Louisa Clerici’s short stories and poetry have been published in literary anthologies and magazines including; The Istanbul Literary Review, Carolina Woman Magazine, City Lights, Off the Coast, Shore Voices, Bagels with the Bards and The Shine Journal. Louisa is the host of DreamSpeak, a popular venue for writers in Downtown Plymouth, MA. and has just finished her first novel.
The narrator of your story in Dead Calm, “The Rose Collection,” is, to put it mildly, a piece of work. How did you come up with this woman?
I’m fascinated by all the layers of a person’s character. On the news every day, we hear about “seemingly normal” people robbing stores and murdering family members. But what drives someone to commit a crime? Can the same person who is able to enjoy beauty, be capable of doing something terrible? I’m infinitely curious and wanted to explore those themes in The Rose Collection.
When a character comes into one of my stories like my narrator Laura, it’s as if she already exists, whole and complete. Something inside me begins to speak for her in her voice as I hear it. And I love the feeling of letting go and seeing where the story will take me. Laura took me for a wild ride and the puzzle of her personality fascinated me. I had no idea how it would end when I started The Rose Collection.
The narrator collects collectible fashion jewelry, among other things. Is this something you knew about before you wrote the story or did it just fit the character or something in between? How did you research this topic?
I’m a huge fan of jewelry of every kind. I’ve worked in design and sales and have dabbled in collecting. My character, Laura Peckham lived a life of such containment and quiet desperation that it took jewelry to light up that captive part of her.
It seemed like the perfect hobby to give Laura. I wanted to see where it would lead her, what it might drive her to do. Though I have to admit it, I’m so passionate about jewelry myself, that I find I’m always adding a pretty trinket to a story. I love to point out the character who is wearing a gorgeous sapphire ring or draw the reader’s attention to the Timex on a skinny black band on the wrist of a suspect. Jewelry is so revealing.
You’re a poet, a novelist and you write literary short fiction, but “The Rose Collection” represents your first published crime fiction. What inspired you to try your hand at crime fiction?
I’ve always loved crime fiction from Nancy Drew to Agatha Christie. I grew up seeing the world through those writers’ eyes. It took me a while to see that there was this part of me patiently waiting to commit a crime. I began to notice that my flash fiction and even poetry were like little stories that often contained some wrongdoing and even suspects. When I won a place in the National Poetry Slam in Austin, Texas in 1998, I chose to perform my piece called, Road Noise in which a guy gives his girlfriend a gun as a gift and there are consequences! I had to admit it. Maybe there was a mystery writer hiding in the verses of my poems, waiting to be revealed.
What are you working on now?
I’m working on some women’s fiction that I’m getting ready to send out and a cozy murder mysteries series. I have a thousand partial stories hiding in my files. I write all the time. I need to finish more! New focus for 2012!