RP Dahlke

Read more about RP Dahlke.

Interview By: Tamazon

Date: February 07, 2012

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Current Release: A Dead Red Heart

Describe your current release in two sentences?

Say your loved one died of heart disease because the organ transplant they were to receive was instead given to an inmate of the state penal system—what would you do? Write angry letters to your congressman? Hold protest marches? Or wait till the bastard was released from prison and then hunt him down and kill him.

What was your childhood ambition?

I always wanted to be a writer. I know, I know, you hear this from all authors, but I think it's true with us. We've got some genetic malfunction that sends us to a desk for hours putting words on paper and asking readers to realize that this character, Lalla Bains, in the Dead Red series is real. I've had several suggestions for who should play her in a movie... Sybil Shephard was one, then Sandra Bullock.

Please describe your writing environment.

A room of my own, finally, with a desk, chair, lights, a bulletin board, and a note pinned to it that says, "Write! Write drivel and drek but write!"

Drek, as some of you may know, is the ugly step-sister of Drivel.

What is your favorite TV show?

I like mystery with humor, so that presently includes The Mentalist and The Finder. I also love all the British mystery series on PBS, and, because I'm a romantic, I'm presntly in love with Downton Abbey... sooo romantic.

What are you working on?

I'm presently working on the 3rd Lallla Bains, Aero Ag pilot mystery, titled "A Dead Red Oleander." The cover will have a picture of a goat's face chewing on an oleander. Yes, yes, don't e-mail me... oleanders are poisonous and yes, goats are notorious for eating everything. But it works with what I write, a mystery, a murder, humor and romance. I write what I like to read, which means that I have to have all of the above in my books.

How was your road to publication? Have you every had to deal with rejection letters?

I've been rejected by some pretty big agents and publishers, then did a few years with a small publisher, but when Amazon broke into publishing and didn't care who was signing up to sell e-books, I hopped on that wagon and never looked back.

What has been the best way for you to engage readers? Face to Face / Chatting Online / Twitter / Facebook / Blogging

I love readers and always include my website for contact at the end of every book, and lucky me, I get e-mails almost daily from fans who ask questions about the books... after all, it's not too many women who've done the things I have... run a crop-dusting business and live aboard a sail boat in Mexico. I do Facebook, GoodReads where I post the reviews for other Indie authors who write suspense/mystery, I Twitter and occasionally I blog. I'm a lazy blogger since I always have that next book urging me to work. I have been lucky in that a lot of my writing friends have generously allowed me to be interviewed on their blog-sites.

What is the best thing about being an author?

Having readers e-mail and ask me when the next one is coming. Golly, and to think I would've done this for free! Don't get me wrong, I'm not giving back the money. It pays for my wonderful editor and the spiffy new book covers for each new book.

Can we get an Exclusive excerpt of your next book?

A Dead Red Oleander, Chapter One:

The world is flat. I know it is, because for the last five hours the view has been exactly the same. Only the sun has done any traveling, working long shadows through straight lines of recently harvested cotton, nothing to break the monotony but a few crows shopping the furrowed rows for worms, weevils and grasshoppers

One hops over to inspect the truck I’m lying under, cocks a beady black eye, probably attracted to the shiny metal police-issued hand-cuffs, the hand dangling from wrist to arm, and me, Lalla Bains, Aero Ag pilot, sometime busy-body, meddling where I shouldn’t—again. I’m dirt smeared and sweaty, thinking if I get out of this alive, if the killer doesn’t return to finish me off, I’ll foreswear all future sleuthing. My dad, Caleb, Roxanne and half of Stanislaus County will be pleased to hear that promise come true. I will, this time. Really I will.

I waggle my grubby, unpainted and unadorned fingers at the crow. Too bad I didn’t have on my engagement ring, maybe get him to peck at the lock mechanism and open it. Yeah, right, and while I’m hallucinating, maybe get him to bring me a nice cold Pepsi.

I never wear the ring when I’m working, and I’d worked today, starting at three a.m. as I usually do during the long hot season of flying crop-dusters, spreading chemicals over cotton fields like this one to keep the afore mentioned weevils from devouring the plants. Today was my last flight, and probably last job as an Aero Ag pilot, since my dad’s business will soon be absorbed by another, larger outfit in Merced.

The crow is unimpressed with my status—after all I’m the one recumbent under a truck, unable to move. His quick, sharp black eyes take in the cuff to bumper and then back to my hopeful face. Any interest he may have had at my predicament is answered with a fluff of wings, and I swear to God, a wink. Then he flaps up onto the hood and I can hear his sharp claws rat-tat-tatting across the top of the cab, and an awkward landing in the empty bed of the truck.

A quick, sharp whistle says he’s found that wadded up McDonald’s bag from yesterday, when I still had a life away from murdering suspects. He fusses at the paper bag for a few more minutes until it’s agreed there’s nothing left but a greasy wrapper. I hear his wings flap again, wheels up he flies off to the freedom I can only dream about.

I roll onto a shoulder so I can look out from under the truck. North. The truck is facing North where I’ve been hooked up and alone for most of the day without water, a cell, or hope.

I follow the tracks as they roll over the berm, cutting twin ruts in the banked up earth, the jig-saw pattern of decent while I fought my captor until I was bought to submission with a clout to my head. Tops of trucks whizz past, drivers intent on dinner, home, family—me too.

Someone could notice. I think. There are those lines leading down through the harvested cotton and finally to me under the truck. That is, if the driver in one of those big semis took his eyes off the road and turned his head for a quick glance at the flattened, dry and totally unappealing two-hundred acres. I’m sure he would see the truck down here where it wasn’t supposed to be. I sure wouldn’t give it a second glance.

A car slows and rolls to a stop. A door slams. My heart quickens and in the heat of late summer a shudder runs up my back. I lay where I am, waiting. I hear dirt clods tumble as footsteps make their way through the ruined plants, a curse as one sticks to his pant leg. Then a pair of brogues—black,with enough shine on them to reflect part of a tan pant leg with a navy blue stripe. His knees pop as he squats down to follow the cuffed wrist to the bumper and finally down to me, snuggled in between the row of cotton, under my dad’s old farm truck.

He removes the California Highway Patrol cap, and I notice stripes on his sleeve—a sergeant, maybe someone bright enough to figure out I’m not a criminal. The blond hair, which usually counts for a few points with most men, is presently adorned with cotton stems and fluffy balls. The rest of me is streaked with dirt. Not my best look.

We stare at each other for a minute. I’m parched, my lips are cracked and my tongue is dry and sticks to the roof of my mouth. I needed that Pepsi, maybe a rum and Coke before I can possibly say a word. I swallowed, thinking nothing will come out.

But then he does the one thing guaranteed to fix my pipes.

“So,” he drawls, “What’s your story, little lady?”

I've been thrilled to enjoy a measure of success with my books on Amazon and there is no greater joy to me that to start or finish the next book, and it's all due to readers! Thank you readers!

Rebecca aka RP Dahlke