say okay, my boss gave me the whole ‘team player’ speech.
Obviously, she was expecting me to pitch a fit of some sort.
            But I loved working at ­Crescent City, and I really liked my boss. It was a great job, and a huge improvement over working at the city’s daily paper—and besides, there was that whole choose your battles wisely thing. I figured I could use the good will I’d earn doing the Marigny Mercereau interview to my advantage later. We’d scheduled the interview for later this afternoon—so I really needed to pull it together. Marigny had also sent me tickets to her fashion show last night—enclosing them in a card with the note so looking forward to seeing you again, xoxoxoxoxo Marigny—in what she called her ‘trademark’ pink ink.
After all, nothing screams ‘professional’ like pink ink, right?



Q.  What inspires your writing?
Oh, gosh, pretty much everything! I can be sitting in a coffee shop reading and hear someone say something…next thing you know I’m writing an entire story in my head! I always try to carry a notepad with me so I can make notes and am always typing notes into my cell phone! It can be anything really--a lyric in a song, an article I read on-line or in a newspaper, or something as mundane as a jogger running past with headphones on. I start wondering about the jogger and who they are and where they live…I’m always making up stories. The other day I was standing out at one of the Mardi Gras parades, and while the parade was stalled, I wrote an entire story in my head… I’m really interested in people, and how and why they behave the way they do…human behavior absolutely fascinates me—which is my excuse for watching the Real Housewives shows! Sometimes a title for a story will just come to me, and the next thing I know I’m typing away or furiously scribbling notes. I have files full of notes for stories or book ideas…I don’t think I’ll ever have the time to write everything I want to.
Q.  What is your favorite thing about being an author?
I love everything about it. I love getting the idea and turning it into a story, I love creating the characters and the setting, making the dialogue work…I love when the cover art is sent to me, I love when the book goes up for sale….I really can’t think of any one part that I enjoy any more than the rest. I love every part of it.
Q.  What is the toughest part of being an author?
Tooting my own horn! LOL. Seriously, though, doing panels and things in public with an audience terrifies me. I’m always afraid I’m going to say or do something to make a fool out of myself –well, to show everyone what a fool I am. I’m always afraid I’m going to spill something on myself or knock something over—I’m kind of clumsy. And I’m always afraid people are going to find me incredibly disappointing.
Q.  If you could not be an author, what would you do/be?
I would love to be a history professor. I absolutely love history. It fascinates me, always has. Every once in a while I think I should write historicals—combine my two favorite things, history and writing…so, yes, I would love to be a history professor if I couldn’t be an author.
Q.  What would the story of your life be entitled?
No Regrets. I love my life and where I’m at in my life right now, so no matter how difficult or painful an experience or a period in my life may have been at the time, it’s all part of who I am now, and my life would be different if those experiences hadn’t happened…so I have no regrets in my life. Maybe I should have done some things differently, but if I had, I wouldn’t be where I am now, and I really like where I am now. I have a wonderful life, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
Q.  What is your favorite book of all time?
Oh, I can only pick one? Well, the two books I’ve probably read the most are Gone with the Wind and the Bible, but if pressed to chose a favorite, I would have to say Rebecca by Daphne duMaurier. It really is one of the most amazing books ever written. I reread it every few years, and every time I do it’s just as fresh and interesting as it was the first time, and every single time I read it I get an entirely new perspective on it, read it in a whole new way. That’s genius, frankly.
Q.  Which part of your book(s) was the easiest to write?
I always find the openings to be the easiest part—sometimes I come up with the opening and have no idea what’s going to happen in the rest of the book! But I always have the most fun with the opening—you’re introducing the character and the story, and that’s always fun and easy for me.  I can usually sit down and write the first couple of thousand words and the first couple of scenes without a problem. It’s after that I get stuck.
Q.  Which part of your book(s) was the hardest to write?
The middle. I always have trouble with the middle. I always know how a story begins and how it’s going to end, but the middle is so daunting. How do I get from here to there, in a way that makes sense and isn’t going to make the reader roll their eyes and stop reading? I know usually when I stop reading a book it’s because the author lost me in the middle…and I’m always terrified I’m going to bore the reader, and I end up rewriting and rethinking and questioning myself and what I’m doing with the story and the characters…
Q. Which character from any book are you most like?
Out of my own books, I’d have to say Chanse MacLeod. He’s a good guy, and means well, but doesn’t always make the right choices. As for another author’s, it’s going to sound funny but I’d have to say the second Mrs. deWinter in Rebecca. That, I think, was a part of duMaurier’s genius; every reader can identify with the poor nameless second wife, and her insecurities and feeling like an outside who doesn’t belong all the time…I might have to reread it again!
Q.  What is your favorite season?
I love spring in New Orleans. New Orleans is such a beautiful city, and in the spring when everything is blooming, and you can smell the sweet olive and the magnolia, and before the real heat and humidity have set in….the sky is so clear and beautiful and blue, you can’t help but be in a good mood and be happy to be alive.
Q.  Tell me something funny that happened while on a book tour or while promoting your book(s).
Right before a reading a few years ago, I was wearing a white shirt and was talking to some friends, and I gestured with my right hand. Of course, that was also the hand that was holding the glass of red wine I was drinking, so I had to get up in front of the entire audience with an enormous red wine stain on my shirt! So of course, before I did my reading I had to explain to the audience that I am a total klutz! I’ve since learned my lesson—no white shirts!
Q.  Are you working on something new?
Right now I am writing a follow-up to Fashion Victim called Dead Housewives of New Orleans, which should be available in April. I just hope it’s as fun to read as it is to write!
Q.  Anything you want to say to followers of this blog or those that are just stopping by?
Thanks for stopping by, and I hope you’ll enjoy my book! It makes a wonderful gift for that hard to buy for relative!
Q. Can you tell me a little about the inspiration behind your book cover(s)?
I wish I could! It’s a great one, though, isn’t it? I’m very lucky that my editor is also a very good friend, and she knew I was a big Nancy Drew reader growing up, so I think that had something to do with it. Come to think of it, I wonder if subconsciously I gave Paige red hair because of Nancy Drew?



The Magic of Mary Stewart


            I have a confession to make.
            I love reading books written by women, and I always have.
            When I was a child I always preferred Judy Bolton, Nancy Drew and Trixie Belden to the Hardy Boys, Biff Brewster and Chip Hilton. And when I graduated, at age nine or so, to more adult fiction, I of course started with Agatha Christie. But when I was ten, my grandmother loaned me a book that changed my life and affected my reading taste for the rest of my life.
            The book was Airs Above the Ground, by Mary Stewart.
            My grandmother told me, as she passed the hardcover to me that summer in Florida,  that “it was one of the best mysteries, if not the best, (she) had ever read.” As my grandmother loved mysteries and couldn’t get enough of them, this was high praise indeed. So, I went out the hammock in her backyard, opened the book the sound of waves in the bay coming ashore, and started reading.
            To this day, the book’s opening (“Carmela Lacy is one of the silliest women I know, and that is saying a great deal”) is still one of my favorites. When I started writing, I always remember how great Mary Stewart’s opening lines were, and how they used to grab me and pull me into the story. I wanted the readers of Fashion Victim to get that same strong sense of Paige in one sentence, and I hope that I succeeded.
I read Airs Above the Ground in just over a day, and spent the rest of the summer at the library checking out—and reading—the rest of the Mary Stewart canon: The Moon-Spinners, The Ivy Tree, Madam Will You Talk, Nine Coaches Waiting, Thunder on the Right, and Wildfire at Midnight. The plots were clever and the heroines were always strong women with brains who worked with men as equals to solve the mysteries—and often stepped in to take charge if need be. Yet because Stewart was a woman, and her heroines were often young women, her books were not classified as ‘mysteries’ but rather as ‘romantic suspense.’ (This was often the case with women mystery writers of the era—and their books, in paperback, were always given the classic ‘woman in peril’ covers—the brooding mansion, the lovely young woman with windswept long hair and a flowing gown, the mysterious yet attractive man in the background.) Stewart was nominated several times for the Edgar Award by the Mystery Writers of America, but she never won.
            From Mary Stewart I moved on to the other women writing romantic suspense—Dorothy Eden, Victoria Holt, Phyllis A. Whitney, Anya Seton—and eventually discovered what wound up as one of my favorite books of all time, if not the favorite: Daphne duMaurier’s sublime Rebecca.
            The romantic suspense novel fell out of favor with readers in the 1980’s as women writers began to revive and reinvigorate the classic mystery/detective novel: Sue Grafton, Sara Paretsky, Julie Smith, and Marcia Muller. With the shattering of that glass ceiling, and with the deaths of the great romantic suspense writers, the books began disappearing from the bestseller lists and publishers’ catalogues. I always thought it a pity, since I’d spent so many hours being entertained by those books—even wanted to try my hand at writing one.
            Mary Stewart’s classic novels were brought back into print in the last decade, a delightful fact I discovered while signing at Murder by the Book in Houston one year. I purchased a new copy of Airs Above the Ground, and once again thrilled to that wonderful opening line.
            Even more delightful, the books still held up, even after all these years.
            Now, that is an artist.
           

Author Bio:
Greg Herren is a New Orleans-based author and editor. Former editor of Lambda Book Report, he is also a co-founder of the Saints and Sinners Literary Festival, which takes place in New Orleans every May. He is the author of ten novels, including the Lambda Literary Award winning Murder in the Rue Chartres, called by the New Orleans Times-Picayune “the most honest depiction of life in post-Katrina New Orleans published thus far.” He co-edited Love, Bourbon Street: Reflections on New Orleans, which also won the Lambda Literary Award. He has published over fifty short stories in markets as varied as Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine to the critically acclaimed anthology New Orleans Noir to various websites, literary magazines, and anthologies.  


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