It was so great to see Louise Ure back at the Poisoned Pen Bookstore in Scottsdale today. I first met Louise at the Poisoned Pen three years ago after Forcing Amaryllis, her Shamus award-winning mystery, was published. I went to see her because I had read the book, and loved it. Since then, I had lunch with her during Thrillerfest, and we've been corresponding occasionally. She'll be back in Arizona in May to speak to librarians, and we might just be able to book her for the Velma Teague Library as well.
It was a very informal conversation at the bookstore. Louise is relaxed in speaking with the group. She introduced herself, and then talked, while fielding questions. One man there today went to her high school. She said she went to the University of Arizona, and has one of her Master's degrees from Thunderbird.
Louise said so far she has only written standalone mysteries. The one thing that is consistent in the books is their Arizona setting. She said she is better at writing about Arizona since she moved away. She does go back to Tucson to visit, and, if she needs additional information, she can call up one of her contacts in her family that is 400 strong for background or help.
In responding to a question about how she started writing, she said she was always a voracious reader. She said one of the rooms in her home has bookshelves on all four walls. The mysteries there are categorized by geography. Lee Child and Martin Cruz Smith kill her arrangements because their books are all over the room.
Louise said after 9/11, a friend asked her what she always wanted to do, and she said write a book. Forcing Amaryllis was the result. She told the story about calling her mother, and saying, "Mom, I won the Shamus." Her mother's response? "You won a shameless award, and you're proud of it?"
In talking about Arizona, Louise said, "The Urgency of Shadows." When Ken Bruen heard that, he said that should be the title of her next book. She said at the moment, her working title for that one is Liars Anonymous.
The Fault Tree is the book that was just released. It's also set in Tucson. Cadence
Moran is a blind auto mechanic. In order to create Cadence, Louise met a blind auto mechanic and watched him work. Then she did the same things, blindfolded, to make sure it would work. She challenged herself by describing Arizona through the eyes of a blind woman, who "witnessed" a murder. Much of Cadence's experiences came from a blind friend. Louise said she would not want to write another book from the point of view of a blind person.
Her next book features an On-star operator, who responds to an accident by saying to a customer, you had an accident. Do you need help? He responds no, gets out of the car, and she hears him get murdered. All she has to go by is what she heard.
She was asked about her work day, and she said she sits down in the morning, but she gets seduced by blogs and emails. The internet is a time waster.
She said she doesn't outline. Ridley Pearson doesn't start work until he has his entire book laid out on sticky notes, with plot, characters, etc. Louise said she'd know how the book came out, and she'd be bored.
When asked about mystery series, Louise said publishers and readers like series. They know the characters, and there's a comfort there. She said some day she'd love to know write a series, know her characters and their backstory.
She said she refers to these three books as her Arizona trilogy. She doesn't know what she'll do next. Maybe cities that begin with S.
Louise's phrasing in her books is wonderful. She even uses words beautifully while she speaks. She said in the past when she received a bad review, she broke like a potato chip. The Fault Tree has done really good with reviews.
When asked what she liked to read, she said The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver is probably her favorite book of all times. She's reading one she recommends, Pyres by Derek Nikitas, that was nominated for an Edgar for Best First Mystery. With author Rhys Bowen in the room, she said she also likes Rhys Bowen's books, particularly the Molly ones. Lately she's been reading books set in the U.K. and Britain.
If you haven't read Louise Ure's books, you're missing some special mysteries. To give you that chance, watch for next week's contest.
Louise Ure's website is www.louiseure.com
The Fault Tree by Louise Ure. St. Martin's Press, ©2008. ISBN 9780312375850 (hardcover), 352p.