Please welcome Lorne Oliver, author of the Alcrest Mysteries and the Sgt. Reid series.
What’s your idea of a perfect day?
A perfect day. I actually had as close to a perfect day as I could get just recently. The wife, kids and I went to the zoo with the next door neighbours. A few hours of walking around checking out the animals and then just the four of us caught a movie at the cheap theater. Then on the ride home (it was 1 hr from home) my wife and I talked about title ideas for my current WIP. Yeah, that was as close to perfect as you can get.
Do you have a signature accessory, color, fragrance, phrase, or meal?
My notebook is something I always have. A hard covered black notebook. You know, the kind with paper in it that you need an ancient device called a pen to write in. I’ve been using notebooks for many years and still have the first ones I used back in the 90’s just in case I wanted to reference some old idea I had. Other than that I’m always wearing some piece of clothing that is black. In The Cistern (and it will be coming up in all of The Alcrest Mysteries) the only “phrase” that is going to be a signature is the word “feneuter.” At the first restaurant I worked at the owners went shopping for smaller items we needed in the kitchen every day. One of the servers one day got hold of the shopping list and wrote down “2 cases of Feneuter” The owners went all over town looking for it. In The Cistern Chrys calls someone a feneuter. A Google search discovered that according to the online urban dictionary a feneuter is a very smelly, ah, womanly part.
Excluding family, name three people who either inspired you or influenced your creativity.
Mrs. Staples. She was my elementary school librarian. One day when the entire class was at the library she asked if anyone knew any Canadian authors. I guess I was a smartass back then because I put my hand up and said I wrote so I must be a Canadian author. She laughed and told me to come back when I published a novel. I then joined her Young Authors Club and the rest is history. Years later when a local anthology was published with one of my stories in it, Mrs. Staples was there at the launch.
Stephen King. Never met the man, but I remember seeing him in an interview where with just a few words describing what it would be like if a character had a rat in his mouth made my skin crawl. I wanted to write in detail that could fill you with emotion.
Tess Gerritsen. She writes characters that are alive with colour and emotion. She also connects with her fans.
Do you listen to music when you write?
Not as much now as I used to. I always have a TV or video on when I write now. I know I shouldn’t because I spend more time watching than I do writing. I was on a short flight recently and had a great time because I was writing the whole time. Back when I wrote Red Island I often listened to music by Chris Isaak and others. I really should get back to that.
If your latest book were chocolate, what kind would it be and why?
My wife says Belgian dark chocolate with caramel swirl and a little hidden secret inside. The Cistern can be dark at times and it is full of little secrets and hints of future novels to come.
What made you interested in writing this particular story?
In The Cistern the main characters Chrys and Spencer go to a house which had been foreclosed on a year later. The family which lived there had taken off. Chrys’s part-time job is to inspect such houses, take pictures of them and then clean them out.
My wife had this same job 2 years ago. The scenes where the brother and sister arrive at the house and inspect it is actually about 90% accurate to when my wife and I arrived at the house. We went through the main floor finding all of these forgotten belongings and momentos. My imagination was going crazy with coming up with ideas of where the family had gone. Then came the time to go to the basement. It was dark and musty. My wife went into the bedroom down there and I went into the furnace room. Then I saw something behind the furnace and hot water heater. It was a wall made of cinderblocks, but it didn’t go all the way to the ceiling. Around a corner the wall continued. It was a room. Around the back was a ladder and on top, a trap door. Why would there be a room of cinderblocks in the basement of a house?
Oh the ideas were plenty.
What if there was a body in this room? (we found out later they were called cisterns) What if there was a kidnapped person in the room? This is the basis for The Cistern.
What themes do you regularly (re)visit in your writing?
One of the main themes I always try to touch on is that the really bad men and women are very often just your average people on the street. You can’t judge a book by its cover. The guy pumping your gas with the nice smile and pleasing manner could, at that very moment, be planning what he could do to you if he got you alone. Anyone can be a killer. When doing book signings instead of writing “Thank you” or “Happy Reading” or anything like that I usually write, “Beware the quiet ones” and then sign.
Tell us about your main character’s psyche or personality. What led her (or him) to be the person s/he is today?
In The Cistern there are 2 main characters which happen to be a brother and sister, sorta.
As Spencer grew up his family did 2 things. They ran the family pub and took in foster kids. He started working in the kitchen very young and that was all he wanted to be. When he was 9 his family took in a 3 year old girl who would eventually be known as his sister. He will do whatever he can to protect her.
Chrys’s mother just up and disappeared when she was only 3. She went to live with the Alcrest’s. She has never realized it, but her love of mysteries and her need to explore is most likely from the internal yerning to find out what happened to her mother.
Describe your protagonist as a mash-up of three famous people or characters.
Chrys – Rizzoli from the TV show Rizzoli and Isles, Angelina Jolie (but just her lips), and Pocahantas but just because that’s the only female Native woman I can think of that’s famous (that is until the actress Elizabeth Frances who the character is based after makes it big).
Spencer – Bradley Cooper when he was on Kitchen Confidential, Hotchner from Criminal Minds, and Wash from Firefly.
If you could host an author dinner party, who are the six writers (living or otherwise) you’d include?
Stephen King, JK Rowling, Tess Gerritsen, Kathy Reichs, and Clive Cussler.
What’s next for you?
I am currently working on the second Alcrest Mystery. Chrys and Spencer quickly get themselves in way too deep. They get asked to look for missing 18 year old and find it is much more than someone who just didn’t want to talk to his family for a while. After that I have a couple more Alcrest ideas including basing one off of the suspected homicide of a college friend.
Then there is also Red Rover, the third novel in my Sgt. Reid Series. This one will pit Sgt. Reid of the RCMP against a couple of cold-blooded killers who are playing a deadly game against each other and with the authorities.
Lorne Oliver has been writing most of his life. He honestly doesn’t remember a time when he didn’t have a black covered notebook at his side. The only time he really doesn’t have the notebook is when he is at work in whichever kitchen he is in. (but he still has a notepad in his pocket) He has moved all across Canada, but now calls northern Saskatchewan home where he lives with his wife and 2 children. Find out more about Lorne at lorneoliver.blogspot.ca or about The Alcrest Mysteries www.facebook.com/TheAlcrestMysteries.