Julie Kramer is a former television journalist who now writes a series of mystery novels starring investigative reporter Riley Spartz. Her books were among our favorites to hand sell, and we are sorry not to be able to do so in person any more. You should be sure to pick up her fourth and newest title, Killing Kate, which will be released July 26th. (Our review will be posted early next week.)
[Booksellers Without Borders]: Why should anybody buy your book?
[Julie Kramer]: Because angels might be the next vampires or demons or zombies. And KILLING KATE deals with a killer who draws chalk outlines shaped like angels around victims. From Genesis to Revelation, the Bible features angels as messengers. So what message is this angel of death delivering? After a career in television news, some of my former colleagues believe I’ve been too candid reinventing myself from journalist to novelist. “Did you have to tell them, if it bleeds, it leads?”
Besides a stay-up-late read, my books also give you an inside look at how newsrooms function amid crime and chaos. Whether the issue is which missing people get publicity or why animal stories get good play in newscasts, you’ll see the media in an a more desperate light after you read my series.
[BwoB]: Your books mix real news stories with fictional stories that your protagonist, investigative reporter Riley Spartz, is working on. How do you view the role of interplay between fact and fiction in your work?
[JK]: I think weaving real-life people, places and events with fiction makes my characters and plots more believable to readers. Occasionally someone will finish one of my books and then tell me, “I’ve lived here all my life and don’t remember that big explosion on the Iron Range.” And I have to remind them that my stories are novels, not memoirs…and that 97 percent of the tales is made up.
[BwoB]: Killing Kate revolves around a monument in an Iowa cemetery known as the Black Angel. What is your favorite legend about the Black Angel?
[JK]: Too hard to pick a favorite legend. So many. Some believe if a girl kisses beneath the angel she will die within six months. Others say kissing the angel itself will cause a person’s heart to stop beating. The statue is nearly a century old. When it turned from bronze to black, folks back then didn’t know about oxidation and attributed the color to evil of the woman who commissioned it and so these myths endured. If you are ever traveling through Iowa City, pay a visit to the Black Angel. She is magnificent.
[BwoB]: You have book trailers for all four of your books. What role do they play in promoting/selling your books?
[JK]: It’s said that half of all marketing and promotion works, but no one knows which half. As a television journalist, I enjoy the visual spin of book trailers. Sometimes when I do TV interviews about my series, the station will use a snippet of the trailer for a tease.
[BwoB]: Has a review ever changed your perspective on your work? If so, for better or worse?
[JK]: I’ve been fortunate that for the most part I’ve been well reviewed. But every author gets a stinker now and then. And I try not to think about those. They do make me understand why some authors simply don’t read their reviews. But I’m too curious to turn away. Luckily, winning some awards — the Minnesota Book Award and the RT Reviewer’s Choice for Best First Mystery — has given me confidence, as has being nominated for others — the Anthony, Barry, Shamus, Mary Higgins Clark and Daphne du Maurier. So I try not to read too much into reviews.
[BwoB]: Thanks for taking the time to talk with us!