Wednesday, April 17, 2013

A Conversation with Mystery Author Diane Vallere

Omnimystery News: Author Interview
with Diane Vallere

We are delighted to welcome mystery author Diane Vallere to Omnimystery News today, courtesy of Cozy Mystery Book Reviews, which is coordinating her current book tour. We encourage you to visit all of the participating sites; you can find her schedule here.

Diane's second "Style & Error" mystery is Buyer, Beware (Polyester Press, March 2013 trade paperback and ebook formats).

We recently had a chance to talk to Diane about her series.

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Omnimystery News: Buyer, Beware is the second book in your series featuring fashion expert Samantha Kidd. Why write a series?

Diane Vallere
Photo provided courtesy of
Diane Vallere

Diane Vallere: I enjoy getting to know a character and her world when I'm writing, and I often think the character tells us how many stories she'll have. For this series, Samantha Kidd is a character who is looking for something in her life. She gave up a successful career to buy the house where she grew up and rediscover who she is, but that doesn't work out so well. She's back in Buyer Beware, and has a whole different set of challenges. Because she's unsettled and looking for her own answers, it's a natural for her to seek out answers for other problems she discovers along the way, like mysteries.

I do think it's important for characters to develop over time. Being lost in book one might be interesting, but being lost in book five or six would be a bit much! For book one in this series (Designer Dirty Laundry), Samantha is starting a new job in a new town—so, she's completely out of her element. In Buyer, Beware, I flipped that and put her into a job that she completely knows (but isn't sure she wants). I do love the stumbling-through-a-situation aspects of amateur sleuth fiction, but I also want my character to know something so she can apply one skill set to another situation.

OMN: Tell us something about your book that isn't mentioned in the publisher synopsis.

DV: The book starts with a caper. Samantha and her friends are stealing a statue from a local college as part of a new retailer's publicity stunt. This book isn't purely a case of trouble finding Samantha, it's a little bit of Samantha being a thrill-seeker too. This very issue comes up between her and her sort-of boyfriend, and very well might come up again in the near future!

OMN: You're a fashion expert yourself. Is Samantha your alter-ego?

DV: I like to think that Samantha is the person I might have become if I moved to New York right after college. She and I grew up in the same house, and we both have a history as fashion buyers. We both have/had black cats, and like the same foods: pretzels, sandwiches, pizza, ice cream (though Samantha manages to be a few sizes smaller than I am — go figure).

Big differences: She's a Taurus and I'm a Capricorn. She's a bit more of a spitfire than I am, too.

OMN: Tell us about your writing process.

DV: I let the story develop as I write. I like discovering twists and turns while I'm writing, and surprising myself on a reread. When I get really, really blocked, I know the story has gone in the wrong direction. I backtrack to see where it derailed and write three different potential new scenes. Inevitably one of them inspires me and I take off from there.

OMN: The series is set in Pennsylvania. Is there a particular town or region that influenced your choice of setting?

DV: I fictionalized Reading, Pennsylvania, into Ribbon, Pennsylvania. It's the town where I grew up, and it made sense from both logistical (proximity to NY) and nostalgic standpoint to set it there. Originally I wasn't going to change the name, but so much has changed since I've lived there that I knew I'd be writing about the town in my memories, not the town in reality.

OMN: What kinds of books did you read as a child?

DV: I grew up reading Judy Blume, Beverly Cleary, Trixie Belden, and the Three Investigators series. I moved into Sweet Dreams romances (early books were written by Rhys Bowen of Her Royal Spyness fame — I love that!), Nancy Drew, and Connie Blair (a lesser known Pennsylvania girl sleuth). For a long time I knew I wanted to try to write a children's mystery series, but I think my love of what I'd read was so strong that I never came up with my own ideas. Even though Samantha is in her thirties, she definitely has a bit of that girl sleuth in her DNA.

OMN: What are your hobbies, interests outside of writing mysteries?

DV: I like old movies, 60s and 70s TV shows, fashion, and mid-century modern design. This series has the nod to fashion and the occasional reference to That Girl and Mary Tyler Moore. My other series, (the "Mad for Mod" series, kicked off with Pillow Stalk) has a protagonist who has modeled her life after Doris Day's character in Pillow Talk, who also owns a mid-century modern interior design business. I do like to include my own activities in my books, but sometimes those activities are memories, and sometimes they're a chance for me to live out a fantasy!

OMN: Give us a Top 5 list on any category of your choosing.

DV: Top 5 fashion-y movies, all different genres, just for fun!

1. Blood and Black Lace [1964 Italian Thriller]: A killer murders fashion models. The colorful fashion show scenes are fantastic! It is a bit dark.

2. Someone's Watching Me [1978 TV movie, John Carpenter]: This thriller stars model-turned actress Lauren Hutton and is a great cat-and-mouse game.

3. The Ambushers [1967, Matt Helm series]: Undercover operative Matt Helm poses as fashion photographer documenting Oleg Cassini's collection in the late sixties? What's not to love?!

4. Unzipped [Isaac Mizrahi documentary, 1991]: I constantly find inspiration by watching this movie. It's Project Runway before Project Runway, a look behind the scenes of a fashion collection, and it always reminds me how important it is to push myself.

5. Rear Window [1954, Hitchcock]: My first Hitchcock movie. Grace Kelly plays a fashion editor and has a wardrobe to die for, but her spirit for adventure and interest in the mystery unfolding in the next building are straight out of a Nancy Drew book!

OMN: What is next for you?

DV: My next book will be That Touch of Ink, the second book in the "Mad for Mod" mystery series. Here's the blurb:

When interior decorator Madison Night receives a torn five thousand dollar bill in the mail, she knows it's a message from her past. But when she discovers a corpse while trying to learn of the bill's value, Madison suspects her former lover wants more than a reconciliation. His actions belie his intentions, and even a gallon of daisy yellow paint can't hide the writing on the wall. Madison follows a circuit of rare dollars and common sense and discovers a counterfeit operation, a jealous lover, and the true value of her independence.

Expected publication: July 2013, from Polyester Press.

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Diane Vallere Book Tour

Diane Vallere grew up reading both Trixie Belden mysteries and Vogue magazine and learned how to spot a counterfeiting ring and accessorize a wardrobe. When it was time to find a career she headed out to the mall … and nine years later was a buyer for one of the top luxury stores in the country. But while Paris, Milan, and New York satisfied her appetite for fashion, her passion for creativity went unfed. Now she sells fine apparel by day and uncover crimes of fashion by night, in the form of mystery writing. She still loves accessories, only now some of them are accessories to murder.

Learn more about the author and her work on her website, DianeVallere.com.

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Buyer, Beware by Diane Vallere

Buyer, Beware
Diane Vallere
A Style & Error Mystery (2nd in series)

Out-of-work fashion expert Samantha Kidd is strapped. But when the buyer of handbags for a hot new retailer turns up dead and Samantha is recruited for the job, the opportunity comes with a caveat: she's expected to find some answers.

The police name a suspect but the label doesn't fit. Samantha turns to a sexy stranger for help, but as the walls close around her like a snug satin lining, she must get a handle on the suspects, or risk being caught in the killer's clutches.

Amazon.com Print and/or Kindle Edition  Barnes&Noble Print Edition and/or Nook Book  Apple iTunes iBookstore  Kobo eBooks

2 comments:

  1. Great interview, Diane! Rear Window is one of my all-time favorite movies, too!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi LynDee,
    What's not to love about Rear Window? I find myself obsessing over Grace Kelly's charm bracelet every now and then!

    ReplyDelete

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