Okay, folks, I’ve got something different for you today. Not only is it an interview, but … the author interviewed herself! Our mutual friend, Sara J. Henry, asked me if I’d be willing to host Jodi Compton to help her promote her new book, “Thieves Get Rich, Saints Get Shot.” I said yes, of course! Except … since I haven’t read the book, that made it tricky to come up with good interview questions. No problem, they said. She’ll ask the questions herself!
So, without further ado, let’s give a big Punctuality Rules welcome to Jodi Compton!
Q. Who are you? Where is Deb?
A. My name is Jodi Compton. Deb and I have a friend in common, Sara J. Henry, the author of ‘Learning to Swim.’ Sara brokered this deal in which I’d do a guest post for Punctuality Rules. I’m the author of four crime novels, the latest of which, Thieves Get Rich, Saints Get Shot, came out on July 19.
Q. So which have you written about, a cop or a P.I.?
A. Neither. My protagonist is in her early 20s, a failed West Point cadet, and is drawn into troubles not of her making. In Hailey’s War, she protected a 19-year-old girl from a mobster, nearly dying at the hands of one of his men when she was tortured for information.
Q. Good times! So what happens next?
A. Well, Hailey goes back to Los Angeles and falls into a role as the lieutenant of a rising Latina gangster, Serena “Warchild” Delgadillo, who played a significant role in the first book. The fun — lawless and amoral though it is — comes to an abrupt halt when suddenly it’s all over the news that Hailey killed two people in San Francisco. It’s definitely her they’re describing, but she hasn’t been anywhere near northern California. So she and Warchild head north to get to the bottom of things.
Q. If I know crime fiction, there’s a fine-looking guy as well, right?
A. Two. Hailey has a long-unrequited attraction with her cousin CJ, who is tall and lanky and sexy and unfailing decent to women, but unavailable to her because of the American taboo about relationships between first cousins. That’s why Joel Kelleher appears on the scene. Hailey’s initially attracted to him because he superficially resembles CJ, but he develops into a full-fledged character in his own right. He’s a cop, too, which is problematic, since Hailey and Warchild are working the other side of that particular street.
The physical similarity between Joel and CJ plays a small but important role in the third Hailey Cain book that I’m revising right now: Hailey calls Joel by the wrong name at an intimate moment, and that effectually ends the evening. In the following days, Hailey has to ask herself: Is this man real to me, or just a kind of methadone for my CJ addiction? Do I have the right to ask him for a second chance? Do I want to?
Q. Wait — you just said you’re working on the third Hailey Cain book, but earlier you called yourself the author of four crime novels. The math doesn’t add up.
A. Okay, yes: the first two were about a Minneapolis missing-persons detective, Sarah Pribek. Those were 37th Hour and Sympathy Between Humans. They’re a little more traditional than the Hailey stories, meaning that they’re police procedurals. A lot of people ask me if I’m going to write about Sarah again. The unsatisfying answer is, I really don’t know.
Q. Hailey is very Angeleno. Is that where you’re from?
A. No, I grew up east of San Francisco. And Hailey grew up east of Vandenberg Air Force Base, more than an hour north of L.A. If you look at a map of California, and see the westernmost “heel” of the state, that’s about where she’s from. The choice of L.A. as Hailey’s chosen, adult “hometown” grew out of an unrequited crush I have on L.A. It’s such a big, warm, freewheeling, pan-cultural place and, I think, unfairly maligned by outsiders. I go down there as often as I can. Whether I’ll ever live there, well, I’m really not sure.
Q. That’s the second time you’ve said “I really don’t know” or “I’m really not sure.” Would you describe yourself as more wishy or washy?
A. What’s the difference again?
Q. Uh, it’s, uh … Well, that’s all the time we have! I hope readers have really enjoyed this. Thanks, Deb and Sara, for this opportunity.