Monday, February 27, 2006

Pro-File : Carole Nelson Douglas

Pro-File: Carole Nelson Douglas


Carole Nelson Douglas
"Her fine Sherlockian novels and her Midnight Louie books have made her a genuine mystery star. Pick one up and see why." --Ed Gorman, Mystery Scene

The author of 37 novels--mainstream, mystery, fantasy, science fiction and romance/women's fiction, Carole Nelson Douglas was an award-winning journalist for the St. Paul Pioneer Press until moving to Texas in 1984 to write fiction full time. In fact, she "found" Midnight Louie in the classified ads in 1973 and wrote a feature article on the real-life alley cat long before she began writing novels or Louie returned as a feline supersleuth with his own newsletter, Midnight Louie's Scratching Post-Intelligencer.

Carole the child loved the Sherlock Holmes stories, but the adult found something missing: strong women. That literary lack drives her multi-genre odyssey: "I began Amberleigh, my first published novel, in college because I was fed up with the wimpy heroines of then-popular Gothics," she says. "Since then, I've merrily reformed the fiction genres, reinventing women as realistic protagonists. Of course, creating true women means creating true men as partners and co-protagonists. I like writing popular and genre fiction because it's so influential; it forms attitudes that shape society." Many Douglas novels have received awards and appeared on various bestseller lists; her mystery short fiction appears in numerous anthologies, including The Year's 25 Best Crime and Mystery Stories, '93, '94, '95, '96 and '98.

Carole and her husband Sam Douglas reside in Texas with seven felines: two senior alley boys, Panache and Longfellow; four Persians, two adopted as adults--Summer and Smoke, Victoria (Summer and Victoria are shaded silvers like Louie's fictional ladylove, the Divine Yvette)and Victoria's shaded-golden daughter, Secret. The latest additions number two. Their first all-black cat, Midnight Louie, Jr., was acquired by virtue of a squeaky meow from an animal shelter concrete floor during Carole's first Midnight Louie Adopt-a-Cat tour of Texas. Carole found Xanadu, a species-confused chow-mix dog, dumped as a four-month-old puppy at a four-way stop sign near an elementary school. Carole picked her up because she was afraid the dog would be run over. Months later Sam saw Xandau's "twin" dead by the curb across from the school, so if you think a stray is in danger, you're probably right.

1. Tell us about your current novel.
Coming out June 27, priced at $19.95, is the Midnight Louie mystery hardcover, Cat in a Quicksilver Caper. Since the series is written like a
three-year ensemble television series and has alphabetical titles, Cat in a Quicksilver Caper is the 18th in the series, an exercise in literal and emotional and criminal "suspense," and the series' second "season" ender. All four human characters--two pro and two amateur crime solvers who are also two men and two women--find their careers and lives and futures up for grabs, even as a priceless Russian scepter is heisted and members of an aerial magic show above the art exhibition fall to their deaths at a big Las Vegas hotel-casino. Elements of international terrorism season the murder/theft plotline.

I'm about to start the 19th Midnight Louie mystery and "third season"
opener. Cat in a Red-Hot Rage will find the main characters trying to
to wrench some order out of their personal and professional chaos, and is
set at a gathering of "seasoned" (aka middle-aged before Gail Sheehy came along) women who wear purple with red hats and have fun . . . until murder
hits them hard.

Of course, Runyonesque black alley cat PI Midnight Louie is always at work behind the scenes, saving lives and putting the puzzle pieces together for his unsuspecting human acquaintances.

> 2. Can you give a sense of what you're working on now?
I'm finishing a novel that returns to my roots in publishing: fantasy and
science fiction. This is a female-first-person dark fantasy where crime and paranormal elements reach a lethal and sometimes sexy boil. Paranormal Noir. While the Midnight Louie series satirizes Las Vegas and contemporary society, this novel reveals a hellish Las Vegas of a slightly future "now." The protagonists are an orphaned Midwestern TV investigative reporter who was named after the street she was found on, Delilah Street (yes, shades of Della), who is developing bizarre psychic powers, and a Latino ex-FBI guy who is supernaturally good at finding dead bodies. The novel has celebrity zombies and werewolf mob bosses, and takes an extreme, scary, and sassy look at what greed and modern media hath wrought.
> 3. What is the greatest pleasure of a writing career?
Making things up, then discovering the meaning your subconscious put into what you've made up. I named a minor character in my mainstream SF thriller-love story, Counterprobe, "Turner." Bland last name, I admonished myself as I wrote it. I'll put in a name with more flavor when the book is done. When the book was done, Turner was no longer such a minor character; in fact, he and his actions were what the climax "turned" upon, the literal Turning point. Also a great pleasure is hearing from satisfied, insightful readers.

> 4. What is the greatest DISpleasure?
Having your work and career totally dependent on the kindness (and integrity) of others. With the readers, that's a plus, with a giant corporate entertainment mills, that's suicide.

> 5. If you have one piece of advice for the publishing world, what is
> it?
Forget selling to the middlemen; they're busy becoming you. It's a producer- to-consumer world. You sat along the dance hall wall too long while the new kids in town--internet startups and superstores--turned all the genteel "rules" of old-school publishing upside down. They waltzed away with the initiative and the momentum. Also, forget the acid-free paper; make books that disintegrate after two or three readings. The nouveau chic of buying used books is going to eat all of our breakfasts, lunches, and dinners.

> 6. Are there two or three forgotten mystery writers you'd like to see
> in print again?
My favorite is Josephine Tey and I have an essay on her Miss Pym Disposes in Jim Huang's Mystery Muses, coming out from his Plum Creek Press very shortly. I have absolutely no interest in Wall Street, but "Emma Lathen's" John Putnam Thatcher financial world mysteries were always engaging years ago before I began writing novels. Mildred B. Davis wrote The Room Upstairs and Three Minutes to Midnight, great late forties domestic suspense. Speaking of which, Vera Caspary's classic Laura was reprinted last year, but her other forties romantic suspense noir novels deserve revival. Also Georgette Heyer's
charming mysteries.

> 7. Tell us about selling your first novel. Most writers never forget
> that moment.
Have I got a story for you! I'd been sending out the world's first post- feminist mainstream Gothic and getting it rejected by rubber stamp
(Gothics had died without telling me) when my newspaper assigned me to interview the brilliant director, playwright, and raconteur Garson Kanin
again after five years. Turned out he still had my previous interview in the
St. Paul Pioneer Press in his press kit, between articles from the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times. And he was still raving about my previous

When I timidly asked him if he had any suggestions for selling my novel, I was
hoping for an agent's name. Instead, he told me to drop it off at his hotel
that evening and he'd take it back to his publisher, Doubleday. I did, all
840 pages. The editor said they'd have bought the book two years before, but it was especially well done and she thought I could still sell it. She recommended other editors at other houses.

The first house I tried bought what was retitled Amberleigh and another novel. Both books were promptly orphaned and sent to the paperback original arm of the publisher. I never even knew who bought them. In those days, though, even orphaned paperback originals had print runs of over 100,000 and made money beyond their modest advances.


Midnight Louie mysteries:
SOMETHING FISHY, a ML illustrated
short story book from the author
COYOTE PEYOTE limited edition coming soon!
Jun '06 CAT in a HOT PINK PURSUIT pb

Irene Adler Suspense:
Jan '05: GOOD NIGHT, MR. HOLMES Adler I reissue pb
A New York Times Notable Book of the Year
Sept '05: SPIDER DANCE pb Adler VIII
Dec '06: A SOUL OF STEEL pb reissue Adler III


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