The Wannabe Literati.

Author Q&A: Robin Spano


Robin Spano grew up in downtown Toronto, Canada and was a physics major in New Brunswick before she dropped out to travel North America on her motorcycle - a 1987 Virago she bought with her waitressing tips when she was 21. She loves to explore the world  on her boat or motorcycle, and traveling to new places with her husband. A full-time writer, she is currently working on the second book of her Clare Vengel series.

  • A book you think everyone should read at least once in their lifetime:
 Eat, Pray, Love. It made me feel strong; it reminded me of the power of the mind and the value of constant compassion.

  • The book you last read:
Looks Perfect, by Kim Moritsugu. I loved it – I don’t know how it’s classified officially, but for me it was like chick lit grabs a brain. Enjoyable, quick, and lots of food for reflection. Seriously good writing, too – not a word out of place. Kim is one of my favorite writers.

  • A book you're currently reading:
Still Life, by Louise Penny. I love this one too. (I’m quick to put a book down if I don’t love it.) It’s a murder mystery, and right from page 1 the characters have been vibrant and warm. Again, the writing is excellent.

Q: The protagonist in the story, Clare Vengel, struck me as the modern-day Canadian version of Nancy Drew. Was Nancy Drew an inspiration for the character? What or who were the other inspirations for Clare, as well as for the other characters

A: Cool question. Nancy Drew was the first sleuth I read about, so I’m sure her influence must have filtered in somehow. But consciously, I don’t think Clare was influenced by anyone – except maybe a modern solo Charlie’s Angel.

Q: The book is heavy with relevant political issues as to date: homelessness, the environment, politicians who aren't really worth the taxpayers' money. You seen to know a lot about these things. Are you, by any chance, a Political Science graduate yourself?  Which of your personal experiences did you incorporate in the book?

A: I’m not a poli sci grad (I studied physics and dropped out), but I am intrigued by politics. It gets under my skin when public money is wasted. We work hard for the taxes we pay – and I’m fine with high taxes if there’s value for it. But too often that money is frittered away on non-essential things instead of being used to address real issues. We have enough money and collective brainpower to solve a lot of the world’s problems, and it bothers me that most of the time we choose not to.

This book isn’t meant to solve any of these problems – at its heart, it’s just a light, fun read – but I enjoyed asking the questions as I was writing.

Q: The one thing that kept me turning the page was how right from the start you made everyone appear guilty, from the professor to every single one of the students; I was even wondering if Brian's mother was the killer (haha). The title Dead Politician Society is just spot-on, and you mentioned in your acknowledgments that it was your dad's idea. How did he come up with it?

A: He pulled it out of his head in two seconds when I asked him on the phone one day. He doesn’t like the new title as well as the working title (Dead Politicians), which he still lets me know any time the subject comes up!

Q: I like how you jumped third-person narration from character to character; normally I'd be confused with a lot of different POVs, but I quite enjoyed it in your book. Did you originally plan to write the book this way, or did you pick it up as you wrote along?

A: I’m glad you liked the jumping narration! No, I had no plan. The book started writing itself, and I went with it. Before this, I’d only written first person present tense (and never crime), so Dead Politician Society was a total departure.

Q: Were there other revisions in the story, like a subplot that got cut or a part that got revised?

A: Tons. The original version had too many characters and the killer was way too obvious. So I cut out half the characters, merged two people into one in a couple of cases, and threw in some extra red herrings. Roberta came in when someone suggested that Clare should have a mentor and a place where she could be herself (i.e., not undercover), so readers could get to know the real her. There were many more revisions, too – I had some really good advice along the way.

Q: What's your favorite scene in the book?

A: I try not to marry a particular scene (in case it needs to get cut), but I like the scene where Matthew’s car breaks down and Clare fixes it.

Q: Are you working on a new book right now? What's next for Clare Vengel?

A: I sure am working. Next up, Clare goes undercover as a poker player at a major televised tournament. High profile poker players are being strangled in their hotel rooms, and it’s Clare’s job to figure out who’s killing them. She’s posing as a trust fund princess in designer clothes, which is a fun twist because she hates fashion and pretense of any sort. And her love life heats up in a big way.

No comments:

Post a Comment

The public is the only critic whose opinion is worth anything at all.

- Mark Twain

Return to top of page Copyright © 2010 | The Wannabe Literati.