Interview: Vinnie Hansen

Welcome Vinnie Hansen, author of Lostart Street and the Carol Sabala mysteries

LostartStreetWhat’s your idea of a perfect day?

I’d sit down with a brilliant idea and dash of 5000 words. Between gusts of genius, I’d glance up at an exotic tropical setting and sip strong coffee laced with half and half. After that hour sprint, I’d spend the rest of the day hiking and exploring with my husband, finishing the day with a meal of fresh fish prepared in a local manner. Before falling asleep, I’d be reading a first-rate book of literary suspense.

Do you have a signature phrase/expression?

If you ask my husband, I use all sorts of “weird” expressions left over from my Midwestern upbringing: “Okie dokie,” “not my cup of tea,” “achin’ for a breakin’.

Which books/authors inspired or influenced you the most?

For my Carol Sabala mystery series, that’s easy: Sue Grafton with a spash of Martha Grimes’ dark humor and Elmore Leonard’s characterization. But Lostart Street is a cross-genre novel. I can’t pick a dominant influence for it.

Do you listen to music when you write?

No. If I were truly listening to music, I wouldn’t be writing. Music is way too distracting. If I like it, it will beckon me. If I don’t like it, why would I be playing it?

If your latest book were chocolate, what kind would it be and why?

Bittersweet with lots of nuts.

What made you interested in writing this particular story?

I wanted to write a book where place impacted the characters and plot, where community is central. As private, independent, and perverse as I may be, I believe we have a deep-seated need to belong. Community can heal wounds and help us feel whole.

I suspect that most genre writers have a hankering to break free from their brand. With Lostart Street, I scratch that itch. Instead of a mystery, Lostart Street is a novel with mystery, a bit of romance, and a death. Or, as I’ve tagged it: a novel of mystery, murder and moonbeams.

What themes do you regularly (re)visit in your writing?

A character with a sense of isolation searching for inclusion/identity/wholeness.

Tell us about your main character?

Twenty-eight-year-old would-be writer Cecile abandons her life in San Francisco to accept a teaching position in a small California coast town. She’s forced to act quickly and rents a unit in a complex meant for the elderly and handicapped. Cecile is wounded from a failed relationship and overwhelmed by her first year of teaching. But her new neighbors won’t leave her alone. A series of events in the apartment complex push her toward a life-changing decision . . . .

Describe your protagonist as a mash-up of three famous people or characters.

Okay, three characters: Ove from A Man Called Ove, for Cecile’s loneliness and isolation, Sylvia Barrett from Up the Down Staircase because Cecile is struggling through her first year of teaching, and Scout from To Kill a Mockingbird because of Cecile’s internal arc.

If you could host a mystery-author dinner party, who are the six writers you’d include?

Well as fate would have it, there are six other authors at Misterio press, so this works out very nicely. I’d invite K.B. Owen, Kassandra Lamb, Kirsten Weiss, Shannon Esposito, Gilian Baker, and Joan Bassett to my party. We work together all the time, but we’re spread across the country. I’ve met only two of my cohorts face to face. It would be a blast if we could be at a dinner party together.

What’s next for you?

I’ve signed a contract for Sleuthing Women II: Ten Mystery Novellas, which will include Smoked Meat, a prequel to my Carol Sabala series. The e-collection is a follow-up to the best-selling Sleuthing Women: Ten-First-in-Series Mysteries and will be out in the fall of this year. After that, my short story, “Miscalculation,” will appear in Akashic Books’ Santa Cruz Noir in the spring of 2018.

Lostart Street is now available for pre-order!


Vinnie Hansen fled the howling winds of the South Dakota prairie and headed for the California coast the day after high school graduation.

As a child, she read books while huddled on top the dryer. Vinnie grew up to write numerous short stories and the Carol Sabala mystery series. The seventh installment in the series, Black Beans & Venom, made the finalist list for the Claymore Award. Now she brings you Lostart Street, a cross-genre novel of mystery, murder, and moonbeams.

Still sane after 27 years of teaching high school English, Vinnie has retired and lives in Santa Cruz, California, with her husband and the requisite cat.

Visit her website at or check out all the wonderful female mystery writers at

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16 thoughts on “Interview: Vinnie Hansen”

  1. Great post, Vinnie. I love your ideal day. Made me think about mine–much the same but no exotic jungle. Maybe the Indiana Dunes. Looking forward to “meeting” Cecile in her book.


  2. Thanks for joining us, Vinnie. I loved Santa Cruz when I grew up in northern California. Have visited the boardwalk a few times and did a little hiking in the environs during the last visit. Congratulations on your writing success!


  3. Welcome, Vinnie! Sounds like a great perfect day, especially the gusts of genius and epic 5,000-word sprint 🙂 What a powerful theme–there’s definitely plenty to explore there!


  4. That’s my perfect day to a T! And I love reading books where place impacts character, so I’m looking forward to yours. Thanks for visiting!


  5. Hi Vinnie! It was a privilege to be one of your editors for Lostart Street. (Y’all will love it!). Terrific interview…bittersweet and loaded with nuts is quite accurate, LOL! Good luck on the release!
    P.S. – Keenan, it was great meeting you at Malice and signing next to you. Now I see the blog you were talking about…nice when it all comes together!


  6. There are times when I hate being on Pacific time–always so late to the party. Thanks, Mysteristas, for interviewing me. The questions were delightful! Judy, you made me very curious about the Indiana Dunes, not two words I usually think of together. And K.B., this book would not have seen the light of day without your encouragement.


    1. Vinnie, the Indiana Dunes, now a state park, are at the very foot of lake Michigan. Beautiful beach backed up by wooded sand dunes We had a cottage on a high ridge overlooking the lake when I was a child. Today I think it would be a wonderful place to write, but the cottages have all been demolished. It’s still where I go in my mind when I want comfort and solace.


  7. Thanks for the shout out, Vinnie! I will second Kathy Owen’s comment that y’all are gonna love this book. It totally defies all genre limits and it is a great read! Definitely bittersweet with nuts…lol


  8. “Bitter sweet with lots of nuts” might describe our dinner party, too! LOL! Congrats on scratching your itch & wishing you many readers who just “get it.”


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