MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Julie Kramer has parlayed her experience working within WCCO’s I-TEAM into a successful new career as a mystery author.
Her news savvy has helped give veracity to the ongoing chronicles of TV reporter Riley Spartz, an investigative journalist with a knack for getting caught up in terrifying ordeals.
Kramer’s newest book, Killing Kate, has been earning great reviews and just appeared on the Star Tribune bestseller list. I shot a couple questions her way.
Q: Congratulations on the fourth installment of your Riley Spartz series. I’ve got to say, this one looks to be possibly the darkest chapter yet. Are you starting to scare yourself?
Julie Kramer: Truly, I was scared writing this one. I was scared I wouldn’t get it done. It was a dark time in my life when I was writing Killing Kate. My agent had died and the book — while sold — wasn’t finished. The ending has proved to be a bit controversial. Some readers think it was powerful, others painful.
Q: Some have jokingly said the art of writing mysteries is coming up with the ending and then writing backwards. How do you set out to write your books? Do you know how it will all come together when you start writing?
Kramer: For me it’s the opposite. I start out with the beginning and work toward the end. But I don’t always write chronologically. And most of the time I don’t know who the killer is. Sometimes I even change killer a couple of times while writing. But often I do know how the killer is going to die. I’m not sure what that says about me.
Q: One of the biggest pleasures of your books is the local connection, the sense of danger and intrigue happening right down the street, so to speak. Here, one of the main inspirations came from a statue in Iowa, correct?
Kramer: I started with the premise of a killer drawing chalk outlines around the bodies of the victims. I felt it needed a punch. Then the idea of drawing the outlines to look like angels came and I knew I had something special. Maybe I was hoping angels would be the next vampires or zombies. Because I enjoy weaving real life with fiction, I wanted the story to also revolve around a real angel figure. Iowa’s Black Angel cemetery statue has the legend, lore and history to be a central character. If you’re ever in the area, visit it. Magnificent.
Q: The Riley Spartz novels have earned the respect of a number of fellow authors. Are there any writers whose work you enjoy following? Any that particularly inspire you?
Kramer: I tend to read what I write — mysteries and suspense. I read Lisa Scottoline, Tami Hoag, Linda Fairstein, John Sandford, William Kent Krueger, Janet Evanovich. The list goes on. But I am still a news junkie and highly influenced by happenings around me as I write.