Tuesday, February 20, 2018

A Conversation with Mystery author Saralyn Richard

Omnimystery News: Author Interview with Saralyn Richards

We are delighted to welcome author Saralyn Richards to Omnimystery News today.

Saralyn's new mystery, Murder in the One Percent (Black Opal Books; February 2018` trade paperback and ebook formats), is published this week and we recently had a chance to catch up with her to talk more about it.

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Omnimystery News: Suppose the detective lead in Murder in the One Percent were interviewing you; what would be his opening question … and your response?

Saralyn Richards
Photo provided courtesy of
Saralyn Richards

Saralyn Richards: Detective Oliver Parrott: Good to meet the author of Murder in the One Percent, and I especially like the way you portrayed the dashing young detective. My question, though, has to do with the twists and turns, the ups and downs of the Phillips case. In my work, I know all about those, but how does a nice lady like you come to know them so well?

Saralyn Richard (smiling): It’s nice to meet you, too, Detective, though it feels as if we have known each other for ages, and I’m a big admirer of you and your work. To answer your question, I read a lot and I did a lot of research into police procedures, but—and this may come as a huge surprise—I actually tagged along with you every step of the way as you solved the Phillips crime. I was with you in the station, when you met with the medical examiner, when you interviewed the suspects, and when you staked out the Dakota. I saw and heard it all! Just think of me as the fairy godmother perched on your shoulder, a bit like Horace the cockatiel.

OMN: How did the book come to be titled?

SR: As I wrote the book, I thought of it as The One Percent, since the ensemble cast of characters represent variations of ultra-rich people whose wealth puts them in the top one percent of the nation. The book’s milieu is quite exclusive, one that few regular people get to experience in their lifetimes. When the manuscript was completed, and I was preparing to pitch it, I realized that I needed the word, “murder” in the title, so readers would realize it was a mystery novel. I wanted prospective readers to get the sense that this was not an ordinary murder, because the people involved were not ordinary people. I played around with murder-related terms like “premeditated murder,” “murder in the first degree,” “murder one,” and, bingo! Murder in the One Percent. It has an official-sounding ring to it, doesn’t it?

OMN: Suppose the book were to be adapted for television or film. Who do you see playing the key roles?

SR: Preston Phillips, the sixty-seven year-old playboy who brings his trophy wife (wife number four) to the party, is still stunningly handsome. He’s led a charmed life as a scholar, an athlete, a billionaire financial analyst, and former Secretary of the Treasury. Unfortunately, he’s made a lot of enemies along the way, so it’s no surprise that his presence at the Campbell birthday party sparks trouble. Part of the problem is Preston is just as much Prince Charming as he is Darth Vader. It turns out Preston is the guy everyone loves to hate. And, oh, those dimples! Brad Pitt would make an enigmatic Preston Phillips. Aside from his boyish good looks, Brad would have the aristocratic swagger down pat. The movie audience would definitely feel the catharsis when Brad bit the dust—or would they?

Detective Oliver Parrott is a mid-twenties African-American, former college football hero, tall, and with a deep voice. He’s smart and well-educated, and he has a strong moral compass. He goes into law enforcement because he wants to right wrongs; he believes in justice. Parrott is an organized thinker. In fact, everything about him is organized, including his clothes, his home—even the birdcage where his cockatiel, Horace, lives. Parrott’s star is on the rise. As the novel begins, he is missing his fiancée, a Navy SEAL in Afghanistan, and his cousin has been killed in a senseless crime involving police. The actor who plays him has to have enough talent to carry him through a broad range of emotions. There are a number of accomplished African-American actors who could portray Parrott. Some who come to mind are Mahershala Ali, Anthony Mackie, Brandon T. Jackson, and Columbus Short. I would love to be there for the auditions!

OMN: What kinds of feedback have you received from readers?

SR: Most people tell me they enjoy the characters in Murder in the One Percent, especially Detective Parrott. That thrills me, because Parrott, although extremely skillful, well-organized, and hard-working, is also quite human. He has moments of sadness, yearning, and self-doubt, and sometimes he lets his emotions get away from him. I’m glad readers connect with him, despite his flaws.

Another comment I enjoy hearing is that the reader is held in suspense until the very end of the book, that the twists and turns in the plot make it an enjoyable read. One reader even says, “Combining mystery and humor, with an ending that probably surprises even the author, this is one you won’t want to miss.” What better compliment can a mystery writer receive than this?

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

SR: Here are two. The Top 5 designers in Caro Campbell's closet …

• Valentino
• Hermes
• Versace
• Chanel
• Diro

And the Top 5 designers in Saralyn Richard's closet …

• Chico's Black Label
• Ellen Tracy
• Ralph Lauren
• Chaus
• Calvin Klein

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Mystery and children’s book author Saralyn Richard is a writer who teaches on the side. Some of her poems and essays have won awards and contests from the time she was in high school. A member of International Thriller Writers and Mystery Writers of America, Saralyn is revising her second mystery.

For more information about the author, please visit her website at SaralynRichard.com and her author page on Goodreads, or find her on Facebook and Twitter.

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Murder in the One Percent by Saralyn Richards

Murder in the One Percent by Saralyn Richards

A Mystery Novel

Publisher: Black Opal Books

Amazon.com Print/Kindle Format(s)BN.com Print/Nook Format(s)Kobo eBook Format

A powerful and rich playboy, a rare and naturally-occurring poison, a newly divorced woman with an ax to grind, and pressure from the former President of the US are just a few of the challenges facing Detective Oliver Parrott.

African-American and a former college football hero making a name for himself in the criminal justice system, Parrott answers a routine call for back-up when someone dies at a country estate the morning after an elaborate birthday party. When he learns the deceased is the wealthy former Secretary of the Treasury, Preston Phillips and just about everyone at the party has a motive to kill him, Parrot realizes this will be the investigation to make—or break—his career.

Murder in the One Percent by Saralyn Richards


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