Q&A with author Vickie Fee! - Dark Streets
Vickie Fee blesses hearts and makes Jack Daniels whiskey balls that’ll scorch your tonsils. Vickie writes the Liv and Di in Dixie cozy mystery series from Kensington, One Fete in the Grave, Death Crashes the Party and It’s Your Party, Die If You Want To, featuring intrepid party planner and amateur sleuth Liv McKay and best friend Di Souther, are available at bookstores and the usual online retailers. Book Four Til Death Do Us Party, debuts this month!
Toni: Welcome Vickie! Tell us a little about your background
VF: At the moment, it’s a window with a view of Lake Superior, but I grew up in Memphis, Tennessee. I was an adult before I visited Graceland, so I wasn’t scarred too much by seeing the Jungle Room. I was weaned on Nancy Drew and sweet tea before discovering Agatha Christie and fantasizing that Miss Marple was my aunt, with whom I’d spend summers unraveling mysteries in quaint English villages. (Yes, I’m that big of a dork). I earned a degree in journalism from the University of Memphis and worked most of my adult life as a reporter at small town newspapers in western Tennessee. I didn’t realize it at the time, but my former newspaper career was actually research for my current career writing cozy mysteries set in the fictional town of Dixie, Tennessee.
Toni: Tell us a bit about your Liv and Di in Dixie series. Where did that idea come from?
VF: Dixie is fictional, but authentic to many of the small towns I covered as a reporter. So, those experiences informed the setting, complete with a charming town square and a supporting cast of colorful characters. As for the main characters, I wanted my protagonist to have a best friend. I thought that would make the murder-solving adventures more fun for her—and, hopefully, for the reader. I kind of see Liv and Di as a little bit Thelma and Louise and a little bit Lucy and Ethel.
Toni: How do you “get to know” your characters before and while you’re writing the books?
VF: Since I write a series, I feel like I know my main characters pretty well by now. They definitely look over my shoulder as I’m writing, and if I have them say or do something that’s not true to their character they smack me upside the head. (Figuratively, of course, but it still hurts.) The same is true for the recurring characters in the supporting cast. Minor characters kind of show up as needed—sometimes fully formed, complete with a name, and other times as a rough sketch I flesh out as the story develops.
Toni: How do you construct your plots? Do you outline or do you write “by the seat of your pants”?
VF: I only have a rough idea of the story when I start. I always have a clear idea for the discovery of the body scene, along with who gets killed and why some people wanted to kill him or her. For the first three books, I had to turn in a synopsis before I started the manuscript for the next book. So, I would make up a plot, but it always changed substantially as I wrote. The only things that don’t/can’t change are what’s included in the back cover teaser. That’s the information the cover artist uses to design the cover, and the cover design goes into production well before I turn in the manuscript.
Toni: Which do you consider more important, plot or character?
VF: A mystery isn’t complete without a compelling plot. But my books are definitely character driven. I think people who follow the series do so because they enjoy spending time with Liv and Di.
Toni: What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a writer and what inspires you and keeps you motivated?
VF: Like most writers, I guess, my biggest challenge was finding an agent and getting that first book deal. I had shopped around two previous completed manuscripts before I landed an agent with the Liv & Di manuscript that became Death Crashes the Party. Deadlines and contractual obligations keep me motivated! Actually, that’s not completely true. I was writing—and finishing—manuscripts long before I had a contract.
Toni: What advice do you have to offer an aspiring author?
VF: Take the time to polish your query letters, carefully research agents and only send queries to agents who represent what your write!
You can find out more about Vickie and her books at:
Group Blog: www.chicksonthecase.com
Columnist: Toni LoTempio
While Toni Lotempio does not commit – or solve – murders in real life, she has no trouble doing it on paper. Her lifelong love of mysteries began early on when she was introduced to her first Nancy Drew mystery at age 10 – The Secret in the Old Attic. She (and ROCCO, albeit he’s uncredited) pen the Nick and Nora mystery series from Berkley Prime Crime – and in Spring 2017, the new CAT RESCUE mysteries from Crooked Lane! She, Rocco and company make their home in Clifton, New Jersey, just twenty minutes from the Big Apple – New York. Catch up with them at www.tclotempio.com and www.catsbooksmorecats.blogspot.com