Marta Tandori is the author of The Kate Stanton Hollywood Mysteries; here is a link to her website:
Q: What inspired you to write The Kate Stanton Hollywood Mysteries?
A: The inspiration for the first book in the series, TOO LITTLE, TOO LATE, came in a roundabout way. One day, there was a documentary on the History channel that caught my attention. It was based on the Lebensborn war children; children sired by Nazi soldiers and officers while their mothers were genetically-viable blonde-haired, blue-eyed women, mostly of Scandinavian descent. It was Hitler’s intention that these Lebensborn children would be the Nazi master race of the future but that plan abruptly fell apart when the Second World War ended. These children and their mothers were suddenly cast adrift with nowhere to go. Germany considered them an embarrassment and didn’t want them, while the families these women had come from no longer wanted them either. Many of the children were thrown into mental institutions while their mothers were treated as traitors and ostracized for the rest of their lives. A few of these war children managed to overcome their adversities and grew up to become famous like the musician, Eric Clapton, as well as Ani-Frid Lyngstad, one of the singers from the Swedish pop group, ABBA. I thought this lesser-known aspect of the Second World War would make for an interesting and powerful back story to my book. Incidentally, Ani-Frid Lyngstad, who’s now a real-life princess, became the inspiration for the character of Kate Stanton.
When I began writing TOO LITTLE, TOO LATE, it never occurred to me that Kate Stanton would end up becoming the focal character in a series of mystery books. It was only after receiving emails from readers asking if I was ever planning on writing more books based on Kate Stanton that I thought of developing her character into a series and that’s how the Kate Stanton Hollywood Mystery Series was eventually born.
How to best describe the series? One reviewer recently described it as “the perfect mystery reader Cosmo – one part ‘I-didn’t-see-that-coming’ whodunit with a double shot of Hollywood glam”. I think that’s a great way to describe it!
Q: What sets Kate apart from other serial fiction detectives?
I would say that it’s her age and the fact that she’s not a professional investigator. Kate’s in her early seventies; she and her late husband were once a very successful recording duo and for the past twenty years, Kate’s owned an equally successful real estate brokerage firm in Los Angeles. Imagine a sophisticated Jessica Fletcher from Murder, She Wrote, if you will.
Q: What are some of the cases on which Kate works?
As I mentioned earlier, Kate’s not a professional investigator so she doesn’t really work on any cases, per se. She’s a devoted wife, mother and grandmother with a wide circle of friends and more often than not, the mysteries she works on involve her as a result of her relationships, either directly or indirectly. For example, in the first book, TOO LITTLE, TOO LATE, a middle-aged homeless woman turns up dead and Kate is shocked to eventually learn that the woman is her first-born daughter who she had been told had died as a young girl. Kate delves into the mystery surrounding her daughter’s life and subsequent death which is deemed a homicide. In NO HARD FEELINGS, a woman is found dead in one of the houses that Kate’s other daughter is showing to a potential buyer and in THE CROSSING AT BLAISDELL PARK, the film shoot for the sequel to the blockbuster Civil War epic Kate’s current husband is producing is rumored to be haunted by the ghost of the movie’s dead heroine, leading to Kate’s involvement.
Q: What makes Hollywood a good setting for a mystery?
A: Location, location, location! Everyone’s heard of Hollywood and thanks to it being the epicenter for the entertainment industry, Hollywood is rich in both history and scandal, making it the perfect backdrop for a mystery – or mysteries, as the case may be.
Q: Who are some of your writing influences?
A: I would have to say hands down Tess Gerritsen, the author of the Rizzoli & Isles series of books, Jackie Collins, Mary Higgins Clark, Judy Blume and Linwood Barclay. Tess Gerritsen is an immensely talented writer who can write about anything convincingly; Jackie Collins, because she gave us our first entrée into the glamorous world of Hollywood; Mary Higgins Clark, because she writes entertaining mysteries, Judy Blume, because she always writes with such honesty and Linwood Barclay, because he has such a great voice which come across in each of his characters.
Q: Why do you think serial fiction is so popular?
A: Readers who find characters they like in books sometime have a hard time letting go of them and once those characters become part of a series of books, they never have to say goodbye to them. Readers eagerly follow the characters from one adventure to the other, the characters becoming as familiar as old friends. This is why series books like the Nancy Drew Mysteries, The Hardy Boys and Trixie Belden became so popular.
For authors, it’s a no-brainer because with each book in a series, you have an immediate, built-in audience waiting for the next book.
Q: What kind of day job do you have and how does it affect your writing?
A: During the day, I work in a boutique firm that only does intellectual property law – patents, trademarks, copyrights and integrated topography. My practice encompasses only trademarks. I do clearance searches for trademarks, I meet with clients, I prosecute trademark applications, I do oppositions and cancellation proceedings, that sort of thing. Since I work long hours, most of my writing is done on weekends and vacations with me getting up at obscenely early hours of the morning, by most people’s standards, in order to write. It’s not that hard since I’m a morning person by nature.
Q: What kind of educational background do you have?
A: Secondary and post-secondary education. Since my day job requires me to do a great deal of research, especially on the Internet, this segues nicely into my writing where I’m doing research all the time since many of my characters come from all walks of life and all kinds of professions.
Q: What are some of the things you have done to promote your books?
A: I’ve done various types of promotions through Amazon’s KDP Select. I’ve also done giveaways on Goodreads and LibraryThing and I’ve also done third-party blog interviews and interviews through other media like newspapers, in addition to book tours.
Q: If you need a mystery solved what famous literary detective would you enlist to help you and why?
Most definitely, I’d enlist the assistance of Sherlock Holmes. Arguably, one of the most famous fictional detectives created by Scottish author and physician, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Sherlock Holmes was a London-based “consulting detective” whose abilities bordered on the “incredible” or “incredulous”, depending on whose opinion you happened to be partial to. He was famous for his astute logical reasoning, his ability to adopt almost any disguise and his use of forensic science to solve the most difficult of cases.
Over the years, there have been countless discussions and essays written on the subject of Holmes’ personality and what actually made him “tick”. Watson himself described his friend as “bohemian” in habits and lifestyle as well as an eccentric, with erratic eating habits and “no regard for contemporary standards of tidiness or good order”. However, what appeared to others as chaos was to Holmes a logical extension of the way his mind functioned. Sherlock Holmes was also known to have used addictive drugs, especially when there were no stimulating cases to solve. He was of the mindset that cocaine stimulated the brain, of which he was a habitual user, as well as an occasional user of morphine. He did, however, draw the line at visiting an opium den. While the use of these drugs in today’s society may be indicative of someone with a drug addiction, it’s important to keep in mind that these drugs were legal in late 19th century England.
So, as you can see, Sherlock Holmes was quite the character and most definitely my go-to literary detective of choice!
Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects:)