I just loved Deborah Coonts' debut Lucky O'Toole mystery, Wanna Get Lucky? I introduced myself at the Poisoned Pen when Deb was on tour, and asked if I could do an interview. "Lucky" for us, she was willing to answer some questions when she finished her book tour. Thank you, Deb!
Deb combined my first two questions with her answer. Notice she's a little mysterious about her own life? Hmmmm.
Lesa - Deb, Wanna Get Lucky? is your first published book, but I know it's taken you a while to get to this point. Would you tell us about yourself? I loved Lucky O'Toole and Wanna Get Lucky?, but neither would exist without Las Vegas. Vegas is an important "character" in your book? What drew you to Las Vegas as the setting?
Deb - When my son was fifteen, I did what any well-adjusted, self-respecting parent would do--I let him choose where we were going to live. Until that point, I had never been to Vegas and really knew very little about the city. When I arrived, I fell in love with the energy, the excitement...the emphasis on entertainment. As a writer, entertainment is what I aspire to do. In addition, the whole world comes through Vegas. The city is a veritable melting pot of cultures, values, fantasies--incredible fodder for a novelist.
Lesa - Where did Lucky O'Toole herself come from?
Deb - After my aunt (who is four years my senior and more of a sister than an aunt) read the manuscript for WANNA GET LUCKY? she announced that Lucky is the woman I always wanted to be. In retrospect, there's probably more truth to that than I would care to admit. Certainly she has my sense of humor. But, she also is the perfect foil through which I can introduce readers to the magic of Vegas. Lucky is young enough to know better, but not old so old that she doesn't occasionally throw caution to the wind. She has a job where she can interact with all aspects of Vegas from the tourists who come looking for a bit of magic or mayhem to the residents who provide it.
Lesa - I kept a great deal back when I reviewed Wanna Get Lucky? I wanted readers to enjoy the surprises as much as I did. Can you tell us about the book, without spoiling it?
Deb - Probably not. I think you did a wonderful job of setting the stage. It's Vegas. It's sexy and romantic. It's fun. With a little murder and mayhem thrown in. A wry heroine of questionable parentage who can kick ass in her professional life, but whose personal life is a mess. A hero who wears dresses for a living, but longs to be a serious musician. A mysterious new man in Security. An old boyfriend. A four hundred pound Reverend who likes the swinging lifestyle. A young woman tossed from a tour helicopter into the middle of the 8:30 Pirate show in front of the Treasure Island Hotel. As for the surprises, well, that's why one should read the book.
Lesa - I love that description, Deb, since the book is driven by the characters, including the character of Vegas. Now, you've just finished an extensive book tour. What were the highlights? What surprised you about the tour?
Deb - All of the tour was amazing. As one author before me has said, "One fears being asked to go out on book tour. And one fears not being asked." So, it's an honor to get to do such a thing, and it certainly shows the enthusiasm of my publisher, which is very gratifying indeed. On the other hand, it can be grueling. This tour though, was great fun. The bookstores were so enthusiastic and supportive as were the readers who showed up. The highlights would have to be getting to meet folks who have read my story and like it! I'm still humbled and amazed. The enthusiasm and the kindness of everyone I met on tour was a wonderful surprise.
Lesa - What authors inspired you, and who do you read?
Deb - Every person who deigns to sit at a computer and attempts to create inspires me. Writing is darn hard. The journey to acquire good craft, to hone your storytelling skills, is a long, arduous one where your only reward my be the delight of a well-written passage, or the turn of a good phrase. So, those who take up the sword are inspiration indeed. As for who I read, I read a little bit of everything. I read for style and craft, but I mainly read for knowledge. A writer has to know a ton of stuff.
Also, I will have to say that I know what kinds of stories I am able to write, so I enjoy reading stories that I know I would never have the imagination or skill to tackle. My favorite recently has been The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield.
Lesa - I know you've already completed the next books in the series. What can you tell us about them?
Deb - Book Two is entitled, LUCKY STIFF, and it is currently scheduled for a February release. The story takes place over a big fight weekend in Vegas. Numbers Neidermeyer, a rather unsavory female oddsmaker ends up in pieces in the shark tank at Shark Reef at Mandalay Bay Resort. The Beautiful Jeremy Whitlock, Las Vegas' best PI and the younger live-in lover of Lucky's assistant, Miss P, is framed for the murder. Teddie is pursuing his dream of being a songwriter--much to Lucky's consternation. A delicious French chef is hired by the Big Boss ostensibly to open a high-end restaurant, but Lucky is sure he was hired to cause her grief..and to keep her perpetually off kilter. The District Attorney is caught in a three-some on the twelfth floor. Lucky's mother, Mona, decides to auction off a young woman's virginity from her bordello in Pahrump. And Lucky has to pull everyone from the fire... So, in short, more of the same.
Book Three is titled, SO DAMN LUCKY. Although it is written, I'll leave a bit of mystery as to it's story. However, suffice it to say, that it is my favorite in terms of the relationships and how they evolve. All the cast of characters returns and the zaniness begins when a magician actually disappears...
Lesa - Well, Lucky Stiff sounds just as much fun as Wanna Get Lucky? And, nothing like keeping us in suspense! Now, I imagine you've heard all of these questions before. What would you like us to know about you or your books that hasn't been asked?
Deb - Good Heavens! Tell my secrets? I don't think so. But, in the interest of fun and fair-play, I love horses, I can ride motorcycles, I don't have a dog but am dying for a Jack Russel terrier, I read romance novels, I am enthralled with Garth Brooks' music right now (ten years late getting to that table--par for the course with me) and I am fairly clueless about this thing called LOVE.
Lesa - My final question is one I always ask, Deb. I'm a public librarian. Do you have a story about libraries?
Deb - As a voracious reader from an early age who had a very limited allowance, the North Dallas Public Library was my saving grace. I think I read every book in there at least once. I can remember many a summer afternoon spent curled up in a beanbag chair in the corner, surrounded by conditioned air (very important in the muggy Dallas summers) and stacks of books of all kinds, but mainly commercial fiction. I was absolutely horrified that I was limited to six books to take home. My mother would often almost die of apoplexy while I carefully chose my six treasures. This is where I became the commercial fiction junkie who stands before you today. Every writer begins as a reader. And libraries create and feed readers from an early age. This writer applauds and thanks you!
And, I applaud and than you, Deb. I really appreciate the time you're taking to answer the questions.
If you'd like to know a little more, I reviewed Wanna Get Lucky? on May 17, and the recap of Deborah's appearance at the Poisoned Pen appears on the May 21 blog, Macmillan Night at the Poisoned Pen.
Deborah Coonts' website is www.deborahcoonts.com
Wanna Get Lucky? by Deborah Coonts. Tor/Forge. ©2010. ISBN 978-0765325433 (hardcover), 352p.