Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Vinnie Hansen - Guest Author

Settle back in your chairs for an exciting ride with today’s guest author, Vinnie Hansen, who describes herself as a Dakota-blizzard, California-beach cocktail and her writing as spare, humorous, character-driven surprises See what I mean? Settle in for the rest of her answers.

Describe your most productive writing venue. What makes it best for you? What is your most productive time of the day (and do you need caffeine)?

Fortified with organic dark chocolate and Vanilla Hazelnut Yogi tea, I ensconce myself in a comfy office chair in front of my desktop computer. It’s ten in the morning, so I’m fully awake and have picked up the house. My husband is at the gym. This is critical. I need to be alone. Even a resurrected Mother Teresa would be asked to leave. My corner desk faces walls so the only distractions are those seductive mistresses: E. Mail and FB. Occasionally, to my side, out the window, a hummingbird alights on a slender branch of pelargonium, pauses from beating his wings 80 times per second, and reminds me to remain calm.

How many books do you read in a typical month? Do you read in your genre while you are writing? What’s your most recent “great” book?

I’m not a speedy reader, and I read a lot for my critique groups. However, I manage at least one book a month. Yes, I read mysteries while I’m writing them. If I didn’t, I’d either have to forsake writing or reading mysteries. My most recent “great” book was Ordinary Grace. It should drive a stake through the heart of snobs who think genre books can’t be great literature. (JMJ Note: by William Kent Krueger)

Name three not well-known authors you would recommend and tell us what you like about their writing.

One of my all time favorite mysteries is Adios Hemingway by Cuban writer Leonardo Padura Fuentes. It’s set in Cuba and Hemingway is a character—enough said.

Christine Finlayson. She’s written one book so far, Tip of the Bone. After a few exchanges with her via the Guppy list, I decided to try her book. Tip of the Bone fell in my To-Read stack right after Terry Shames’ A Killing at Cotton Hill, so I worried for it. As a reader I moved from Texas to the rainy Oregon Coast, from first person present to third person past, and from an older male protagonist with investigative experience to a young female amateur sleuth. Tip of the Bone held its own just fine.

Lastly I recommend Kirsten Weiss, Kassandra Lamb, K.B. Owen and Shannon Esposito, my homies at misterio press. We are dedicated to producing top-quality books for mystery lovers.

What motivates you to write?

I have to. To quote George Sand, “The trade of authorship is a violent and indestructible obsession.”

What motivates your protagonist? What influenced who they are today?

My heroine Carol Sabala is half Mexican-American, but she looks like her American mom and has no memory of her father. This lost part of Carol’s identity underpins the series, whether it’s the compassion she shows toward illegal immigrants in Murder, Honey or the actual quest to find out what happened to her father in Death with Dessert. More immediate reasons propel Carol to investigate each case, but throughout the series she is searching for her identity: changing husbands, changing careers, changing houses . . . always searching.

Name three writers from whom you have drawn inspiration and tell us why.

Sue Grafton – She writes the type of mystery I like to read. I “discovered” her early, at the start of her alphabet series. At the time, there weren’t many contemporary female crime writers offering gutsy female protagonists.

Ernest Hemingway – I covered Papa for my master’s degree oral exam. I read all of his books, all major biographies about the man, and the preeminent criticisms of his oeuvre. I have since attended Hemingway Days in Key West, visited his homes in Key West, Cuba and Paris, read The Paris Wife, and written a novel in which he is a character. Since I’m not that crazy about his actual writing, he’s been more an influence than an inspiration. 

Flannery O’Connor – Also one of the authors I read for my orals. A reminder that dark and weird can be okay. It’s good to know the rules, but to develop our own style, we have to break some.

A teaser for Black Beans & Venom

No one wants P.I. Carol Sabala to take the case. Her boss is apprehensive about an illegal investigation in Cuba. Carol’s boyfriend worries about her physical safety. But the client is rolling in dough, the office has unpaid bills, and Carol chafes under the mundane tasks assigned to her.

In Old Havana, Carol sets off to track down Megan, the client’s missing daughter, who is battling metastasizing cancer and running from a sociopathic boyfriend. Struggling in the exotic world of the island, Carol races to find Megan, before the disease or her ex-boyfriend kills her.

You can find more information about Vinnie and her writing at www.vinniehansen.com .


  1. I enjoyed this interview and am a huge fan of Sue Grafton as well. Congratulations on your book.

  2. I loved Black Beans and Venom! The glimpses into Cuban life were fascinating, and Carol Sabala is an intriguing and unconventional sleuth.

    Very fun to read your interview, too. I'm with you on needing time alone to write.

  3. What a fun interview, Vinnie. I always enjoy hanging out with your at conferences and now I've learned some more interesting tidbits. I need complete silence as well and even though my desk overlooks Folsom Lake, I stand at my laptop facing a wall when I write. But with dark chocolate at my side:-) Black Beans and Venom is on my Kindle and I need to move it to the top of the list!

  4. Vinnie is having trouble getting her comments posted. If nothing else works, I'll have her email them to me, and I'll post them. I agree with everyone that it's a fun interview and I learned some new stuff about Vinnie.

    ~ Jim

  5. Thanks for the mention, Vinnie!! I loved Black Beans and Venom. Both the mystery and the local color of Cuba made it extraordinary. And now that we can travel legally to Cuba, I'm putting a trip there on my bucket list.

    Great interview! I too need silence and to be alone to write. Hubs can be home but he needs to make himself scarce.

  6. This from Vinnie who couldn't sign in: Thank you for reading, everyone! Vicki, I love the name of your book: Man Theory. :)

  7. Another great interview. Thanks Vinnie and thanks Jim!

  8. Good interview. A cut above the usual. Thanks.

  9. Great interview James & Vinnie! And omg, Vinnie...Vanilla Hazelnut Yogi tea??? Where do you get such deliciousness? I too need complete silence to write. I always envy those writers who can write in cafes, seems so romantic! :-)

  10. Black Beans and Venom is fantastic! Thanks for the great interview and the great George Sands quote.

  11. Wonderful interview and another author to add to the "must read" column.