A.R. Baumann’s new book, Under a Cloud of Rain, just came out this month and she kindly stopped by to answer a few of my questions about it, and more!
Will you tell us a bit about Under a Cloud of Rain and what inspired you to write it?
Under A Cloud of Rain was inspired by the murder of a very rich man who was killed by his wife although she was never convicted of it. I was born into a very wealthy family in Houston and the Mossler’s lived in River Oaks just a couple of blocks away from our home. I knew that one day I would write a crime drama instead of the literary rough draft I had been working on. The story of that murder fascinated me. Houston, as a location, was perfect with its steamy, humid weather in the summer.
What makes Nick such a compelling character? Why do you think readers will root for him?
Nick Noelle is pure; a really down to earth detective who came from a very violent Cajun family in the swamps of Louisiana. Noelle’s honesty and the urge to solve murders to get “the bad guys” no matter what road he had to travel to find the perpetrator, reminded me of Popeye in the film, The French Connection. I hope the readers will find themselves wanting to root for Noelle because of his gut instincts and his honesty, an old fashioned man’s man.
What other characters did you particularly enjoy writing?
I enjoyed writing George Brunswick’s, Priscilla Lowden, Richard Lowden, and Pamela’s characters because of their overtop ambitions and the ugly way they lived their lives. I could play with them, as in my own life I am rather more of a beneficent person who doesn’t care that much about needing to be right. These guys all were identifiable people who had taken the wrong road to find some success.
I checked out numerous books, and did my research on Houston crime. I interviewed the detectives and police officers covering the cases in 1970 Houston. I rode shotgun with a police officer at 2:00 AM to see how they worked in their day back then. We covered the area just outside the loop of Houston. We covered a drug bust and a man who was running away carrying a bloody knife. We never found that perp.
You have a background in acting, but have you always wanted to be a writer? Will you tell us more about yourself?
I started writing in sixth grade. Stories about so-called friends at school. They were mini dramas. At eleven-years-old, my sister, who was four years older than me, yelled out to our parents that she wanted to be an actress. I wanted to be like my big sister so I raised my hand as if I were at school and piped out, “Me too!” I went to the High School of Performing and Visual Arts and received a unanimous vote from Carnegie Mellon for their acting school there, but went straight to London and didn’t come back until I was 20 years old when I started my acting career in New York. I acted until 29 with Michael Moriarty’s Shakespearean Company, Potter’s Field. I studied under Stella Adler, and Frank Corsaro who went on to become the Head of the Actor’s Studio for a while. After about five years, I developed spastic colon, the name for IBS back in the 70’s and found myself in terrible pain before I went on stage every night, so finally at twenty-nine, when I got married, I let go of my acting career to become a mother, which led me back to writing.
What’s one of the first things that you can remember writing?
I wrote a play called, “Positively Negative” when I was around 25 years-old about a destructive relationship I was having with an actor.
Why suspense? What do you enjoy most about reading, and writing, in the genre?
I have always wanted to write a thriller, particularly a serial killer book, and I always knew I wanted to stage it in Houston.
What authors have influenced you the most?
Since I spent years as an actress, you will probably not be surprised that I loved the playwrights Shakespeare and Tennessee Williams. I loved Truman Capote, W. Somerset Maugham, and Bernard Shaw.
If you could experience one book again for the first time, which one would it be?
The Razor’s Edge by W. Somerset Maugham.
Have you read any good books lately? Anything you’d recommend?
I read Jennifer Lauck’s memoir, Blackbird. It’s beautifully written but very painful reading because it is so honestly penned and oh, so sad.
What’s next for you? Is there anything else you’d like to share?
I look forward to going back to Abandoned Wells, a family drama I’m writing, although I believe that will take many years to finish. In the short run, I am working on Catharine Lee, a torch drama that morphs into a thriller.
Keep up with A.R. Baumann: Website
About Under a Cloud of Rain:
Nick Noelle, a salt-of-the-earth, Creole-born detective, has always been his own man, playing by his own rules. When police discover that the mutilated victim found in the swampy bayou is the body of Julia Brunswick, daughter of the richest oilman in Texas, Noelle and his god-fearing partner Juan Lopez are put on the case. The story twists and turns, entrapping readers in the drama of Houston socialites and miscreants alike. With the turn of the page, the death count grows as one maniacal murder follows another.