CeCe Prentice returns with her band of Dumpster-diving pals in this fast-paced mystery that puts the eco-friendly heroine back on top—of a pile of trash.
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Q: Deirdre, thanks for stopping by! Anyone who is a college professor and a mystery author is bound to be a fascinating individual, of course, but you are also a college blogger. What does that entail? How does blogging tie into your other two identities?
A: For me, blogging is like a literary work-out. It keeps me on my toes! The hard part about blogging is the pressure to post fresh material as often as possible. I realized early on that the constant search for ideas would be a challenge. That’s where my students come in. In 2012, I decided to blog about my college experience because every day is different and my students are a wonderful source of material. They also love to pitch me topics for which I’m eternally grateful.
Q: Is CeCe Prentice, the first eco-friendly sleuth, based on anyone you know in real life?
A: CeCe’s eco-friendly philosophies are not based on anyone I know personally. I was, however, eager to incorporate a trend in my series, and that’s how CeCe ended up a Freegan. I really enjoy the research and I’m certainly more environmentally aware than when I started the series.
Q: What kind of research did you do for Drawing Blood? Did you have to immerse yourself in painting, the recycling industry, the freegan movement, or anything else? Were there surprises or unexpected findings?
A: I highly recommend taking a tour of your local recycling center. Following your garbage from your curb to its next destination is enlightening and highly educational. Much of what I learned, I’ve incorporated in Drawing Blood.
When I started my research, I was most surprised about the ingenuity recycling inspires – not simply technical advances but the genuine creativity in repurposing used items. I adore scrolling through sites like Pinterest and Esty for ideas. I recently watched a video in which a pair of boy’s underwear were turned into a woman’s tank top. A bit extreme, but something CeCe would love.
Q: Will CeCe change as the series proceeds? Where will you allow her and the other characters to evolve, and what will you keep constant?
A: In my first book, Drawing Conclusions, CeCe struggled with family relationships. I think it’s only fair that I allow CeCe a chance to reconnect with her extended family. It won’t be perfect, but I enjoy seeing CeCe work through her issues. She’s got a soft-side, but it’s up to me to develop it without losing her spark.
Q: I would have loved to see an advice blog like yours when I was a college student. One of the questions you’ve mentioned you get is, “if I sit in the front row will I get a better grade?” Now in my experience students who sit in the front row do get better grades, but is that just because the more conscientious students choose to sit there? If a bad student moved to the front row, would s/he become a good student? I’ve observed a similar issue with baseball caps; students who wear ball caps to class average a full grade point lower than their hatless peers. Will they do better if they take their hats off?
A: Good question! Over the years I’ve asked ‘back-row’ students to move forward as it inevitably has a quantifiable impact on their grade. There’s nowhere to hide in the front row and once a student makes the decision to move forward, they can’t help but become engaged.
The baseball cap is also an issue if students use the cap as armor. Everyone deserves a bad hair day. But when the baseball cap becomes an emotional defense, it’s time to let your scalp shine and your grades rise.
Q: Your website is gorgeous and very easy to navigate! Who designed it, and what did you tell them you wanted?
A: Thank you! I’m very proud of my website. I used a Westchester-based company, Outboostmedia.com, and they were very good at incorporating my vision.
On the topic of authors and websites, I don’t think readers Google terms like ‘mystery writers’ and expect to find a good book. If a reader wants to search for a new book they will most likely go to Amazon or check-out a blog like yours. Therefore, I didn’t expect a reader to find me through a Google search. However, when a reader searches on my name and links to my site, I wanted to make sure the visuals had impact.
Q: Do use your experiences in book marketing when you teach your marketing classes?
A: After teaching for sixteen years, I couldn’t be more pleased to refresh my classes with real-life experience. A basic marketing course includes a lesson on how products get into the hands of consumers. Now, I love showing students how a manuscript (a stack of paper) is packaged into a book and then makes its way to a shelf.
Q: Do your students know you’re a mystery author? What do they think about it?
A: It seems everyone is surprised I’m a mystery author because I teach business classes and not literature. As I explain to my students, I’ve invented a product that just happens to be literary.
Q: What’s next for you and for CeCe?
A: I currently live in Westchester County, NY, but my books take place on Long Island where I grew up. CeCe and I are currently searching locations for the next crime.
If you are wondering how this all happens, I typically pick up my mother on a Sunday morning for literary support. We drive around our favorite haunts for inspiration! Stay tuned to see where we place CeCe next.
About The Author
Deirdre Verne (Scarsdale, NY) is a college professor and an active college blogger. A writer for the millennium crowd, Deirdre’s interest in green living inspired her to create an off-the-grid character who Dumpster dives her way though a suspense-filled mystery series. A member of Sisters in Crime, Deirdre’s short stories appear in all three New York chapter anthologies –Murder New York Style, Murder New York Style: Fresh Slices and Family Matters.