Behind the story of Fishing for Trouble by Elizabeth Logan Elizabeth Logan is the (current) pen name for Camille Minichino, who is determined to turn every aspect of her life into a mystery series. A retired physicist, she’s the author of 28 mystery novels in 5 series, all with different pen names. Fishing for Trouble is the second book in the Alaskan Diner series.
Under contract, but following her instincts
Camille said she decided to write this series and Fishing for Trouble when she was offered a work-for-hire contract from the publisher that.came with “a bible.” What this means is the publisher determined the major details, i.e., the protagonist is the owner of a diner in Alaska; her name is Charlotte ‘Charlie’ Cooke; her BFF owns an inn down the road; she works with Alaska State Trooper Cody Graham; her chief cook (also the victim in the first book) is Oliver; and more!
This was Camille’s first work-for-hire contract. She said, “The bible specifies so many details that writing it turned out to be not too different from a board game, working around the ‘givens’ to construct a story. I did get to choose her hair color. But not her pet, an orange tabby named Benny, short for Eggs Benedict.”
Camille said the one issue that runs through all her books is feminism. “Not necessarily the banner-carrying kind, though I’ve done my share of that, but the subtle kind that makes sure the protagonist (they’re all female) is strong enough to be self-supporting, both financially and emotionally, that she is as smart as any male counterpart. In earlier books, my agenda was to show women as scientists or mathematicians, a STEM agenda in itself. In my current book, the second in the Alaskan Diner series, she’s a business owner and, of course, a master sleuth!”
Up close and personal
“You need to know these idiosyncrasies only if you plan to spend a week or so with me. I’m not sure it will affect how you approach my books. First, I don’t like maintenance of any kind. This applies to grooming (no makeup or extraneous cosmetics), housework, office work like scheduling and filing, or follow-up chores.
“Second, I’m not much of finisher, which I view as maintenance. The fact that I’ve finished 28 novels and a host of short stories and articles is due entirely to deadlines for my day job and publishers. Otherwise, I’d have to return payroll checks, advances, and royalties.
“Lastly, I want to create and run. If you need highly polished floors, you’re on your own.”
Not a finisher, but up to a challenge
“My biggest challenge with this series was Benny, the cat. Definitely Benny, the cat. Those who know me know I have never nor will I ever have a pet. No dogs, cats, parrots, fish. None. I don’t hate them; I just don’t want to be bothered maintaining a creature that is not human, that is, will never grow up and move out, get a job, and be on his or her own. (See #3, regarding maintenance.)
“Nevertheless, I accepted Benny (again, see #3, this time with respect to advances and royalties) and appealed to my cat-loving friends, whose name, it turns out, is legion. They only too happily showered me with cat stories and photos of cats in different positions, so to speak. I have a binder full of What cats eat or don’t eat, What they sound like, How their tail communicates. One of the cat people even constructed a Pinterest page for Benny.
“What could have been very challenging turned into a great new way to relate to my friends and critique partners.”
“I have a cousin-once-removed who is married to a freelance embalmer. I know, that’s already funny, but Bobby is also a funny guy. When I was writing the Periodic Table Mysteries, my first series, I wanted to give my retired-physicist protagonist (i.e., me) something to make her likeable. Fun to have lunch with. Give physicists a good name. So, I gave her a pair of best friends who run a mortuary and offer her the apartment above the parlor, two levels above the embalming room.
“Well, you can see where this is going. Bobby became my expert witness as the series went on (The Hydrogen Murder, The Helium Murder, and so on) as he shared his funniest true stories and I turned them into my fiction, changing names to protect the innocent.
“It seems that when a dearly departed is laid out for viewing in a casket, the clothes are cut up in such a way as to make the prep easy. For example, a dress or jacket will be sliced up the back and tucked in the sides of the casket, which is more convenient than trying to ‘dress’ the person.
“One day, one of Bobby’s friends came to visit in the prep room. The guy took off his jacket and hung it on the back of a chair. I’ll leave you to figure out the punch line!”
Dying to learn more about Camille Minichino or Fishing for Trouble? Check out her website at minichino.com. And, if you’d like to see more of my Behind the Story interviews, you can pick and choose here.a Rafflecopter giveaway