Tuesday, November 16, 2010
A Chat with Author Alice Zogg
Alice writes the R.A. Huber mysteries, and between the varied, interesting settings and the vivid personalities--including Huber's assistant Andi-- these books are must reads for anyone who likes traditional mysteries.
What led you from mystery fan to mystery author?
Eight years ago I went to the bookstore in search of new reading material. Having read all the mystery novels ever written by my favorite authors, I was planning to purchase works of more contemporary writers, but found nothing that appealed to me. I must have browsed the wrong shelves that day because I certainly have discovered many great books written by present day authors since then. When I returned from the store empty-handed hours later, my husband asked, “Where are the books you bought?” After I explained my dilemma, he teased, “Why don’t you write your own stories since you’re so picky?” I paid no attention to his remark at the time, but about a month later thought, well, why not? So I gave it a try and have not stopped writing since.
R.A. Huber is unusual in that she is an older lady with experience as opposed to a young ingenue fumbling around. Did you have this type of heroine in mind when you started the series?
When I created my protagonist, R. A. Huber, in the first book, I had no idea that she would become the heroine of a series. I became comfortable with her, so I kept her. Like me, R. A. Huber was born in Switzerland and came to the United States as a young woman, and then made her home here. Longing for excitement after she retires, Huber decides to start a second career and opens her own business as a private investigator. Soon the gutsy private eye’s cases take her on journeys from Pasadena to the Catalina Island, up to Lake Tahoe, the Central Mexico region, all the way to Davos, Switzerland, then back to the Big Bear Lake area, and to the balloon festival in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The lady certainly cannot complain of boredom any longer -- the thrill of the job, particularly when her own life is at risk, can be almost too much at times.
Some readers might be intimidated by a series with eight books, fearing they will have too much catching up to do. Will a reader have to begin at the start of your series to understand what is going on with the characters?
Although the R. A. Huber mysteries are considered a series with the same protagonist, each book can easily be read on its own. Setting my stories in different locations gives me a reason to travel to each spot for research purposes while at the same time enjoying a bit of vacationing there. Huber is also athletic, which gives me the opportunity to describe some of my favorite sports activities. In my last three mystery novels, I gave Huber a dynamic young assistant named Andi. I am having a lot of fun with this character. Andi is a redhead originally from New Orleans and rides a Harley-Davidson.
My latest yarn, Revamp Camp, featuring R. A. Huber and Andi, is set near the idyllic town of Solvang in Central California. After Mr. Hawk enrolls his daughter Emily at a rehab facility for juvenile delinquents, he is unable to get in touch with her, and his concern prompts him to hire R. A. Huber to investigate. Huber sends Andi to pose as a troubled youth in need of treatment. Before long, the young woman is thrown into an atmosphere of mayhem, eventually resulting in murder. When Huber fails to get news from Andi, she becomes alarmed and figures out a way to access the camp for herself. Together, the two uncover the deep-rooted secrets that lurk beneath the surface of Revamp Camp and entrap the killer, placing Andi’s life in danger.
You went the self publishing route, something more and more authors are doing now. Why?
While I was plotting my first book, I bought several how-to manuals on publishing the traditional way. The more I learned about what was involved, the more I felt that it was not worth the headache, and I decided to self-publish. At one point -- I believe it was when writing my third mystery -- an author I know got me all fired up about trying to get published in the traditional manner. Then I did some soul-searching and came to the conclusion that there was no reason why I should put myself under the stress this would involve. I found this creative outlet called writing late in life and it gives me joy and fulfillment, but I am a retired grandma and want to avoid that kind of pressure.
Thank you, Alice, and good luck with your new release!
You can visit Alice at her website, and don't forget to check out her books:
Reaching Checkmate 2003
Turn the Joker Around 2004
Tracking Backward 2005
The Lonesome Autocrat 2006
The Fall of Optimum House 2007
Final Stop Albuquerque 2009
And the latest,
Revamp Camp 2010