Saturday, August 13, 2011

A Visit with Rebecca Dahlke (aka R.P. Dahlke)

Rebecca Phillips Dahlke operated her father's crop dusting business in California during the early 1980s, and began writing her mystery series following the death of her son, a career aero agricultural pilot. Rebecca calls her books: murder mysteries with some laughter.

Rebecca, how did you happen to take over the family business? And was flying part of your job?.

I sort of fell into the job when my dad decided he’d rather go on a cruise than take another season of lazy pilots, missing flaggers, testy farmers and horrific hours. After two years at the helm, I handed him back the keys and fled to a city without any of the above. And no, I was never a crop-duster.

Tell us about your writing background.

A few short stories got printed in a now defunct magazine and I was hooked. They say you should write what you know and at the time, I was able to use what I’d gleaned from my own experiences along with stories my son, John, who was a career crop-duster shared with me. When he died in a work related accident in 2005, I was unable to go back to it until 2010.

How important are organizations such as Sisters in Crime to a mid-list mystery writer?

SinC is like a big fat favorite granny. She’s warm and comforting and tells you you’re wonderful when everyone else tells you your writing is crap!

What’s your writing schedule like? Do you aim for a certain amount of words per day and do you outline?

Well… if I’m very very good, I can smack out 2,000 words a day… but then life gets in the way… like the Monument Fire this last week, and we were evacuated and living in our RV with two dogs and I was eating on nerves about our home burning to the ground instead of writing. I’m happy to say that the house survived and so did we!

What’s the most important ingredient in a good amateur sleuth novel?

I’m glad you asked that question because in A DEAD RED CADILLAC & A DEAD RED HEART, I write about a tall, blond and beautiful ex-model turned crop-duster who, to quote Lalla Bains, says: “I’ve been married so many times they oughta revolk my license.” I wanted to give readers a peek at the not so-perfect -life of a beautiful blond. Lalla Bains is no Danielle Steele character, she’s not afraid of chipping her manicure. Scratch that, the girl doesn’t have time for a manicure what with herding a bunch of recalcitrant pilots and juggling work orders just to keep her father’s flagging business alive.

Between a philandering famous Puerto Rican baseball husband and her long time widowed father’s triple by-pass, Lalla is now content to run her dad’s crop-dusting business in Modesto, California and avoid the paparazzi hounds who feast on the remains of those who aren’t famous anymore.

In A DEAD RED CADILLAC Lalla is once again brought into unwanted limelight and as she sees it, the only way she’s ever going to get her life back is if she can solve the mystery . And, as luck would have it, along the way finds the man who becomes the love of her life.

How do you promote your books? And how much time to you devote to online networking?

I believe that authors MUST use as many avenues as possible to promote their work. Branding is a term that comes from major corporations, like Pepsi and Ford and these companies understand that one ad in one magazine is not necessarily going to equal one sale. Your name over and over again, along with the name of your series; like A DEAD RED CADILLAC and A DEAD RED HEART gives you an edge on that branding.

Seeing a grave disparity between what is available to Indy authors as opposed to traditionally published authors, I created All Mystery e-Newsletter. July, 2011 is our first year anniversary and I’m pleased to say this is one of the fastest growing e-newsletters in the US. It’s clean, simple and easy to navigate: 12 new books from Indy as well as NY published authors. A colorful book cover, a quick synopsis, a few reviews and a buy button to Amazon for the e-book or paper back. Each month is themed: Romantic mysteries/suspense for Valentine’s day, Paranormal mysteries, The Funny Bone issue, Historical Mysteries, Murder at Work and ending the year with Cozies for Christmas—there’s something for everyone and I make sure that the Indy authors get a chance at the same exposure as say, Catherine Coulter and her newest Sherlock book… yes! Catherine and her publicist see the advantage of fan based venues like this and so should you.

It’s been a giggle to have to squeeze my own books into the line-up, but I enjoy doing it. I’ve recently expanded All Mystery to include a yahoo group so that fans can ask questions and authors can promote themselves with news about book signings, events & new offers.

Advice to aspiring mystery writers?

Self-publish because it encourages you to write instead of pinning all your hopes on that NY publisher. Besides, the more you write the better you get. And you’re branding your name, developing a fan base. Who knows, you may get an offer from that NY publisher—which you can then accept or not. Which reminds me; I gotta get busy and finish my latest book, a romantic sailing mystery set in exotic Mexico. I hope to have A DANGEROUS HARBOR ready for publication by the end of this summer.

Thanks, Rebecca.
You can visit Rebecca at her website: http://www.rpdahlke.com/
Her Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/RPDahlke
Amazon page: http://tinyurl.com/6l8y7gm
B&N page: http://tinyurl.com/6bldn9u
and newsletter: http://www.allmysteryenewsletter.com/

8 comments:

Jean Henry Mead said...

Welcome to Mysterious Writers, Rebecca. Its good to have you here.

Peg Brantley said...

As usual, a terrific interview, Jean.

Rebecca, I enjoyed learning a little bit more about you, and love that you've constructed a tough, not-to-type character in Lalla.

Jean Henry Mead said...

Thank you, Peg. It's always good to see you here. :)

jenny milchman said...

Love your description of SinC--and the good writing days :) Thanks for the interview--these are great!

Geraldine Evans said...

Great interview, Rebecca. Very interesting and oh so poignant to learn of the loss of your son. I'm so sorry. You seem so upbeat one would never have guessed you had suffered such a tragedy. A case of keeping it all within? xx G

Jackie King said...

Rebecca, Loved this chatty conversation between you and Jean. I felt as a group of us were sitting about the kitchen table, drinking coffee and chatting. I can hardly wait to read your books.
Jackie King
Author of THE INCONVENIENT CORPSE

Anne K. Albert said...

I love a success story, and the All Murder! eNewsletter is just that. Kudos, Rebecca. On behalf of authors everywhere, I'd like to say thanks for all you do. :-)

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