Monday, August 1, 2011

Interview with Debra Purdy Kong

Greetings!  I begin the month of August with a wonderful interview from a wonderful whodunit author, Debra Purdy Kong. 

 Jill:  How close is Casey Holland to you?

Debra:  Casey was closer to me when I first created her than she is now. I actually first thought of her a long time ago, so we were closer in age back then, unmarried, and doing jobs that wouldn’t turn into careers. I was a criminology graduate, she’s taking criminology courses part time. Over the years, I chose marriage, children, and writing, knowing this is exactly what I wanted to do with my life. She’s still trying to figure what she wants from her life.

Jill:  Mac or PC? Pepsi or Coke? Standard or automatic? Tim Hortons or Starbucks? McDonalds or Burger King? Yes, I really am asking you to select one of the aforementioned pairings, as I believe it will give readers some profound insight into your psyche.

Debra:  I work on a PC and always have. I drive a standard, and always have, though I seriously thought about changing this spring when I developed some major neck and shoulder problems that required physiotherapy. (Don’t ask me what really triggered the’s embarrassing :) And I love Tim Hortons!

Jill:  What can you tell me about your current work in progress?

Debra:  My current work in progress is the fifth installment in the Casey Holland series, and it focuses on home invasions; particularly the homes of seniors, which was a major issue in Vancouver a while back.

Jill:  How did you come up with the idea of transit security?

Debra:  I was working a temporary secretarial job back in the mid-80s for BC Transit, and riding the buses back and forth to work a lot. During that time, I briefly met a young woman decked in a black leather mini-skirt and matching jacket, which definitely wasn’t the secretarial dress code in those days. It turned out she was an undercover security officer. The job intrigued me so much that I never forgot it, so when I was ready to start a mystery series, I saw the possibilities in transit security work; after all, she’d meet all types of people and find herself in some strange siutations.

Jill:  If you could bring a fictional sleuth to life, who would it be and why? (You can’t choose Casey Holland for this one, sorry!)

Debra:  I’d bring Kinsey Millhone to life; she’s one of my favorites!

Jill:  What mystery author(s) do you feel you are most similar to in terms of tone and/or style?

Debra:  Actually, I’m reading a great book by Toronto writer Jill Edmondson whose young PI, Sasha Jackson reminds me of a lot of Casey in terms of their mutual bravery, curiosity and sense of justice. I think they’d be good friends.  (N.B. I paid Debra to say this... and I agree that Casey and Sasha would probably be good friends if they were real people in the same city... Perhaps we'll see a future blog post by these two sleuths!)

Jill:  What’s on Casey’s iPod (or MP3 player)? What’s on your own?

Debra:  I’m a soft rock and pop fan; I have everything from The Beatles to Bruce Springsteen to Susan Boyle to Coldplay and some classical music. Casey would like rock ‘n roll. She’s not a fan of country and hates the entire disco era, which her boyfriend loves.

Jill:  You have three books out ... If you could go back in time and change/revise/edit one of them, which would you update? Care to tell me why?

Debra:  I’d probably change Taxed to Death because it was my first novel and was published 15 years ago, before Revenue Canada changed its name to Revenue Canada Agency.

Jill:  What things do you keep in mind when choosing book covers?

Debra:  For me the cover has to be eye-catching and intriguing, easy to read, and say something about what the book is about.

Jill:  What is the most frustrating thing about being a writer?

Debra:  The frustrations have changed over the years. It used to be waiting for the postman to arrive with replies or the occasional cheque. Technology changed that. Then it used to be the stigma of self-publishing, but technology changed that too, sort of. Self-publishing is far more main stream and accepted than it used to be. My frustration now, though, is the number of writers slapping a book together and publishing it without having it professionally edited. Some of them don’t appear to have even proofread their work. Now, self-publishing is in danger of slipping back into the dark hole it was trying to climb out of.

Jill:  What is the weirdest/funniest thing a reader has ever said or done to you (online or face to face)?

Debra:  The strangest thing happened while I was selling Taxed to Death at the Word on the Street fair. One older gentleman spotted the title and started ranting about Canada’s tax situation. Another gentleman came up, glanced at the title, and started in on his opinions, at which point the two men started arguing. I thought a fist fight was going to break out. I tried to explain that my book was a mystery novel, but neither were they listening by that point. Gradually, they moved on, and the customers returned. It still happens to this day. The HST is a big issue in BC right now, and I’ve had some interesting conversations while signing books this summer!

For more on Debra Purdy Kong, check out her website .    

Watch a cool 41 second book trailer for the first Casey Hollan mystery.

Find Debra's books on Amazon.

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