“Sex, Murder and a Double Latte” with Kyra Davis and her sassy heroine Sophie Katz. An interview to enjoy with a cup of steaming coffee and really dark chocolate!
Bonjour Kyra! If you could describe yourself with three words…
Silly, strong and emotional (yes, you can be both strong and emotional).
A little bit of Astrology, now: you’re Leo, aren’t you? They are known to be generous, enthusiastic but also a little bit bossy. Are you a typical Lion?
If you ask an astrologer they’d tell you that I was born on the cusp thus making me a Leo/Virgo; but I don’t think there’s a lot of Virgo in me. I don’t have any of the famous Virgo organizational skills. Like any good Leo I love being in the limelight and I crave praise. I can also be overly emotional and will do anything for my friends. I don’t think anyone (with the possible exception of my son) would call me bossy but I do speak my mind (sometimes when I shouldn’t).
Now, let’s talk about “Sex, Murder and a Double Latte”…
Sure let’s talk about it (LOL). Sophie Katz is my protagonist and she’s a murder mystery author living in San Francisco. There’s a Hollywood producer interested in turning one of her novels into a film but before he can make that happen he’s found dead. The police say it’s a suicide but the odd thing is that the producer’s death mirrored a death scene in one of his own films. Soon things that have happened to the characters Sophie has written about start happening to her…little things at first: a broken glass in the kitchen, a book slightly out of place, then someone vandalizes her car and eventually people start dying. The police see her as more of a suspect than a victim so Sophie takes it upon herself to figure out what’s going on. She also gets a lot of help from her friends, a group that includes Dena, the owner of a sex shop, Mary Ann, a make-up artist for Lancôme and Marcus, her gay male hairstylist. Together they form their own version of the Dream Team and figure out how to switch Sophie’s role from victim to heroine.
Then comes “Passion, Betrayal and Killer Highlights”, the second Sophie book…
When I was about halfway through Sex, Murder And A Double Latte I realized that I wanted to write a sequel. In the first book I spent a lot of time exploring Sophie’s relationships with her crazy friends so I decided that in the next book I’d spend a little more time exploring her relationship with her crazy family….and her budding and tumultuous relationship with a certain private detective. Of course a few people die including Leah’s (Sophie’s sister) adulterous husband leaving Leah as the prime suspect in his murder.
There will be a sequel to “Passion, Betrayal and Killer Highlights”, titled “Obsession, Deceit And Really Dark Chocolate”. Can you spill some secrets?
Melanie O’Reilly (Sophie’s mentor/former-writing-instructor) asks Sophie to test her husband’s loyalty which is another way of saying she wants her to try to seduce him. Sophie figures she’ll just flirt a little with him and see if he makes a pass. He doesn’t which is good but then he’s shot in a drive-by shooting which is bad. Sophie initially assumes that his murder was a random act of violence but soon realizes that there’s a lot more to it.
Do you think there will be a sequel to “Obsession, Deceit And Really Dark Chocolate”?
I hope so! My agent will be pitching my editor a proposal for Sophie book 4 & 5
Russian characters are very popular in American fiction. Why? You’ve got Anatoly Darinsky, for instance…
Americans are oddly nostalgic for The Cold War. I know that sounds bizarre but since America is geographically so far removed from Russia we were able to romanticize the enemy. Our desire to see our history with Russia (and Russians) through rose colored glasses has intensified as things continue to get worse in Iraq. However none of that has anything to do with why I “invented” Anatoly Darinsky. When I was in college I was invited to a dinner party by a relatively new acquaintance. The minute I walked in the door I saw one of the best looking men I’ve ever laid eyes on….and he saw me. I swear, it was like a movie; our eyes locked, the chemistry was palpable and before I knew it I was by his side and visa versa. His name was Anatoly (not Darnisky) and he was from Russia where he served in the army. Then he moved to Israel and served in THAT army. I thought that was interesting and started asking him more questions about himself. That turned out to be a mistake. It turns out that Anatoly served in two armies because he didn’t have the intelligence or social graces to succeed in any field that was dependant on his physical abilities. I mean the man was a TOTAL idiot. So much for my little “movie.” Now, years later I’ve been given the opportunity to rewrite the scene. My Anatoly has his issues, but he’s not stupid. One of the best parts of being a writer is you can literally rewrite history.
How was Sophie born?
I started writing Sex, Murder And A Double Latte when I was in the middle of my divorce. I was anxious, overwhelmed and more than a little angry. I knew I needed an emotional escape so I created Sophie Katz and her fictional world in which I could legally kill people.
Do you and Sophie have a lot in common?
Somewhat but not as much as people assume. We share the same sense of humor, ethnicity and vocation. But Sophie has a lot of issues that I don’t and the reverse is true as well. For instance, Sophie is jealous by nature, I’m not. Sophie is also never hesitates to ask for help when she needs it while I often hesitate to ask for help even when it’s incredibly obvious that I need it.
Your novels are filled with bubbly, colorful characters. Does Art imitate Life? Or do your characters come out of the blue?
A little of both as my story about Anatoly probably indicates. Usually I’m inspired by an individual (or, as is more often the case, several individuals) but as I develop my characters they take on a life of their own until they are completely removed from the person they were originally inspired by.
You said on your website that you had a passion for theater, at school. Why? Is it still your passion?
Mmm….I miss the theater. I’m not entirely sure if I was right to give it up. However in college I began to worry that I didn’t have what it took to make a living as an actress. Around that same time my French professor told the class that we all needed to choose a historic French figure and write a report on him or her (in French of course). I knew everyone was going to be picking people like Monet and Matisse…perhaps one or two would go with Napoleon or Louis the XIV but I wanted to be different. In the end I chose Coco Channel and it was while researching her that I fell in love with fashion. Never one to do anything halfway, I immediately changed majors and career paths. I went to a fashion school in San Francisco and then The Fashion Institute of Technology in New York. I worked in Couture boutiques and in buying offices but then my chosen course was derailed again…this time by a man who I later married and then divorced. To be fair I wouldn’t have allowed ANYONE to come between me and a career that I loved and for the first years of our marriage I did continued to pursue my career in the fashion industry but it became clear that I liked the idea of working in fashion more than I liked the reality of it. So when I had my son and had to decide if I was going to go back to work immediately or leave my job (until recently, maternity leave in the States was only 6 weeks) it was an easy decision–leave my job. Of course then my marriage failed and I HAD to go back to work and that’s how I discovered writing and this is one career I WON’T be walking away from.
How do you picture your reader?
I still find it incredible that ANYONE is reading my books! But my guess is that the majority of my readers are women in their twenties and probably quite a few teens. Beyond that I hope my readers are a fairly diverse group of people. I’d like to think that my writing appeals to all kinds of people.
How do you usually work? What about the dreaded writer’s block?
I usually write when my son is with a babysitter and I frequently take my laptop to a cafe (yes I know, it’s a very “Sophie” thing to do). The best way to handle writer’s block is to write through it. Even if I don’t think my idea is very good I know I can always go back and change things later. I just need to give myself something to work with.
Do you have an advice for aspiring authors?
Write something! I know that sounds like odd advice but I’m always meeting people who tell me that they are writers at heart but haven’t found the time to actually WRITE ANYTHING! As I noted in the last question, writers shouldn’t worry about how good or bad their first draft is. The point is to get the ball rolling, once you do that everything becomes easier.
What about the after-Sophie? What will you charm us with next?
My next book is So Much For My Happy Ending and that book is a bit of a departure for me. It’s still my voice but the issues are more serious. The protagonist in the novel is a young woman who marries a man who she later learns is suffering from a mental illness that threatens to destroy them both. There is humor but it’s not exactly a light read. I know it’s being translated into German (which surprised me, this is the first book of mine that the Germans have shown any interest in) but I don’t know if it will be translated into French. Ideally I’d like to write a Sophie book every year and a more serious novel every other year. I should be able to do that as long as people continue to buy my books.
“Tea or Coffee?”
Saturday evening. Going out or reading a book? I like to alternate every other week
Holidays. Beach or Mountains? Beach!
Sleepy Town or Crazy Megalopolis? Crazy Megalopolis!
Picking a DVD. Comedy or Drama? Comedy, my life is dramatic enough.
Shy or Easy-Going? Easy-going. No one in their right mind would call me shy.
Serious or Funny? Little of both.
Like To Travel or Hate to Move? Like to Travel.
Sporty Girl or Couch Potato? I work-out 6 days a week, but Sports? I couldn’t catch a ball to save my life!
Leader or Follower? Leader (I am a Leo after all…)
TV show: It’s a toss up between The Daily Show, Project Runway and Grey’s Anatomy
Movie: A Fish Called Wanda
Book: There are too many to chose from! I do LOVE David Sedaris and Nick Hornby so any one of their books would be a good pick. But I also love Alice Walker’s The Color Purple and…oh, I could go on and on about this so I’ll just stop myself now!
Music: I like all kinds of music but lately I’ve become fond of Hip-Hop that is mixed with other musical styles (the single playing on my MySpace page, We Gonna Win, is the perfect example of this).
Food: My ex was a gourmet chef who specialized in Provençal cuisine so I’ve sort of been spoiled when it comes to food. Friends used to come over and ask if I had the necessary ingredients for a sandwich to which I would reply, “No, but we do have Duck Liver Mousse, roasted beets and portabella mushrooms.”
City: San Francisco, no matter where I live it will always be my home. However I do LOVE Paris and Nice
Favorite place to write: Cafes
Quote or motto: Life shrinks and expands in proportion to your courage
Thank you, Kyra!
Visit Kyra’s website http://www.kyradavis.com/