Sunday, October 2, 2011

Author Robin Spano Gets Naked

Hilary here, with a guest I'm thrilled to introduce you to. I met Robin Spano at Bouchercon in San Francisco in 2010. If I recall correctly, we only had about 90 seconds to talk, but Robin made such an impression that we ended up keeping in touch (if you've met her in person you know what I mean — she's warm, witty, and a great partner in crime). Fortunately, I got to spend a lot more time with Robin (and her charming husband, Keith) at Bloody Words this past June, and at the spectacular Bouchercon in St. Louis last month.

I loved Robin's debut novel, Dead Politician Society (ECW Press, 2010), and I was honored when she asked me to read — and blurb — her second novel, Death Plays Poker, which is out from ECW this month. (What I said: "Smart, stylish and sharp, Death Plays Poker is an engaging whodunit. Robin Spano's well-constructed plot keeps you guessing, but it's her unstoppable heroine, Clare Vengel, who keeps you turning pages late into the night. I can't wait for her next adventure." For more praise of Robin's books, take a look at these terrific reviews.)

If you haven't read Robin's work before, be sure to check out the first three chapters of Death Plays Poker, which are available on her website. You can also find Robin on Twitter. Since she's such a good sport, she was willing to take on this week's crazy question on Criminal Minds. Take it away, Robin!

Robin Spano on Her Most Embarrassing Naked Moment

I'm sure I could pull out a story from my early twenties to answer this question literally – but really, how smart would that be?

I could talk about the discussion my grandparents had about the implied oral sex in my first novel, Dead Politician Society. “Does she mean what I think she does?” my grandfather asked. “Oh, I think she does,” said my less-shocked grandmother.

But really, I think my most embarrassing naked moment was releasing that first book into the world.

Talk about exposure. Talk about all your writing flaws being thrust into a spotlight – your flabby spots, your bony parts, everything you're used to being able to hide, no problem, with clothes.

Readers and reviewers don't care that a writer might have feelings, might have slaved away for years over the words they skim over quickly. They comment on the book like it's a product. A can of Coke, a pair of jeans.

And they're right to. Once released, a book does become a product. A public one, for strangers to read, reviewers to dissect, book clubs to contemplate over tea. I love living in a world where people talk about books intelligently and freely. But I wasn't used to my writing being the subject of said public scrutiny.

I had a lot of those naked-in-public dreams, right after that first book came out. I hate those dreams. But I love writing, and I'd like a long career with lots of books, and I do want people to read them. So I had to find a way around this problem.

Putting clothes on was no option, because writing is a quest for truth, to pull it out from inside myself and put it on the page. To airbrush the flaws away would similarly defeat the whole point.

And yet I did get more comfortable being exposed.

I think it's like walking on a nude beach. It feels really weird at first – you're all alone, you're self-conscious. But then you have a cocktail, you make some friends who also happen to be naked. By the end of the day, naked is the new normal.

I'm stoked to be releasing my second book, Death Plays Poker, into the world right now. I'm not exactly an exhibitionist yet, but this kind of exposure – a year after that first release – is becoming a lot less scary. I'm actually excited to hear what readers think.

Thanks so much to Robin for getting naked on Criminal Minds! Here's a little bit about her second novel, Death Plays Poker (since Robin is Canadian, and too polite to mention this, let me add that there's a Facebook fan page for her heroine, Clare Vengel):

World class poker players are being strangled in their hotel rooms, and Clare is given her second big assignment: to pose as a poker player in a major televised tournament, befriend the suspects, and find the killer in their midst.

Her cover role? A trust fund princess named Tiffany who thinks the poker tour is a better idea than college.

Though Clare would prefer to wear jeans and get her hands dirty, posing as Tiffany helps her infiltrate the inner circle quickly. And her flashy new wardrobe attracts the attentions of Noah — a dark stranger who's at the game for hidden reasons of his own. Rumors surface about a cheating ring that could be connected to the murders.

Clare loves the job and the game, but soon learns that there's no one she can trust. Her handlers doubt her every move — she has to fight to keep her job — and everyone she meets lies for a living.

As more victims lose their lives to the cunning Poker Choker, and her cover role’s legitimacy comes under attack from two directions, Clare wonders if her handlers are right: Should she pack it in and go home to a dull life as a beat cop? Or will she find the killer, prove her worth?

And Robin's bio. Can't fail to note the fact that, like her main character, Robin rides a motorcycle!

Robin grew up in downtown Toronto. She loves books, poker, politics, and exploring on the water. She also loves her motorcycle, a 1987 Virago she bought with waitressing tips when she was 21.

Her historical role model is Winston Churchill, more for his independent thinking than his drinking. Her secret dream was to be one of Charlie's Angels, but since real life danger terrifies her, she writes crime fiction instead.

She is married to a man who hates reading and encourages her endlessly. They live in Lions Bay, BC.


Dru said...

Hi Robin!

Looking forward to reading Devil Plays Poker.

Robin Spano said...

Hey Dru, fancy seeing you here in the blogosphere! I'm looking forward to your thoughts on Clare, when her turn comes up in your reading rotation!

Hilary, thanks for all your amazing generous words and links. I loved our first 90 second meeting too.

Hilary Davidson said...

Robin, I'm so glad to have you visit Criminal Minds (and I'm grateful to you for doing such a great job answering a tough question). I know mystery fans will love DEATH PLAYS POKER, so I'm happy to spread the word about your new book. It deserves love!

Thanks for stopping by & commenting, Dru!

Sandy said...

Good post. Definitely checking this out. Thanks.

Rebecca Cantrell said...

Welcome to the crazy room! Thanks for stopping by and blogging!

It's amazing how scary it is and then that we DO mostly get used to it after all.

Congratulations on the first and second book!

Robin Spano said...

Crazy is right - thanks Rebecca! You guys have the funnest blog in town :-)

Thanks Sandy!