Sunday, January 23, 2011
Mitch Malone Mondays with Sunny Frazier
Mitch Malone here. This is my second interview of authors although I have interviewed plenty of people as a crime-beat reporter for the Grand River Journal. Today's guest is Sunny Frazier, author of the Christy Bristol Astrology Mystery series. Her books include Fools Rush In and Where Angels Fear. She has a new one coming out this year. Enough background. Let’s get to the questions.
Hey Sunny, nice to be able to talk to you in person. You and I would be great friends if we were in the same city. I can see you giving me some great tips on stories from your work in the Sheriff's Department. Were you friendly with any reporters?
Well, Mitch, I was a reporter myself in the late '70's. Actually, I've always felt like a reporter from the time I was the editor of the Lemoore High newspaper, The Tiger's Voice. It ran in the town paper, they gave us two pages. I had my own column, “On the Sunny Side.” Even had psychedelic art to go with it. Those were the hippie '60's. I also did stories for military publications while in the Navy. An article on the Navy's views of abortion caught the attention of DC. I got out after 4 years and got a degree in journalism at Fresno State University.
You're probably wondering how I went from a “plush” job as the only female photojournalist in the San Joaquin Valley to working for the sheriff's department. Easy answer: wage discrimination. I was the “token” female on a small newspaper and told by the publisher that I should have a husband supporting me. It seems Medieval now and this was 1979! I sued but the paper folded before it went to court. Once in law enforcement I found myself on the other side of the counter—literally. Reporters thought they had an “in” and would get the scoop. Not so! Law enforcement officers in Fresno are guarded with the press—as you well know. I was now in a position of being a guard dog. Nothing leaked on my watch!
You write about your experiences similar to the books where I'm the main character. This Christy Bristol character sounds a bit off. Tell me about her.
Christy has her problems, of course. She's a bit naive despite the fact that she works in a support staff position in the Central County Sheriffs Department. Part of the reason for her cluelessness is that she's like an ostrich with her head buried in the sand. She WANTS to be a wallflower and blend into the background. Why? Because she has a “secret.” See, Christy comes from a family of clairvoyants. Her sister, Celeste, is a nun who has visions. The sisters communicate from Illinois to California via ESP. Much cheaper than the US Postal Service, more reliable than e-mail. Her grandmother is also “gifted,” but she uses it for her gambling habit. Christy just wants to be normal. On the other hand, she's been drawn to astrology and it has been a doorway to her own paranormal tendencies. Not always in a good way. Although she'd like to block it out, the Zodiac lures her back. She does charts to supplement her meager wages at the sheriffs department but inevitably casting a horoscope casts her in the path of danger.
Astrology? Really? I can't believe real police officers would credit any cases to the stars lining up in the right order? How do you make that work?
I know, it sounds crazy. The first book, FOOLS RUSH IN, was based on a real case of a methamphetamine dealer, the first case I worked start to finish as a narcotics secretary. We discovered via phone records that this guy was calling the 1-900-Astrology hotline. The detective, known as “Wolfe” in the book, approached me to do a horoscope on the man. We knew he'd ordered several murders and the detective was hoping to hink him up by planting a fake horoscope in his mailbox. The idea was that he would lead us to one of the bodies. I declined. I mean, come on, how would that hold up on the stand? “Yes, your honor, I did his horoscope to make him paranoid and entrap him.” I could see being laughed right out of the courtroom and into the unemployment line. But, there was all that info at my fingertips. All the birthdates of the criminals in the gang just itching to be charted. Yeah, I did it. Not for the detective (who went on to plant tarot cards in the mailbox) but for my own purposes. I wasn't sure people wanted to read about astrology and its practical use, but the reaction of my writing group proved me wrong. There seems to be a big interest in astrology out there and I try to make it accessible to readers. And, before you scoff, let me tell you that many police officers have asked me to do their horoscope. Their #1 question? “Will I get shot on the job.”
Is it true that you yourself do people's horoscopes? What sign do you think I am and why?
Yes, Mitch, I do horoscopes. I've been doing them for 40 years. I do the future, which most astrologers won't touch. I'm about 95% accurate. But it wears me out, especially a bad prediction. Like I say in the book, a part of my soul leaves with every horoscope. You are, like everyone else, under the impression that you are one sign. What you don't understand is that you have a universe inside of you. While your Sun sign might be Cancer (my guess), you could also have more influence from a secondary force, like Pisces. Pluto (still a planet in astrology-speak) defines your generation. The Moon controls your moods, Mercury is your psychological make up. And Venus and Mars are your sex signs. Listen, buddy, I know all about your lack in THAT department! Even Christy is luckier in love than you are! Step up to the plate, man!
Hmmm. Well...What is next for Christy? I bet she is not going to listen to the stars and stay home. Am I right?
Well, Christy has this sidekick, Lennie. Lennie is what we in the Central Valley refer to as “a good ol' girl.” She loves sex and is willing to take one for the team. I don't think the women would normally be friends but they've worked together and were once roommates. Christy is pretty judgmental about her friend. I find that annoying. In A SNITCH IN TIME, the friendship of the women is at risk. Lennie has hooked up with a newspaper reporter who needs her new-found wealth to take over a newspaper up in the foothills. He's pretty much a jerk (sorry for the slam Mitch, but I'm getting some revenge for my past) and treats Lennie like she's an airhead. Christy goes up for a visit and wouldn't you know, several murders happen. The homicide team needs someone to type reports so she's conscripted. She's on the outs with Lennie but the two have to mend fences and solve several murders so Christy can return home to her cat Shamus. To keep the astrology fresh, I'm playing with the concept of using horoscopes as a profiling tool. Is this possible or even logical? I don't know. I'm sure there are astrologers out there who will knock me for trying. But, you know, it's fiction. That's my story and I'm sticking to it!
Thank you Sunny for agreeing to the interview. To find out more about Sunny or her astrology series, check out her website at http://www.sunnyfrazier.com
If you would like to be interviewed for a Mitch Malone Monday, please contact W.S. Gager at firstname.lastname@example.org.