Thursday, February 09, 2012

Kate Carlisle, Guest Blogger

It's my pleasure to welcome Kate Carlisle as guest blogger today. Kate is the New York Times bestselling author of the Bibliophile Mystery series, which launched in 2009 with HOMICIDE IN HARDCOVER. The latest Bibliophile Mystery is ONE BOOK IN THE GRAVE (Bibliophile Mystery book 5). The Bibliophile Mystery series follows book restoration expert Brooklyn Wainwright as she attempts to restore classic texts to their former glory, and to solve the contemporary murders that are linked to each book.

Thank you, Kate!

Quirky Characters Welcome

Last week at the grocery store, a wizened woman on a bright red motorized scooter putt-putt-putted out of the liquor aisle. I stopped to let her pass. Her leg, in a cast, was propped up in front of her. She wore a hot pink track suit and a sunshine yellow hard hat. At her elbow sat a paper bag crumpled around an open bottle.

Her beatific smile was contagious, and I smiled, too, as she motored away, glad that the world is full of quirky people.
I witnessed a mere moment in that woman’s life, but she intrigued me. What was she smiling about? How did she break her leg? What was with the hard hat? What was in the bottle? I imagined she was a real firecracker as a young woman. All based on that one moment, that one smile.

Characters Welcome

The slogan of the USA Network is “Characters Welcome.” I love that. USA has a lot of my favorite mystery shows – Psych, Burn Notice, White Collar, Covert Affairs, Suits. What I like about these shows is the same thing I love about reading cozy mystery novels – the characters’ quirks are celebrated. Every person on the planet is quirky in her own special way. It’s what makes people so fascinating, and discovering characters’ quirks bit by bit is what makes reading – and writing – so much fun.
One for the Money
In mystery novels, quirky characters abound. Although most people seem to think bigger is better when it comes to home size, Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Milhone loves small spaces. The coziness of her tiny studio apartment feels like an embrace to her. Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series is a quirk-fest. Stephanie is a bounty hunter whose professional experience includes lingerie sales. Her partner Lulu’s past as a hooker is even more colorful. Grandma Mazur is a gun-toting octogenarian whose primary form of entertainment is attending funerals. (Can’t wait to see One for the Money, the movie!)

In my own mystery novels, the Bibliophile Mystery series, such as this month’s ONE BOOK IN THE GRAVE, I write quirky characters, too. Bookbinder Brooklyn Wainwright grew up in the commune where her parents still live. But the commune residents may not be what you expect – they’ve grown wealthy over the years, thanks to their vineyards and shared expertise. Brooklyn lives in San Francisco next door to a lesbian couple who are chainsaw artists.
I work hard to make sure that my characters don’t cross the line from “quirky” to “cartoonish.” In real life, there’s a reason behind every quirk, and if you dig deep enough, you can find it. (Even a bright yellow hard hat in the grocery store.)
Jigsaw Puzzle
Showing just one facet of a person – in fiction as in life – makes that person one-dimensional. Flat. I don’t want to write flat characters. I want to write fully realized people who leap off the page.
Tell me about some interesting characters in your own life. Do you have an uncle who refuses to step outside without his lucky walking stick? Does the man down the street chase cats out of his yard every morning? Have you read the Bibliophile Mystery books? If so, I’d be very interested to hear which quirky characters are your favorites!
By the way, I’m holding a contest right now on my website. Two lucky members of my mailing list will win this 513-piece jigsaw puzzle featuring the beautiful cover of ONE BOOK IN THE GRAVE! Visit and join the mailing list for your chance to win!

Thank you, Kate. And, I hope one my readers wins that puzzle!
Kate's website is
One Book in the Grave by Kate Carlisle. Penguin Group (USA), 2012. ISBN 9780451236128 (paperback), 304p.


Nancy said...

I would love to work that beautiful jigsaw puzzle. I haven't done one in years, but now I have a table where I could set one up and leave it until it's done.
I very much enjoy quirky characters in novels. For some reason the guru in the Bibliophile mysteries interests me.
In my life my friend who likes dogs more than people, she says, is a real character. Her two little dogs are her children, she volunteers at a no-kill dog shelter when she winters in Texas, watches the super bowl dog program instead of football and sends messages out on Facebook reminding people to also watch. Last year she heard of a neighbor who was giving up on a puppy and sending him to the pound, so she took the dog door-to-door asking neighbors if they would adopt him. (yes, we did) Picture her at 65 walking everywhere so fast that her legs look like pistons on a well-oiled machine, with snow white short hair and wearing jelly sandals, puffing on a nicotine substitute inhaler. There's no nicotine in it as she quit smoking years and years ago, but she can't get over her oral fixation. And she talks to herself. Constantly. She knows it. Doesn't care what anyone thinks about that.

Lesa said...

That was so great of you to adopt that puppy, Nancy! Your friend does sound like a wonderful character. I hope you went to Kate's website to join & take a chance on that puzzle.

Kate Carlisle said...


Thank you so much for hosting me here today! I always have a great time on your blog, so I'm looking forward to a fun day!

Nancy, your description of your friend is so wonderfully quirky!!! Love it! I think we might all have a lady in our neighborhood like that. I love that she has embraced her own eccentricities and is comfortable with them. We should all accept ourselves for who we are.

What a great story for how you got your dog! Bet you'll love your friend forever, just for bringing your dog to you. :)

Sue Farrell said...

I love all those shows on USA Network as well---I'd never connected it to my love of cozy mysteries, though.

Karen C said...

While I'm not sure I'd call my friends quirky, but they are different and each interesting in their own right.

I've been away from reading mysteries for a long time and just finding my way back, so I haven't read the Bibliophile Mystery series. Would like to rectify that soon.

Kate Carlisle said...

Really, Sue? That's so interesting! I've often thought about how both the shows and the books appeal to the same side of me. I do like more hard-core mysteries, too, but I have to be in the right mood. Cozy mysteries and lighthearted crime shows are good all the time, in my opinion.

Kate Carlisle said...

Thank you so much for commenting, Karen! I hope you will check out the Bibliophile Mystery series. You can read a free excerpt of each of my books on my website, That way, you can get a taste of my writing. I hope you'll love ONE BOOK IN THE GRAVE!

Lesa said...


Thanks so much for commenting today. Even though readers don't always write, I know they read the blog. And, I know they appreciate it when the author takes time to write. Thank you!

Kate Carlisle said...

Thank you, Lesa! I so appreciate your gracious hospitality. I've had a lovely time today!

Jane R said...

I just recently discovered the Bibliophile Mystery books and have really enjoyed the first two. It's a great series and I love this post. It made me start to think about some of the characters I live and work with. They certainly make life interesting!

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