Int: Cheryl Hagedorn

02 Jun

                           SPOT LIGHT INTERVIEW 


Good Morning and Thank you for joining me for this, the first ever Saturday Spot-Light Interview, hosted by your resident reviewer, RJ and simulcasted via 3RS & Blogwriters & Artists Network.

Today I am thrilled to introduce my guest, First Time Novelist, Cheryl Hagedorn, author of “Park Ridge: A Senior Center Murder,” which has been generating quite a buzz in the blogosphere.

RJ:  Cheryl – thank you for taking the time to stop by today and discuss your new book.

CH:  I’m glad to be here — especially with your reputation and 3rs — and the mark that the Blog Writers and Artists Network
is making.

RJ?: Well, we are excited to have you here. Readers are always interested in getting to know authors, as real people. So, tell everyone a bit about yourself, your background, education, etc.

CH: I find that I’m a bit of an academic cicada. I waited 18 years after leaving high school to get my bachelor’s degree and another 19 to get my master’s! In the past I was a Salvation Army officer (minister), then a computer programmer. Now, I write full-time.

RJ: Congratulations! That’s wonderful!  It is very inspirational to talk with someone that never gave up on a goal.

RJ?: Although this is your first novel, I understand you’ve had work published in the past..

CH:  I’ve had a short story published in a feminist pub, Moon Journal;  another, “Color of Cowboys” in Threshold, DePaul University’s literary magazine; “Mudface,” a poem, in Off the Rocks, a gay and lesbian magazine; and very recently some subway-riding vignettes, called “Stranger in Transit” at Gaper’s Block. <<

RJ?: Park Ridge has been referred to as an “inverted detective story” can you explain –

CH: In an inverted mystery you usually know who committed the crime. The challenge is whether or not the detective can solve it. Along the way, you also try to discover why the crime was committed. Most mysteries now are of the WHOdunnit variety as opposed to PARK RIDGE which is a WHYdunnit. It has the added twist of
whether or not the detective can convince the DA to press charges against little old ladies and men. <<

RJ?:  The Senior Center is a very unique setting – What was your inspiration for this book?

CH:  I teach writing at the real Park Ridge Senior Center. I’ve also taught for the Chicago Department on Aging. I’m continually amazed by the depth of feeling my students bring to their work. Just because they’re older doesn’t mean they don’t get angry, feel passion, or get depressed. I thought the book would be a way to portray seniors
as real people.

Maddy Hunter’s series, Passports to Peril, has a group of elderly Iowans on adventures around the world. While I appreciate Hunter’s sense of humor, many of the characters are stereotypical, even exaggerated. Like Grandma Mazur in Janet Evanovich’s books. I wanted to see what would happen if we took off the veneer of the smiling, helpful grandparent.

  {2 part} It’s been widely discussed, so we aren’t giving away the big secrets – tell us about the controversial banana murder.
       -First, where did the idea originate?

CH:  The novel started out as a short story assignment for my class. One of the restriction was that the murder had to take place at the
senior center. Well, I took a look around and there just weren’t that many weapons available, you know?

   RJ: Right….

CH: It also occurred to me that choking is something people associate with older folks. But getting the banana down the throat of the victim was something
that stymied me for quite a while. How do you force someone to eat a banana?

Someone wanted to know if I thought the murder by banana had had negative impact on the global fruit market. I asked other people for their answers.

RJ: Care to share one or two of the responses with us?

CH: Sure, “If anything, the banana would grow in demand, a new weapon for Guerilla Warfare.” To which someone else replied, “How about Gorilla warfare? It’s a natural—and has a peel…”  and I really liked this one: “I can see it now—Nana Noir. But I ask you, can one book make a case for plantain disdain? Doesn’t it take a bunch?”

 RJ?: – Were you surprised by the response to this?

CH: In a way, no, because it’s the most personal of the murders. Ironically, because the possibility of choking was real and there was no evidence at the scene, I had to come up with a reason for the detective to investigate the death.  >>

RJ?: Are you working on a sequel?

CH:   The second novel in the series is finished and I’m looking for a publisher. It’s called Senior Games and is about the local senior Olympics.

RJ?: Where can readers get a copy of “Park Ridge: A Senior Center Murder”?  

CH:  I make more money (hint, hint) if they go to Book-Locker, but they can order it from any online bookstore or order it through their local brick-and-mortar. The ebook is only available at Book-Locker, though. Good news for folks who are visually handicapped. The State of Illinois will be making the audio file available free of charge within the next week or two.

RJ: That is fantastic and we wish you the very best with the book!

Thank you so much for joining us today!
  RJ-Closing: Having read the book, I must say that I found it to be a refreshing alternative to the cookie-cutter who-dunn-its. The characters are three dimensional, the setting itself plays a significant role throughout the novel and with the added complexity of two opposing love interests, there’s something for everyone… The most surprising aspect has to be the fondness I felt for the murdering pinochle players. Although their acts are despicable, I couldn’t help but find them quite like-able in many ways. For a first time author to create such a conflict of emotion within the reader, is a testament to her abilities.  This is a cozy mystery that will undoubtedly make Cheryl Hagedorn a name well known to mystery lovers everywhere. And with another installment in the works – readers will not be forced to wait very long to be reunited with this unique and intriguing cast of characters.

Happy Reading!
    RJ xx

June 18th – Spot Light Interviews will be joined by Maria Liberati, author of “The Basic Art of Italian Cooking”

spot-light-interview-pic.jpg“Spot Light Interviews” is a creation of 3Rs –
Offered exclusively as part of 3Rs reviewing package.
If you are interested in the Sizzlin Summer Virtual Book Tour &
Spot Light Interview, send an email to RJ at

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Posted by on June 2, 2007 in Interviews


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