Today we sit down for a chat with Letty Valdez, PI from mystery author CJ Shane’s Letty Valdez Mysteries.
What was your life like before your author started pulling your strings?
Shane doesn’t pull my strings. I took over almost immediately and she writes down what I think and say and what happens to me. Shane thinks she’s a medium. I think Shane is a little bit nuts. But maybe that’s the way artists are. Who knows? I’m a PI, not an artist.
What’s the one trait you like most about yourself?
I’m good at my investigative work and I make money from my work. That means I can provide some financial support for my brothers and sister and for my grandmother who still lives on the Tohono O’odham Reservation west of Tucson. I must mention, though, that other people have told me my best traits are my smarts and my courage.
What do you like least about yourself?
I don’t know how to deal with the terrible things that happened to me when I was a medic in Iraq. I still have these nightmares about the war. My uncle thinks that I have PTSD. I decided to suck it up and keep on going.
What is the strangest thing your author has had you do or had happen to you?
The strangest thing is that I rescued a dog that had been dumped in the desert and then the dog, Millie, rescued my brother Will. Also, I never expected to be working with a Chinese cop sent to Tucson by Interpol.
Do you argue with your author? If so, what do you argue about?
I tend to be a little shy and too humble about my abilities. Shane likes me a lot. She writes down all the nice things that people say about me. I get embarrassed. Shane thinks I’m humble because I’m a six-feet-tall, dark-skinned Chicana-Native American who grew up poor and, as a consequence, I don’t realize how terrific I am. Whatever.
What is your greatest fear?
Having someone I love go into a war zone or having the bad guys go after someone I love are my greatest fears.
What makes you happy?
I like spending time with my friends. Hearing the laughter of those I love makes me happy, especially my goofy brother Will who is eighteen years old. I like my dogs Millie and Teddy. I like it that Teddy, my black lab, will find this man up in a tree in my next book, Dragon's Revenge. The man is really charming and good looking. I keep thinking about him.
If you could rewrite a part of your story, what would it be? Why?
I’ve come to the conclusion that it is what it is. We just have to deal with life the way it is and just do our best.
Of the other characters in your book, which one bugs you the most? Why?
I don’t like the bad guys who try to push me around. They piss me off. I have a lot of martial arts training and I’m willing to use my skills. I’ll break their bones!
Of the other characters in your book, which one would you love to trade places with? Why?
Seri the librarian is the one I’d like to trade places with. She is around books and book readers all day. She deals with ideas, not greedy or mean people with guns. I think it would be really nice to work in a university library.
Tell us a little something about your author. Where can readers find her website/blog?
My author, C.J. Shane, is a visual artist and a writer. When she was in the third grade, the school librarian gave her a Nancy Drew book to read. She’s been a mystery fan ever since. She’s worked as a newspaper journalist and a librarian like Seri. She’s traveled a lot and she’s lived and worked in China and Mexico. She’s written several nonfiction books. One day this idea came to here to write a mystery novel about a Mexican-American/Native-American private investigator working in the Borderlands. That’s me. Her website is: www.cjshane.com
What's next for you?
In Dragon’s Revenge (coming in November 2018), Seri the librarian and I find a memoir that tells the story of two immigrants, one Chinese and one Italian, who fall in love with each other in Arizona Territory in the 1890s. The memoir has a big clue that will help me solve a murder mystery that happens in contemporary Tucson. Then there’s another book coming after that. It doesn't have a title yet, and Shane doesn't want me to talk about it. I'll just say that is has something to do with a crime involving money and also that man in the tree I mentioned earlier.
A Letty Valdez Mystery
Tucson private investigator and Iraq War veteran Letty Valdez joins forces with an unlikely ally, Chinese police Detective Inspector Zhou Liang Wei, in Desert Jade, a fast-paced mystery-suspense thriller set in the Sonoran Desert.
We meet a migrant lost and out of water in the desert, Chinese triad gangsters engaged in criminal activities on the U.S.-Mexico border, a woman murdered in her backyard, a husband who vanished with a large sum of money, and three abducted young women threatened with sex trafficking.
There's a touch of romance, too, when cop Zhou first meets one of Letty's friends. Don't forget Milagro (aka Millie), the runt-sized female pit bull who performs a heroic act and saves a life.