To mark the publication of Show Me the Deadly Deer, novelist/poet/memoirist Judy Hogan interviewed me for her blog, Postmenopausal Zest.
She asked such questions as when I started writing mysteries, why my series features a former spy going after murderers in rural Missouri, and how being a published mystery writer changed my work life.
Like many readers, Judy took special interest in the duality in my protagonist’s character.
Question 13: I’m interested in the psychic mixture in Phoenix Smith, your sleuth. At times she’s extremely tough to go with an image of a sharp shooter, which she is, but other times she’s so compassionate. It puzzles me, and I wonder how you think about it?
Phoenix struggles to balance the idealism of her childhood in a small town and the darkness of her adulthood in Cold War Vienna. She grew up with a loving family believing in service and hard work. Her drive, diligence, and intelligence led her to succeed in a harsh world, one in which she lived the double life of an economist dealing with money-obsessed entrepreneurs and bankers in her day job and traitors in her covert work for the CIA. When the cynical adult returns to her hometown, her love for and loyalty to her childhood friend conflict with her cynicism and distrust, and she finds evil as common in Laycock, Missouri, as she has in Eastern Europe. She also sees goodness and generosity of spirit, sometimes where she least expects to find it.
Her duality is a theme in the series. In Show Me the Murder, Phoenix must learn to trust in order to identify the killer. In Show Me the Deadly Deer, she initially regards the investigation as a game, a contest with the killer. (I’ve observed that some police officers work that way.) Then she meets suspects and witnesses affected by the death and becomes, in some instances, a protector. Which was part of her motivation in becoming a covert operative. In the third book, Connie, who isn’t Phoenix’s biggest fan, comments that she has a black walnut shell with a marshmallow interior. Phoenix certainly values justice more than the law.
To read the rest of the interview, go to http://postmenopausalzest.blogspot.com.