Today we get to meet mystery author Rory Tate and learn about her writing – interests and published work.
Rory Tate is a penname for Lise McClendon, author of seven crime novels including the suspense stand-alone, Blackbird Fly. She began writing fiction twenty-five years ago and published her first mystery, The Bluejay Shaman, in 1994. She is active in Mystery Writers of America, the International Association of Crime Writers, and the Jackson Hole Writers Conference where she is on the faculty. She lives in Montana.
Hi Lise, welcome to Reviews and Interviews. Please tell us about your current release.
Jump Cut is a humorous modern thriller that takes the reader from the joys of Seattle single life to the backwoods of tiny Moldova. The main character, Mimi Raynard, is a television news reporter where she now must work for her ex-husband. Not a great situation. Then things get worse: Three prostitutes overdosed, a nasty intern, a narcotics detective framed for stealing drugs from evidence, and — wait! What’s her father doing working for Eastern Europe’s last communists?
Working together to save their reputations, the reporter and the cop look for the truth. They end up salvaging a lot more than their careers. In a wild race they save the soul of Seattle, and find themselves.
What inspired you to write this book?
I had an idea to get a reporter into trouble by faking a news source, in this case for a resume tape. Mimi is desperate for a new job and a friend convinces her to just try to tape an interview with herself dressed up as a Russian Mafia Madam, a fat, old, devious broad with a thick accent and thicker chins. Mimi doesn’t send the tape out, she decides she isn’t so desperate as that, but the tape gets her into trouble anyway. I like putting characters in dicey situations, having the bottom fall out on them, and make them crawl back to the top, tooth and nail. I do the same with the narcotics detective. Their career problems parallel each other in the book, and they have to help each other to help themselves. And, yes, there’s a little sexual tension along the way.
What exciting story are you working on next?
I’m working on another thriller, this one set in Montana. It also goes overseas for awhile, as a British Shakespeare professor dies in an explosion and no one can figure out his real identity. A rookie cop, just back from Iraq and suffering from PTSD, must unravel the secret of who he really is. It’s called PLAN X. I’m having a blast writing it.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I’ve always written, one way or another. I was a journalism major with a double major in sociology. I wrote public relations stuff, film reviews, articles, and the like before I took up fiction. Writing fiction changed my brain somehow, it gave me focus and sort of opened my eyes to the world. I guess that was when I first thought of myself as a writer. I remember that time so well. It was thrilling, like I finally found what I was meant to do. Writing is still a fantastic adventure for me, even if I’m not quite so giddy about these days!
Do you write full-time? If so, what’s your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
A couple years ago my fellow mystery writer and friend, Katy Munger, and I started a small press to bring our out-of-print titles back into print. It’s called Thalia Press. We published them in paperback and as e-books. It took us awhile to get everything going; some of the books are still only available as e-books. But it also positioned us for the independent publishing explosion that is going on right now.
We’ve published two original titles through the press–Jump Cut is the third. And this year we’ve expanded to help other traditionally published mystery authors brand and market themselves. We call this Thalia Press Authors Co-op and we have a blog we just got going. So I am wearing lots of hats these days: writer, first and foremost, publisher, blogger, marketer, formatter. It’s sometimes a struggle to organize all these hats but it’s a ton of fun.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
This is probably best answered by a reader, but if pressed I would say writing about the wilds of the Rockies is what draws people most. So many Americans even have never been to Wyoming or Montana, or if they have it was only to go to Yellowstone National Park. They have no idea what living here is really like. Some wonder how in hell I ended up here! But my love of this area is deep after 30 years. And I try to portray that feeling through novels that are set here, particularly my Alix Thorssen mysteries set in Jackson Hole.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be an actress with my entire being. I remember wishing on a star every night when I was about nine. I did some amateur theater as a teenager and that pretty much cured me of that desire. I was a shy child and I thought being an actress meant everyone would notice me. I still have a bit of show-off in me! At one crime convention I wrote and performed a tone poem about mystery novels called Rides a Black and White Horse. Thankfully the video has been lost.
Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Just to say “thank you” for being readers. And for doing what you can to keep the story alive in whatever form. Reading a novel is a deep, satisfying experience for me, and I’m sure for all you too. It helps me understand the world, far and near, and people. Understanding human nature is key to survival, don’t you think? And the best writers help you do just that.
Thanks for being here today Lise. It’s been nice to get to know a bit about you and your writing.