Author Tags: Fiction

In December of 2015, Linda L. Richards was named as the new publisher and senior editor at Self-Counsel Press, replacing newspaperman Kirk LaPointe who has moved on to become VP Audience and Business Development at Business in Vancouver after his failed attempt to defeat Gregor Robinson for the office of Mayor of Vancouver. Richards had been publisher and founding editor of on-line January Magazine. She was also the author of 14 books, both fiction and non-fiction, including The Canadian Business Guide to Using the Internet, published by Self-Counsel in 1995.

Born in Vancouver, editor Linda L. Richards and photographer David Middleton started their on-line literary publication in 1997, having been partners since 1993.

Her first novel, Mad Money (MIRA Books, $7.99 2004), was the first in a series of novels featuring Madeline Carter.

In 2005, Richards published a Hollywood crime novel, The Next Ex: A Madeline Carter Mystery (MIRA Books), in which former stockbroker-turned-daytrader Madeline Carter agrees to teach the indulged wife of an A-list movie producer about the stock market. When said wife turns up dead, Madeline finds herself in the middle of a series of murders while inadvertently opening up a 40-year old cold case. While the first two books in the series take place mainly in Los Angeles, the third book, Calculated Loss (2006; $8.50), about the suspicious death of Madeline Carter's ex-husband, a chef, has been set in Vancouver.

Linda Richard's fourth novel, Death was the Other Woman (2008), is a classic noir set in the Depression era of the 1930s, from the perspective of an L.A. private eye's secretary. The heroine is Kitty Pangborn, an ex-debutante whose father killed himself on the eve of the stock market crash of 1929. His death leaves Kitty in a dire, unfamiliar place: having to make a living for herself for the first time in her life. She finds a job with a hard-drinking gumshoe named Dexter Theroux in a world that is completely new to her. "She is the typical fish out of water, in so many ways," says Richards. "That's one of the things readers seem to really relate to in the Kitty Pangborn books," says Richards. "What does the inside of the 1930s detective office - and that whole world - look like? Most of us don't know."

In the second Kitty Panghorn novel, Death was in the Picture, the Girl Friday mixes with Hollywood glitz when Kitty's boss, Dexter Theroux, has been asked to help leading man Laird Wyndham prove his innocence. The actor was the last person to be seen with a young actress who died under very suspicious circumstances, and the star has fallen from the big screen to the big house. "Wyndham's a dreamboat, but that isn't the only thing that has Kitty hot under the collar. Dex has already signed a client -- one who's hired him to prove Wyndham's hands are not as clean as they look."

Death Was in the Picture won the Panik Award for Best Los Angeles-Based Noir ficiton.

With her novel, If It Bleeds (Orca $9.95) Richards entered the Rapid Reads niche. Her new heroine Nicole Charles didn’t attend journalism school to become a gossip columnist, but with jobs scarce she takes on the beat with the Vancouver Post. As Nicole struggles with the stigma attached to her type of journalism, she begins to think she’ll never have a real reporting job. When she discovers the body of an up-and-coming artist in a dark alley--stabbed in the throat with an antique icepick--she finds herself in the middle of the biggest story of the year. Sorta Yaletown meets Trotsky.


Mad Money (MIRA Books, 2004)
The Next Ex: A Madeline Carter Mystery (MIRA Books, 2005)
Calculated Loss (MIRA Books, 2006)
Death was the Other Woman (Minotaur/HB Fenn, 2008) $27.99
Death was in the Picture (St. Martin's Minotaur/Thomas Dunne Books 2009)
If It Bleeds (Orca 2014) $9.95 9781459807341
When Blood Lies (Orca 2016) $9.95 9781459808379

[BCBW 2016] "Fiction" "Galiano"

Mad Money
Press release (2004)

Though the action in Mad Money takes place in New York and Los Angeles, BC writer Linda L. Richards, editor of the Web site, is proud of her Vancouver roots. "I have lived in Los Angeles, California; Munich, Germany and Vancouver, British Columbia, where I was born," Richards says on her Web site. "No matter where I go, though, Vancouver calls me back. I've come to the conclusion that some people are born in the wrong place and spend their lives trying to find the right one. And some of us -- I have to think we're the lucky ones -- get put where we're meant to be. There's something in the air there. Something in the water. I can go away, but I always have to come back."

Mad Money is a breezy debut" Adam Woog reported in the Seattle Times. "Stockbroker Madeline Carter, recovering from witnessing a murder, reinvents herself as a day trader in Los Angeles. Her mistake is investing heavily in a company whose CEO is an old boyfriend. When he goes missing, the stock plummets and Madeline, trying to figure things out, lands in all sorts of trouble."

"Mad Money does what many have tried and few have managed," says Alafair Burke, author of Judgment Calls and Missing Justice, "to turn stock swindles and corporate crime into a fun, roller-coaster read. The key is Richards' strong, witty, and likeable heroine, recovering stock broker Madeline Carter."

Death was in the Picture

Death was in the Picture by Linda L. Richards (St. Martin’s Minotaur/Thomas Dunne Books $27.95)

A classic noir mystery set in the Depression, Linda L. Richards’ Death was the Other Woman introduced her heroine Kitty Pangborn, an ex-debutante whose father killed himself on the eve of the stock market crash of 1929. Having to make a living for herself for the first time in her life, Kitty took a job as a secretary for a hard-drinking gumshoe named Dexter Theroux.

Our unlikely Girl Friday now mixes with Hollywood glitz in the second Kitty Panghorn novel, Death was in the Picture. This time Dexter has been asked to help clear the name of leading man Laird Wyndham, the last person to be seen with a young starlet who has fallen from the big screen to the big house. Wyndham’s a dreamboat, but that isn’t the only thing that has Kitty hot under the collar. Her boss has already signed a client for this case—someone who wants him to prove Wyndham is guilty.

Death was in the Picture is Richards’ fifth novel. “When you open your mind, when you open your heart, you don’t always know what will come out,” she says. “You can think you see the story, what kind of box it will be; what kind of magic it will hold. Then when you build the box, sometimes it will hold a different type of magic entirely.”

We asked Richards to reflect further on the writing process, and how she got embroiled in the crime fiction game.

I’m a decent journalist and I’m a good editor but, like a lot of writers, what I’d always wanted to do was write a novel. I made several starts on topics that were important to me, but was never able to ride it through to the end. I know that writing a book is a very different journey for everyone, but for me, the novel form is… well, it’s not that it’s difficult, exactly. But it’s hard. It drains me. It takes exactly everything I’ve got. It took me a while to learn that. And it took me a while to learn how to get to that place of supreme letting go.

So there were all these false starts. Stories that were important to me. They were all too big for me, those stories. They were all too big for the writer I was then. But, one day, the shadow of a story crossed my heart and, finally, it wasn’t too big. In fact, in those first moments (hours, days) I thought the words would add up to a short story. About 7000 words in, I realized I had something different. Maybe something more. And I kept going. Not heroically; it was never anything like that. But I was curious. I wanted to know whose life I was building. I wanted to know where the story would end up.

One day—not terribly far in —I realized I had a book. More: I realized it was a book I’d never thought about writing. Some of the people died. And though there was some laughter—life always has some laughter—sometimes bad things happened to the people in my book. I’d started out telling the story in my heart and ended up with a mystery; a novel of suspense.

Once the book was finished, I was Cinderella. I didn’t have all the pain you hear about writers going through. Once I got down and did it—once I had a finished book in my hand—it all came together in amazingly stylish fashion. Almost the first agent that saw the manuscript was in New York and she wanted to represent it. Within a couple of months of her taking it on, we had a six figure, three-book deal with a major house.

There have been bumps: I have a different agent now and I’m with another house. And I’ve gotten better at finding the story. Better at building the box. Then delighting at the magic that sometimes—if I’m lucky—seems to flow out.

Born in Vancouver, Linda L. Richards is also the editor and co-founder of January Magazine, an on-line publication about books. Death Was In the Picture is distributed in Canada by HB Fenn. Richards lives in the Gulf Islands with artist and photographer David Middleton.

[BCBW 2009]