"He told me he was used to getting what he wanted."
—A Model Murder
Interview with "tough little cookie" Celia Conrad: The British author speaks out on abuse of women in male dominated hostess clubs and law firms, and endorses the Barcham Books launch of "A Model Murder” as a free e-book via KDP Giveaway 5/31-6/2/14.
What do law firms and hostess clubs have in common? The answer lies at the heart of British author Celia Conrad’s “A Model Murder,” a crime fiction novel featuring the murder of a young model moonlighting as a stripper and the harassed-at-work London woman lawyer who sets out to bring the murderer to justice.
The thriller appeared on the literary scene in 2011 before news events made its plot points seem positively prescient. Last April, a stripper was found murdered after work in Atlanta, Ga.; and last year, a gender discrimination lawsuit against a prominent American law firm settled in favor of its women lawyers.
Los Angeles journalist Marlan Warren (MW) caught up with Celia Conrad (CC) to discuss the origins of “A Model Murder” (AMM) and why publisher Barcham Books has decided to launch the e-book as a giveaway via Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) Select program May 31 through June 2.
MW: In AMM, the moonlighting model tells someone, "He told me he was used to getting what he wanted..." when describing an aggressive club customer. Later your heroine Alicia Allen also encounters this attitude with the boss at her law firm. You had a career in London working "within the law" (as they say in the U.K.). How much of your own lawyer experiences found their way into Alicia's world?
CC: AMM is autobiographical in parts, which probably makes this story even darker because it is real. The legal profession is still male dominated despite what we are told about more women qualifying or more women reaching top jobs. I think for a young woman within the law it can still be quite hard.
MW: What kind of research did you do?
CC: While I was doing a little modeling, I met a model who worked in a club to supplement her income. To research, I talked with women at the clubs. They told me how they got treated depended on the "boss." They had to generate money for the club by being "nice," but the degree of how “nice” came from the top. Some bosses looked after their employees better than others. Some women felt pressured, and some did not.
Book Trailer for Book 1 in the Alicia Allen Investigates Trilolgy: A Model Murder
CC: I am sure there is still a lot of bullying. In terms of sexual harassment, the laws have tightened but I'm sure it still goes on and women are reluctant to speak out for fear of repercussions.
MW: Your heroine is a half-Anglo/half-Italian lawyer living in London with a passion for justice and a chip that rhymes with “Singles.” How much of yourself is in Alicia?
CC: Like me, she looks vulnerable, but she’s a tough little cookie. And I do love potato chips. We also share tenacity, passion and curiosity. I made Alicia half-Italian because I love Italy. I wanted her to be sharp-witted, warm-hearted and likeable with moral fiber, backbone and sincerity. She’s a private client lawyer as that’s the area I would have gone into if I hadn't done family law. I only wish I’d thought of her retorts when I was working within the law.
MW: What kind of feedback have you gotten from readers regarding the male characters?
CC: Some readers start out hating Ivano (an aggressive Italian character), but then he makes them cry. Alicia's Italian friend Cesare is seen as a "sweetie," and everyone enjoys the banter between Alicia and her coworker/love interest Alex.
MW: What were the circumstances surrounding the publication of AMM?
CC: I wrote AMM at the suggestion of my then-agent and mentor, Paul Marsh, who encouraged me to write a mystery based on my experiences as a lawyer; and I added my brief experiences as a model. Unfortunately Paul passed away before AMM was published. At the time of its release, my mother’s health was failing and I lost her last year. I was too immersed in personal turbulence to focus on promoting the Alicia Allen Investigates trilogy (AMM is Book 1). Hopefully the free Kindle e-book offer will attract a fresh crop of readers and stimulate interest. It will remain for sale in paperback
MW: What is your writing process?
CC: I jot down notes in pencil and then plot the book out. Then I work the plot backwards, having decided on whodunit and the red-herrings. The actual writing took about 8 weeks. I edit as I read aloud: something Paul taught me to do.
MW: How can people find the paperback?
CC: It can be ordered through Amazon, Barcham Books and Alicia Allen Investigates websites. And it’s in libraries all over the U.K.
MW: Two books follow AMM in the series: “Wilful Murder” and “Murder in Hand.” The former takes readers to Australia and has a plot that turns on a string of murdered relatives and a multimillion dollar Will, and the latter takes your heroine into the depths of corruption in Sicily. Did Paul Marsh assist in the crafting of these books as well?
CC: Yes. Before he died, Paul had read both books and was really happy with them. He believed Alicia is a great character who deserved to find her audience. That endorsement has always pushed me on.
Title: A Model Murder (Book 1)
Genre: Crime Fiction
Author: Celia Conrad
Series: Alicia Allen Investigates Trilogy
Publisher: Barcham Books
Release Date: Sept. 15, 2011
Paperback Pages: 341
E-Book: Kindle (KDP Select Author)
Celia Conrad | Author | barchambooks at btconnect dot com
Publicist | memoircity at gmail
Website | www.aliciaalleninvestigates.com
Author Blog | celiaconrad.blogspot.com
Twitter | iwrite2b
Facebook | Celia Conrad Author
This interview originally posted yesterday on Open Salon's "Dancing in the Experience Lane" at