My good friend Elizabeth “Beth” White is stopping by the Edge today to chat with me about her new book, Controlling Interest, a mystery with a romantic thread. Or maybe it’s a romance with a mystery thread . . .
Here’s the story in a nutshell: Matt Hogan’s Memphis detective agency has been on the skids since a recent attack of conscience cost him an important case. When a wealthy investor steps in and saves River City Investigations, Matt thinks all his prayers have been answered-until he finds out that with the investor comes a new partner.
Fresh out of criminal justice school and a two-year stint in the Tunica County Sheriff’s Department, Natalie Tubberville is out to prove she can cut it in the world of private investigations. Her reluctant partner is determined to have nothing to do with her until Natalie makes him an offer he can’t refuse! If Matt solves the next case before she does, she will return her share of the company. And the race is on. As two strong personalities compete, mutual attraction grows and all the while a simple case of a runaway bride threatens to become an international incident. Will Matt and Natalie call off the competition or discover an entirely new arrangement?
Want to get to know Beth a little better and see what makes her tick. Read on for a Q & A:
Edgewise: What’s the craziest thing you ever did in the name of research?
Beth: You mean besides get married?? JUST KIDDING! Once when I was working on “The Trouble With Tommy,” I went on a coon hunt with my uncle and my son. I did not carry a gun–but my son did. He was about fourteen at the time and had never been hunting before. You coon hunt at night, so we all wore these helmet-like hardhats with headlights on the front. We put the dogs in their carrier on the back of the four-wheeler and they’re barking their heads off as we drive through the woods. Finally we stop and let the dogs out and follow them, listening for the change in their baying. When a dog trees a raccoon it’s very distinct. Even an ignoramus like me can hear it. So my son was so excited he could hardly hold onto the bullets as he loaded them in the gun. I won’t go into the details, but it was hilarious and gross and totally a South Mississippi experience.
Edgewise: Who’s your favorite author?
Beth: I have lots of favorites, but I’ve always loved Max Brand. His real name was Frederick Faust–and he wrote totally campy westerns back in the 1920’s and 30’s. In fact he created Destry of Destry Rides Again and Dr. Kildare! His heroes were daring and funny, and he’s the only male writer I know who could consistently do a decent romance. You gotta check him out!
Edgewise: Rumor is you’re in grad school. True?
Beth: I had this idea that I wanted to teach college writing instead of middle school language arts. And I loathe education courses, so the only option was an English/Creative Writing program. It’s actually been a lot of fun. I’m taking a poetry writing workshop this semester, which I totally suck at, but it scratches a creative itch I didn’t even know I had. I should graduate with my masters at the end of the summer–I have one more course, screenwriting, to take. Spielberg look out!
Edgewise: What motivated you to write CONTROLLING INTEREST?
Beth: Well, I wanted to write a sequel to OFF THE RECORD, using private detective Matt Hogan as my new hero. Which brought to mind one of my favorite TV shows from the 80’s, Moonlighting. So my son and my husband and I did a little brainstorming about Matt’s agency being invaded by a rich rookie “girl” detective–and Natalie Tubberville was born. Matt and Natalie needed a case to solve, so we came up with this runaway Pakistani bride scenario. It just got crazier from there. I think this story is a lot of fun.
Edgewise: What was the most fun experience you’ve ever had as a writer?
Beth: Writing is not fun. I’m serious! Researching is fun. Answering fan letters is fun. Writing answers to blog interviews is even fun. Walking through a bookstore and seeing my name on a shelf is fun. Writing is, like someone said, “like shoving a refrigerator uphill.” Well, okay, if you insist. I adore writing the scene at the end where the hero and heroine get together. I just melt into a puddle every time. We old married people know that the real work begins there, but gosh, don’t you just love that hopeful spot of pure joy?
Edgewise: If an aspiring author were sitting across from you at your kitchen table, what piece of writing advice would you give them?
Beth: Anything that’s worth having is hard to get.
Have a great week, Edgelings. On Friday: Why sauntering should be a crime.