Monday, March 01, 2010
Pro-File: Toni L.P. Kelner; Health Report
Toni L.P. Kelner is a firm believer in multi-tasking. In mysteries, Who Killed the Pinup Queen?, the second in her "Where are they now?" series, is just out. In urban fantasy, she edits anthologies with Charlaine Harris. Their third, Death's Excellent Vacation, is due out in August. In short stories, she has her first noir story coming out in March in Carolyn Haine's anthology Delta Blues and a paranormal courtroom drama in the MWA anthology Crimes by Moonlight. Kelner has won the Agatha Award and a Romantic Times Career Achievement Award, and has been nominated for two other Agathas, four Anthonys, and two Macavitys. She lives north of Boston with author/husband Stephen Kelner, two daughters, and two guinea pigs.
1. Tell us about your current novel (or project).
I'm working on the third "Where are they now?" mystery featuring Tilda Harper, a Boston-based entertainment reporter who specializes in tracking the formerly famous. This time out, Tilda is trying to exonerate the nearly-forgotten star of the cheesy kids' show The Blast-offs, about a rock-n-roll band in space. Over the years, the star's career floundered and now he's a limo driver accused of trying to kill his former co-star, who hit it big as an action star. The tentative title is Blast from the Past.
2. Can you give a sense of what you're working on now?
Still working on the plotting, and coming up with red herrings. Plus research, which involves hitting YouTube.com for clips of old kids shows. Anybody remember The Buagaloos?
3. What is the greatest pleasure of a writing career?
Other than watching clips of The Buagaloos? Going to a bookstore and seeing my book on the shelves, or possibly tied with encountering somebody who really enjoys the books.
4. What is the greatest DISpleasure?
Bad reviews, bad sales, and uncertainty.
5. If you have one piece of advice for the publishing world, what is
Write what you love, even if it's out of style, or even if it's in style and you're accused of being a copycat. Passion pays off in the long run.
6. Are there two or three forgotten mystery writers you'd like to see
in print again?
Is Fredric Brown forgotten? I've never forgotten him, doggone it. Nancy Bartholomew. Jane Dentinger.
7. Tell us about selling your first novel. Most writers never forget
Oh, it's not a moment I'll ever forgot. I got home from work and found a message from my agent waiting on my machine. I called her back immediately, and she told me she had a three-book contract offer! I think I said all the right, businesslike things, and followed it up with, "Can I jump up and down now?" She cheerfully gave me permission. After that, I just could not sit down. I was dying to tell somebody, and I knew my husband Steve would never forgive me if I told somebody else first. So I tried to call him, but he had already left work and was on the subway home. No cell phones then, so I had to wait. But I still couldn't sit down. So I'd reach for the phone, and think, "Maybe I'll call my parents. No, I have to tell Steve first." So I'd look out the window. No Steve. I'd reach for the phone again. "I have to call my sisters! No, I have to tell Steve first." Put the phone down, look out the window. This repeated for an eternity, until I finally saw Steve coming down the sidewalk. I ran out the front door and chased him yelling, "Three books! Three books!" He thought I was yelling "Free books!' which would have been good news, too, but finally I explained the real story. Then I called the family, and we went to enjoy a celebratory dinner at Bartley's Burger Cottage in Cambridge, which has the best burgers anyway. I was so happy that whole night I just giggled at random. Kind of silly, really, but I think any writer would understand. Giggling is still part of any writing milestone.
I want to explain this as coherently as I can. This afternoon my oncologist and I went over the key X-Ray and MRI pictures. The first thing we did was compare the 2010 that worried the radiologist and compared it to the 2006 pictures. In 06 I had to have another round of radiation because the myeloma had grown slightly. But what troubles the radiologist is essentially a vague shadow on the spot near my back. Given the peculiar nature of multiple myeloma this doesn't bother my onc nor does it bother me. I've seen this three times on other spots in the eight years I've had this stuff. The only way to get a true read on mm is through lab tests. As my onc said "MM isn't subtle. If something's wrong your labs go crazy." While my labs aren't perfect they're well within range. So I feel comfortable in saying that the cancer hasn't grown. Then why all this pain? Then we looked at my spine. MM kills you by literally eating your bones. They disintegrate. And that's what's happening to my spine and that's why all the pain. Close up my spine is pock-marked top to bottom. The pain meds he gave me have vicodin in them and given my addictive personality neither Carol or I want me to take them. I'll switch to Tylenol. So the upshot no cancer that we can see but serious deterioration of my spine. I'll probably be having that stem cell transplant a lot sooner than I wanted to.