Friday, January 29, 2010

Living la Vida... Misa!!!


Ladies and gents, we have a guest blogger today! Please put your hands together for Misa Ramirez, author of the Lola Cruz mysteries from St. Martin's Minotaur!

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.

24 comments:

Joyce said...

Welcome to the Stiffs, Misa!

I like my mysteries most any way I can get them. It all depends on the mood I'm in.

Right now, I'm writing a funny mystery, which is a lot harder to do than most people would think.

Jemi Fraser said...

I agree with Joyce - I love mysteries of all kinds. I grew up on Agatha Christie too, and will read just about anything with a good mc and an intriguing story line. Lola sounds awesome!

Dru said...

I like my mysteries to be exciting and I tend to go all over the place. The one thing I like to see is the character having fun be it with their friends or lover.

MaryQ said...

As long as the characters and storyline are appealing, it doesn't matter to me what kind of mystery I read.
I'm not sure if I can write a funny one, though. I think I'm too serious!

Jennie Bentley said...

Thanks for visiting, Misa! Like everyone else here, I'll read anything that's well written. I will confess to a weakness for the sassy girl sleuths and the hot guys they like, though. ;-)

Wilfred Bereswill said...

Jennie, you mean like Freddy, the Swedish Stripper???

Jennie Bentley said...

EXACTLY like Freddy the Swedish Stripper! (Although I was thinking more along the lines of Stephanie Plum with Ranger or Morelli, and Nora Blackbird with Mick Abruzzo, and Sophie Metro with Jake Porter... The books you read because the love interest is just so damned hot. Yes, I'm a girl. Sue me.)

misa ramirez said...

It IS hard to be funny, Joyce. My books and my Christmas letters are it for me. I save all my wit for them!

Thanks so much, Jennie, for having me on the Working Stiffs today!

Just an FYI, I'm in the middle of a BIG ASS (can I say that?) blog tour with lots and lots of giveaways along the way. Next week we're doing a week of Lola at Chasing Heroes (http://chasingheroes.com ) with books and bracelets and interviews with my agent and editor. The tour schedule is on my web site ( http://misaramirez.com ) so follow along for a chance to win a copy of one of the Lola Cruz Mysteries, or just follow along for the fun of it and go buy your copies!!!

misa ramirez said...

Oh, Dru, did you read Living the Vida Lola? Smokin' scene in a salsa club with Lola and Jack!

Love Agatha Christie, Jemi!

misa ramirez said...

Gotta follow your voice, MaryQ!

Jennie, Lola is MADE for you!!!

misa ramirez said...

Okay, Freddy the Swedish Stripper? Clue me in, chicas.

Jennie Bentley said...

Back a few years ago, when I was still a pretty young thing, I was traveling from NYC to Norway on a plane. In the seat next to me was a young man named Freddy from Sweden. He was a stripper. Nice-looking kid. A few years younger than me at the time; 22 or 23. I was in my late twenties. During the course of conversation he asked if I was married. (Yes.) He asked if I had any kids. (No.) He asked how old was my husband. (A year older than me, no more than 30.) He said if I wanted kids, maybe I needed a younger man. (Being the sweet and innocent type, it took me a while to realize he was hitting on me.)

I mentioned this on a blog somewhere sometime, and Wilfred Bereswill said, "Oh, was that you?" Let me point out his name again: wilFRED. Will and I have never met, so for all I know, it's the truth.

And that's the story of Freddy the Swedish stripper, who offered (sort of) to father my first child.

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

Hi, Misa! Just me -- I warned you! -- dropping in to let you know I've got this posted at Win a Book. Thanks for the e-mail!

Joyce said...

Jeez, Jennie. I only get senior citizens hitting on me in the produce section of the supermarket.

Btw, I think Will just pretends to be Freddie the stripper so you forget about the dress incident. Heh.

See how much fun we have here, Misa?

Wilfred Bereswill said...

Wilfred is taking the 5th on both stripping and wearing dresses.

Wilfred Bereswill said...

And by the way, it's time for Stephanie Plum to make a choice. Just my humble opinion.

misa ramirez said...

ROFLOL, Jennie!!! That's hilarious! You have to put that in a book...

misa ramirez said...

You have my back, Susan! Love Win a Book!!!

misa ramirez said...

Joyce, yes, I see you DO have lots of fun here. The dress incident? Spill it.

And WilFRED? I couldn't agree more...Steph needs to choose. Lola doesn't have that problem, thankfully.

Jennie Bentley said...

Misa, dear... about Will and the dress...

http://workingstiffs.blogspot.com/2009/04/reason-for-dying-of-embarrassment.html

Wilfred Bereswill said...

You just had to do it, didn't you?

Jennie Bentley said...

I'm afraid I did, Freddy. But no worries, you're stunning. It's the legs. Definitely the legs.

And let me just share my word verification: noveled. No kidding. Yes, I've noveled a few times.

misa ramirez said...

You guys are a blast! Thanks again for the great support and love for Lola!!!

Wilfred Bereswill said...

I don't want to brag, but this is absolutely true...

At a company picnic many years ago, I did win a sexy legs contest. A guy's sexy legs contest. I just wanted to get that straight.