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Friday 21 May 2021

ℚ Beyond the Headlines: Clare Carlson Mysteries [4] - R. G. Belsky

Today we have the pleasure of meeting up with returning author to talk about Beyond the Headlines (, Oceanview Publishing, 287 pages), a Mystery, book four in the Clare Carlson Mysteries series.

"[Beyond the Headlines] has an excellent plot featuring fantastic characters that will hold your attention all the way through." --Manhattan Book Review

The author’s knowledge of the news industry and blending of popular culture, current events, and folks known because of their celebrity and/or notoriety, masterfully blurs the line between fiction and reality, and contributes to this suspense thriller being a one-sitting read. [...] Beyond the Headlines is another winner in the Clare Carlson mystery series." - Felicia Denise, Amazon reviewer and blogger

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

A very warm welcome back to Dick Belsky; thank you for joining us again on BooksChatter!!

Last year you told us about “Using a Real-life Crime for Mystery Fiction”.  Today you are back with the fourth book in the Clare Carlson series with Beyond the Headlines.

Can you introduce us to Clare Carlson and tell us how she has been developing since the beginning of the series?

"Clare Carlson is a woman TV journalist in New York City, and she’s inspired by many of the wonderful journalists – men and women – I worked with myself during my career in the media.

Professionally, she’s smart, honest, talented and terrific at her job of breaking big news stories.  Personally though, her life is a train wreck.  She’s been married and divorced three times, plus made a lot of other bad decisions with men along the way.

In terms of her developing since the beginning of the series, I’ve always kind of followed the Larry David/Seinfeld TV approach of “no hugging and no learning…nobody grows, nothing changes and, by the next episode, we’ve moved on.”  Having said that, I have been pleasantly surprised to see the Clare character changing a bit over the four books, most notably in her role as a mother for the daughter she recently reunited with."

What was the spark for this latest plot that features a suspected spousal murder, and intrigue?

"It’s actually a celebrity spousal murder – a famous actress is charged with the murder of her billionaire husband.  I was inspired to do this mostly by my time covering the O.J. Simpson case back in the 90s.  I was fascinated by the way media covered a huge celebrity crime like that and decided to do a fictional version.

This plot was also sparked in part by my long ago service in Vietnam.  I always wanted to write about that, so I included Vietnam – along with some deep, dark secrets there that may have led to the murder – in the background of the superrich husband murder victim."
Clare is an investigative journalist at heart, however some may find her methods questionable. How far can a journalist push the envelope, and how close can they get to the case, whilst retaining their objectivity and ethics?
"Well, it is fiction.  Real journalists don’t do a lot of the things Clare Carlson does.  Hey, real journalists hardly ever solve murders on their own, but Clare does in every book.  If I tried to portray Clare as a real-life journalist, everyone would be bored with her.  The day to day life of an actual journalist isn’t that interesting.  So in a lot of ways – including her investigative reporting techniques – I push the envelope in writing about my fictional journalist Clare Carlson."
What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating this Beyond the Headlines?
"I needed to do some research about what was life like for young Vietnamese men during the war years living in a place like Saigon. (you’ll understand why when you read the book). 

It was difficult to do, there hasn’t been much written on the subject.  But I finally talked to some Vietnamese experts, including one who grew up there back then, who talked about how young Vietnamese men still went to college and figured out ways to avoid the draft like their U.S. counterparts.  Who knew?  Fascinating stuff, and I was able to include a bit of it in BEYOND THE HEADLINES."
Can you share with us a favourite scene from Beyond the Headlines?
"Well, this is the opening page so let’s start there. Clare is talking to the reader:"
Death is a funny business sometimes.
      Especially in big city newsrooms where I’ve worked for most of my life. 
      I remember one of them where we all loved to play a game called Somebody Famous Died. The idea was to fantasize about celebrities dying and try to come up with the ones that would be the biggest stories to put on the air or on the front page.
      Like say Kim Kardashian. In bed. While making a sex tape. With a man who was not Kanye West.
      Or Justin Bieber – who had sixty-four tattoos at last count – dying from an infected needle while getting a tattoo of Selena Gomez removed for a new one of Hailey Baldwin.
      Or Oprah Winfrey – this was back when she was the biggest thing on TV, both figuratively and literally – choking to death on a ham sandwich. “Just like Mama Cass!” said the guy who came up with that one. I think he won the game in our newsroom that day…
      Death remains the biggest mystery for all of us – no one really understands it.
      And so we do our best to avoid taking it seriously for much of our lives until one day it comes knocking at our own door.
      And then it’s no laughing matter...
You have now published 17 mystery novels, including three series (Gil Malloy, Clare Carlson, and your latest, writing as Dana Perry, Jessie Tucker).  Which one is the closest to your heart, and why?
"In other words, which of my children do I love the best?  Impossible question to answer!  But, if I have to, I’ll go with BEYOND THE HEADLINES because it’s the one I’m the closest to right now."
What has been your greatest challenge as a writer?
"Getting readers.  It’s a tough marketplace with a lot of competition out there in the mystery/suspense field.  I like to think that people who do read my stuff will enjoy it and come back for more.  But it’s a big challenge getting my name (and books) noticed by mystery readers.  Which is why sites like this one are a big help!"
What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author?   What has been the best compliment?
"The best compliment is when people say to me: “I love Clare (or one of my other characters) and I love spending time with her in your books.”  That to me is the greatest compliment an author can receive.  I never get tired of hearing that kind of praise from my readers.  Oh, and I just ignore the criticism."
Which do you think you have the most of: talent, intelligence, education, or persistence? How has it helped you in your life?
"Persistence.  Honestly, there are writers who have more talent, intelligence and education then me.  But I think I measure up when it comes to persistence.  And, unless you are extraordinarily lucky, you need persistence to make it as a mystery novelist no matter how talented, intelligent and educated you are."
Do you feel differently about yourself now from how you felt when younger?
"Like a lot of people who are not young anymore, I still think of myself as a young person.  And I try to live my life like that.  Yes, I’ve learned a lot over the years about both writing and journalism.  But I still think I’m basically the same person I was back when I started."
What is in store next?
"This is the fourth book in the Clare Carlson series.  The fifth, titled “It’s News To Me” will be out in 2022.

I also have two more Dana Perry books coming out this year.  The first one in June is called “Her Ocean Grave.”"
And as a final quirky thing, to get to know you a little bit better... Can you tell us about your hero or main influence?
That would have to be Raymond Chandler.  Big surprise for a mystery author, huh?  He inspired so many people to start writing with his Philip Marlowe novels of the ‘40s and ‘50s.   I picked up “The Big Sleep” by chance one time many years ago, and decided right then that I wanted to try write detective stories like that. 

I’ve read everything he’s ever written (most of them numerous times) since then.  And a few years ago, when I was in La Jolla, California, I was able to visit the house Chandler lived in there (at least from the outside) when he wrote “The Long Goodbye” and some of his later stuff.  It was a special moment. 
Raymond Chandler with his cat Tiki Chandler's house, 6005 Camino de la Costa, La Jolla in 1978
There have been many great mystery authors over the years and there are a lot of great ones around today.  But no one – in my view – can ever compare to Raymond Chandler.
Thank you for sharing! 
We hope you are having a great tour and I cannot wait to read Beyond the Headlines.

She was a mega-celebrity—he was a billionaire businessman—now he’s dead—she’s in jail

Beyond the Headlines
Available NOW!

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CMash said...

I am so addicted to this series. It's phenomenal!

R.G. Belsky said...

Thanks for talking with me again - and spreading the word about Clare Carlson in BEYOND THE HEADLINES! - R.G. Belsky