In the hustle & bustle of his latest release, Lawrence Kelter answers a few questions about who, what and why when it comes to his writing, his hair and Stephanie Chalice taking over the Castle slot on ABC next season:
Did you always know that you were going to be a writer?
Definitely not. As a matter of fact I was voted The Individual Least Likely to Visit a Library while in high school. If you don’t believe it I’ll scan my high my yearbook and post it on Facebook for the entire world to see. Just a painful heads-up—my yearbook picture is absolutely dreadful.
Did anyone help you along the way?
Yes and yes. First and foremost I have to give mad props to Nelson DeMille, who actually picked up a pencil and edited portions of my first manuscript. Way before he said, “Lawrence Kelter is an exciting new novelist, who reminds me of an early Robert Ludlum,” he said, “Kid your work needs editing, but that’s a hell of a lot better than not having writing talent. Keep it up.” I’ll always be indebted to that man. I was also part of a small writer’s workshop led by Ann Loring. Some of you may remember Ann for her role as Tammy Forrest in the soap opera Love of Life. Ann really helped me to develop my sense of drama. The knowledge she imparted to me was priceless.
Why do you write?
I have several answers to that question but the top two are: I enjoy it, and that in some odd way I feel as if I’m creating a legacy and memorializing myself with my books. I hope that my books will live on long after I’m gone.
Why did you choose a woman to be your protagonist?
Women are cooler than men—hands down. I’ve tried to come up with a unique male character several times but they always end up resembling a gross James Bond characterization. Stephanie Chalice is an interesting detective, she’s bright, a wee bit headstrong, and lots of fun. Above all else she has an intense moral code and is deeply compassionate.
Do you feel that you’re qualified to write a female character?
I hope so. I really try to do a good job. Some of my critics have said that Chalice is more of a male fantasy than a real woman, and others say that her characterization is dead on. I guess it’s up to my readers to decide. Many authors who write cross-gender try to hide their identity—they use their initials instead of their first name. I on the other hand … I just take it on the chin.
Why have you made Chalice so funny?
Because I’m funny. At least that’s what I’m told. Picture Larry David with better hair (well just with hair; and thank God a little better looking), and far less caustic. That’s me. I’ve always wanted to do standup comedy but I’m way too shy.
Do you see Chalice as television or movie vehicle?
Do I ever. Without exaggerating, fifty percent of my fans ask me why there hasn’t yet been a movie, and I explain that the decision makers in Hollywood are clearly idiots.
Why do you think the series has been so successful?
I’m not entirely sure. In the past two years several hundred thousand readers have welcomed Stephanie Chalice into their libraries. I’m not writing War and Peace, I’m writing thrillers so I try very hard to entertain the reader at all times, blending suspense, humor, and story-interest into each page.
What has been your biggest mistake?
When I first began to write Chalice, the character in book #1, Don’t Close Your Eyes was a little too into herself. I’ve been criticized for that character flaw and in retrospect understand that the criticism was valid. The original book has recently been rewritten and I believe that the issue has been addressed. Unfortunately those early negative reviews will live on the Internet forever. Fortunately there are far more good ones than bad.
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