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Thoughts on ROOMER HAS IT

March 20, 2013

The PR firm I’m working with on Roomer Has it came up with a series of interview questions that will be provided to a couple dozen radio interviewers who I’ll be talking with. (I’ve actually done two thus far.)  Here they are, along with my thoughts on each one, as recently posted on their blog.

 

Interview With Novelist David Benson

1.                  What is your book Roomer Has It about? ROOMER HAS IT pits Carina Quintana,  a very talented police detective and quite an intriguing young woman, against a killer whose spree began as revenge for the death of his wife in a plane crash, but who graduates, if you will, into something of an avenging angel, and quite a nasty one at that.  It picks up from my first Carina Quintana mystery, LATE BOOMER, which is a Kirkus Star & Top 100 of 2012 award winner.  In ROOMER HAS IT, Carina’s left NY and is now home in Miami Beach, where she’s become the youngest Latina woman to hold the post of police chief. And for those who read the first book, yes, Pete Simpson, Carina’s former NYPD partner & now retired from the force and a high-end P.I. in NY, is again along to help her solve the puzzle.
2.                  Was there any particular real world event that you drew inspiration from in forming the plot of Roomer Has It?  Yes, the crash of a commuter plane near Buffalo in early 2009 that killed all 49 passengers and the crew. It was ultimately blamed on pilot training deficiencies and resulted in changes to the rules regarding regional airlines’ training. I thought about the loved ones of those killed and what they might be feeling and what they might be inclined to do about it. My bad guy is a person with a VERY strong sense of justice; in a way, maybe stronger than Carina’s. [Note that in real life they lobbied Congress hard for changes in the rules, which they got.]
3.                  Why did you choose a smart, polished yet aggressive, gay woman to be the protagonist of Roomer Has It? It didn’t start out that way! In the short story on which the novel is based, the detective was a young man, a NYC cop who admired the detectives on Law & Order. But as the story and the character developed, a woman seemed more appropriate and then Carina’s persona, and sexuality, began to emerge. Note that in the first book in the series, LATE BOOMER, Carina is still struggling with her sexual identity.
4.                  The serial killer in the novel seems to have a moral imperative. Are there any murderers like this in real life that you based him upon? There have been notable real-life murders that have arisen from someone’s moral imperative, of course, but I created Coy Daniels out of whole cloth without basing him on anyone in particular.  I think many of us have wondered what we might do under similar circumstances, but I doubt our thoughts go quite as far as Coy Daniels’ do, and our actions certainly don’t! I actually touch, or at least Carina and other characters do, very briefly on the moral implications of revenge killing in the story.
5.                  Can vigilantism ever be a means to justice or is it only a baseless perpetuation of violence? Great question! How much time do we have!? Seriously, I suspect a great many folks would say NEVER, but perhaps the key word in your question, at least for many people, is EVER.
6.                  In your opinion, why do we have such a culture of corporate greed in the US? I’m not so sure we have a CULTURE of corporate greed, although our capitalist culture does seem to imbue in some people a type of greed that’s not tempered by what I still think are the cultural imperatives of our country, and those include protecting those who need protecting from the unscrupulous.
7.                  Where does this novel fit in the canon of crime thrillers? What makes this genre so popular among readers? I grew up on Robert Parker’s Spenser novels, along with Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum books and Lee Child’s Reacher series, among others, and I think Carina belongs in that canon. It goes much further back, of course; think Agatha Christie.  My sense is that readers enjoy a character who ‘s very competent in ways that most of us are not, and who has the ability to act, both physically and either legally or morally, and the motivation to effectively right the wrongs that come their way. I suspect most of us wish we could do that.
8.                  Do you have plans to write a third novel with Carina Quintana as the protagonist? Yes, in fact it’s almost finished. It’s called WHITE TIE & TALES (spell it out, vs. TAILS) and it’s a bit darker than the first two books. Let’s just say that Carina is up against someone a bit more vicious and perhaps more unpredictable than she ever has been.  It’s a bit ironic, what he puts her through, in that her life otherwise takes a turn for the better, relationship-wise, at least.
9.                  What can we expect from Carina Quintana in the future? She’ll keep going after the bad guys, although maybe not always as Miami Beach police chief, and she’ll keep struggling with her own demons, financial, religious and otherwise. But she’ll always get through it.

10.              Is there any tie-in with your background/life to the plot of this book? Some, I suppose, yes.. For example, Carina’s analytical side, as well as the State Attorney, Jared Marshall’s POV, pretty much comes courtesy of my law background. I grew up in NYC and have lived in Miami Beach since 1999, so there are tie-ins there, as well, from a locales/texture, etc. standpoint. I’ve always been a “car guy” and I like fast cars, so the reader gets things like Carina’s Camaro SS and her driving style. I’m a private pilot (though it’s been a few years since I’ve flown) so the reader gets a good deal of detail where planes/flying is concerned. When Carina lived in NY in the first book, LATE BOOMER, she lived in the apartment where my mom lived for a number of years; I have friends who live in the condo towers where Carina lives in Miami Beach.  And in ROOMER HAS IT, Coy Daniels lives on Palm Island, a place I know quite well. And while I’ve never roamed around his birthplace, I used to travel to Pittsburgh a good deal and regularly passed signs for the “Moon Run” exit on my  way in from the airport. Loved the name and did the research! I’ve also spent time in Scottsdale, AZ, where Daniels lives for a while. I lived for many years in the Wash, DC area but that has not found its way into my writing yet. I also lived for two years in Brussels, Belgium, and traveled a great deal to Paris, which is only a three-hour drive, and that makes its way into WHITE TIE & TALES.

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