Sunday, August 04, 2013

A Conversation with Mystery Author Caroline Fardig

Omnimystery News: Author Interview with Caroline Fardig
with Caroline Fardig

We are delighted to welcome mystery author Caroline Fardig to Omnimystery News today.

Caroline introduces small town newspaper copy editor Lizzie Hart in It's Just a Little Crush (CreateSpace; January 2013 trade paperback and ebook formats).

We recently had a chance to talk to Caroline about her new series.

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Omnimystery News: It's Just a Little Crush is the first in a series. What is it about series characters that appeals to you as a writer?

Caroline Fardig
Photo provided courtesy of
Caroline Fardig

Caroline Fardig: When I read, I love to feel like I'm part of a character's life. That's why I enjoy a series much more than a stand-alone, because you don't feel like you've lost a friend when the book ends — there's another adventure waiting. That's also the reason why I chose to write a series. My main character, Lizzie Hart, is such a fun character, I would hate to leave her after just one book. Lizzie is going to develop a lot over time. During the first book, It's Just a Little Crush, Lizzie is able to remain a little detached from all the murder, because it didn't happen to any close friends. In the second book, That Old Black Magic, a friend of Lizzie's is murdered and another friend is accused of the crime. In this book, Lizzie has to learn to keep her emotions in check so that she can get to the truth.

OMN: How you you characterize the book?

CF: I like to call It's Just a Little Crush a "mystery with a chick-lit voice", but I guess technically it should be labeled as a cozy mystery, although I hate that term. When I hear the term "cozy" it brings to mind frumpy spinsters with cat companions who like to bake and knit. Lizzie Hart is none of those things. She's young and sassy, she hates her cat (he came with the house her grandmother willed her), and while a girl is trying to watch her figure to attract the eye of the town hunk, baked goods are out of the question. And knitting? Seriously? Knitting is for old ladies.

OMN: How would you tweet a summary of your book?

CF: Hindered only by her raging crush on the office hunk, wannabe sleuth Lizzie Hart spies, accuses, and gossips her way to the truth.

OMN: How much of your own professional or personal experience did you include in It's Just a Little Crush?

CF: I always use personal experience in my books. I mean, not that I've ever seen a freshly dead body or chased a killer around, but I use little everyday things all the time. Say something funny or stupid in front of me, and you just might end up in my next book! More specifically, I have the same hate-hate relationship with my cat that Lizzie has with hers. I've worked at a funeral home before, so I've used some of my knowledge to write for the character of Becca, Lizzie's cousin, who owns the local funeral home.

OMN: What is the best advice — and harshest criticism — you've received as an author?

CF: The best advice I've received is to develop a thick skin! You pour your heart and soul (and untold hours of your time) into writing a novel, and it becomes your baby. Then, you put it out there for people to read or for agents/publishers to consider, and they tell you that your beloved "baby" is not good enough. You have to brush it off and keep trying, because you'll never make it if you quit.

My harshest criticism is always from my husband, although it is done out of love and a desire for my book to be as perfect as it can be. He is one of my proofreaders, and has no reservations about telling me things like, "This part is completely stupid. No man would ever say those words out loud."

As an author, you need to know what other people think of your writing. A sentence that makes total sense in your head might be a garbled mess to someone else. It helps to think about your writing from someone else's point of view.

Criticism isn't fun to hear, but it keeps us in line, and it keeps us honest. If everyone loved every word you ever wrote and you never got criticized, would you keep giving 110% to your writing? Probably not. All of us have read books by acclaimed authors whose writing has gone downhill. Don't be that guy.

OMN: Finish this sentence for us: "If you are a mystery author, you are also …".

CF: If you are a mystery author, you are also … nuts. Seriously. You literally have to sit around and think of ways to kill people. It's creepy.

OMN: Describe your writing process.

CF: Very first, I get the main storyline worked out by daydreaming, usually to music. Most of my books have my own "internal soundtrack". If I have my plot ready, but I know I won't have time to sit down and start writing for a while, I make a synopsis, which for me is more like a timeline. I can't write without my story's timeline mapped out by day! In my synopsis, I also write down all the one-liners I've thought of while creating the plot. When I'm ready to commit to writing the book from start to finish, I sit down and do it. It usually takes me about 2 months to write a 70,000-80,000 word novel. Most of the time (all of the time), once I start writing, the story takes on a life of its own, and goes off in a direction I didn't expect, to get to the end I originally envisioned. I'm always adding characters as I go. In the first draft of It's Just a Little Crush, there was only one murder instead of two!

OMN: Now give us a picture of your writing environment.

CF: My main writing environment is my office. I have a "megadesk", which consists of a credenza/desk against the wall plus another desk, creating a big "L" shape. I've got my favorite books on the shelves above me, and of course a bowl of candy for emergencies. I generally try to do my writing when my kids are at school and after their bedtime, but if they're home, I usually have to try to write with the TV blaring from the family room. Do you know how hard it is to write romantic scenes with Spongebob giggling in the background?

OMN: How did the book's title and cover come about?

CF: I made a horrendous drawing of how I wanted the book cover to look, and one of my best friends posed for the picture and made it look just like my drawing … only not horrendous. I did the Photoshop work myself for the text.

Since I'm a musician, all of the books in my Lizzie Hart Mysteries series are song titles: It's Just a Little Crush, That Old Black Magic, Bad Medicine.

OMN: What types of research do you engage in while developing the storylines of your books?

CF: I mainly do Internet research, but I try not to be too in-depth about the forensics or the investigating, because my book is written in first person, from Lizzie's perspective. She wouldn't know the technical stuff, so I generally leave it out. The romance part is easy — everyone has experience with that. I enjoyed researching about different types of witchcraft for my second book.

OMN: What kinds of books did you read when you were young?

CF: I absolutely devoured every Trixie Belden mystery I could find. There was no Internet when I was a kid, so my mother and I had to pester every bookstore employee and librarian around to get our hands on the complete set. Out of near 40 books, I think I only was missing a couple. When I outgrew them, I donated all of them to my local library so other girls could have the same wonderful experience I had.

In high school, I developed an intense hatred of books and reading in general. I think it was my American Literature class that pushed me over the edge. I couldn't stand Steinbeck, Hemingway, and Tennessee Williams — they literally made me want to stab my eyes with something sharp so I didn't have to read another word. I know, I know, if you're an author, you have to pretend that you love and respect the great writers of the past, but I don't, and I don't apologize for it. Add all of the ridiculous drivel I had to read during college, and I didn't pick up a book to read for my own pleasure until I was 26 years old. I wouldn't even read a recipe with more than 5 ingredients.

OMN: Cookbooks have their own appeal, to be sure, but what else do you read now for pleasure?

CF: I read mysteries, some romance (no erotica — it makes me giggle), and chick-lit. I read a little YA, too, as long as it's not too angsty.

OMN: You mentioned earlier that you are a musician. Tell us a little more about that and any other interests you have.

CF: I sing and play the piano, guitar, and drums (thanks to my degree in music). I also enjoy entertaining, cooking, and travelling. And I watch TV like it's my job.

My character, Lizzie, has a thing for cop shows, especially CSI. I have the same problem. My DVR is currently full of Hawaii Five-0, Castle, The Following, The Glades, Body of Proof, and, you guessed it, CSI.

OMN: Create a Top 5 list for us on any subject.

CF: Top 5 Places You Should Visit …

1. Hawaii, Oahu specifically. Best. Vacation. Ever. Do all of the kitschy things — like going to a luau, eating poi, visiting all of the famous beaches (not just Waikiki), taking a pineapple plantation tour, going to an ABC store and buying their hot Spam sushi.

2. Greece — really, anywhere in Greece. It was beautiful, and completely not what I expected. There is history everywhere. Just don't buy a fake Fendi bag from a street vendor or order the McShrimp Burger at the McDonald's in Athens. No reason.

3. Rome and Vatican City. St. Peter's is the most beautiful building on earth. You can't even begin to imagine until you've been inside. Rome is romantic and lovely, and I didn't get to spend nearly enough time there, nor did I get to have any of my favorite food — pizza.

4. Disneyworld. It is truly magical, no matter what your age. Only don't go with my husband. He and his Fastpasses will wear you out.

5. Gatlinburg, Tennessee. I know it's not exotic or fancy, but it is my very favorite place to vacation. My parents took me there every year when I was growing up, and my husband and I honeymooned there. We haven't been there a whole lot since, but every time I go, I feel like I'm home.

OMN: What's next for you?

CF: I have my second book, That Old Black Magic, completed (although I will probably break down and do some last-minute tweaking), so I need to get that out the door. My third book, Bad Medicine, is ready for editing. At this point, I'm ready to take a little detour into chick-lit/romance. I have about three ideas for books I'd like to write in my downtime between books of my Lizzie Hart series.

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Caroline Fardig was born and raised in a small town in Indiana. Her working career has been rather eclectic thus far, with occupations including school teacher, church organist, insurance agent, funeral parlor associate, and stay-at-home mom. Finally realizing that she wants to be a writer when she grows up, Caroline has completed her first novel and is currently hard at work churning out a second novel in the series. She still lives in that same small town with an understanding husband, two sweet kids, two energetic dogs, and one malevolent cat.

For more information about the author and her work, please visit her website at CarolineFardig.com or find her on Twitter.

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It's Just a Little Crush by Caroline Fardig

It's Just a Little Crush
Caroline Fardig
A Lizzie Hart Mystery

The sleepy town of Liberty hasn't seen murder in…well…ever. Residents are stunned when the body of a young woman is found strangled, and reporters at the Liberty Chronicle are thrilled, rather disturbingly, over the biggest news story to hit town this century.

Lizzie Hart has even bigger problems. Lately, she can't seem to concentrate on her job as copy editor at the Chronicle with the new hunky investigative reporter, Blake Morgan, swaggering around the office. How can a girl work when she's using all of her energy combating Blake-induced hot flashes and struggling to repress the giggly inner schoolgirl that's constantly rearing her dorky head? It's a good thing that Blake barely knows Lizzie exists.

After an odd string of events, however, Lizzie begins to wonder if Blake is really as fabulous as she has fantasized. When Lizzie and Blake find a co-worker dead, Blake's personality changes completely — and not in a good way. Even though the police rule the death as an accident, Lizzie immediately suspects foul play and senses a connection to the recent murder. She is determined to bring the killer to justice, but is having some trouble getting her Nancy Drew on thanks to the pesky stalker she's picked up — Blake Morgan. Wait, didn't she want him to follow her around and pay attention to her? Not like this. Blake has turned from cool and smooth to cold and downright scary, making Lizzie wonder if he should be next on her suspect list.

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2 comments:

  1. Awesome interview. Looking forward to book 2.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Great interview! I can't wait for the next book.

    ReplyDelete

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