I’m so excited to have mother/daughter team PJ Tracy (Traci Lambrecht and PJ Lambrecht) here on the blog today to talk about their brand new book, Off the Grid! The Monkeewrench team is back, and I couldn’t be more excited! Please welcome them to the blog!
Your eagerly awaited (and sixth) new Monkeewrench book, Off the Grid, just came out! When you started the series, did you have in mind how many books you’d like to write, or did you just decide to see where the gang took you?
Actually, Monkeewrench was written as a stand-alone. The possibility of a series wasn’t even on our radar. But our publishers were so enthusiastic about the cast of characters, they asked to see more of them, and we were thrilled to comply, because we’d become so attached to all of them. Now, six books into the series, we just roll with the gang – they take us to unexpected places every time, which is one of the greatest joys of writing. But series writing isn’t without its own set of challenges – once you establish characters, you have to find creative and realistic ways to keep them dynamic while staying true to their individual integrities.
Will you tell us a bit about Off the Grid?
It begins with two of our recurring characters thwarting an assassination attempt off the coast of Florida and discovering that one of them is inexplicably marked for death – why, or by whom is a baffling mystery, but they’d better figure it out quick! At the same time, homicide detectives Leo Magozzi and Gino Rolseth are investigating a series of brutal, seemingly unrelated murders in Minneapolis. But as evidence accumulates, they discover several shocking links to their homicides, the assassination attempt on one of their friends, and the tragic kidnapping of five young girls. The stakes are already high, but they get raised in a big way when Gino and Magozzi realize that the crimes are all part of a much bigger plot with terrifying and far-reaching implications that must be stopped, even if it means war.
Many people assume that an author’s favorite character to write is the main character, but that’s not always the case! Which is your favorite character to write?
We have so many important players in our books, we’re not sure there even is a main character. And readers all have different impressions of who is central to the series, which is pretty cool. But at the end of the day, Magozzi and Gino are total candy to write for both of us.
I’ve heard that your collaboration sessions are…interesting, to say the least! Will you tell us a bit about your process?
It’s PJ and I hanging out together, laughing hysterically about 80% of the time. The other 20% is spent chuckling. Somehow, we manage to come up with a plot through all of this, and then its go-time. We get serious, and plunge ourselves into the work, at which point, we become extremely anti-social and difficult to live with. Well, I live alone, but sometimes I find myself difficult to live with!
What are some of your biggest literary influences?
T:Probably just about everything we’ve ever read. You learn just as much from reading a great book as you do from reading a bad book.
If you could read a book again for the very first time, which one would it be?
T:That’s a tough one – since I’m being asked a specific question, I would have to say Catcher in the Rye. It kind of blind-sided me, because it was a laugh out loud novel for me, as dark as it was, and before I’d read it, I’d never really laughed while reading. I guess it really played to my hereditary dark sense of humor.
PJ:Winter of Our Discontent – more dark humor. You can see that Traci and I are related.
When you manage to find some free time, how do you like to spend it?
T:Free time is kind of an alien concept, but on those rare occasions when I’m not writing, or thinking about writing, I’m with friends and family, indulging my three favorite pastimes: entertaining, cooking, and drinking wine. In the summer, I love to garden. During Minnesota winters, I love not having to go outside if I don’t want to!
PJ:Watching Traci cook and drink wine and entertain.
If you could pack your bags and travel anywhere in the world tomorrow, where would you go?
We would both stay put! We reached our travel saturation points a couple years ago, and now we’re both total homebodies.
Quick! What’s something that makes you laugh out loud?
T:Kittens. South Park. Life in general. It would probably be easier to list what doesn’t make me laugh out loud.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with us about upcoming projects or events (or anything at all!)?
We recently finished a Christmas novella entitled Return of the Magi. It’s dark, it’s light, it’s funny, and ultimately, it’s a story of redemption. We hope to see it published in 2013. We have also optioned the Return of the Magi screenplay, and the film and TV rights to the Monkeewrench series. And we’re currently working on the seventh Monkeewrench installment – you haven’t seen the end of the gang yet!
Keep up with PJ Tracy: Website | Facebook