And just because I couldn't resist, I snagged this from Misa's website so I could introduce her properly:
Q: Where does a blonde-haired, green-eyed All-American girl get a name like Misa Ramirez?
A: Part A~ The Misa came from the Chinese cooks at the Orange Hut, a restaurant I worked at during my third year in college. They couldn’t quite say Missy, my nickname since childhood, and it came out Misa. They also called me ‘chicken legs’ in Chinese–small favor that one didn’t stick!
Part B~ I met my husband at the Orange Hut, so he’s only ever known me as Misa. Coincidentally, Misa also means Mass in Spanish, his native language. Coincidence? I don’t think so.
Part C~ Love and marriage equal the last name Ramirez and a passel of kids in a baby carriage.
Take it away, Misa!!!
When you aren’t a regular on a blog, it can be hard to know what to write, and how to present it to a brand new audience. Should I be funny, like in my books? Serious, because murder is serious business? Or some combination of the two, perhaps?
The truth is, I’m no stand up comedian (not by a long shot), but I am funny--in my books. Like any fleshed out character, I’m a combination of things. I love a good mystery (cutting my teeth on Nancy Drew, graduating to Agatha Christie, and branching out from there), read the occasional romance (Julia Quinn makes me laugh), but stick mostly with women’s and/or literary fiction (The Help is my new favorite book).
How, then, did I come to write mysteries, and why aren’t my mysteries serious instead of sexy and sassy?
The short answer is, I like the mystery device. What better way to propel a plot forward than to have a crime to solve?
The little-bit-longer answer is that crafting a puzzle that the sleuth and readers need to piece together is challenging--and fun; watching characters you love to spend time with grow and discover themselves--and each other--is rewarding. Having humor and wit in a book is icing on the cake.
For me, then, the mystery is only half the story. Lola Cruz came about long before the framework of Living the Vida Lola. She came to me as a character who was at once sassy, smart, sexy, determined, strong, feminine, Latina, black belt in kung fu, idealistic, American, sister, daughter, friend, and so much more. When it was time to figure out how I was going to tell her story, it made perfect sense to put her into an investigative role. Elements of the mystery, I knew, could pit Lola against external conflicts, as well as internal conflicts, of which she has many. It would force her to evaluate her life, her choices, her dreams, her desires, and her future (all in a funny, light way). Balancing her drive to be a detective, her traditional Mexican family, cultural expectations, her American sensibilities, and her love life is no easy task. Add in a mystery, and it’s a wild ride!
Lola Cruz Mysteries are character driven more than anything, but the mysteries really interest me. They’re ‘ripped from the headlines’, twisted, redefined, and Lola-fied. The mysteries shape, form, and/or enlighten Lola in her personal life or with her decision-making. They are equal, then, to Lola’s own story, which spans the arc of the series (we’re only on book 2, so have a ways to go yet).
I’m always curious to find out from mystery readers if you like your mysteries straight up, or do you enjoy the zany, romantic elements which are in many series?
Visit Misa and learn more about Lola Cruz Mysteries at http://misaramirez.com/, at Chasing Heroes, and at The Stiletto Gang.