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Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Author Interview: C. R. Kliewer

Interview with
C. R. Kliewer,
author of
The Golden Gates

The Golden Gates is set in 1932, in the midst of Prohibition and the Great Depression, a charismatic new leader is on the rise in Germany, and a set of plans for the US Navy’s newest airship has gone missing from the Goodyear Airdock in Akron. What do these events have to do with the grisly Raven murders along California’s golden coastline? And can San Francisco PD’s Inspector Horace bring down one of the most brutal killers on the western seaboard before a national disaster occurs?

I am so very pleased today to welcom historical fiction author C. R. Kliewer to The Happy Book Reviewer. She is the author of the recently-released mystery novel The Golden Gates.

I am currently reading The Golden Gates on my Kindle app for iPhone... which is free by the way, so you can get this book on Amazon and have on your phone immediately! Instant gratification! 

I've found The Golden Gates to be a smoky, intriguing, classic noir. Tell me what inspired you to set your mystery in the 1930s.

C. R. Kliewer:  I cut my teeth watching Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot on PBS and through those shows fell in love with the 30’s era: the fashion, the architecture, the cultural and anthropological history. As an author, the mystique of the decade also lends itself well to storytelling. It is a dark, hazy time period that sets an ideal stage for high stakes crime and murder without compunction. 

It is one thing to “know your history” (dates and places), but you also have an excellent handle on the details. How did you research dress, manners, and the other details that really make the reader feel like he or she is “there?”

C. R. Kliewer: I can’t tell you how many books I acquired and read on any and every subject that “might” be connected with the time period, from clothes to boat building to airships. There were also countless hours spent on the Internet hunting down details and verifying answers to questions like: “Who was head of the SFPD?” and, “Did they even have cat food in 1932?”

You really did dig deep to make it sure it was accurate! 

C. R. Kliewer: But not all of my research was done in-house.  I spent quite a bit of time in San Francisco visiting key sites and was even honored to be allowed a private tour of a certain motor yacht that was actually built during the Prohibition era and was being restored to its original state – an absolutely gorgeous vessel with its own secrets worth revealing and some unresolved mysteries kept hidden even to this day.  Research does dominate much of my time, but it is perhaps one of my favorite aspects of writing a historical novel because of what I learn and where it can lead. 

You were an English major at Vanguard University of Southern California, so I’m going to ask a favorite question of mine… If an American Lit class were reading your book some day, what themes would the professor want the students to pick up on in your book?

C. R. Kliewer: I love this question.  It makes me feel like I’m on the wrong side of the page when it comes to analyzing literature. It’s a surreal feeling to be the one who is critiqued.
Power is a prevalent theme throughout The Golden Gates. It takes on many forms and can be an agent of good or instrument of evil.  It is also treacherous if it is miscalculated or too much faith is placed into the amount of one’s own.  If included as part of the university’s curricula, I can see many professors having a field day with this one.

Ah, I love it when literature can be both a captivating read AND something that makes the reader think.

So, what was the first creative piece you ever wrote (not first pubbed piece)? Do you still have a copy of it?

C. R. Kliewer:  The first thriller I wrote was in elementary school, and it involved a monster and a hat, but I think my first mystery/crime piece was in high school during a creative writing class.  It’s was a dual-time plot where the reader began in early dawn hours following a frail and abused young woman who had just murdered her husband leaving his body in a barn.  As she escapes into a nearby orchard, the plot jumps ahead to midmorning when police investigators studying the crime scene discover a bloody wrench and an inhaler.  At that point, the story flashes back to the woman as she is running through the orchard.  Short of breath, she stops and slips her hand into the pocket of her windbreaker, feeling nothing she begins to panic which induces an asthma attack.  The police find her cold body just a few hours later. That piece sticks with me even after – I dare say – some decades, but if I have a copy, it is buried with a few other mementoes from that time period.

If you could be sucked into any novel, I'm thinking you might not choose a murder mystery! So which would it be? Would you be yourself, or would you be one of the existing characters (if the latter, then who)?

C. R. Kliewer:  As much as I love a good mystery or adventure, I would have to say something from Jane Austin.   What girl doesn’t want to be the sharp-witted Elizabeth and find her brooding Mr. Darcy? 

You’re an avid reader. What book/s are you reading at present? 

C. R. Kliewer:  Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy is my biography of choice right now.  It details the life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a theologian and pastor who worked with the resistance against Hitler from inside Nazi Germany. 

What book have you read that that you wish you had written?

C. R. Kliewer:  I’m not sure I can answer that question the way it was intended to be answered.  The books I love to read are what they are because of the authors who wrote them.  Their ideas, writing styles, imaginations and complexities make their stories unique and their dedication to the craft makes each of these stories epic and awe-inspiring.  If I were to put my own spin on them, it would change the story and diminish the wonder they hold for me. 

That's quite an insightful way to think of that question! 

Now, you said you spend a lot of time researching. Do you have a bit of time for writing? Please tell me you're working on a next book! 

C. R. Kliewer:  I am currently working on the 2nd book of the Golden Gate series, currently titled Devil’s Tree.  In it we delve a little bit more into personal histories of some of the main characters in and we get fresh case for them to solve.  That’s all I am able to reveal at the moment.

The Golden Gates (and probably Devil's Tree too) is very visual. Is there an actor you could envision playing Inspector Horace?

C. R. Kliewer:  Funny you should ask.  Like many authors, I have toyed with the idea of seeing my work on Hollywood’s big screen (or public television’s little screen) and have thought about certain actors and actresses playing almost every character in Golden Gates but Inspector Horace.  In the book, he is likened to Theodore Roosevelt-- tough shoes to fill when it comes to finding an actor who matches both the look and personality of the Inspector.  If it ever comes to a point where I would have to make a decision, I would not only be in high heaven, but welcome any suggestions.

I love the cover! Who designed it? Did you give a lot of guidance?
C. R. Kliewer:  Thank you!  I designed the cover myself using an image from coverdesignstudio.com.  Since the book was being self-published through Kindle Direct Publishing, I wanted to find a way to create an attractive cover that would be compatible with both Kindle and my budget.  The website was easy to navigate and had a variety of images to choose from.  I just selected the photo that I thought best represented my work (hazy, desolate) and formatted the text using Photoshop.  Though the choices were limited in regards to the background, it’s a great way for a first time author to create a professional looking cover.  Sorry if that sounds like a plug, but it’s the truth.

I'd bet a lot of first time authors are in the same boat, just starting the "how to I create cover art for this?" journey, so the tip is welcome!

Wrapping up, as you know, I collect quotes! And I want to add to my collection with one from The Golden Gates! What is a favorite quote from the book?

C. R. Kliewer:  I would have to say the very last sentence in the novel is my favorite, but as it gives away a little bit of the story, I won’t state it here, just that its essence indicates that we are all human, and though we each have our strengths, we all have our kryptonite.

Okay, okay... I don't want a quote at the expense of a spoiler! How can readers discover more about you and you work? Do you have a Facebook page, a website/blog, are you on Goodreads, etc.?

C. R. Kliewer: I have a Facebook page under C. R. Kliewer that is currently in the works (https://www.facebook.com/crkliewer), and will be setting up a webpage under the same name shortly.

Thank you for coming on The Happy Book Reviewer today. It has been a real delight, and I encourage any readers to add The Golden Gates to their TBR lists! You can find it:

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Don't forget to check out my latest novel 
Deep Green!
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1 comment:

  1. This sounds great, love all the reseatrch that went into it too. I've added to my TBR list on GR! --Jo