The second author in my summer Q & A series is a truly amazing woman! If you haven't read her work before but you are familiar with James Lee Burke, then her name should still sound familiar to you. Of course I'm talking about Alafair Burke!
I shared with you how I discovered Michael Koryta's work, but my journey to Alafair was quite different. I get to take all the credit for this one! :) One day I was perusing the mystery aisle at the bookstore, and the name ALAFAIR BURKE screamed out at me from the spine of the book my eyes passed. I did a double take. Being a Dave Robicheaux fan, I thought "that is too big a coincidence!" So, I started checking out the book, and sure enough, I discovered she's the daughter of James Lee Burke. Maybe I'm a book snob, but that fact wasn't enough to persuade me to buy the book. So, I continued checking out the book, reading the summary and then plopping myself down on the floor in the aisle (come on; I know you've done the same thing) and started reading the first chapter. When I tore myself away, I grabbed the other two books on the shelf with her name and bought all three. I've been a devout fan ever since.
To date, Alafair has published four books with her fifth set to release on August 19th. The first three books: Judgment Calls, Missing Justice and Close Case center around Portland, Oregon Deputy District Attorney Samantha Kincaid. Her fourth novel, Dead Connection, gave birth to New York City police detective Ellie Hatcher. These two women are wonderfully rich, dynamic characters who are on my short list of favorites because of their realism.
Alafair herself is a former Deputy District Attorney from Portland. She now lives in New York, where she teaches law school at Hofstra University. I've had a few informal e-mail chats with Alafair to coordinate this Q & A, and I've discovered that she has many endearing qualities, but the one I admire the most can best be summed up from her MySpace description of what she does: "Author, law prof, caretaker to Duffer." Duffer is Alafair's French Bulldog, and I just had to get him included in this post! He's cute as a button!
When I sent out my requests for this summer Q & A series, Alafair was the first author to say, "sure!" I was so elated to get her responses, and I'm equally as excited to share them with you. So, here she is...Ms. Alafair Burke!
Q. What are you listening to these days on your CD player/stereo/i-Pod?
Alafair: I have a cardio playlist more than two hours long, which I have carefully crafted and perfected as the ultimate running workout. Some of the highlights: DJ Rob Bass's "It Takes Two," Cyndi Lauper's "I Drove All Night," and Alien Ant Farm's take on Michael Jackson's "Smooth Criminal." My cool down list has Andy Gibb's "Shadow Dancing" and Benny Mardones' "Into the Night." At home I listen to all of the same Euro-glamour pop I loved in
high school (can you say Haircut 100?). I am so not cool when it comes to music.
Q. What have you read in the last six months that you would recommend to people who enjoy YOUR work?
Alafair: I was late to discover Tami Hoag and Lisa Gardner, so I've been lucky to catch up with their backlists.
Q. What is the most memorable (or just A memorable) moment from your last book tour?
Alafair: Last year, I did a reading in Wichita, Kansas at Watermark Books, where I used to work wrapping presents during the Christmas season. My former boss introduced me, and a third of the audience were parents of my childhood friends, who took the opportunity to share "remember when..." stories. It felt like a Friar's Club roast.
Q. Are you interested in having any of your books turned into films? If you are, and you could have your dream cast, who would play Samantha and/or Ellie?
Alafair: Am I interested? Am I interested? Yes, yes yes!! Maggie Gyllenhaal would be a perfect Samantha. (Aside: I met her on the street in the village once and she told me she liked my dress, and I suppressed the urge to stalk her with copies of my novels in hand.) Also Lauren Graham. Kristen Bell or Drew Barrymore for Ellie Hatcher. And before anyone talks smack about Drew, yes, she could pull it off (and girlfriend has her own production company).
**Alafair, I have to offer another option for Ellie: Charlize Theron. Just a thought! :)
Q. Do you have more novels in the works after Angel's Tip?
Alafair: I'm working on a new Ellie Hatcher novel. Hopefully I'll be writing about both Ellie and Sam for a long time.
Q. I loved "Winning", your short story in The Blue Religion. Any chance any of those characters will carry over into a new book?
Alafair: I think Jenny withstood too much damage in that short story to make a leap to leading lady. Thank you, though, for reading the story. I'm really proud of it because it's so different than my novels. Montana? A woman who cooks dinner at home? Written by me? Really?
Q. O.k., last question. There is a book out called Not Quite What I Was Planning: Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous and Obscure. What would be YOUR six-work memoir?
Alafair: Loved, was loved. Appreciated both. (One word short!)
Thank you, Alafair, for taking the time to answer my questions! And I think I speak for more folks than myself when I say, "I, too, hope you are writing about Ellie and Sam for a very long time!" I'm so excited to have you be a part of my blog!
Alafair's new book is Angel's Tip, and already critics are saying, "Burke's brisk and ultimately suspenseful narrative offers wily and intricate plotting and sharply etched major and minor characters." Can't wait to see Ellie again!