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    It Girl

    Tasha Alexander Icon

    No, I’m not suggesting that I am an It Girl. But last week over on Murderati, my dear friend JT Ellison tagged me with the following meme, so for a fleeting moment I get to be IT in tag, which is almost like being an It Girl. This is astonishingly good timing as my pith has been broken for the better part of a week and I’m in need of something ready-made. Love you, JT!

    List 5 things you’d like to do someday. The dreams you’d like to realize. The goals you’ve set for yourself.

    OK, what became distressingly clear once I started thinking about answering this is that I’m not particularly goal-oriented. Must be more of a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kinda girl.

    1. I want to live in a house that is full of books stored on shelves that don’t come from IKEA.

    2. I want to write books that are each better–technically, emotionally, entirely–than their predecessors.

    3. I want to be able to go hang out in Europe whenever I want. Hmmm. Revise that to include the rest of the world, too, not just Europe. I need to go to Egypt. And spend more time in Turkey. And…ok, I’m just going to get carried away here.

    4. I want to be somewhere on my birthday where there’s snow. Lots of snow.

    5. I want to be able to buy every book I want in hardcover (hence the need for non-IKEA shelves in every room of my house).

    Name one thing you’d love to do, but you know will NEVER happen:

    Play Beatrice in Much Ado About Nothing on stage in London.

    But enough about me. It’s cocktail time! Our guest today is the fabulous, fabulous Michele Martinez, whose legal thrillers featuring Melanie Vargas have earned accolades from critics and devoted readers alike. Not only is Michele a talented writer and former federal prosecutor in New York City, I hear she’s got some gorgeous shoes….

    Are you ready for a drink?

    Michele Martinez’s Mimosas:

    I’m on a mimosa kick this holiday season, as you already know if you read The Lipstick Chronicles. I love mimosas because they’re festive and you can drink them in the morning without raising any eyebrows. Recipe: Juice some oranges. Fill a beautiful champagne flute 1/3 - 1/2 full of juice (depending on taste and desired degree of intoxication). Top off with Moet & Chandon White Star champagne. (There, adding a brand name makes it sound like a real recipe, doesn’t it?).

    TASHA: If you could have anyone read to you, who would you pick and what would s/he read?

    MICHELE: Such a sexy question. Sorry to give a wholesome answer, but my fave reader these days is my seven year-old. His reading ability is just exploding, and it’s so fun to watch. A year ago he was struggling through the Bob books. (”Mat has hat” — no wonder.) Last night, he was sitting at the island in the kitchen, glanced down at the paper and said “White House To Delay Shift Until Early 2007.” My favorite material for him to read aloud: not books, but random, bizarre information gleaned from the world around him.

    CARRIE: You got to prosecute Jack Reacher at ThrillerFest this year. What fictional character would you like to go after next?

    MICHELE: James Bond, but it’ll be a step down.

    JT: Do you and your character Melanie share a favorite designer?

    MICHELE: Melanie is much more practical than I am and not afflicted with a shoe fetish, so the answer is no.

    DAVID: What’s your favorite part of browsing in a bookstore?

    MICHELE: If it’s a bookstore I know, my favorite part is hanging out with the booksellers. The booksellers I have met as a rule are fun, erudite and delightful people. If it’s an unfamiliar bookstore, especially a large, anonymous one, I wish I could say I enjoyed the browsing, but I’m going to be honest here — it’s become work. I’m too focused on which books are getting what co-op and whether the manga and potpourri are outselling the books. My New Year’s resolution is to find the joy again.

    JULIA: Tell us about the stupidest criminal you’ve ever encountered.

    MICHELE: The guys I dealt with at the top end of the narcotics trade could run Fortune 500 corporations. (They basically did, just illegal ones). But I had this crew from Bushwick one time that successfully hijacked a tractor-trailer full of cocaine away from a Colombian cartel (no easy feat), and then had no clue how to drive it. They crashed big time on the BQE and got arrested with 200 keys.

    JT: Do you and your character Melanie share a favorite designer?

    MICHELE: Melanie is much more practical than I am and not afflicted with a shoe fetish, so the answer is no.

    JT: Are you going to be doing more short stories?

    MICHELE: Absolutely. Short stories are so liberating. Doing a series is like being married, but writing a short story is like having a little fling. You can be somebody totally different from your normal self, and then it’s over! In 2007, I’m fortunate to be contributing to anthologies edited by two astonishingly talented friends of mine — an MWA anthology edited by the great Linda Fairstein (we are members of a small club of former prosecutor-authors), and Politics Noir edited by Gary Phillips. (I was an Al Gore staffer in a previous life, though not much material for crime fiction there.)

    DAVID: Who are some of your favorite authors?

    MICHELE: So hard to pick a favorite, especially since I know so many charming and talented authors. So I will punt. Lately I am re-reading those amazing chroniclers of New York City society circa the turn of the last century — Edith Wharton and Henry James.

    TASHA: What’s the last book you read that absolutely blew you away?

    MICHELE: The Lovely Bones, although it got a little loopy in the end. But the raw impact of the rape and murder of an innocent child told in the first person by the victim will stay with me forever.

    A million thanks to Michele for joining us! Please take a minute to answer her questions in the comments:

    1. Fine wine or hard liquor?
    2. Fame or fortune?
    3. New York or L.A.?
    4. Spit or swallow?

    Next week we’ll be back with one of my favorite guys, Harry Hunsicker, whose debut novel, Still River was nominated for a Shamus award. Send me your questions for him!


    22 Responses to “It Girl”

    1. Melanie, I’m so sorry I missed the Reacher trial. Would love to see you go after Bond.

      1. Fine wine or hard liquor? Liquor. Not that I’d pass on the wine.

      2. Fame or fortune?

      Fame. Sigh.

      3. New York or L.A.?

      New York, but I hesitated.

      4. Spit or swallow?

      Depends on the guy. Wait - was this a toothpaste question?

      by Alexandra Sokoloff on December 15th, 2006 at 8:37 am

    2. 1. Fine wine or hard liquor?


      2. Fame or fortune?


      3. New York or L.A.?

      Most days, New York, but when it’s really crappy weather here, LA has a stronger pull.

      4. Spit or swallow?


      by judy larsen on December 15th, 2006 at 9:12 am

    3. If Champagne counts as wine, then wine.

      Fortune - easy one.

      New York - still the best place for the live arts.

      Swallow. Why have a mess when the solution is so easy? And you’re there anyway - it’s like picking up a candy bar at the grocery store checkout. Of course, I’ve been with my husband almost 20 years, so that was another easy one.

      Michele rocks - if you haven’t read her books, you must!

      by Kathy Sweeney on December 15th, 2006 at 9:36 am

    4. Tasha, I love your to do list. We do need that trip to IKEA in the meantime. And tons of money to luxuriate in all those books.

      1. Fine wine or hard liquor?
      Wine, no question.

      2. Fame or fortune?
      Fortune. I don’t care if they know who I am as long as I get to drive the cool cars.

      3. New York or L.A.?
      I’ve never been to NY, and visited LA once. But i’m better New York would win. We’ll find out in January.

      4. Spit or swallow?
      Perhaps if I adopted spitting as a rule, I could shed these last ten pounds. The newest model diet.

      by JT Ellison on December 15th, 2006 at 10:46 am

    5. 1. Fine wine or hard liquor?

      Depends upon my mood.

      2. Fame or fortune?

      Fortune. I like being anonymous.

      3. New York or L.A.?

      Never been to LA, but I think that even if I had, I’d be a NY girl.

      4. Spit or swallow?

      Don’t you wish you knew? ;)

      by Tasha Alexander on December 15th, 2006 at 11:01 am

    6. 1. Fine wine or hard liquor?
      Fine Beer.

      2. Fame or fortune?
      Gotta go with fortune…you could always buy fame

      3. New York or L.A.?
      Love ‘em both. But, living in L.A., I know you can’t beat the weather here.

      4. Spit or swallow?
      …eh…this question isn’t meant for me, right?…

      by Brett Battles on December 15th, 2006 at 11:50 am

    7. 1. Fine wine or hard liquor?
      Nothing like a silky smooth bordeaux.

      2. Fame or fortune?
      Gotta go with Tasha here. I’d rather have my privacy.

      3. New York or L.A.?
      What season???

      4. Spit or swallow?
      I don’t use tobacco products…

      by James on December 15th, 2006 at 11:58 am

    8. 1. Fine wine or hard liquor?

      Fine hard liquor.

      2. Fame or fortune?


      3. New York or L.A.?

      New York. I’m an Angeleno, but my boys were born here.

      4. Spit or swallow?

      The married man declines to comment.

      by Keith on December 15th, 2006 at 12:40 pm

    9. JT, maybe we need a road trip to Atlanta to buy IKEA shelves. If only we could do it before Christmas!


      by Tasha Alexander on December 15th, 2006 at 12:51 pm

    10. 1. Fine wine or hard liquor? - Depends on who is buying and if I have to speak in public.

      2. Fame or fortune? - Fortune. I can handle the fame on my own.

      3. New York or LA? New York, no question. I hate driving.

      4. Spit or swallow? - One time in college and no one lets you forget.

      by David Terrenoire on December 15th, 2006 at 1:21 pm

    11. Oh, David, YES! I hate driving too.

      A road trip is one thing, but daily schlepping around is an entirely different matter. I’m so glad that I can walk to the grocery store.

      by Tasha Alexander on December 15th, 2006 at 3:13 pm

    12. Tasha, we definitely have the same fantasy about Beatrice. What a fantastic character - the gold standard for women. Actually the gold standard for relationships.

      But who as Benedick? Enquiring minds want to know…

      by Alexandra Sokoloff on December 15th, 2006 at 3:40 pm

    13. Hmmmmm……Benedick….that’s a hard role to cast.

      by Tasha Alexander on December 15th, 2006 at 3:43 pm

    14. 1- Lately, licker is quicker

      2 - Fortune. Definitely.

      3 - L.A. (Come on, sing it, “Wish they all could BE California…”)

      4 - Spit. We’re talking about when we’re having dinner with that lost native tribe, right, and the chief explains that the delicious barbecue is broiled tarantula?

      by Diana Killian on December 15th, 2006 at 3:57 pm

    15. 1. Fine wine or hard liquor?

      I drink to give myself the illusion that I’m charming and handsome, so it really depends on how quickly I need to change my self perception. Which usually means hard liquor in large quantities.

      2. Fame or fortune?

      Fortune. If you have fame people start to make comments about all the midgets.

      3. New York or L.A.?

      Oh, this is tough. Never been to New York, but something tells me I’d love it. That said, even with all its faults, L.A.’s my town.

      4. Spit or swallow?

      I’m really the wrong guy to ask on this one. I hear Terrenoire had an experience in college, though…

      by Stephen Blackmoore on December 15th, 2006 at 4:15 pm

    16. Liquor. Duh.
      New York, if I have to choose and Charleston isn’t one of the choices.
      I decline to answer the last one.

      by JDRhoades on December 15th, 2006 at 4:35 pm

    17. Pinot Noir
      Fortune (you can always buy fame)
      New York
      Swallow (for the protein)

      by Maia Caron on December 15th, 2006 at 5:27 pm

    18. Great answers, guys. I can see I’m gonna have to spend more time over here at Good Girls.

      Mine would be:

      I love LA, but New York is my one true home.
      That fourth question — so crude.

      Hey Tasha, this was fun. Thanks for inviting me.

      by michele on December 15th, 2006 at 9:38 pm

    19. 1. Fine liquor. Hard wine.
      2. Fame is vulgar.
      3. New York, LA, the back beach on Koh Phi Phi, Paris, Fiesole, Saanen, looking across at Machapuchare, late afternoon on the terrace at Nepenthe, forest above Salzburg, the gun turrets in Diamond Head, Tupper Lake, Bali, Dublin, Goa, Ventura County Line, Monticello when the leaves are just coming back, Highway 50 through Utah, Tassajara, vichyssoise at Myopia, The Atlas Mountains, Blue Hill, stone guard tower way off in the woods at Shalimar in Kashmir, Point Lobos, Spindrift Beach, Paradise Island before Club Med, Brattle Street, the Dower House on Centre Island, Yosemite in Winter…
      4. That’s a Truth. I prefer Dares.

      by Cornelia Read on December 16th, 2006 at 2:53 am

    20. 1. Fine wine or hard liquor?

      Beer. But I love an old single malt, a small batch bourbon, or a premium tequila.

      2. Fame or fortune?


      3. New York or L.A.?

      Chicago. But if forced, L.A. because it’s warmer.

      4. Spit or swallow?

      Wait a sec… some women swallow?!?

      by JA Konrath on December 16th, 2006 at 9:44 pm

    21. 1. Fine wine or hard liquor?


      2. Fame or fortune?

      Which one makes me happy? Hmmm…

      3. New York or L.A.?

      I agree with Chicago…or possibly Boulder, Colorado…LA? Yuck. I’d have to take New York - afterall, they have the Yankees.

      4. Spit or swallow?

      Swallow your pride and spit in the face of evil. :-)

      by Carrie on December 17th, 2006 at 2:44 pm

    22. ME as Benedick! I got passed over for the role in high school (”too dark,” I was told) and that’s what doomed me to this life of writing slight yet bafflingly opaque novels. I deserve that role, damn it!

      Anyhoo. . .

      Fine wine or hard liquor?

      Fame or fortune?
      Which ever’s gonna land me on the cover of all the tabloids as the white trash ex-boyfriend of the Skeletal Pop Tart du Jour (whomever she may be at the time).

      New York or LA
      Gotta go with New Yawk. I usually get hostile when I’m there, but LA looks like a giant Jiffy Lube to me.

      Spit or Swallow
      Depends on who’s paying. I work on a sliding scale and each client is unique.

      by nathan on December 20th, 2006 at 1:17 am

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