Monday, November 28, 2011

Scene of the Crime with Author Chris Grabenstein!

When Chris Grabenstein introduced John Ceepak and Danny Boyle to the world, I heard about it and thought to myself, "Sounds like a book I'd like to read." When people whose literary opinions I value highly began raving about the Ceepak mysteries, I said, "Yeah, yeah, yeah. I'll get to them one of these days." Since I have a book list that would choke every horse within a 25-mile radius of Lexington, Kentucky, it's not that unusual for titles to sink and not resurface for years.

Fortunately for me, Chris Grabenstein resurfaced sooner than most, and I read Tilt-a-Whirl. Doubly fortunate for me that I'm not quite as limber as I used to be because after reading that first John Ceepak mystery, I could've kicked myself in the butt for ignoring such a treat for so long. Naturally I suggested the Ceepak books to my husband the next time he asked for reading suggestions, so now there are two Grabenstein fans in the house.

Chris Grabenstein doing research.
If you'd like to know more about Chris, here are a few links for you:

Since I'm still doing a little internal Happy Dance that Chris said yes to this interview, you know what I'm going to say now, don't you?

Let's get to the fun stuff!

What was the very first book you remember reading and loving? What makes that book so special?

It was probably Mad's Don Martin Drops Thirteen Stories.   When I was ten, I somehow stumbled upon Mad Magazine.  It, plus Rocky & Bullwinkle, Get Smart, and F-Troop, totally warped my mind and set me on the path of satire, humor, and general monkey business.  I remember saving my money all year so I could buy Mad books when we went on vacation in the summer.  There was an honesty, a truth-telling in the satirical ramblings of the "usual gang of idiots" at MAD.  There were no sacred cows.  Not even sacred cows.   Decades later, I still subscribe to the magazine.

Outside of your writing and all associated commitments, what do you like to do in your free time?

Think about what I might write next.   I also like to jog around Central Park, play with my dog and cats, and volunteer at my church's tutoring program and a neat writer-patient project at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center called "Visible Ink."

If I were to visit your hometown, where would you recommend that I go? (I like seeing and doing things that aren't in all the guide books.)

Central Park

In New York City, stay away from the tourists.  New Yorkers find Times Square with its Bubba Gump Shrimp and Olive Garden to be a strange, suburban land.   

I think I would spend the day in Central Park, people watching.  Then, at night, I'd head down to Greenwich Village for dinner and an off (or off-off) Broadway show.  

After midnight, I'd ride the subway for the danger-laced adrenaline rush.  No.  That's a joke.  Don't do that.

You have total control over casting a movie based on your life. Which actor would you cast as you?

Tom Hanks
Tom Hanks.   Everybody would love me, no matter what I did.

Who is your favorite recurring character in crime fiction?

Sherlock Holmes.  Or Bullwinkle.

Name one book that you've read that you wish you had written. What is it about that book that made it come to mind?

A Prayer For Owen Meany by John Irving.   I still think about that book, 20 years after reading it.  How real the (sometimes) bizarre characters felt and how it surprised and moved me.

What did you do the first time you saw one of your books on a shelf in a bookstore? How did you celebrate when you first heard you were to be published?

Why isn't the cover facing out?   Why is there only one copy in this whole Barnes and Noble?  How come it's not on the Staff Selects table?

When I first heard I was being published, I believe I uttered Homer Simpson's immortal words:  Whoo-hoo!

And then I probably wondered -- but will I ever publish another book?

I don't know if you've seen it, but I love Parnell Hall's video about book signings. What is the most unusual experience you've had at a book signing or author event?

Cotton candy, anyone?
We gave away fresh-made cotton candy when we had a launch party for my second Jersey Shore Ceepak book Mad Mouse.  I forgot that cotton candy machines spew out sugar.  Onto rare first editions lining the bookstore's shelves.  We had to run to the store for emergency handi-wipes!

And, at a school signing for my middle grades books, I was asked why some of my adult titles have devil words in them.

The way some people talk, the only way to read now or in the future is with some sort of electronic device, like my husband's Nook. What is your opinion of eBooks, and how will they affect you as a published author?

I confess to loving e-books.  They make shopping at 11 p.m. when you're going to bed and need something to read so much easier.  I think story telling will survive.   It's just a new way to deliver the goods.  I am hoping that, somehow, bookstores can become curators of e-books and collect a share of the money.  I also fear that mid-list (or whatever is  below mid-list) authors like myself won't have a chance up against the titans.  

But, thanks to e-books, I am able to keep my first three Ceepak mysteries alive in the Kindle and Nook stores -- even though they are out of print and without a publisher (besides me!).

On Sale Now!
Having recently acquired my own Nook Color, I'm finding eBooks to be an excellent resource for out-of-print, mid-list crime fiction, and for that fact alone, I love my eReader!

Thank you so much for spending this time with us, Chris. We really appreciate the opportunity to get to know you a little better!

May your book sales do nothing but increase! Speaking of which, I'm really looking forward to the release of Fun House next year!


  1. Great spotlight (as always). I am a huge Ceepak and Danny fan and was one of those who read them the year they came out.

    Audiobook alert: Jeff Woodman does the most awesome job ever as the narrator for this series. Not to be missed.

  2. I love Grabenstein's sense of humor! My sister used to get Mad Magazine in the mail and I remember fighting her to see who would get to read it first.

  3. "I confess to loving e-books. They make shopping at 11 p.m. when you're going to bed and need something to read so much easier. I think story telling will survive."

    I like it when established writers realize ebooks are not the end of the world.

    And I know I´ll have to try Chris´s books at some point.

  4. Candace-- Denis has been listening to the audiobooks, and he agrees with you. : )

    Kathy-- Who won? :o)

    Dorte-- Yes, you will have to try them!! I never did believe that eBooks were a sign of the end of the world, and now that I've got one and begun to use it, I see that they've opened yet another door to my preferred world. AND I still have my physical books. Life is good!


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