Wednesday, April 27, 2011

A writer’s magical mystery journey

The old adage says to “write what you know” and that’s what I did.

Most mystery writers create a series based on their passion. What am I crazy about? The Beatles and The Monkees.

I’ve been a Beatles fan all my life. I grew up in the Midwest in the 1960s during the group’s heyday. My parents had one radio in the house, always set on the local queasy listening music station. When mom was out shopping, I’d change the dial to the rock and roll station to catch the hits. When her car pulled into the driveway, I’d switch back to the snooze station.

In college a friend gave me my first record, a Sgt. Pepper’s picture disk (the album cover photo is embedded into the vinyl). I figured since I had one Beatles album I may as well collect the whole set, which I did.

In the late 19902 the Fab Four took a back seat to the Prefab Four when VH-1 began running The Monkees TV show every weeknight. I’d watched the show as a kid but hadn’t seen it for decades. After viewing the show daily for several weeks, I was hooked. Full-blown Monkeemania! I was buying videos, records, memorabilia, subscriptions to fanzines, you name it.

At the time Micky, Davy and Peter were performing extensively and I was frequently off to concerts (as well as off my rocker). I had a blast and met many nice fans as well as one not-so-nice person, who became a character in my book.

During this period I went back to college for a theater degree,. In the playwrighting class I penned a short script about an obsessive fan sneaking into a hotel room to meet her fave rave, an aging, burned out teen idol. The play was selected for a college playwrighting competition and my script was read at the regional conference. Although I didn’t win, the adjudicators complimented the script and one said, “I can see a bigger story with these characters.”

After college I followed another old adage: Go west, young woman. I moved to Los Angeles to write, although I had no contacts, no job and no sense. After several near misses with writing projects that didn’t blossom, I returned to my teen idol character from the play. I knew I could write some kind of story about him—but what?

At my job with a community newspaper I came across a press release about a mystery writers panel discussion at the library, sponsored by Sisters in Crime. I thought, “I need to go to that.” At the event I met the authors, connected with my local SinC chapter and started writing. But what kind of mystery could involve a teen idol?

A few years prior I had attended a Beatles fan convention in Pasadena. Micky Dolenz of The Monkees was one of the guest speakers. During his talk I stood by the edge of the stage with the other fans and took photos. Why not place my fictitious teen idol at a make believe Beatles fan convention? And so my book was born.

The Baffled Beatlemaniac Caper, due out this fall, is the story of Sandy Fairfax, a middle-aged teen idol unwittingly drawn into a murder investigation at a Beatles fan convention when a member of the tribute band is shot.

Sally Carpenter

Moorpark, Calif.


Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

Sally, that sounds like a really fun book. Eager to read it. You're from my old stomping grounds. Lived in Oxnard for years. Visit Ventura County a lot, still have two adult daughters in the area.


Sally Carpenter said...

Hi Marilyn, I grew up in a little town north of Evansville, Ind., where my story is set. Far as I know, nobody's ever written a story in Evansville! (The play "From Daylight to Boonville" is set in Southern Ind.). I moved to LA area 11 years ago.

RaShelle said...

Hey, Sally. Your novel sounds like a lot of fun. Good luck with it. =D

Jean Henry Mead said...

I'm also a Beattles fan, Saly, and look forward to reading your book.

Sunny Frazier said...

I was excited when Sally's query appeared in my email. I'm a die-hard Beatles fan (my Beatle was George)and laughed all the way through the book. I believe this novel will hit home with both Baby Boomers who were the original fans and the latest generation discovering their magic.

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