I AM A HUGE MYSTERY FAN,
and had always imagined that when I became a sweet old lady
I'd retire from the art criticism business, move to a cottage
by the sea, and write a mystery. Then, one day it dawned on
me that though I'd never be sweet, I already lived close to
the sea, my garage office in West Hollywood was perfectly
serviceable, and I didn't have to wait until I had cataracts.
Since I had worked for so many years in the field, my first
thought was to write an art mystery. I started thinking about
characters (critics, dealers) and plots (heists, forgeries),
but wasn't all that inspired. Then, one weekend, my husband
and I took a little trip to Ventura. And while we were strolling
around the historic downtown area, we happened upon a big
brick building that was being used as an antique store. There
was a small brass plaque affixed to its side that read, "Historic
Point of Interest #33: Birthplace of Perry Mason." And
all of a sudden, the proverbial light bulb appeared.
I decided I would set a mystery in Ventura, and would somehow
drag Perry Mason and his creator, Erle Stanley Gardner, into
it. The idea for a series started percolating: maybe I could
create a character who writes biographies of dead mystery
writers, and in the course of her research, stumbles upon
murders and mayhem. It seemed to work, and to play perfectly
into my passion for the genre.
Once I created the character of Cece Caruso, who is obsessed
with clothes (as I am) and is a divorced ex-beauty queen from
New Jersey (as I am not), the book took off. I left my job
as the editor of an art magazine, and spent about a year writing
I Dreamed I Married Perry Mason. Without a doubt,
it's the best day job I've ever had.
I was born in Los Angeles before it got really crowded, and
lived on the East Coast for most of my twenties only to find
my way back to L.A. at the end of the eighties, to attend
graduate school in art history at UCLA. I spent most of the
nineties as an art historian and critic, writing for the
L.A. Times and various art magazines, as well as editing
the international art journal, artext. I also taught
art history and theory at U.C.L.A., Art Center College of
Design, and U.C. Santa Barbara.
I have been married since 1991 to a professor of Design Media Arts at UCLA, Peter Lunenfeld. We have two daughters, Kyra and Maud, plus a Labrador who loves pizza. I remain committed to the notion that some day I will live in a cottage by the sea. If not, a chateau outside Paris will have to do.
ooo from the authori}
I love book clubs and reading groups! So if you ask nicely, I will
participate (by telephone) at your book club or reading group meeting
--on my own dime.
All you need to provide
is a group who's read one of my books, and a speakerphone!