My guest today is Rebecca Dahlke, better known as RP Dahlke to her fans. I’ve just read the 4th book in her DEAD RED mystery series and it might be true to say that with the series Rebecca took to heart the advice given to many authors starting out, and that is to write what you know. I say that because the first three books at least centre on the crop dusting business and, like her heroine Lalla Bains, Rebecca worked in it herself.
Alana: Welcome Rebecca. First of all, do you prefer Rebecca or RP?
Rebecca: Rebecca is just fine!
Alana: You grew up in Modesto, California, but escaped to the city after running your father’s crop-dusting business for two years. Whereabouts is home nowadays? Any particular reason you chose it?
Rebecca: We were leaving our sailboat in Mexico every summer, going back to the states to annoy our adult children, which can be very entertaining if you count how much fun it is to leave the towels on their bathroom floor and stand in front of an open fridge and ask, “What’s for dinner?”
Alana: Wow, you’re game. We’ve never been brave enough to push those boundaries!
Rebecca: Well, hijinks of that sort only go so far, so we figured it was time to buy a summer home, something close enough to drive to and from the Mexican Marina where we kept our boat. Of course, when my husband suggested a condo or apartment, I suggested he get realistic! I’d gotten used to wide open spaces, so we compromised on 4 acres and a nice house south of Tucson. The scenic shot is a picture of our back yard.
Alana: That’s some back yard! My husband John and I owned a 46ft catamaran for a few years and I pretended to be a sailor but never got out of the sheltered waters of the Great Barrier Reef in Queensland. Tell us a bit about your experience. What was or is your craft, how long have you been sailing and where? Have you retired from the sea or do you still sail?
Rebecca: We’re from the bay area of San Francisco, California. We both learned to sail on this bay—which really was a lot of fun, if you don’t mind dodging freighters barreling down on you at warp speed. We started with a 27ft water ballasted trailerable boat, then upsized to a Hylas 47. Interesting that you had a catamaran as we tried out a few with charters, and even considered purchasing one before opting to stick with the mono-hull. A 46 ft. cat is like a 65 ft. monohull, and a dream to sail, or so I’ve heard.
Alana: We sold some years ago, but our memories are of the fun we had. I understand you wrote your mystery sailing trilogy while sailing. I can imagine it would have been very conducive to getting the creative juices flowing. I haven’t read it, so would you tell us a bit about it? Does it follow a principal character?
Rebecca: The two books in my sailing trilogy are based around one small 32 ft Westsail and two sisters who inherited it from their father. They both learned to sail it on the San Francisco bay and loved it.
Alana: So you were writing from experience again.
Rebecca: I was, and am. In the first book, A DANGEROUS HARBOR, Katrina Hunter is a S.F. police detective on leave after shooting her sister’s stalker. She single hands the boat to Mexico only to find a floater, an old flame with a secret that could undo her career, a bald parrot and the man who could either become the love of her life or her undoing.
Alana: And the second?
Rebecca: The second book, HURRICANE HOLE, features the sister, Leila Hunter Standiford, queen of daytime drama. When she admires a beautiful vintage Alden and its handsome captain she doesn’t realize that the boat will soon burn to the water line, or that a dead body will be found below, or that the captain has been targeted as the sacrificial diver.
Alana: Lalla Bains, the heroine of the DEAD RED series, is very likeable. I dropped in on her in the 4th book in the series and at some point I’m going to have to go back and read about her earlier exploits. She reminded me of Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum, although she’s most definitely her own person. I imagine I’m not the first person to make favourable comparisons.
Rebecca: I’ve been absolutely floored that so many readers have commented that this series reminds them of Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series! I write what I like to read and, of course, Janet Evanovich is the queen of humorous mysteries.
Alana: I have to admit to becoming a bit tired of Stephanie by the time the books got to double figures.
Rebecca: Well, I can tell you there a lot of really entertaining authors who can also tickle the funny bone while writing a really good mystery. Try Heather Haven or Cindy Sample, or AJ Lape or Kaye George. Want to get all of these authors, myself included in a boxed set? Get WHAT’S SO FUNNY ABOUT MURDER? and enjoy seven complete humorous novels for only 99 cents.
Alana: Thanks, I’ve just taken you up on that☺. About time I found myself some more authors in the genre. But getting back to you, do you have more stories in either or both of the series planned?
Rebecca: I’m writing #5 in the DEAD RED mystery series. This one is titled A DEAD RED MIRACLE and it’s again based in Wishbone, Arizona. I’m so enjoying writing about this area. Did you know that South East Arizona is where Geronimo and Cochise lived? These two Chirachauhua Apache Indians were famous for side-stepping American efforts to corral them, or their people.
(Alana: A DEAD RED MIRACLE has since been published and I’ve included the link here.)
Alana: Cowboys and Indians was one of the favourite games when I was growing up. I remember the girls always had to be the Indians and the cowboys always had to win. Things would be different if kids played it nowadays I think! But again, let’s get back to you. You produce a newsletter too, I’ve heard.
Rebecca: I do, three times a week and they feature the best in mystery/suspense and thrillers with DIRT CHEAP MYSTERY READS.
Alana: Are there new books envisaged for the future that take you away from the two current series and perhaps into a new genre?
Rebecca: oh, boy—that’s a loaded question. I so want to write a book that I’ve had in my head for several years, but the DEAD RED series is starting to pick up more and more readers, so much so that I can’t see how to stop writing the next and the next just to indulge my fantasy of something completely different.
Alana: Well, I look forward to reading it when you do. Rebecca, thank you so much for talking with me.
Rebecca: It has been my pleasure! Thank you for having me!
Take this link to my review of A DEAD RED ALIBI