Hi there, guys and dolls! Well, there goes another month. Time’s just flying, isn’t it? Christmas is right around the corner, which also means it’s not too early to don a sprig of mistletoe in the front of your pillbox hat. Just be careful who you walk up to! Being that it is the end of the month, I have another fun and entertaining chat lined up. I was so happy to have pulled out Sally Carpenter’s name from my martini pitcher. She was thrilled to be Miss November — it just felt so right and sassy all at the same time. Sally has just released the third book in her Sandy Fairfax Teen Idol Series, titled THE CUNNING CRUISE SHIP CAPER, published by Cozy Cat Press. She’s a terrific author with works as a playwright and contributor to short story anthologies, with plenty of awards and nominations for her talents. She’s also one smart cookie with Master’s Degrees in both Theology and Theater. To top that off, she’s also a great person with a terrific sense of fun. So please settle on in and get to know dear Sally for yourself.
1. So tell me a little about your series and main characters.
Hi, Barbara Jean, thanks for hosting me today. Since my series protagonist is a recovering alcoholic, I’ll have to pass on the martinis.
The star of my series is 38-year-old Sandy Fairfax, a former teen idol who’s finding that making a comeback can be murder. In the 1970s he recorded 10 gold albums and starred in the hit TV show “Buddy Brave, Boy Sleuth.” But like all teen idols, his career tanked when his show was cancelled after four years and his fans grew up.
Now he’s sworn off the booze, attempting to reconcile with his estranged family, and hoping the industry hasn’t forgotten him. But in the various venues where he works, dead bodies keep popping up and he begins acting like a boy sleuth for real.
Some of the other main characters: Marshall Ellis, Sandy’s long-suffering agent; Bunny McAllister, his biggest fan and president of the Sandy’s Buddies fan club; and his choreographer and love interest, Cinnamon Lovett.
Sandy’s real name is Stanford Ernest Farmington Jr. (he goes by Ernest). His family: his father, orchestra conductor Stanford Farmington Sr.; his mother, Opal; his brother, Warren, a professional organist; and his sister, Celeste, a folk musician and who’s blind.
And his ex wife, Becka, and his two kids, Chip (Stanford F. III) and Robin.
2. What is your writing process like? Do you thrive on routine or work spontaneously as the whim takes you?
I wish I were more disciplined. Computer solitaire is the most distracting thing ever invented.
I have a full-time day job, so my writing time is limited to evenings and weekends. I try to work on marketing or the next book on most days—or at least keep up with emails—but I don’t write every single day. I don’t want to fall into the grind of, “it’s seven o’clock on the dot, must sit down and write.” Then it’s just an unpleasant chore. I procrastinate but once I get started I roll along quite well.
Sunday’s my best day for writing, guest blogging and getting things done. I do errands on Saturdays and attend Saturday evening Mass so I can stay home all day Sunday and focus on writing.
3. What exciting moment or moments that made you realize that you were really an “author?”
In 2013 I published my second book along with three short stories, two in anthologies and one story online. Up until then I just felt like a “one-hit wonder.” I thought, “I have more than one story in me!”
In 2014 I published the third book of my mystery series. Many mystery series only last for three books so I felt fortunate that I could keep going with book four.
4. What do you do to spark up your creativity when you feel the well of inspiration is running dry?
The way to keep a well primed is to keep filling it. I have a huge collection of recorded music, books and favorite TV shows and movies. I get many ideas just sitting down and listening to favorite music (yes, I have plenty of teen idol records/CDs).
I often get “sparks” when watching a show. A line of dialogue or a situation will get me thinking. Since I’ve started writing I’ve made an effort to read more, both mysteries and other subject matter. Right now I’m grooving on the “Batman ‘66” books, comics in the style of the Adam West TV show (the only real Batman, IMHO).
My town has both a community live theater and an excellent college drama program. For many years I acted in plays and I still enjoy watching a good production.
Writers need “down time.” I plugged away nonstop on marketing for my first book and ended up exhausted and frustrated. Writers and artists need “play time” (stage productions are called “plays” because the actors are having fun). Artists need to relax, have fun, be entertained. That’s what keeps them refreshed and enthused.
5. Who are some of your favorite authors and how do you feel they have influenced your desire to write?
Rod Serling is tops on my list. I admire his drive (he wrote at an exhaustive pace) and that he could combine a strong moral statement with entertainment. He showed that pop culture such as TV could instruct as well sell advertising.
William Link and Richard Levinson, the co-creators of “Columbo” and many other fine mystery TV shows. I had the pleasure of meeting Link and he was amazed at how much I knew about “Columbo.”
Mildred Wirt Benson, better known as original first Carolyn Keene who wrote the Nancy Drew stories in the evenings after her day job as a newspaper reporter. Also the various authors for the Hardy Boys and Trixie Beldon kid mysteries.
Naturally, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of the world’s greatest consulting detective.
What I learned from them is building strong clues, moving the action quickly, creating quirky characters and writing a PG story that won’t hurt any sensibilities.
Thanks for the discussion, Barbara Jean! Now we gotta hurry or we’ll be late for the Sandy Fairfax concert! Swoon!
Goodness gracious, you’re right, Sally! I’ll never pass up an opportunity to swoon over a handsome young man. And friends, give yourself a treat and get to know Sally even better. Check out her website and blog at http://sandyfairfaxauthor.com and connect with her on Facebook. Be sure to pick up her latest Sandy Fairfax — THE CUNNING CRUISE SHIP CAPER on Kindle, as well as the others in the series.