SEX, LIES AND VIDEOTAPE: Midlife authors concoct
a trio of unusual sleuths
What do a wedding planner, a golf pro, and a video producer have
in common? They're all fictional sleuths, created by three women
who reached 'a certain age' and turned to a life of crime-on paper,
Deborah Donnelly, Roberta Isleib and Libby Fischer Hellmann each
saw a debut novel in her mystery series hit the bookstore shelves
in 2002. Now the three women are hitting the road with an authors'
tour they call "Sex, Lies and Videotape," to talk about shifting
careers, creating characters, and getting published.
"We've had a great response from our readers and our audiences,"
says Donnelly, a former corporate speechwriter. "So many mystery
fans aspire to be authors, and so many middle-aged women are looking
for a new challenge. They're curious about how we did it, and
we're having a blast sharing some inside stories."
Donnelly wrote VEILED THREATS after planning her own wedding
and a good friend's simultaneously. Her sleuth is red-headed Carnegie
Kincaid, a Seattle wedding planner with a houseboat for an office
and a funny flair for cakes, flowers, and mysterious corpses.
DIED TO MATCH was second in the wedding planner series, with MAY
THE BEST MAN DIE coming in Fall 2003 from Bantam Dell, and DEATH
TAKES A HONEYMOON the following year.
Combining her experience as a clinical psychologist and her passion
for golf, Isleib set SIX STROKES UNDER at the fiercely competitive
Qualifying School for the LPGA tour. Her main character, Cassie
Burdette, carries more baggage in her golf bag than just the 14
regulation clubs. "Putting Cassie in therapy and including a psychologist
allowed me to have fun with what I know best, and maybe do a little
educating along the way," says Isleib. "But the professional golfer
part is pure fantasy!" Isleib's second, A BURIED LIE, is due in
May 2003 from Berkley Prime Crime.
Hellmann, a Chicago video producer, shares both her occupation
and her wry take on motherhood through Ellie Foreman, the protagonist
of AN EYE FOR MURDER, in which a secret buried since World War
II triggers a terrifying chain of revelations buried deep in the
memories and neighborhoods of Chicago's Jewish community. A PICTURE
OF GUILT, which continues her Berkley Prime Crime series, will
be released in July, 2003, with the third the following year.
And what about the tour name of Sex, Lies and Videotape?
"The 'videotape' is obvious," says Hellmann, "and 'lies' is a
golf term. Maybe we stretched things a bit using 'sex' for the
wedding planner, but it sure gets people's attention."
Sample chapters and reviews of each series can be found at the