Alice Duncan's FALLEN ANGELS

My guest  today is author Alice Duncan. Welcome to my little corner of cyberspace, Alice. I'm so pleased you had time to drop by. When did you first realize you were destined to be a mystery writer?

Alice - When I got sick of writing historical romances. Actually, I’ve wanted to write novels since I was a little kid. Whenever anyone asked me what I wanted to “be” when I grew up, I’d said, “an author.” Now that I’m older and have developed a sense of humor, I find that question to be absurd. I mean, what’s any infant  human going to be when s/he grows up? S/he’ll be an adult human being. I should have said, “An elephant.”

Anne - Cute! Tell us about your book.

Alice - FALLEN ANGELS takes place in Los Angeles, California, in the summer of 1926.

Transplanted Boston Brahmin, Mercy Allcutt, has had some very exciting times as secretary to private investigator, Ernie Templeton. While it’s true she’s been in what she considers a wee bit of trouble (and Ernie considers out-and-out danger) a time or two, she’s determined to continue learning the ways of the “real” world.
However, when she sets out to find her wandering boss, Ernie, one hot September afternoon, she not only discovers a corpse, but she also finds Ernie, bound and gagged. Worse, when the police arrive to investigate the crime, they peg Ernie as the killer.
Well, Mercy isn’t about to let them get away with that, no matter how many times Ernie tells her to butt out of the police inquiry. The only question is whether she’ll survive her investigatorial efforts once again, or if she’ll become one more “Fallen Angel.”
Anne - Is there a message in FALLEN ANGELS you want readers to grasp?
Alice - Not really. Mercy Allcutt was sort of a consolation prize for me when I thought my “Spirits” books, featuring Daisy Gumm Majesty, spiritualist extraordinaire, had bitten the dust. Then Five Star bought the third Daisy book, so now I have two historical cozy mystery series set in the 1920s going. Actually, thanks to the “Pecos Valley” books, I have three of them. All set in the 1920s, and all narrated by the female protagonist. Go figure.

Anne - Of all the characters you’ve created, does one hold a special place in your heart? Why?

Alice - Yes. Daisy Gumm Majesty. She has *so many* problems, but she doesn’t really think of them as problems. They’re just her life, and she deals with them. Her husband was severely wounded in the Great War, so Daisy has to earn a living for the both of them as a spiritualist medium. Her husband hates that he can’t support her, and he also hates what she does for a living. Poor Daisy. But she just keeps on keeping on. I really relate to Daisy. In fact, I think she’s me, only with a supportive family background and without my crippling neuroses. J

Anne - LOL. What is the hardest part of writing for you?

Alice - Depends. At the moment, the plot of the fifth Mercy Allcutt book is driving me nuts. I’m diverting myself by writing a short story featuring Annabelle Blue, heroine of my “Pecos Valley” mystery series, set in Rosedale, New Mexico (which is Roswell, thinly disguised) in 1923. I’d say that in general, plotting is my weak point.

Anne - What is the most surprising thing you’ve learned about yourself from your writing?

Alice - Um . . . that I’m funny without meaning to be. I vividly recall reading the first line of my first published opus at the South Pasadena (California) public library and the audience laughing. I was totally taken aback, since the line wasn’t supposed to be funny. By now I’ve pretty much come to accept that I write the way I talk. Can’t help it.

Anne - Tell us about the defining moment when you felt as if you’d finally made it as an author.

Alice - I guess that would be when Abigail Kamen, editor at Harper Collins, called me at work and told me Harper wanted to buy my first book. That was in 1994. Since then, I’ve been published and dumped by pretty much every publisher on the face of the earth, so the euphoria didn’t last. J

Anne - Any words of advice for struggling, unpublished writers?

Alice - Never give up. Perseverance won’t guarantee that you’ll ever be published, but quitting will.

Anne - Outside of writing, what accomplishment are you most proud?

Alice - Probably my two daughters, my dachshund rescue work, and my professional dance background. Okay, so it was only folk dancing. Still, I was a pro, you know?

Anne - Congrats! I trip over my own two feet. Quick. What are your five favorites – author, actor, movie, song, quote.

Alice - Author: Mary Roberts Rinehart.

Actor: Don’t have a favorite actor. Well, not since Yul Brynner died. My friend Lauren and I were madly in love with him when we were teenagers.

Movie: The Magnificent Seven

Song - “What a Wonderful World,” sung by Louie Armstrong

Quote - “Use what talents you possess: the woods would be very silent if no birds sang there except those that sang best.” Henry Van Dyke

Anne - Love that quote, Alice! Thanks so much for dropping by. Where can readers reach you?

Alice - They can visit my website:

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Norah Wilson said...

What a lovely interview, you guys! Alice, you DO have lots to be proud of, not the least of which are your wonderful Daisy books.

Alice Duncan said...

Thanks, Norah! I love Daisy. Her next book, GENTEEL SPIRITS, comes out in August :-)

Rebecca Paisley said...

Really loved reading this interview. Elephant, indeed! HaHa!! What a great sense of humor you have, Alice.

Caroline Clemmons said...

Alice, Daisy Gumm Majesty is one of my all-time favorite characters. Her middle name should be "gumption" for her attitude. Always enjoy your books! The reason you've been shuffled from publisher to publisher is you don't fit the mold and they haven't promoted you properly. You're as unique as your characters. Keep writing and best of success!

Alice Duncan said...

Thanks, Caroline. I think you're right about not fitting a mold. Sigh. Wish I had my finger on the pulse of the public, but clearly I don't.

Jacqueline Seewald said...

Hi, Alice,

As usual, you give a great interview. I love your novels, and they definitely show a light touch which I embrace.

Alice Duncan said...

Thanks, Jacquie! Personally, I can overdose on angst and anguish really, really easily, so I do try to tread lightly, even though some of my people have truly awful problems.

jennymilch said...

Nice interview! The quote about perseverance should be painted on every writer's wall.

Alice Duncan said...

Thanks, Jenny. I think so, too!

Elizabeth Delisi said...

Alice, I love Daisy, too. She's my fave. :-) And "Magnificent Seven" is an awesome movie. Not only because of Yul Brynner, but also the wonderful Elmer Bernstein score! But I digress. Good luck with Fallen Angels...can't wait to read it. ~~Liz

Alice Duncan said...

Oh, yes, Liz, I LOVE the "Magnificent Seven" score. Thanks for dropping by. Hope you're feeling better lately.

Sheila Deeth said...

Lovely interview. I was helping in Sunday school when my youngest was asked that question: "What do you want to be when you grow up?" He answered "A man." Happily, he seems to be a very contented young man now the growing's done.

Charleydog said...

Congratulations on the interview, Ms. Duncan. I always identify with the stories based in Los Angeles; they take me back to my days in that city.