I had the pleasure to ask Alexandra Amor, author of the Freddie Lark series and podcaster some questions about her work and PI fiction in general.
Q:What makes Freddie Lark different from other hardboiled characters?
Well, first she’s a woman, which is somewhat unusual in the hardboiled genre, though not as much as it used to be. Second, she’s accidentally falling into solving mysteries. She’s not an ex-cop, doesn’t have a PI license, and defines herself as an artist, not a detective. She leads with compassion and kindness rather than with a tough attitude. And she doesn’t even own pepper spray, let alone a gun.
Q: How did you come up with the character?
It’s sometimes difficult to describe the process of how a character emerges but I’ll try. I wanted to write about Vancouver, where I’d lived for 30 years, and I wanted the books to be contemporary. I’d been writing a historical mystery series, so writing about the present-day was a change. Freddie just gradually evolved as I began to think about writing mysteries set in that city. I knew I wanted her to be mature (she’s 40) and independent (no kids or spouse). As I began to write the prequel novella that starts the series, I got to know her. She’s observant and kind, she has a sassy mouth, and she’s surrounded by a rag-tag bunch of friends who would do anything for her (and vice versa).
Q: What are your thoughts on eBooks?
Love ebooks! I personally read on my iPad on one of the ebook apps. Lately I only seem to buy books in print if they’re not available in ebook. I love that I can travel and take 50 books with me if I want to without having to lug 50 paperbacks around. And I also believe that every reader has the right to choose the format that works for them best; audiobook, ebook, or paperback. I also love it that ebooks are more affordable for readers.
Q: What's next for you and your characters?
I’m working on the next Freddie Lark book, called Lark Goes Back. Freddie is embroiled in a financial fraud case that may or may not involve her sister. I also write a short mystery story every month for my patrons on Patreon. So far in 2021 those stories have all been set in Freddie Lark’s world, though they don’t always have her as the main character, as the books do. Some of the short mysteries feature her sister or mother or friend and tenant, Ellie.
Q: What do you do when you're not writing?
I live in a tiny fishing village on an island off the British Columbia coast and we are very close to nature here. So I love walking on the beaches and trails around town. I also read a lot (of course). I have plans to learn to play the ukulele.
Q: How do you promote your work?
I promote my work any way I can. I run Amazon ads on that platform. I host a weekly podcast for mystery readers where I interview other mystery authors and have them read to us from their books. I have two free novellas available on my website and when readers sign up for those I keep in touch with them via a monthly newsletter. The first novel in the Freddie Lark series (Lark Underground) is free in ebook format at all the online retailers, so I run promotions about that a few times a year. I submit my books to Kobo promotions regularly. Next on my list is learning about BookBub ads.
Q: What other genres besides crime do you like?
I love the memoir genre. And when I’m not reading mysteries or memoirs I’m reading books about writing, or ones about running an author business.
Q: In the last century we've seen new waves of PI writers, first influenced by Hammett, then Chandler, Macdonald, Parker, later Lehane. Who do you think will influence the coming generation?
I’m terrible at predicting the future, but what I would love to see is increasing diversity in the mystery genre; that is, books by those authors we haven’t heard from yet or have barely heard from. Indigenous authors, books by trans and other LGBTQ authors. Books for readers who have not yet seen themselves represented in literature and art. All the authors you mentioned above are white men. Won’t it be great when those writers who are influencing the coming generations of writers are as diverse as the real world is?
Q: Why do you write in this genre?
Even when I try to write something that isn’t a mystery, it always ends up with a mystery in the plot. So I think this is just who I am; a mystery author. I love it. I love that solving crime is a metaphor for making sense out of the mysteries in our lives. And I love that one of the things I get to do with my life is make up stories that hopefully entertain readers.
For those of you wanting to know more about this author, check out:
2 Free novellas: https://alexandraamor.com/library/