Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Author interview-Carol O'Connell-It Happens In The Dark

Today on The Reading Frenzy I'm welcoming New York Times Bestselling author Carol O'Connell who's just released the 11th novel in her Kathy Mallory crime drama series and who is chatting with me today about her new release, her series and her protagonist. When I asked her what irks her about Kathy Mallory she says ––"The certain knowledge that, if I could run into her in real life, I would not make the cut. She would not find some one like me worth her time." Read below to see how she finished this thought and what else she has to say.

  • ISBN-13: 9780399165399
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 8/20/2013
  • Pages: 368

The astonishing new Mallory novel from the New York Times–bestselling author and one of the most acclaimed crime writers in America.
The reviews called it “A Play to Die For” after the woman was found dead in the front row. It didn’t seem so funny the next night, when another body was found—this time the playwright’s, his throat slashed.
Publishers Weekly
Mallory makes startling deductions; manipulates witnesses, suspects, and colleagues unsparingly; humiliates a brash official who tries to grab her case; and draws the smalltown sheriff who investigated the actual slayings to Manhattan. Her bravura performance wreaks justice both inside and outside the legal system
Library Journal
VERDICT This may not be the easiest entry point for readers new to Mallory's dark world, but fans won't want to miss another solid mystery from O'Connell.—Devon Thomas, Chelsea, MI
Kirkus Reviews
Mallory fans won't be disappointed in her latest adventure, even though sections of the book could have been tighter.

Carol welcome to The Reading Frenzy
Thank you so much. I appreciate your interest in my work.

Tell us a little about the latest Mallory novel It Happens In The Dark
A woman dies during the first performance of a Broadway play, and so it goes three nights in a row, one death after another, before it’s discovered that the play is loosely based on an old massacre in Nebraska (which gets more interesting when you learn that that’s not the way the play started out). The actors’ lines are being rewritten every night by a mean-spirited (no pun intended) ghostwriter, who becomes fixated on Mallory.

Carol this is the 11th in the Kathy Mallory series.
Does its longevity surprise you?
You mean . . . did I think it would tank early on? No, the reviewers have always been kind to me, and my editor’s faith in the character was contagious. What truly surprises me is that I’m able to earn my living at something I would do whether I got paid or not (which must seem like a cheat to those who say if you don’t hate it, it’s not work). I believe the American dream is going to sleep when you’re tired, then waking up when you’re completely finished sleeping to sit down to coffee, an ashtray and work that you love. (And I’m guessing that could alienate any Reading Frenzy followers who hate their jobs. Sorry.)

What’s the biggest thing that irks you about your protagonist Kathy Mallory?
The certain knowledge that, if I could run into her in real life, I would not make the cut. She would not find some one like me worth her time. Conversely, given her sociopathy, if she did take an interest in me, that could not be a good thing.

Should new fans start at the beginning or are these novels read well as stand alones?
Every single book is a stand-alone novel. No book in the series would be spoiled by reading it out of order. Crime genre authors have a covenant with readers, a promise of a book with bones of structure and a resolution. No one has to buy another book to find out how my last one ended. I believe in fair play.

Carol I understand that your being an author happened accidentally.
Can you elaborate on that?
You’re being kind. Most people use the word “backward” instead of “accidental” when they ask why a New York writer would send a manuscript to an English publisher, who then sold that first book all around the planet, and—as an afterthought—sold it in a New York book auction back here, when every fool knows the saying about New York goes, “If you can make it here, you can make anywhere.” So making it everywhere else first was apparently not the way I should have done this, and that’s been pointed out to me many a time, even though it worked out rather well. 

Or perhaps you’re alluding to the fact that I began as a painter who wrote in the closet, and I left school with the intention of being a starving artist and dying a gutter, a plan that clearly just didn’t work out. Becoming successful as writer did seem accidental. As you may have gathered (given all of the above), it’s not like I could’ve I planned it that way.

Do you still paint?
No, I used to paint by compulsion, but now all of my time goes into my writing, and it seems that I only need that one creative outlet.

Do you think you would have still been a published author had your painting career been more successful?
I don’t know. But you may have noticed, my ideas of success are rather whacked and perhaps not recognizable to normal people. I can tell you the writing would have continued, published or not. More than painting, it always fed the compulsive drive to create.

You have a couple of stand a lone novels.
Will there be more?
Definitely. Though I realize that nobody wants to hear that. The stand alones were very well received, but even the generous reviewers wanted to know when the next Mallory book was coming out. (Sigh.)

What are you working on now?
I don’t talk about novels in progress because I once knew a writer who talked his work to death, sucked all the energy out of it—and never wrote down more than ten words. . . . Then I met others just like him.

A British publisher Hutchinson published your first Mallory novel Mallory’s Oracle.
Big New York publishers could no longer be bothered to read their slush piles (an actual pile in a publishing house, where unagented manuscripts go to die.) So, forget New York, I aimed small. I got the name of a tiny British publisher from an old paperback, and I got the address (the wrong address) from a wildly out of date reference book. I figured: small country, small press, fewer manuscripts to slog through. (I got that wrong, too. Evidently, every man, woman and child in England is madly scribbling a book.) So when I sent my book—to the wrong address—I didn’t realize that tiny Hutchinson had been eaten by a bigger publisher, Century, which in turn had been eaten by the giant Random House UK. However, even though I had thoroughly screwed up this simple plan, the British Post Office managed to find Hutchinson among the RH imprints. And one day, an editor was looking for diversion after being bored silly by a nonfiction book. At that moment, my manuscript landed on his desk. Somehow, it had managed to crawl out of Hutchinson’s slush pile, I assume by it’s own accord—nothing else fits with the reality of publishing.

In context with everything else on this page, things are beginning to fall into place now, aren’t they? This is the mythology of me: It almost seemed like I was trying to fail in life, but I just could not pull that off.

Carol will you be touring with this release?
Yes, I will be at Macintyre’s Books, Pittsboro, NC on August 20th; then Murder by the Book, Houston, TX; and on to Poisoned Pen, Scottsdale, AZ; and finally Anderson’s in Chicago, IL. 

I credit independent books stores with launching my career. Years ago, these kind people took the time to read my first book, and they hand sold it to their customers. I would not be here if they had not been there from the beginning.

Thanks for sharing a few secrets with us. Good luck with the new novel!
Thank you. 




  1. This sounds quite good, and isn't it a blessing when you can do what you love and get paid to do it.

    1. thanks for the comment Kim.
      It is nice to do what you love, maybe one of these days it'll happen for me too :)

  2. Is she on Twitter? Couldn't find her.