Samantha Kidd, ex-buyer turned Trend Specialist, designed her future with couture precision, but finding the Fashion Director's corpse on Day One leaves her hanging by a thread. When the killer fabricates evidence that puts the cops on her hemline, her new life begins to unravel. She trades high fashion for dirty laundry and reveals a cast of designers out for blood. Now this flatfoot in heels must keep pace with a diabolical designer before she gets marked down for murder.
What they’re saying…
"...the book is enriched by the author's cleverly phrased prose and convincing characterization. The surprise ending will satisfy and delight many mystery fans.” – Kirkus Reviews
“DESIGNER DIRTY LAUNDRY” is a sleek and stylish read." – Ellen Byerrum, author of the Crime of Fashion mysteries
"A captivating new mystery voice, Vallere has stitched together haute couture and murder in a stylish mystery.” – Krista Davis, author of the Bestselling Domestic Diva Mysteries
"When you wear fishnet stockings to the grocery store, people tend to stare. Women look at you like you’re affiliated with the sex trade. Men pretend they’re not staring, doing so all the while. It’s probably because they’re thinking the same thing.
The last time I wore fishnets to the grocery store was weeks ago. It was then I met the man who changed the course of my life. Because of him I’d traded in the title Senior Buyer of Ladies Designer Shoes at Bentley’s New York to become the Trend Specialist at Tradava, the family-owned retailer in Ribbon, Pennsylvania. I’d given up an apartment in Manhattan to buy the house where I grew up. And now, because of him, I sat in a police station, explaining my actions to a homicide detective.
I still couldn’t pinpoint exactly when it all started to go wrong."
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Let's chat with Diane!
Susan: So, you launched your own detective agency at age ten, right? What was your first case?
Diane: The case of the missing pencils. One of my classmates continually found himself without a pencil. He hired me (and my partner, because all great 10-year-old detectives have partners) to find out who was taking them. While he suspected the people who sat near him, turns out the real villain was gravity. They were rolling off his desk to the floor.
Susan: What caused you to switch from detective work to the fashion industry?Diane: I have always loved solving problems, but I’ve also always loved clothes. When I graduated college with an Art History degree, my mom (who I think was concerned that I’d move home and stay forever) suggested I go to the mall and fill out an application. Thus, the start of a career in retail fashion.
Susan: You are certainly well-travelled. What is your favorite place you’ve visited so far?Diane: I was lucky enough to get to go to Milan, Paris, and London for my job, but I really loved Lyon, France, where the lingerie fair is held each year. I travelled with a fabulous boss who gave me complete autonomy and a coworker who was also a mentor. I’d become friends with a few of my vendors, too, and for us to all be in France and call it work was an embarrassment of riches.
Susan: What’s your favorite kind of story to get lost in?Diane: I love to read but often can’t find blocks of time because I’m trying to stay focused on the story in my head, so a book that I can read—devour!—in an afternoon, or over only a few days, is the best.
Susan: The protagonist in Designer Dirty Laundry, Samantha Kidd, is a trend specialist. Can you tell us a little about what she does?Diane: Samantha’s job is to assist the Fashion Director in recognizing trends from the runway, to communicate between the buyers and advertisers about the trends that are important to Tradava (the store where she works), and to promote the trends through fashion shows at the store.
Susan: Is it true that you make cupcakes that looked like crime scene tape for a Sisters in Crime meeting? Can you get us some of those?Diane: Yes, I did! Truthfully, I asked the bakery department of my local grocery store if they could make them for me. They said they could, but their body language said otherwise, so I ordered cupcakes with bright yellow icing and shook black sugar through a stencil to spell out the words. I’m sure the cake decorating staff is quite talented, but I did not trust them to embrace my vision.
Susan: What was the first story you remember writing?Diane: I was an avid reader of Sweet Dreams Romances when I was growing up and I tried my hand at writing one myself. I still have it. It was the story of Abby and Vinnie, two very competitive math students vying for the top grade in Geometry, and the new boy, Chris, who comes between them before helping them see they are destined for each other. I recently typed it up (yes, it was written long-hand) and titled it “The Square Root of the Problem.” It lives a nice existence on my hard drive now.
Susan: How much is Samantha like you?Diane: Oh boy. I think Samantha is the person I might have become if I had made different choices after college. She represents the idea that a person can be smart but not very bright at the same time, and I often feel that way (though I don’t think I’ve admitted that until just now!). She is more fearless than I am, for sure, has a better figure. She wears what I want to wear and somehow has the money to buy it. Oh, and she’s an Aries, which I am not.
Susan: When reading and/or writing, do you put yourself in the heroine’s role?Diane: I do, and I think that’s natural, though I think my writing clicked when I first started thinking, “what is he thinking right now?” about the male lead, or “how does the detective react to how Samantha is reacting?” It was a big lesson learned from my editor (Ramona deFelice Long), and now when I’m writing I find myself thinking from all sorts of different POVs. Makes me feel slightly crazy to have so many voices in my head, but it definitely leads to a better first draft!
Susan: What drew you to write mysteries?Diane: I started reading mysteries when I was around 9 (note direct impact on the soon-to-be-founded detective agency), and I found something inspiring about kids solving crimes that adults couldn’t. Trixie Belden wasn’t just a character to me, she was the person I wanted to be (but was a little afraid to be, because of her frequent interaction with counterfeiters and gun smugglers and danger).
Susan: I wanted to be Trixie, too! (sigh)
What three things are, at this moment, in Samantha Kidd’s purse?
Diane: Duct Tape, lipstick, and a punch card (with 10 punches) for a free hoagie at the local sandwich store.
Susan: What is Samantha’s biggest vice?Diane: Shoes. Or junk food. It’s a tough call.
Susan: A girl after my own heart! But really, shoes can't be considered a vice, can they? What are the next five books on your ‘to be read’ pile?Diane: In no particular order: Dead Politician Society by Robin Spano, Artifact by Gigi Pandian, Nazareth Child by Darryl James, Ghost in a Polka Dot Bikini by Sue Ann Jaffarian, and Flawless: Inside the Largest Diamond Heist in History. (*disclaimer: I often scramble my TBR list and there are hundreds of books I’m eager to read!)
Susan’s GOTTA ASK: What is your favorite scene in Designer Dirty Laundry?Diane’s GOTTA ANSWER: This is tough because two sprung to mind. There is a scene in the second half of the book where Samantha gets interrogated. I loved the scene until I took a course on interrogation taught by a homicide detective and realized how far away from reality I was. (Another disclaimer: this book is intentionally funny and is not to be used to train anyone planning on enrolling in the police academy. I took liberties.) I had to rewrite the scene, letting Samantha be Samantha within the general constraints of an interrogation, and I think it ended up better than it was originally.
But I also love the tree scene at the museum.
Susan: What’s up next for you?Diane: PILLOW STALK, due in October 2012
Catch up with Diane on the web:
Diane has a question for you:
What’s the craziest thing that’s happened to you while you were shopping?
Diane is giving away a signed copy of Designer Dirty Laundry and an ARC of PILLOW STALK to one person who leaves a comment today—please be sure to leave your email address in the body of the comment to enter the drawing.
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