LynDee Walker stops by the Hen House on her SMALL TOWN SPIN release day to chat about her biggest new stories, Nichelle’s deepening love triangle, and her own real-life love story.
First of all, congrats on your third Headlines in High Heels book release! One of the things we love about Nichelle is how she digs into a story until her inner Lois Lane is satisfied. Has there been a time in your own life, when you’ve had to summon up that same level of tenacity?
LW: Thank you! I’m SO excited about this book.
I had a few big investigative stories in my career that required Nichelle-style digging. It started early, with a story all the way back in high school that caused a clash with the administration and won me a couple of friends at the Student Press Law Center in Washington, D.C.
In college, I worked for an entire semester on a series about why our professors were so underpaid (can we say “football?”). They ended up getting a significant raise, and many were so grateful they set up a scholarship fund for the journalism school. I was shocked last year when I found out my alma mater still awards a LynDee [Walker] Integrity in Journalism Award every spring. That’s one of the coolest things ever.
I wasn’t quite twenty, working my first huge investigative story at my first “real” job, when a high-ranking officer in a large police department threatened to arrest me because I wouldn’t give him my tape recorder. Looking back, I think I might’ve been too young to understand the gravity of that situation. As it was, I stood up and said “Sir, I’m not sure exactly what that section of the Texas penal code says, but I am pretty sure it doesn’t say I can’t have a tape recorder in a public meeting.” And then I walked out of his office. Shaky and colorless, but I walked. I spent the entire elevator ride to the lobby convinced the doors would open to a trio of uniformed officers with guns drawn. Thankfully not.
I didn’t ever meet anyone like Joey, though. And I’ve never been shot.
HP: We love this first line from SMALL TOWN SPIN: “The news doesn’t take sick days.” As a writer and mom, you’ve probably pulled your share of working sick days. Do you have any funny personal stories from the trenches?
LW: Aw, thanks! And I do indeed. I once had a big murder trial story going out, and I had the stomach bug. I went to work (these days, I would totally hate myself for spreading germs, but back then, I only cared about the story) for about half the day to get that copy ready and babysit it through production. I got so tired from running back and forth to the restroom that one of the other reporters collected every trash can in the newsroom and brought it to my desk, just in case.
I just thought that was hard until last year when I found myself alone for a week, caring for three little ones while I had a horrific upper-respiratory mess. My hardest memory of that week is vacuuming baby powder out of my son’s carpet at 10 p.m. while hacking up half a lung and running a 103 fever. Moms don’t often get sick days, either.
HP: SMALL TOWN SPIN opens with a high-profile teen suicide. Nichelle did a great job as a reporter, showing compassion for the family’s loss despite the media frenzy. What challenges did you face when writing these scenes, given your real-life experience as a crime reporter?
LW: Fictional bereaved people are so much easier to handle than flesh and blood ones, but I still cried writing those scenes. It’s so hard, asking people who are living a nightmare to talk to you about something that’s painful for them. It was always my least favorite thing about the job. Nichelle gets that from me.
HP: Fans of the Nichelle Clarke series will be excited about the ongoing romantic tension between Nichelle and her two hotties, Joey and Kyle. Any hints for your loyal readers, about what’s to come in Nichelle’s complicated yet exciting love life?
LW: Hmmmm. I don’t want to spoil anything, but I’m almost finished with DEVIL IN THE DEADLINE, and Nichelle’s love life definitely heats up in this book. I don’t expect her to be stuck between these guys forever—she won’t handle the uncertainty well. But she has some things she needs to work through for herself before she can commit to a guy. She’s figuring that out.
LW: Thank you! Thirteen years married and *cough* nineteen this week *cough* as a couple. That’s more than half my life. Wow.
We celebrated the wedding anniversary with a day in Washington, D.C. My friend Rick Campbell’s book launch party was on our anniversary, so we went to the Navy Memorial to celebrate with him in the morning, then walked around the city a bit and shopped (my hubby bought me new shoes! Aren’t they gorgeous?) for the afternoon.
This week we’re celebrating the dating anniversary (yes, we are those cheesy people who do both) with a book launch. I’m a lucky girl.
HP: Your references to mouthwatering BBQ meals in SMALL TOWN SPIN and the other Nichelle Clarke titles make us hungry for more! How do you handle food cravings, when you write certain scenes?
LW: When they get really bad, I drag someone to Buz and Ned’s in Richmond for lunch or dinner. It’s the restaurant where Nichelle and Parker had dinner in FRONT PAGE FATALITY, and they have the best BBQ I’ve ever eaten. Since I’m from Texas, that’s saying something!
But then I have to walk. Far—their food is definitely not points-friendly.
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