Tuesday, 10 January 2012

In Converation with the real fictional PI LEE ALVAREZ

It isn’t every day we get to meet a real fictional character,
straight out of the pages of author               HEATHER HAVEN’s

Alvarez Family Murder Mystery Series.

This is a huge treat.

I wonder how long it is safe to keep Lee in real life. We’ll keep all three books open, then if Murder is a Family Business and A Wedding to Die For accidentally close, Lee can quickly jump back into her new story Death Runs in the Family which enters the public domain in May.

Welcome, PI LEE ALVAREZ. It’s lovely you have taken the risk to step out from your comfort zone for a while. Thank you for being here. Tell the truth now, Lee. What’s one thing about you that you’ve never told anyone?

I always tell the truth, except when I prevaricate. But here’s something nobody knows. I’ve always wanted to play the ukulele. In fact, I have one gathering dust under the bed. It’s been there for three years. I tried to play it when I first got it, but it’s really hard.  For about two weeks I would practice every day. The tips of my fingers were raw. I asked a musician friend and he said that if I practiced for the next two years or so, maybe I could advance from ‘horrible’ to ‘amusingly bad.’ I don’t know if it’s pride or just the time factor – I mean, I do spend the majority of my life investigating the theft of intellectual property and software piracy, with a few murders thrown in every now and then. Do I see myself like Sherlock Holmes and his violin?  Maybe. Maybe I’ll pick up my uke one of these days and play Tiny Bubbles for all the world to hear.

Hmmmm. Why am I cringing? Sorry ,but the ‘amusingly bad’ still resonates in my ears. J
Having murder as part of the family business must be difficult. How do the events around you affect you as a person?

OMG, I can’t tell you the stress.  My kid brother, Richard, head of the Discretionary Inquiries Research and IT Department, is always giving me some new fangled piece of equipment no bigger than a cigarette lighter, and then yelling at me because I can’t get it to work. I mean, I’m chasing down murderers in the middle of San Francisco winter storms and it’s my fault his stupid scanner doesn’t work? I haven’t read the instructions? I don’t think so. And then there’s my mother, the lovely Lila Hamilton Alvarez, a serious fashionista. She sends me out on jobs no other self-respecting gumshoe would take, and then it’s my fault somebody gets killed on my watch? And God forbid, I should be wearing navy blue with black. She’ll tell me to stop chasing the perp and go change my clothes.  At least I have Tío, my wonderful uncle, a retired Mexican chef who can do things with chorizo and cheese that stops traffic in the streets. Speaking of streets, there is a new addition to the Alvarez Family, a little kitten I found wandering the streets in the rainstorm. I’ve named him Rum Tum Tugger. He’s my new guy. I’ve been getting into a lot of messes lately, so I’m lucky I’ve got my family around, warts and all.

Your life sounds hectic and dangerous, but I’ll bet you wouldn’t change it for the world. What would you say to people who ask, “Why do you do what you do? Why not take up some dream job in a part of the world where no-one has ever heard of you?

There’s a dream job in some other part of the world? Lead me to it. Just kidding. Detective work is the family business. Before Dad’s sudden death two years ago, due to an aneurism, he taught me everything he knew about being a good detective, hoping I would follow in his footsteps. He built up this thriving business specializing in tracking down law-breakers in software and intellectual property computer fraud, here in the Silicon Valley. But in my heart of hearts, what I really wanted to become was a ballerina.

You wanted to be a ballerina!?

Oh yes, I studied ever since I was five years old. I worked really hard at it. But the truth? There’s no substitute for talent. I am, at best, a mediocre dancer, no matter how hard I work at it. It doesn’t help that I’ve 5’8” tall, either. A good ballerina is usually around 5’4” in height. Anyway, at about sixteen-years of age I had to face it. I could never get a job in anything more than the chorus of a second-rate ballet company. We all have our secret ‘what ifs’, things we wish had turned out differently. But I’m smart enough to know that not being able to do a first-rate glissade arabesque is probably one of life’s better regrets.

Ranks up there with the ukulele, eh? Never mind, you are a wonderful detective. What makes your style unique? Do you have a trade mark?

I like to read Dashiell Hammett detective stories and watch old black and white movies while on my laptop hunting some suspect down. I think of myself as colorful. At least, that’s what I say to my mother. She’s not buying any of it, though. She wants me to stop being impulsive, think ahead before I leap, and for heaven’s sake, act like a lady. Ha ha., as if. And my trade mark? Hmmm… Picture me a sort of a modern California gal-PI, dressed in Vera Wang, with a big crush on Humphrey Bogart.

I see. So, you are inspired by fictional detectives? Very interesting. Ironic, but interesting. J  What makes you happy?

Sapphire Bombay Gin martini - shake that sucker, please -- two olives, served icy cold. Throw in a bowl of mixed nuts, and a Barbara Stanwyck movie. Curled up with those and Tugger, my cat, and my Snub Nose Lady Blue Detective Special, life doesn’t get much better. OMG. I just reread that. Does that sound as pathetic as I think it does?

No definitely not ‘pathetic’. I’d say ‘cosy’ would be a more appropriate word. If you could have anything at all what would you want or need to make your life complete?

World peace. No kidding around. I’m lucky and I know it. I have a wonderful but weird family, who love me despite my many faults. I live in one of the most beautiful spots on the planet, California’s glorious Bay Area. I have a great job as a PI in our family business. My health’s good, I’m pretty smart, and reasonably attractive. In the best of all worlds, I would like to have someone to share my Kashi GoLean with most mornings, but I’m working on it, I’m working on it.

Well, LEE ALVAREZ, I’m sure we all wish you much success in that area. Thank you for spending time on the outside. Allow me to help you step back into your book.

Lee is safely inside her story so I close the books. You can reopen them by going to:
 MuseItUp Publishing for:
Murder is a Family Business
A Wedding to Die For 

or Amazon.com
Murder is a Family Businees    
And meet the author, Heather Haven at:


Anonymous said...

I'd love to sip one of those Sapphire Bombay Gin martinis with Lee. She sounds like a fun character. Great interview, Wendy, but I'm glad you managed to get your fictional guest back into the pages of her book. How else would we learn about her next adventures.

Heather Haven said...

Thanks, Wendy, so much for taking Lee under your wing. I'm so glad she opened up to you! You can see that for all her bravado, she's a woman whose insecurities pop up from time to time. Let's not even get into her tendencies to leap before she looks. I try to reason with her, but I'm only the author, she never listens to me.

gail roughton branan said...

I'm in the process of meeting Lee right now via A Wedding to Die For. So this little scoop was great! Heather, thanks for letting Lee out for a while! Wendy, thanks for guesting!

Vicki Batman said...

What a loverly interview, ladies, and wow! a fantastic cover.

Kemberlee said...

I just finished A Wedding to Die For and I must say, Lee, you sure do have guts. There's no way I would have ridden out on a horse alone, knowing bad guys were afoot! Great story though. I love the whole archaeology subtheme. Can't wait for your next adventure! When you see Heather, give her a big ole hug from me!

Michelle said...

I love character interviews. How funny that the mother would make her stop and change if she was wearing navy blue with black. I loved that bit. The series sounds great!


Wendy said...

Lovely to see you all here. Heather it was a pleasure to host your delightful young star. Lee equipped herself beautifully, but please remove the uke from under her bed. :)

Edith, I have Lee firmly closed inside Murder is a Family Business which I put on my new Kindle. Committments still keep me from reading it but I know I'm going to love it, especially having met Lee.

Hi Gail, Lovely to see you here. A wedding to Die for is on my to read list. I think the Alvarez family might become quite addictive.

I agree Vicki. Fantastic covers. I voted for 'Murder is a Family Business' cover when I first joined MuseItUp. It fascinated me with so much intriguing detail. It was the first online contest I voted in, and that cover won, if I remember correctly.

It's good to hear you say that Kemberlee. I'll have to read that one as soon as I finish the first in the Alvarez Family Murder Mysteries Series. You won't have to wait too long for the 3rd one. It comes out in May.

I'll catch up with everyone later. It's the middle of the night where I am - already 11th January.Good night

Anonymous said...

It was so much fun meeting with Lee! :) She has an awesome sense of humor. Wendy was really able to coax some secrets and dreams out of her, huh? Thanks for a great interview, you three! :)

Ginger Simpson said...

I've read both of "Lee's" books and I'm chomping to get to the third. Heather Haven has created an amazing lead character with a fascinating cast to support her. Heather's writing style is one to be envied. So, I'm hoping she gets her butt in gear and finishes the third in her series. :)

Rosalie Skinner said...

Great interview Wendy, interesting lifestyle Lee leads. What a woman. Heather look after this character! Keep her safe in her adventures.
I look forward to reading about them.

Wendy said...

What an impact Lee has had in our conversation (great job Heather ;))
And she's obviously had an even bigger impact on her readers who've become automatic fans :)

Michele,I'm with you. I love the idea of Lee's fashionista mother.

Adriana, Lee had me laughing, too.

Ginger, from your comments about Lee and her supporting cast and Heather's enviable writing style, I'm even more anxious to read the books. I'm becoming a reader rather than a writer.

Wendy said...

Hi Rosalie,
"What a woman" indeed! I suspect there is a lot of Heather in the characters of Lee and Lee's mother combined. :) Will let you know if that's true when I read Murder is a Family Business.

Heather Haven said...

My goodness! I take the afternoon off to help a friend pack up her Christmas ornaments and Lee receives some of the warmest and generous remarks of her career! I blush for her. She would blush, but she's knee deep in solving a crime, dontchaknow, in Las Vegas, where nothing that happens there stays there. Thanks to all my friends and buddies at Muse and otherwise. I am very blessed!