Today we sit down for a chat with JD Thompson from M.R. Dimond’s Black Orchids Enterprises Mysteries.
What was your life like before your author started pulling your strings?
Boring. A late twenty-something with all the trappings of a successful life, I wondered when it was going to deliver happiness. I went to my good corporate legal job every day to do nothing I ever wanted to do. I dated a woman because I didn’t want to be back on the dating apps and in the bars. The only excitement was when our ABBA tribute band got a gig, and we were supposed to be too grownup for that.
What’s the one trait you like most about yourself?
I’m a listener. It makes me a good mediator, which I prefer to court battles. I hear both what people are saying and what they don’t.
What do you like least about yourself?
I wish I’d had the courage to do what I really wanted, like my friend and bandmate Chantal Gaumont. Only I wanted to be a poet. Or a musician. Neither pay a living wage, so I became a lawyer in the family tradition. Only the kind of law I want to practice doesn’t pay much either. I hated myself when I accepted a clerkship with a judge and later a position in a corporate law firm. The idea was to pay my dues so later I could do what I wanted. But by the time the firm’s partners got far enough up the ladder to do what they wanted, they’d forgotten what that was, or at least why they wanted to do it.
What is the strangest thing your author has had you do or had happen to you?
On what day? I’ve examined corpses while filling in for the Assistant Justice of the Peace. I helped Animal Control catch a bobcat in downtown Beauchamp. Dianne and I chased a client cross-country to Washington, DC. And wearing satin suits to sing in an ABBA tribute band is nowhere near as bad as blowing through a trombetta squash in the Beauchamp All-Vegetable Orchestra. This lady lives to put me in weird places.
Do you argue with your author? If so, what do you argue about?
Adverbs. And profanity. She tries to smooth out my language in all kinds of ways, and my language is not smooth. On the upside, I can hand these stories to my grandmother.
What is your greatest fear?
Losing somebody important to me. My mother died of cancer when I was nineteen. That was bad beyond belief. Then I found out there are other ways to lose people, like when my friend Johnny crashed right into the psych ward after nine years of higher education. I’ll never forget his dead, blank eyes. I thought he was gone forever, even if his body kept moving. If that could happen to Johnny, the best and brightest of us, it could happen to any of us, a sorry reward for being the good children we were.
What makes you happy?
Lots of things:
- Making that wall of sound with my friends, belting out “I’ve Been Waiting for You” full voice, full keyboards, until the walls shake, with the audience flailing to the sound and their own memories. Collapsing afterwards, still vibrating, a cold drink soothing the vocal cords, and jumping up again to do my own dancing--with Dianne, I hope, the best dance partner ever.
- Going to court with someone about to be crushed by the system and convincing the judge or jury that justice is more important than money and power, just this once. Bringing everyone in a mediation to a workable solution is the same kind of joy.
- Waking up in that limbo between night and dawn, with Johnny and Dianne off on their morning Tai Chi, yoga, running, or whatever, and settling into that place where the poems come unbidden, and I just set them down as they whisper to me.
If you could rewrite a part of your story, what would it be? Why?
My mother wouldn’t have died, for sure. Maybe Dianne and I would never have broken up, even the first time, which was more for stupidity’s sake than anything.
Of the other characters in your book, which one bugs you the most? Why?
Besides my father, who isn’t a regular, but there’s still too much of him—Dianne and her eternal spreadsheets that keep track of our bank balance and household chores. Mind you, those are her good traits too.
Of the other characters in your book, which one would you love to trade places with? Why?
It’s got to be Chantal Gaumont, Agnetha in our ABBA band. Despite getting the accounting degree her family wanted, she’s determined to be a singer. You can hear her most nights in Austin and Lockhart clubs, with or without the rest of us. She’s living her dream, and I wish I had that kind of courage.
Tell us a little something about your author. Where can readers find her website/blog?
Her first career was as an orchestra cellist, but she always wanted to sing, so we get to. She spent decades rescuing cats, so Johnny gets to do that. She loves to dance and she’s good with numbers and organizing, so Dianne gets to do those things. And she’s read mysteries ever since she could read, especially mysteries about friends who solve them, so here we are. Her website is https://dimond.me, where she’d appreciate it if you would sign up for her newsletter. She promises not to send it too often.
She’s got a blog there, too. My partners and our intern are so mad that I’m doing this interview that they’ll be posting their own interviews.
What's next for you?
My 20-year-old twin sisters will get into trouble, because that’s what 20-year-olds do, in a book currently called Family Matters. I’m not looking forward to it. I’ve already lost my mother. Then for the fall, there’s book about holidays, starting with Ascension of the Virgin Mary, then Jewish High Holy Days, Halloween, and All Saints Day. A murder happens somewhere in all that. The book’s called Hallow at this point, though it sounds more like Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride.
I understand you like crafts and cooking here. I do a lot of crafts, because my partners don’t accept excuses like “I don’t know how” when there are holidays to decorate for or costumes to make. It turns out there’s always a task any idiot can do, which seems to be me, but you probably know everything I know.
As for cooking, breakfast is the only thing I’m good at, and everybody knows how to make a pancake, so I asked Johnny for a holiday treat recipe. He gave me one for those Hanukkah jelly donuts, sufganiyot. But Hanukkah was a month ago, so you’re stuck with my signature dinner: Tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches. Avoid the house brand of soup. They’re all thin as water. Pro tip: If you buy artisanal bread and deli cheese, people complain a lot less, especially if the weather’s turned cold suddenly. They never stop complaining if you use the plastic cheese substitute wrapped in plastic.
It’s been great getting to know you. I hope you’ll join our Christmas grand opening in Birth of the Black Orchids. Or just stop by Gregg House any Friday night, when Johnny cooks for half the town. Watch out for the kittens on every surface.
Birth of the Black Orchids: A Light-Hearted Christmas Tale of Going Home, Starting Over, and Murder—With Cats
A Black Orchids Enterprise Mystery, Book 1
What if the American dream was living and working with your best friends? Millennials Johnny Ly, Dianne Cortez, and JD Thompson decide to find out when they quit their high-powered jobs to operate out of Johnny’s ancestral home in a small Central Texas town.
It’s such a nice old house. Too bad about the murder, which they’d better solve before it ruins their Christmas grand opening. Can they rise to the occasion with their skills as a veterinarian, accountant, lawyer, and an ABBA tribute band?
Bonus story: “The Way Old Friends Do”
A few months into the new year, income is low for the Black Orchids, with the town of Beauchamp happily using the free coupons from the grand opening. So Dianne expands their services to what JD calls “baby-sitting old ladies”—an easy job, until the clients run away.