Peri Minneopa (pronounced Minn-ee-OH-pah) is the main character in Gayle Carline’s debut novel, “Freezer Burn,” a murder mystery that was just released on August 1st. Peri cringes when people mispronounce her last name. She really only likes three things: clean houses, dirty martinis (an olive lover’s delight), and being a private investigator.
Peri just sold her housecleaning service to get her P.I. license, when on one of her last jobs, she finds a severed hand still wearing an expensive ring in, of all places, the client’s freezer.
I won’t divulge anymore of the plot, except to say that there are really two of them and Peri takes on the dangerous challenges of both.
Gayle Carline lives in Placentia, CA, and writes a humor column for the Placentia News Times. She used to be a software engineer, which is probably how she developed a liking for dirty martinis. She raises quarter horses and used to be a contributor to California Riding Magazine. She likes to describe herself as an author, columnist, and maven-in-training.
You can buy her new book at Amazon.com.
Since Gayle and I share some mutual writer friends, I contacted her after her last book signing tour to ask for this interview. She graciously accepted:
Rosie: Gayle, what made you change your career path from software engineer to writer?
Gayle: A number of things in my life converged: I had a 12-year old son who was drifting away from me, a 7-year old mare who was due to foal, and a 26-year career that left me exhausted every evening and angry every morning. I loved to write and wanted the time to give it a whirl.
Rosie: How did you land the job as a columnist at the Placentia News Times?
Gayle: First of all, I've loved humor essays ever since I discovered James Thurber. I was actively seeking a way to do that, so I looked in my local paper, saw they didn't have a humor columnist, and sent them a query. It was the world's worst query, but they were losing their "psychologist's column" and needed a filler. Lucky me!
Rosie: What is your favorite among the columns that you wrote for the Placentia News Times?
Gayle: I like each one for different reasons, but my all-time favorite is the first one I wrote for Mother's Day. It was about a fantasy amusement park for women, Raging Hormones.
Rosie: How did you come up with the idea for your debut mystery novel “Freezer Burn”?
Gayle: It came in two pieces. At my first Southern California Writer's Conference in Palm Springs, I wrote a little flash fiction piece about a missing ice cube tray and won the topic contest. Shortly after that, my friend and I began to joke about our heroine, Peri Menopause, Private Eye. She solves every case by crying, eating chocolate and bitch-slapping people until someone confesses. I combined the two and thought, what else could they find in a freezer? Oh, yeah, a severed hand…
Rosie: Is the main character of your book, Peri Minneopa, a composite of people you know?
Gayle: I like to think of her as a cross between Jessica Fletcher and Murphy Brown. She's impatient, curious, and snarky - like me - but she's snarky out loud. I'm snarky in my head.
Rosie: Who is the most interesting person that you have met on your book signing tours?
Gayle: Well, I've met John Lescroart, and Monte Schulz, but the most interesting person was a 12-year old boy up in Quincy, named James. He's an author, too, and we spent a wonderful time talking about the writing process. I tried to explain who Dean Martin was to him and he said, "So, Dean Martin is the prehistoric Elvis". Thanks, Kid, I didn't feel old enough.
Rosie: Will you be doing a sequel?
Gayle: It's in the works right now, if I can ever stop promoting the first one!
Rosie: Tell us something about your quarter horses, Frostie and Snoopy.
Gayle: Frostie is my Wild Red Mare. I've had her since she was 3, which is the equivalent of having a 900-lb teenager. She's fast and spooky. I think she sees dead people. But when I bought her, I began writing. Helping her foal was the most exciting thing I've ever done. Her son, Snoopy, is a big, goofy boy. He's a dream to ride, but on the ground, it's like an ADHD kid.
Rosie: How many blogs do you write and what are the URLs?
Gayle: Well, Snoopy has his own blog, called "That's My Snoopy" (http://thatsmysnoopy.blogspot.com), which is chronicling his recovery from a broken sesamoid (a bone in the ankle region). I used to have two blogs, one specifically for Freezer Burn, and one to talk about the writing process. I've let the Freezer Burn one lapse, as the other blog evolved into that fun, quirky, Getting To Know Gayle blog. It's http://gaylecarline.blogspot.com and is titled, "On the Edge of the Chair of Literature". Some days I talk about writing, some days I talk about Peri and the book, and some days I talk about buying a new shredder. Come for a visit!
In her spare time, Gayle likes to get together with friends and plan some gruesome murder and mayhem for a next novel, while laughing over a bottle of wine.