Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Author Interview: Jean Erhardt

Jean Erhardt puts her experience as a private eye and her very funny sense of humor to good use in a new mystery series set in the Great Smokey Mountains area of Tennessee. The heroine is Kim Claypoole, a restaurateur and amateur sleuth.

Erhardt is getting ready to launch the second book of the series and is busy writing the third, but took time to answer questions about the first book and the series.

How did you come to write Small Town Trouble?

I have spent a lot of my lifetime in the Great Smoky Mountains and I knew that I wanted to set the series in and around Gatlinburg, Tennessee. As far as the inspiration for my protagonist, Kim Claypoole, I gave her some of my attributes. For example, we share a similar sense of humor and have a penchant for damsels in distress. For years, I worked as a private investigator and personal protection specialist aka bodyguard. On one memorable occasion, I was holed up for two weeks in a high-end, high security hotel situation with a loaded .38 and a female client from a country which started with I. She was in the process of divorcing her crazed, psychopathic husband who was richer than God. She chain smoked long, rainbow colored cigarettes, drank gallons of Persian tea and carried on lengthy boisterous phone conversations in Farsi at all hours of the day and night. By the end of the two weeks, I was almost hoping that her husband would show up and shoot me. But things turned out well for both of us. I got a big paycheck and she is now living happily ever after under an alias enjoying her multi-million dollar divorce settlement in an exotic, sunny locale.

Who are your three (or four or five) favorite authors?

I adore Kinky Friedman. He writes the funniest mysteries on the planet. I enjoy and greatly admire Robert B. Parker, Joy Williams, Hunter S. Thompson and Charles Portis. Of course, there are many more.

What are you reading now?

Right now, I am reading straight through the last two issues of Tin House which is arguably the best literary journal out there. On deck, I have 99 Stories of God by Joy Williams.

Do you have any events coming up to promote your book?

Thanks for asking. I’m excited to say that book two in the Kim Claypoole series, Deep Trouble, will be released in May 2014 in paperback and eBook. I will be participating in a virtual book tour and doing some local readings and signings.

What is the most valuable advice you’ve been given as an author?

Long ago, I was taught by Joyce Thompson (How to Greet Strangers: A Mystery) that one must learn to write without the muse. A real writer doesn’t wait for inspiration or the right mood to strike. Also, I had the great fortune to study with Joy Williams who taught me that if you have found “a trick” in your writing, you must lose it.

What’s next? Are you working on your next book?

I am currently at work on the next installment in the Kim Claypoole mystery series. I have also just begun to write a new mystery series featuring Portland PI, Haley Hammel. I will be drawing from my years of experience as a criminal defense investigator. The tone of this series will be far more serious than the Claypoole mysteries, although not without some levity.


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