WELCOME FRANKIE Y. BAILEY
FRANKIE Y. BAILEY
FRANKIE Y. BAILEY is an associate professor in the School of Criminal Justice, University at Albany (SUNY). Bailey is the author of mysteries as well as non-fiction titles that explore the intersections of crime, history, and popular culture. Bailey is a Macavity Award-winner and has been nominated for Edgar, Anthony, and Agatha awards. A past executive vice president of Mystery Writers of America and a past president of Sisters in Crime, she is on the Albany Bouchercon 2013 planning committee.
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Q&A with Frankie Y. Bailey
On Writing and Reading
1. Do you draw from personal experiences and/or current events?
As a criminal justice professor, I do research on crime and American history/culture. This gives me an endless supply of historical and contemporary events to draw on for inspiration as a fiction writer. In my Lizzie Stuart mystery series, my character is a crime historian, and I use my own research in those books. In The Red Queen Dies, the debut of my Hannah McCabe series, Albany history plays a crucial role. But because my new series is set in a parallel universe (alternate reality), my treatment of current events has a twist. The when, if, and why of events in my fictional world is somewhat different than the world we know. That will become more obvious as the series goes on. I’m having fun with my own version of world-building – an Albany/a world that is a lot like the one we know, but not quite, and now and then not at all like.
I go to the real places that I use as settings. Occasionally what happens while I’m “on location” ends up being fictionalized in a book. With The Red Queen Dies and my police detective, Hannah McCabe, I draw on experiences such as attending an autopsy and doing ride-alongs and interviews with female police officers and their partners, as well as information I’ve picked up at conferences such at the Writers’ Police Academy.
I think all writers draw on our personal experiences in the sense that we write about what we care about or consider funny or troubling or worth pondering.
2. Do you start with the conclusion and plot in reverse or start from the beginning and see where the story line brings you?
Writers often describe themselves as plotters (who outline), pantsers (who write by seat of pants), or hybrids. I’m a hybrid. I look for something that resonates with me and that I want to write about. In The Red Queen Dies, it was the recurring role that Albany played in the Lincoln-Booth saga. Booth and Lincoln were in Albany on the same day in 1861. A couple of months later, while performing in Albany, an actress stabbed Booth during a lover’s quarrel. I kept thinking about that episode and what might have happened if the actress, Henrietta Irving, had killed Booth. That led me to my title character, a fictional Broadway actress, who comes to Albany to work on a play about Irving. I had a chilling piece of Albany history and an Alice in Wonderland/Through the Looking Glass theme that worked for my world of 2019. I outlined as far as I could and began to write.
But, at some point, what most writers – including me – hope is that the characters will begin to take on a life of their own and that they will begin to say and do unexpected things.
Re the ending – because I’m writing a series, I have an overarching series plotline that develops as the series does. Think of television crime shows in which the murder being investigated is solved each week, but what is happening in the lives of the main characters continues to evolve and play out. I know how that will progress. But what I’ve found is that the identity of the killer in a given book sometimes changes as I get to know the characters and understand what they want and what they’re willing to do to get it.
3. Your routine when writing? Any idiosyncrasies?
My routine has changed over the year as I went from being unpublished to published. I started out writing/publishing nonfiction as an academic scholar. I have continued my academic research. Right now, I’m working on a book about clothing, crime, and justice. My academic research requires time spent in libraries and archives. I also get to read books, watch television and movies, and surf the Internet. Luckily, that research overlaps with the research for my fiction, or vice versa. I write every day. I move back and forth between home and school. What I’m working on depends on deadlines. I try to make as much use as possible of weekends, evenings, and summer. I like to have blocks of time to write rather than a few minutes here and there. But I do a lot of “pre-writing” in my head – for example, bits of dialogue between characters.
Before I can begin writing, I have to have a title. I re-write the first 50 pages over and over again as a kind of warm-up until I can get into the mood and rhythm of the book.
4. Is writing you full-time job? If not, may I ask what you do by day?
5. Who are some of your favorite authors?
I usually name dead authors or authors in other genres to avoid leaving out any of the great crime writers who I could mention. I love characters who use wonderful language to describe their emotions. That puts Shakespeare at the top of my list. I did three quarters of Shakespeare as an undergrad. Crime fiction – Rudolph Fisher (The Conjure- Man Dies), Richard Martin Stern (The Johnny Ortiz series), Dick Francis (horse racing). Classic romantic suspense – Mary Stewart, Phyllis Whitney, Victoria Hope. Mainstream fiction from F. Scott Fitzgerald to Toni Morrison . Trying, without success, to keep up with bestsellers.
6. What are you reading now?
For research, books about being an undertaker, funerals, and superstitions about death and dying. I’m also reading – slowly – Moby Dick, a book that I’ve often started but never finished. I reference Moby Dick in my work in progress.
7. Are you working on your next novel? Can you tell us a little about it?
The working title is Cock Robin’s Funeral. I love the ballad of Cock Robin and used that as my starting point. This is the second book in my Hannah McCabe series. The time is January 2020, and a funeral director is murdered, shot with an arrow from his own crossbow. This book picks up with and continues to develop a subplot involving several of the main characters. Murder, politics, betrayal, climate change, and a city struggling to cope.
a. Your novel will be a movie. Who would you cast?
No idea for Hannah McCabe. But her father, Angus, was inspired by one of my favorite veteran actors, the late Darren McGavin. I loved him as the investigative reporter in “Kolchak: The Night Stalker” and as the grumpy father in “A Christmas Story”. In my alternate reality, he would be alive and well and able to play the role of Angus.
b. Would you rather read or watch TV/movie?
Because my research focuses on crime and mass media/popular culture, I’ve had to learn to read while watching TV/movie. If a TV show or movie catches my attention, I stop reading and watch. But, of course, some books or TV/movies, are so good they deserve undivided attention.
c. Favorite food?
Depends on whether I’m trying to be healthy or really indulging. Oatmeal with pears, walnuts, and almond milk vs. fried oysters.
d. Favorite beverage?
Hot apple cider with lots of cinnamon.
ABOUT THE BOOK
The first in a new high-concept police procedural series, set in Albany with an Alice in Wonderland theme.
Frankie Bailey introduces readers to a fabulous new protagonist and an Alice in Wonderland-infused crime in this stunning mystery. The year is 2019, and a drug used to treat soldiers for post-traumatic stress disorder, nicknamed “Lullaby,” has hit the streets. Swallowing a little pill erases traumatic memories, but what happens to a criminal trial when the star witness takes a pill and can’t remember the crime? Biracial detective Hannah McCabe faces similar perplexing problems as she attempts to solve the murders of three women, one of whom, a Broadway actress known as “The Red Queen,” has a special interest in the story of Alice in Wonderland. Is the killer somehow reenacting the children’s tale? This smart, tough mystery will appeal to fans of high-concept police procedurals.
READ AN EXCERPT
Genre: Mystery & Detective
Published by: Minotaur Books
Publication Date: Sept 10, 2013
Number of Pages: 304
ISBN: 978-0-312-64175-7 / 978-1-250-03717-6
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