by Diana Hockley
Visalia, California born mystery author R.P., or Rebecca, Dahlke joins KRL again today for an interview, and a review of her latest mystery novel, A Dead Red Oleander, set in the Central Valley featuring a female crop duster. At the end of the interview are details on how to enter to win a copy of Dead Red Oleander.
A Dead Red Oleander
Lalla Bain didn’t realize when she hired a crop-dusting pilot by the sweet-sounding name of Dewey Treat to fill an emergency job, that she was buying trouble with a capital T. When the Bain relatives gather for a party to celebrate Lalla’s impending wedding to fiancé Caleb Stone, things go downhill. Dewey is murdered at the barbecue and his widow is accused. However, secrets abound and it is discovered that Dewey is not the person everyone thought he was. Lalla, of course, doesn’t believe Mrs Treat is guilty and sets out to prove it, much to Caleb’s displeasure.
The ensuing mayhem and interference by relatives, Feds and local cops–including Bruce, her father’s pet goat–very nearly gets Lalla into more trouble than even she can cope with!
This novel is an absolute laugh a minute. Well-written, fast-paced and great fun, the plot swept me along, gasping with admiration at Rebecca Dahlke’s skill in weaving, twisting and turning her characters on a spit until they are roasted enough to serve up a satisfying ending. I sincerely hope that Ms Dahlke is right now penning the next novel in the series where we will be able to attend Lalla and Caleb’s wedding.
Highly recommended as a terrific read!
Interview of Rebecca Dahlke
Diana: Did you start writing from a young age and are you a dedicated reader?
Rebecca: I’ve always been a reader, from the moment I could see above the desk of the librarian to hand her my library card.
Diana: What or where did you find your inspiration for the plot?
Rebecca: I find inspiration for my books in the news, both on TV and in the papers. Not all of it is pathos, some of it is actually fodder for my humorous mysteries. I’m always researching when I’m writing; police procedure comes from a couple of experts, and God Bless ’em the experts and writers on a couple of internet groups. And, even though I’m a sailor, I still check with my sailing friends on nautical words or usage, and I certainly checked with my son when I wrote about flying crop dusters.
Diana: Do you have a schedule for writing?
Rebecca: I’m also daily writing notes for story ideas and characters for the next book. As for my schedule, I start writing after I’ve done my social media and exercise class (Zumba kicks my butt!) and try for three to four hours every day, seven days a week. If I don’t get all the social stuff done before I start writing, I use it as a 10-15 minute break. No more, or I know I’ll forget what I was doing. I also try to write 2,000-5,000 words per day as a quota. Sometimes more, sometimes less, but then at the end of the week, I look at the average, and either pat myself on the back, or I get a scolding. I sometimes think my first drafts end up looking like drivel and dreck ran up a big booze bill at my expense, but there are usually kernels in amongst the mess that I’m able to keep.
Diana: How do you cope with writer’s block?
Rebecca: The secret to writer’s block is that most writers expect too much. Remember, there’s all that drivel and dreck waiting, and one can always hit the delete key later, or use the keyboard to beat one over the head with. Besides, there’s something to be said for putting fingertips on the keys and just doing it. It doesn’t have to be the next word, the next sentence, it can be a character that needs developing, so I give them background, family life, job, love interest. I may use some of it, or none of it, but that act of writing it, sticks in the back of my brain for when that character comes up again. Then too, who says you have to write at a keyboard? Take a walk or a drive. Take your recorder with you. Talk to yourself. Make things up. Laugh. Then go back and write it, or some of it.
Diana: Do you have a mentor?
Rebecca: I have a wonderful small group of writers that are in various stages of their writing careers. Some are miles ahead of me in terms of producing books, some are working on their first. But all of them have the following in common: they work at their craft, they share what they can with others, and they pat each other on the back when needed.
Diana: Do you have someone read your work as you go along?
Rebecca: I no longer have anyone else read my work until a first draft is completed. That’s because I prefer to work out the plot kinks on my own. Then, I ask writing friends to take a look and let me know if I’m on the right track. There’s plotting, pacing and character development to consider, and I think it’s best to read a draft from beginning to end before taking it apart. Besides, I’ve met writers who’ve never been able to get past their first three chapters because they’re always going back and rewriting it.
Diana: How do you keep track of the characters and plot?
Rebecca: I like to think that keeping track of characters in a book is like juggling a lot of balls. They’re the main characters and the secondary characters, and they all have a job, and that job is to move the main plot as well as add interest with any sub-plots.
Diana: Book signings?
Rebecca: Since 99% of my books are sold on Amazon, I do very few book signings anymore, but I do enjoy hearing from readers. I have one reader whose eight-year old daughter is now a fan, though her mom makes her skip some of the chapters. The eight-year-old and I are now pals on e-mail and she tells me about her day, and I tell her about mine. Too fun!
Diana: What are the titles of your other books?
Rebecca: Besides A Dead Red Oleander, there are two others in this series: A Dead Red Cadillac and A Dead Red Heart. This series will see some more books, I’m sure. I also have a romantic sailing mystery, A Dangerous Harbor and the sequel to it, Hurricane Hole will come up on Amazon later this year.
Diana: Advice to new writers?
Rebecca: My advice to new writers is to find the most interesting, unusual, thing you can think of to write about, then write it and then rewrite it, then have someone besides your relatives read it. There’s nothing better for a writer than getting chewed up and spit out by your contemporaries. That’s because if they care, they’re not going to waste their precious time telling what’s good about your book, they’re going to show you what’s wrong with it.
And, last but not least, I’d advise anyone to self-publish on Amazon/Kindle, but since nothing stays the same, maybe I’ll just say that as of 2012, there’s nothing better an author can do for him/herself than to be an Indie author on Kindle.
Thanks for allowing me to be here. I love to hear from readers. Contact me at my website.
Check out reviews of Rebecca’s other books in this series here in KRL.
To enter to win a copy of A Dead Red Oleander, simply email KRL at life@kingsriverlife[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “Oleander”, or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen August 18, 2012. U.S. residents only.