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Friday, May 27, 2011

BOOK CLUB FRIDAY -- GUEST AUTHOR LONI EMMERT


Today’s mystery author guest is Loni Emmert. Loni has worked in entertainment for thirty years but had an itch to write fiction—specifically mysteries with a strong romantic edge.  To hone her craft she joined writing groups Sisters in Crime and Romance Writers of America. Drawing from her experience Lights! Camera! Murder! is her second published mystery. She is a Southern California native and also writes articles on writing and related topics. Learn more about Loni at her website

Loni is giving away a copy of Lights! Camera! Murder! to one lucky reader who posts a comment to the blog this week. -- AP

Hollywood and Vine. Mann’s Chinese Theater. Pacific Coast Highway. Paramount Pictures. The Walk of Fame. Capitol Records. Sunset Boulevard. The Hollywood Sign. These are just a few of the famous sights that I am privileged to enjoy daily and some of them inspired me to write Lights! Camera! Murder! a murder mystery that takes place on the set of a soap opera. I think part of the fun of writing is bringing interesting locations to the attention of the reader.  Personally, I know that when choosing a book I definitely look for unusual settings that I have not had the opportunity to visit. That way I get to learn about a new place and travel vicariously along with the characters.

Because I work in Hollywood and know the town intimately, I was able to bring to life some famous settings for my characters to visit, though some names of locations were changed to protect the innocent. An example is my fictional movie studio, Olympus Studios that I created from my experiences with two real studios, one of which I worked at a few years ago. I kept Barney’s Beanery—a restaurant famous for having celebrity diners such as Clark Gable, Judy Garland, Jim Morrison and Janis Joplin as regulars during their heyday—the same as my characters enjoyed a meal there.

By setting my story in Hollywood I hope to give readers that have never had a chance to roam around Tinsel Town a bit of the celebrity experience.

In my first book, The Leaf Peeper Murders, the locale I selected was small town New Hampshire, again a fictional town, modeled after a real village that I had visited several times. The amazingly beautiful fall foliage becames the colorful backdrop for two murders, and I hope, brought some New England feeling to readers.

One of the most important aspects of a story is the setting. The location of the story itself becomes a character and can add rich texture and color to the plot. One of my favorite movies, Under the Tuscan Sun, might not have delighted me so if it took place somewhere else. The images of Tuscany were a vivid vehicle to transport the viewer to another place. In fact, the villa itself is quite a character that brings many challenges to the main character. While the story itself is important, the surrounding scenery of the story is just as important, creating a unique ambiance for the characters to react to and grow from.

Loni, thanks for joining us today. I’m sure many of my readers will be running out to pick up a copy of Lights! Camera! Murder! but before you do, readers, post a comment. You could be the lucky person who wins a copy. Don’t forget to check back on Sunday to see if you are. -- AP

27 comments:

Nicholas Genovese said...

Loni,
You're right about the local serving as a character. I live in New Orleans and all my manuscripts set in New Orleans do use the city as a character itself. The world renowned French Quarter and other famous locales in New Orleans add color to the story.

Also, the local customs serve to add color too. My characters are always eating po' boy roast beef sandwiches, oysters on a half shell, or boiling crawfish at a boiled crawfish party.

Patricia said...

I agree with you 100%. If a book's venue is somewhere I'm interested in, that definitely is a draw for me. I love soap opera's and I love California settings. That would make me buy it right there. And I love a good mystery. Hooked me again! I'm going to buy your book without reading anything else about it.
Patti

Jen P said...

Setting is really a character in and of itself. Like New York in the tv series Sex and the City. Or Paris in The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Loni, I'd be interested in your thoughts on if you can provide TOO much setting. Where's the balance of giving enough flavor on the locale without turning into a PBS documentary? I'm looking forward to reading your book!

auntiemwrites said...

I agree on the importance of setting. Setting gives your book its tone. In my writing group, my colleagues point out when I'm starting to sound like a travelogue in my enthusiasm for Oxford or Cumbria! But when you get the balance right, it puts the reader right there in that place, and then they can picture your characters moving about it. By the way, I once interviewed P. D. James who told me she always STARTS with the setting; it's that important!

Carol-Lynn Rossel said...

You are so right: setting is often what sells a book.
It's often as important as the characters (well, it IS one!)
Please put my name in the hat for the book drawing.

Coco Ihle said...

Loni,
Tinseltown, in my estimation, is certainly a place which carries with it a sort of magical fascination. You are so right in thinking a place can actually be a character in a book. To capture the mood, the nuances, the idiosyncrasies of your setting really enriches the reader's experience. Good post, right on!

petite said...

Settings and a wonderful locale make the book come alive for me. When this is written in vividly it is an added enjoyment.

traveler said...

Focusing upon a place and describing it accurately allows me to picture the city, country or street. This is important and gives me an added dimension to the novel. I enjoyed your interesting post and your book sounds unique.

Loni Emmert said...

Thanks for the commetns traveler, I agree about the added dimension!

Loni Emmert said...

Nicholas, New Orleans is a city I have always wanted to visit, hopefully will soon. That place has a lot of character, charm and beauty! Thanks for the comment.

Loni Emmert said...

Thanks Patricia! I love So California and especially the Hollywood area - I love old Hollywood trivia and famous sites, they sure are great to visit and fun to write about!

Loni Emmert said...

Hi Jen, yes, sometimes I think an author can go overboard with descriptions of locations but I don't find that happeneing too often. If they are a good write they can usually blend it in well with the story. I worried about that as I wrote Lights Camera Murder but wanted to touch on palces that someone who has not yet had the chance to visit might enjoy. Thanks, great question!

Loni Emmert said...

Hey Auntie M! I don't think that Oxford or Cumbria can be overdone but that's because I love England so much :) How fabulous that you had the opportunity to interview the AMAZING P.D. James!!

Loni Emmert said...

Carol-Lynn, thanks for the comment ~ your name is in the hat!

Loni Emmert said...

Coco Ihle - Yep, Tinseltown is bnoth magical and weird ! just my style :) thanks!

Loni Emmert said...

Petite, I'm glad to hear you enjoy setting and locales. I must agree that the location of a story certainly does make me want to pick a book up!

Loni Emmert said...

Thanks everyone for the wonderful comments ~ and thanks to Lois for the great opportunity to blog! Winner soon!

Jacqueline Seewald said...

This sounds like a delightful mystery novel!
Wishing you every success.

Jacqueline Seewald
THE TRUTH SLEUTH

Berek said...

I write mostly YA fantasy/SCI-FI, but I agree that setting makes a huge difference in the flow and quality of a book One I recommend to my mystery-loving patrons is Tin Roof Blowdown by James Lee Burke because it captures what it must have felt like to live through Hurricane Katrina better than anything I've seen or read. I'm looking forward to reading both of your books and suggesting them to patrons.

Kellie M. Rix said...

Hi Loni, I can't wait to read Lights! Camera! Murder! The setting is so important. Setting enhances the story and brings it to life. I enjoyed your post and I have added both of your books to my list. Thank you for sharing.
kmrix2011@yahoo.com

Loni Emmert said...

Thanks Jacqueline!

Loni Emmert said...

Berek, thanks, I will definitely read the book you mention.

Loni Emmert said...

Kellie, thank you so much, I really appreciate it!

Lesley Cookman said...

Interesting post and I so agree. My series is set in Kent, England and the village is so much a character it has a map in the front of every book. I like the sound of your first book, too. Hope it's available for Kindle!

ANASTASIA POLLACK said...

Loni, thanks so much for guesting. Great post!

Kay C Burns said...

Hi Loni, You are so right. I am working on a mystery set in a small northern Illinois town in the late fall and winter, which means cold, wind and snow. This setting adds just the right tone to the overall story. I will seek out and read your story.

Norma Huss said...

Loni, I love the title of your book. I too like to read books with settings that intrigue me. Yours sounds like a winner.