I am so delighted to welcome Susan back. I was lucky to read an advanced copy of Politics Can Be Murder. I said this: Reading Susan Santangelo’s books is like taking a masterclass in voice. Local politics, dogs, and the always funny Carol Andrews make the ninth book in the Baby Boomer Mystery series, Politics Can Be Murder, a clear winner. Susan will give away a Kindle copy to one reader who leaves a comment.
Susan: I’m often asked by readers how I come up with ideas for my Baby Boomer mysteries. I always start with a title in mind, and the plot develops from there. “Politics Can Be Murder” had been rolling around in my brain for a long time, and I finally decided to write the book to coincide with the presidential election year.
I’ve always been interested in politics. I remember watching the 1956 Democratic and Republican conventions on a small black and while television in my parents’ living room when I was a little girl. The Republican party nominated Dwight Eisenhower and Richard Nixon as their candidates for a second term. The real drama was at the Democratic convention. Former Illinois Governor Adlai Stevenson won the presidential nomination on the first ballot, but the fight for vice president took several ballots to decide. The contest was between Tennessee Senator Estes Kefauver and Massachusetts Senator John F. Kennedy. Watching the intense lobbying on the convention floor was like watching a dramatic play, except it was real life.
When it came time to select a major course of study in college, I chose history and political science, and minored in creative writing. I wanted to become a political reporter, like my heroes, Chet Huntley and David Brinkley. Of course, life never happens the way you expect it to. I never became political reporter, realizing pretty early that my writing style was more appropriate to feature writing for magazines and newspapers than reporting “hard news.” But I got a chance to be in the thick of a real political campaign when my husband, a reporter assigned to cover the New Jersey statehouse, was tapped to be press secretary for the incumbent gubernatorial candidate who was, at the time, not favored to win. Our whole family got involved in the campaign, and to our utter amazement, our candidate pulled off an amazing victory. My husband was then appointed the governor’s permanent press secretary, and I began working on what turned out to be a losing U.S. Senate campaign. My next foray into politics, in the 1980s as deputy campaign manager in a congressional campaign, was more successful. It even included my becoming the temporary liaison between the Governor’s office and the White House when President Carter made a trip to New Jersey to campaign for my candidate. I still have my Secret Service i.d. pin.
The protagonist in “Politics Can Be Murder,” Carol Andrews, gets involved in a local political campaign because of the unsolved hit and run death of a school friend. Her candidate is a local businesswoman whose platform is all about pedestrian safety in town – more crosswalks, traffic lights etc. She has no previous political experience, but is determined to help her candidate win. As Carol learns, politics can be a seductive, murky world. “What you see” is not always “what you’ll get” once the votes are counted and a winner is declared. And some people will resort to anything – even murder – to win an election.
Readers: If you’re retired (or when you retire) what new activities do you look forward to?