Alice Zogg is a local author in Los Angeles. She is also a friend of mine. Alice writes mysteries in the style of Agatha Christie and PD James. She is a retired woman (though a very active sportswoman) who started writing after retirement and who writes for her own amusement, so she opted to use Print On Demand publishing rather than spend time dealing with the whole agent/publisher/promote yourself anyway scenario that confronts new authors these days.
Last month she released her fourth book, The Lonesome Autocrat. It features Private Investigator R A Huber, as have her earlier books. Alice has set this mystery in her native Switzerland, where Huber is visiting a childhood friend. When a murder is committed, Huber must switch gears and go to work finding the murderer since the victim is her friend's 84 year old father.
Otto Sonderegger was a hotel magnate whose sorrow in life was that none of his offspring chose to carry on the hotel business. He had been an overbearing and critical man, married twice and had affairs on the side. Any one of his heirs or lovers were thus suspect.
Ms Zogg depicts life in a Swiss mansion and nearby Davos, a resort town, with the skill of a travel writer. The discovery of the murderer involves a serious threat to R A Huber's life and a startling surprise to the reader. Though she writes in a traditional style, Zogg's characters are clearly of the modern world. Her strongest point is her plotting and I can never even guess who done it until it is revealed.
Reaching Checkmate: 2003
Turn the Joker Around: 2004
Tracking Backward: 2005
The Lonesome Autocrat: 2006
All of Alice Zogg's books are available at either Barnes and Noble.com or Amazon.com
I had a chance to pose some questions to Alice about her latest book and her writing life and thought you might enjoy reading her answers:
KTW: Your earlier books all take place in California. What made you decide to set The Lonesome Autocrat in Switzerland?
AZ: I was born and raised in Switzerland and then moved to the United States as a young adult. Even though I made my home first in New York City and for the last three and a half decades in Southern California, I visit my native country frequently. When choosing the locale for The Lonesome Autocrat in the Davos resort area, I fulfilled nostalgia. I have skied in Davos numerous times.
KTW: R A Huber seems to have quite a bit of sympathy for Otto Sonderegger, yet I did not find him a likable character. Is he based on someone you have known?
AZ: I completely invented him, as I do with all my characters. R A Huber had a certain respect for the old tyrant, that is correct.
KTW: I like the way you let the reader into you private eye's thought processes as she goes about reasoning out the crime. When her husband Peter brings up the three basic types of motives for murder, it seems to help her sort out her evidence. Is that theory about the motives documented somewhere?
AZ: The three basic types of motives for murder; greed, passion and self-preservation; came "out of my head," I have to admit. There is no such theory documented.
KTW: Are there mystery writers whom you admire or feel have influenced you as a writer? If so, what do you like about them?
AZ: I have always been an Agatha Christie fan. Her plots are ingenious. P D James is another mystery writer whose intriguing and chilling tales I admire. Then there is Dick Francis who educates the reader about horse racing, while at the same time weaves a darned good murder story. Is it a coincidence that all three are British?
KTW: How did you become a writer?
AZ: A few years ago I went to the bookstore in search of new reading material. Having read all the mystery novels ever written by my favorite authors, I was planning to purchase works of more contemporary writers. I was out of luck and could not find any that appealed to me. I must have browsed the wrong shelves that day because I certainly have discovered many great books written by present day authors since then. (Elizabeth George, Parnell Hall, Christopher Reich-just to name a few.)
Anyhow, when I returned from the store empty-handed hours later, my husband asked, "Where are the books you bought?" After I explained my dilemma, he burst out mockingly, "Why don't you write your own stories since you're that picky?" I did not pay any attention to his banter at the time, but about a month later I thought, well why not? So I gave it a try with my first book and have not stopped writing since.
KTW: Could you talk about your decision to self-publish?
AZ: While I was plotting the first book, I bought several how-to manuals on publishing the traditional way. The more I learned about what was involved, the more I felt that it was not worth the headache and decided to self-publish. When I was writing my third mystery, an author I know got me all fired up about trying to get published in the standard manner. Then I did some soul-searching and came to the conclusion that there was no reason why I should put myself under the stress this would involve. I found this creative outlet called writing late in life and it gives me joy and fulfillment, but I am a retired grandma and want to avoid that kind of pressure.
KTW: What are you working on now?
AZ: In the manuscript I am currently working on R A Huber is back in California and will solve her next murder near Big Bear Lake. She will also have a side-kick in the form of a young, dynamic assistant. My previous stories are written in the first person from Huber's point of view. This tale I am writing in the third person, getting into each character's head.
KTW: Thanks, Alice. I look forward to the next book!