Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Kathryn Leigh Scott's Novel Mystery

Dark Shadows actress Kathryn Leigh Scott (Maggie Evans) has written a new novel, Down and Out in Beverly Heels, which is released today. We caught up her to chat about the book's inspirations and her writing routine...

So Kathryn, what was your starting point for Down and Out in Beverly Heels?
I once saw a segment of 60 Minutes about women who were living homeless in affluent neighbourhoods in plain sight – what I call homeless and hiding it. I was intrigued by the idea of a woman who had it all and lost everything, and it doesn't take much. Illness, bad investments, career meltdown, divorce, mental health issues or natural disaster can destroy everything in short order. For me, writing and acting always begin with a what if? So I imagined not only what it would be to lose everything – home, friends, reputation, earning potential – but how to survive it and, most important, redemption and finding the road back. But I also write funny, so my story has an edgy humour.

You first published the story as Murder in Primetime, back in 2006. What made you decide to revisit the idea and how different is the new version from the original?
I printed a limited number of Murder in Prime Time paperbacks that were never sold in stores, but only available to fans of Dark Shadows at the festivals and on my website. I asked everyone who read the book to send me their suggestions to make it better. Well... I got so many really complimentary letters full of ideas... I used all those reviews and comments to rewrite the book, and even changed the name of the lead character. It's a far better book, and I am now almost finished with the sequel!

The theme of suddenly losing one's financial security seems more topical now than it was when the book was first published...
In truth, these days anyone can identify with this story because it's about people who have worked hard, found success through their own efforts and then see it all wiped out. Who doesn't understand that?

Meg, your central character, is an actress from a cult television show. Dare we ask how much of her is drawn from your own experiences?
I write like an actress. I write in scenes and imagine what I would do 'if'... Hollywood is a world I know and experience, so it's fun to write about, but also when something goes wrong, the public exposure is terrific! I know you can hear my voice in the writing, but Meg Barnes is quite different from me and what she experiences only exists in my imagination.

What's your approach to writing? Are you disciplined when working on a manuscript?
I make up a story and write it down in a few pages, that are full of what ifs. Then I write an outline and force myself to write 1,000 words or three pages a day and I don't get a glass of wine until I do. Sometimes I find an excuse to come up with less, but it has to be a really good excuse.

Who inspires you as a writer?
I've always been a fan of the great British women mystery writers, who create wonderful atmosphere, characters you care about and stories that pull you into their world...  Dorothy L. Sayers, Agatha Christie, Margery Allingham, P.D. James, Josephine Tey... I love them and their use of language! And I'll never be their equal.

Nonetheless, is there a particular passage or scene in the book you're proud of?
There are some scenes where Meg is auditioning and working on set that I think really capture the behind-the-scenes experience... and I'm most proud of the scenes when Meg is very vulnerable as a homeless woman living in her car.

What are you working on next? Are there any more novels in the pipeline?
I have a screenplay based on Down and Out in Beverly Heels completed and another screenplay in the works. I'm almost finished with the sequel to Down and Out... I am half through a non-fiction book  and have the sequel to Dark Passages to write.

To order Down and Out from Beverly Heels in paperback and Kindle formats, click here.

Kathryn is also offering fans a bonus signed bookmark with proof of purchase from the book from Amazon. For more information, click here. Kathryn will be signing copies of the book at New York's Barnes & Noble store on 82nd Street and Broadway on Monday April 1 from 7.00pm. For full event details, click here.


Sharon Lynn H. said...

What a great Cover for your new mystery Novel: DS's legend Kathryn Leigh-Scott. I like the vivid scene of Art work and the story behind the image is very intriquing/devastrating to loss everything: I look forward to seeing your new Mystery "Down and Out in Beverly Hills" on the Barnes and Noble shelves and or ordering it through them. Wow, your a bundle of talent(s) Ms. Leigh-Scott and that pretty much goes for the entire Cast and Crew of the legendary Classic Dark Shadows line-up!!

Agent00Soul said...

I'm looking forward to reading this. I work in the entertainment biz and I've seen this theme played out again and again in real life.