An FAQ with Author Katy Leen

Okay, these aren’t “frequently asked questions” as much as they are “randomly selected reader questions my hubby asked me.” I suspect he slipped in a question or two of his own as well. But I’m a mystery writer, I’m suspicious of everything. 

1. Are you Lora Weaver?

No. None of my characters are based on specific people. But I do share some background and traits with both Lora and Camille. For instance, I too was a social worker, I’m half Anglophone and half Francophone with some Native thrown in (so I’m told), spent most of my adult life as a vegetarian, and I may or may not have a tenuous relationship with cell phones.

2. Do you eat ice cream out of the container?

Who doesn’t? Mostly soy ice cream these days, and sometimes I fancy it up by placing it on a saucer.

3. Is your husband the inspiration for your super sexy male characters?

No.

4. Could you give better answers?

Could you ask better questions?

5. Why did you set the Lora Weaver series in Montreal?

I was born and raised in Montreal. It’s what I know and love.

6. Is the series about Lora? Or Lora and Camille? And why did you make Lora a New Yorker?

Well, the tag is “A Lora Weaver Mystery.” But the friendship between Lora and Camille is crucial. And I made Lora an American because one of the joys of Montreal is that it’s a multi-cultural city, and I think the contrast of experiencing the city from both the local and newcomer perspectives is fun.

7. What can you tell us about the Caron clan?

The Carons are your typical French-Canadian family: big, entangled, and opinionated. They’re increasingly Lora’s surrogate family and an important influence in her life.

8. Bagel, baguette, or challah roll?

Easy. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

9. How many books will comprise the series? Do you have a number?

No. No limit anyway.

10. You use French in the stories. What’s your approach given that your audience is largely English?

I try to make it easy for readers to understand the French by peppering it in and using words that translate well. But French culture is a huge part of life in Montreal, and the books wouldn’t be authentic without it.

11. How do you write? Lots of planning or off the cuff?

Somewhere in the middle. I know the basic plot and the ending when I start. But everything else is a free ride. 

12. Where do the names Ping and Pong come from?

Ping was the name of my very first cat, so it’s an homage of sorts. And I liked the idea of teaming it with Pong for Lora’s dog. Both Ping and Pong draw their traits from all the pets I’ve had, but Pong looks like the dog I have now–a dachshund/whippet mutt called Grace.

13. Could I get a date with Camille?

Stop asking. You’re not her type.

And yet more questions. This set about the book covers for the Lora Weaver series.

Q: So, we’ve got a few reader questions here about the new covers.

A: Yup.

Q: What most people want to know is what motivated the change?

A: This new look was a long time coming. I wanted covers to capture the spirit of the series, the French feel, and each individual story. Which meant the covers had to work on many levels, and for that I needed to find an artist to help. I finally found the fab Dina Zayan to collaborate with me and voilà—new covers!

Q: How did the collaboration work?

A: To start, we talked about the series, Lora, and the overall goals of a redesign. From there, I outlined concepts for each book, we finessed them together, and then Dina started sketching. Once we were both happy with a tableau, we discussed colours and she went to work. This was a super fun stage for me because I got to see Lora’s world come to life under Dina’s careful colouring and shading. Each cover took weeks to complete and took a lot of refining before we got to the final vision. By the end, I not only learned a lot about the art of illustration, but I benefitted as a writer because I had to delve into Lora’s world in a new way that brought me even closer to it. Total bonus:)

Q: And what about the snazzy new title layout? What  savvy designer came up with that look? Must have been hard to find someone so talented?

A: Not really. I’m looking at him. And, actually, it’s the same typeface from the previous covers. But I DO love the fun style. Very vintage 1960s feel.

Q: Okay, ahem, moving on. We know the books are about Lora and all, but no covers with Camille?

A:  Are you sure these are all reader questions?

Q: Of course, yeah. Let’s see. So, do you have a favourite cover?

A: I like them all. I love how each main book reflects Lora’s stage in her personal journey as well as the particular mystery. But if I had to pick a fave, it’s probably The First Faux Pas. At least for now.

Q: Right. So—what’s next?

A: New books.

Q: New books?

A: Yup. There’ll be a prequel that tells the story of how Lora met the Carons, and another one that follows the The Ménage à Trois. 

Q: Which brings me to the top reader question: Will Lora ditch Adam for Laurent?

A: That’s not really about the covers…

Q: True. True. Just thought I’d slip that in there.

A: Good try. But for that answer you’ll have to keep reading:)