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Monday 5 June 2017

ℚ♫ Dream a Little Death: Dreama Black Mysteries [1] - Susan Kandel

Today we have the pleasure of meeting up with author to talk about Dream a Little Death (, Witness Impulse, 320 pages), a Mystery Thriller, book one of the Dreama Black Mysteries series.

"I loved Susan Kandel's previous mystery series and if anything this new one is even better! Dreama Black, third generation former rock groupie, is a clever, funny, charismatic amateur sleuth. She sets up themed tours to little known corners of LA, and this mystery covered film noir history--fantastic! Can't wait to see read the next Dreama mystery." ~ Woodside Reader, Amazon Verified Purchase

|| Synopsis || Teaser: KCR Preview || Author Q&A || About the Author || Giveaway & Tour Stops ||

A very warm welcome to Susan Kandel; thank you for joining us on BooksChatter and for sharing your music playlist for Dream a Little Death with us - enjoy!

What was the inspiration for Dream a Little Death?
"I suppose it would have to be Sharona Alperin, who was the real-life inspiration for The Knack’s hit song, “My Sharona.” I hadn’t much thought about the song since I was a kid until the day I chanced upon an open house in L.A. and after putting two and two together realized that the broker Sharona was the same Sharona from the annoyingly catching song. When I got home and clicked onto Sharona’s website and the song started playing, I became obsessed. I found myself wondering what it would be like to have been a muse to a rock star, and to be immediately and forevermore identified with a single song.

That, in a nutshell, is how I came up with my 28 year old protagonist Dreama Black, who is trying to find out who she is apart from the “almost famous” girl from the song, “Dreama, Little Dreama” -- especially once the musician who wrote the song publicly dumped her for (who else?) a Victoria’s Secret supermodel. "
How much of yourself is reflected in this book, and how?
"I can’t say I have as colorful a history as Dreama -- much less her ‘80s MTV video vixen mother, and her Stevie Nicks-esque grandmother -- but I would say that the L.A. setting and the emphasis on music -- both reflect longstanding passions of mine."
The first thing that draws me to a book is its cover. Can you tell us about your cover for Dream a Little Death - why you chose that concept and who the artist is.
"I am lucky enough to work with the team at Witness Impulse, who are absolutely great at designing covers that express the spirit of the book. The covers of my Cece Caruso series were all illustrations, and very feminine in flavor, as befit the chick-lit aspects of those books. My new series is still female-centric -- with three generations of women at its center -- but it will have photographic covers, which I always find more atmospheric. The cover of DREAM A LITTLE DEATH is a shot of an L.A. skyline at dusk, which rightly positions the city as a crucial part of the story I’m telling, while being ominous and alluding to the noir tradition, which is a crucial part of the story I’m telling."
Why should we read Dream a Little Death and what sets it apart from the rest? What makes your book unique?
"My protagonist, Dreama Black, organizes private, custom-designed tours of her hometown of Los Angeles, keyed to the client’s particular interests. In DREAM A LITTLE DEATH, for example, the tour centers on L.A.’s film noir history. In the next book, it will be L.A.’s spiritual/holistic tradition. What’s special is that each book will include the actual tour Dreama is working on, along with a map to 15-20 locations. The tour is heavily annotated, so there is something to learn about each of the locations, but the fun thing is readers who wind up visiting L.A. can actually spend 4-5 hours following in Dreama’s footsteps (except for the dead bodies part)."
Can you tell us something quirky about Dream a Little Death, its story and characters?
"I have a vision of Dreama Black as looking exactly like Jane Birkin, the 1960s actress, singer and model, and namesake for the iconic Hermes Birkin bag. Even though she’s British, Jane Birkin is known for her superlative French girl style, and I have always envied her perfect bangs."
Who would you recommend Dream a Little Death to and what should readers be aware of (any warnings or disclaimers)?
"I think anyone who is interested in a fun read that is also intelligent and full of fascinating information about L.A., movies, music, and fashion will enjoy my books. I do have a couple of characters who use salty language, but otherwise, these books are suitable for teenagers, young adults, and old (but young at heart) adults like me!"
If you could / wished to turn Dream a Little Death and the Dreama Black Mysteries series into a movie, who would be your dream team?
"I have thought about this a lot, so I have a ready answer: my dream team would be Tippi Hedren as Dorie Black (Gram), Melanie Griffith as Desiree Black, and Dakota Johnson as Dreama Black. An alternate cast would be Susan Sarandon as Gram, Brooke Shields as Mom, and Eva Amurri as Dreama. And, if it’s a TV show, I’d love Darren Star to be involved."
What do you like to write and read about? Do you stick to a particular genre or do you like to explore different ones?
"I write mysteries, and I’m quite happy in that space. I also write a particular kind of mystery: fast-paced, a little screwball, kind of girly, not too much blood and guts. I also try to offer readers something of substance.
For instance, in the Cece Caruso mysteries, the character is a biographer of dead mystery authors so in each book in the series there is a great deal of information about those particular authors (Hammett, Christie, Gardner, etc.) In DREAM A LITTLE DEATH, my L.A. tour guide protagonist is organizing a film noir tour for a rap producer as a wedding gift to his fiancée, and consequently, I have filled the book with all sorts of tasty tidbits about the history of film noir.
As far as my own reading choices, I love mysteries, of course, but I am not limited to a particular type of mystery: I love M.C. Beaton as much as I love James Ellroy! But my absolute favorite mystery authors are Ruth Rendell, Patricia Highsmith, Lawrence Block and Thomas Perry."
What is your writing process?
"I start off with a vague idea of what I want to write about, and then I start doing research. Research is everything to me -- it’s how I clarify my ideas, flesh them out, and give them life. Once that phase is finished, I sit down and map out an opening scene and a closing scene. When I have those in mind, I’m ready to start writing. I do not fully outline what comes in the middle because past experience has taught me that over-planning is not only the death of spontaneity, it is the death of logic. That is to say if I overplan what is going to happen, I tend to be forced into scenes and encounters that don’t necessarily follow logically. I find it’s better to be a bit more organic, and see where events take the characters -- but always keeping that endpoint in mind. That being said, I did none of this in conceptualizing DREAM A LITTLE DEATH, which started with a single scene -- a burlesque performance that ends in a (maybe) suicide -- around which I constructed the entire mystery. As for the writing day, it starts after breakfast, ends before dinner, and involves pain and torment. The saving grace is my books always make me laugh in-between the tears!"
What is in store next?
"In the next Dreama Black mystery, Dreama is organizing a tour of spiritual/holistic L.A. for a group of sexy yoga mommies, and gets into hot (alkalinized) water when someone takes a whack at a former teen star turned New Age guru. Dreama has to channel her kundalini energy to figure out who it is, and also, to salvage a relationship (and a love interest) she’s inadvertently put in jeopardy…"
And as a final quirky thing, to get to know you a little bit better... do you have a pet or something that is special to you that you could share with us?
"My dog, Cooper! He is a five year old Labrador retriever, and the sweetest, laziest, most beautiful creature on earth."

Hello Cooper! You are indeed gorgeous! Lots of head scratches and belly rubs to you :-)
Susan, thank you for sharing Cooper with us!

Dream a Little Death
Available NOW!

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1 comment:

CMash said...

Fantastic interview!! So interesting especially as to where the concept for this book came from. Really enjoyed this post!