Q&A With Lawrence Kelter

New Information about Upcoming Book Related News

Q&A With Lawrence Kelter 

Lawrence Kelter contacted me on Book Notions Facebook page asking to do this Q&A with me. Of course, I would say yes. It’s nice when people contact me first or when their agents and publicists connect me with other people. Lawrence Kelter is the bestselling author of over thirty mystery/thriller novels which include the Stephanie Chalice Mystery Series that topped the bestseller lists in the US, UK & Australia. What’s also interesting is Lawrence wrote the studio-authorized sequel My Cousin Vinny. Early in Lawrence’s career, he received direction from literary icon Nelson DeMille!

Q: Lawrence, what’s it like having your mystery thriller books on the bestsellers lists in the US, The UK & Australia? That sounds like a dream come true!

A: Yes, it absolutely was. Don’t Close Your Eyes and Ransom Beach, books one and two in the Stephanie Chalice Mystery Series were traditionally published and did well at brick-and-mortar bookstores when initially released in the pre-digital age. In 2012, I bought back the rights to these titles and independently re-released them though Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Imagine my surprise when they found their way to the top of the online sales charts, not just here in America, but in the United Kingdom, and Australia. I couldn’t have been happier to see my name huddled between the likes of James Patterson and Michael Connelly. Truly and out-of-this-world moment.

Q: Did you always know that being an author was what you were called to do in life?

A: Not initially. As a youth, I was voted The Least Like To Visit A Library. It wasn’t until later on that I found my love of books and it wasn’t until much, much later that I tried my hand at writing. The first book I wrote was an adventure story, and although it was reviewed kindly by acquisition editors, it never made its way into print. Not one to be easily discouraged, I kept at it and my second attempt made it onto bookshelves. The publishing business has changed a hundred time since then and is an arduous maze to navigate. Still, my love of writing continues unabated and I know that I’ll never give it up.

Q: I love reading murder mystery books whether they are thrillers, who done it, historical mysteries etc. What is it about writing mystery thrillers that you enjoy so much? 

A: As a reader, I love to be challenged and find that twists and turns are what keep me glued to the page. As a writer I love to keep the reader guessing. Doing that involves some subtle sleight of hand and I feel I’ve gotten pretty good at it. I write in short, sound bite chapters and provide just enough detail for the reader to go off on his or her own, to envision the characters and setting as their imagination draws them. As they say, “Less is more.”

Q: Would you like to tell the readers and I a little bit about your books, especially the Stephanie Chalice Mystery Series?

A: Stephanie Chalice is feisty, funny, and oh so ready for anything. As BookWire Review said, “Murder mystery thrillers are often driven by tough, fast-talking, streetwise detectives with a sad story about their past and a penchant for nabbing perps. The cop on the case in Don’t Close Your Eyes is all these things and more. Meet Stephanie Chalice. She’s a smart, 28-year-old NYPD homicide detective whose acerbic repartee is like an arsenal of nuclear missiles.” Along with intricate psychologically-taunting plotting, Stephanie is the glue that keeps readers cemented to the page. Along with a fierce appetite to serve justice, Stephanie is intensely loyal. Behind all the bluster, though, is a young woman with fierce passions who shows the same tremendous dedication to her ill mother as she does her job. Chalice is an excellent detective, but it comes at a cost. She suffers recurring nightmares and obsesses that the diabetes that killed her father and weakens her mother will one day come for her.

Q: Do you take bits and pieces of real people and places when creating your stories? 

A: I’m not a ripped-from-the-headlines type of author as I feel there’s already plenty of that on the bookshelves. I prefer to create my own plots and develop my own characters. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to melding bits and pieces of individuals I’ve met into the characters I create. Although I don’t borrow ideas from the press, I do allow events, past and current to provide a jumping off point for my imagination. The very last thing I ever want to hear is a reader saying, “That’s not original. He ripped off so-and-so.”

Q: What was it like being mentored by Nelson DeMille? That sounds so amazing! 

A: Nelson DeMille is not only a magnificent writer but an awesome human being. I was and still am a dedicated fan of his work. It was his books that inspired me to write, his dry sense of humor and gift for creating tension. I’d met him at a few of his book signing events and worked up the courage to contact him about Don’t Close Your Eyes. I was stunned when he replied with not only a killer blurb but hand-edited pages of the manuscript. Well before he said, “Lawrence Kelter is an exciting new novelist, who reminds me of an early Robert Ludlum,” he said, “Kid, your work needs editing, but that’s a hell of a lot better than not having talent. Keep it up!”

Q: Are you currently writing your next book in the Stephanie Chalice Mystery Series, a standalone novel, or the beginning of a new series?

A: Your timing couldn’t be any better. While there are additional Stephanie Chalice books in the writing queue, I’m excited to announce the first-in-series release of a brand-new hero, a Brooklyn-based PI named Gina Marie Cototi. She’s a feisty Sicilian spark plug, with a fondness for family, friends, and one roguishly handsome Casanova named Rocco Benelli. Hey, nobody’s perfect.

This headstrong sleuth drives a split-window ’63 Corvette coupe and never, I mean never, misses Sunday dinner with Ma, Dad, and her sister Theresa.

Broke, brooding, and breathtaking, Benelli, an out-of-work parole officer is cursed with more charm than any man deserves. Deep down, Gina knows she shouldn’t touch him with a ten-foot pole, but she’s got more cases than she can handle, and Benelli’s ready, willing, and able-bodied, the perfect partner to help her get the goods on Vlad “The Scud” Rzhevsky, a disreputable boxer running point on dirty deeds for Luca Mura, a mobster as evil as he is dangerous.

In her first adventure, Gina must somehow close the case without losing her life to Mura or her virtue to Benelli, but a moth working alongside a flame is always in danger of catching fire.

For fans of Janet Evanovich. Think of Man-Killer as Stephanie Plum meets Moonstruck.


Q: Does Hollywood have the rights to your work? The entertainment industry needs new ideas instead of remakes, reboots, sequels, prequels & spinoffs. 

A: Not at this time. As you can imagine, the big and small screens are tough nuts to crack. Many writers have been fortunate to have mined their way into Hollywood’s Fort Knox but for me that’s an opportunity that’s still a bit distant. With so many books going to streaming services like Netflix and Prime, the to-visual media channel seems glutted. I’m always optimistic. As they say, “Cream always rises to the top.”

Q: What was it like writing Back To Brooklyn, which is the sequel to My Cousin Vinny? This would be a dream come true for anyone who loves writing and reading fan fiction that a Hollywood studio would give them permission to write what happened afterwards. 

A: Writing Back To Brooklyn was the most fun I’ve ever had sitting behind a computer keyboard. The greatest compliment I’ve received from fans and reviewers is that they were able to visualize Vinny Gambini and Mona Lisa Vito while they were reading my story. They felt that the transition between the film and the sequel was seamless and that the characterization was one-hundred percent spot on. 

The story behind the story is that I was watching “My Cousin Vinny” for probably the twentieth time and thought, “The screenwriter deserves a pat on the back. Here it is some twenty years after the film’s release and I’m still laughing my butt off. It was as if I was seeing it for the very first time. I managed to obtain the screenwriter’s contact info and dashed off an email congratulating him on the brilliance of his work. I didn’t expect to hear back but shortly thereafter received a reply. We developed a dialogue and became long distance friends. He called me one day and told me that he’d read one of my books. I could’ve been knocked over with a feather when he said, “You’re funny. If I can get the studio’s permission, would you consider continuing Vinny’s and Lisa’s story?” He’d always hoped that Vinny and Lisa would have an ongoing career similar to Dashiell Hammett’s Nick and Nora Charles with Lisa investigating and Vinny litigating. The rest as they say, “Is history.”

Here are some details about the film’s success your readers might like to know.

In the world of satire it is so incredibly rare that voices are created with such endearing charm and personality that they resonate with us still, decades later. Yet Dale Launer has done just that with the film My Cousin Vinny. 

The film was released on March 13, 1992, and has become an iconic comedy classic, a tale about two wrongly accused young men who are defended in an Alabama murder trial by Vincent Gambini, an inexperienced, wildly inappropriate lawyer unaccustomed to southern rules and manners. 

Mention the film by name or parrot any of the classic lines and you’ll find that practically everyone within earshot is immediately on the same page, going tit for tat with smiles plastered on their faces. “Am I sure? I’m pos-i-tive.” 

It’s rated the #2 all-time greatest legal thriller by IMDB, the Internet Movie DataBase, second only to John Grisham’s masterpiece A Time To Kill. To this day, the film is still used by professors in law schools as reference material in the instruction of courtroom procedure.
Today, fans of the comedy are still tickled by the film’s wry sense of humor and sight gags. Personally speaking, I still get sucked in every time the film pops up on TV and laugh just as hard as I did the first time I saw it. It just never gets old. 

Q: What is your advice for anyone wanting to write great mystery thrillers, & what helpful advice would you give to anyone on how to deal with negative criticism whether its reviews, online trolls or family and friends who don’t support their writing goals and talents?

A: Such a great question and one not easily answered. I’ll dissect it a bit and offer my best advice. 

Writing is a very individualistic process and I don’t think any two writers develop their manuscripts in the same way. Whether you’re a plotter, pantser, or hybrid of the two, you must develop a rhythm of your own. Personally, I’m a hybrid writer. I rather enjoy being spontaneous and most of my pages evolve organically. There are times, however, when the road between points A and B gets rather twisty and I need a road map to help me navigate the path. 

Steven King has said, “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.” These tenants are inherently true and cannot be forsaken. However, I also feel that it’s equally important to stay true to your own voice and vision. Write the story you want to tell and develop characters you feel your readers will fall in love with.

Now, as for part two… A writer must have a thick skin and acknowledge, going in, to expect nothing and accept everything. Don’t expect a blockbuster review and you won’t be disappointed when it doesn’t come. Don’t expect a publishing contract and you’ll be surprised and delighted when you receive it. Criticism will come at you from every direction, be it peers, readers, reviewers, agents, or editors. 

Competition is intense, my friends. Thanks to independent publishing, millions of books are published each year. And you know what? Some of them are damn good. Writers you’ve never heard of are knocking out strong, compelling tales. So, make up your mind that you’re going to be better, better than your last attempt and better than the competition. Don’t give up. Persist. Persist. Persist. Whereas some of the criticism can be discarded, some of it offers good, constructive advice. Don’t vex over criticism—learn from it. The road to success isn’t a superhighway. It’s a washed-out dirt road through ravines and along the edge of towering mountains. Prepare yourself for the journey with the equipment and knowledge that’s necessary. Persevere, and you will succeed.