This week, we have an awesome giveaway from the next guest on the Crime Cafe, Verónica Gutiérrez!
She’s giving away a Zoom mixology lesson. The winner will be selected from posts on Threads (@vgauthor), Instagram (@vgauthor), or Facebook (@vgutierrez.author) tagging her and featuring a picture of them holding her book As You Look by September 30, 2023. She’ll announce the winner on her social media and will DM them to work out a menu and a date.
That is an awesome giveaway! You can find out more about the mixology lesson here!
Now, let’s hear from our guest!
What inspires a writer?
by Verónica Gutiérrez, author of As You Look: A Yolanda Avila Mystery
I used to think that inspiration came from an artistic muse, a cool idea, an unforgettable experience, or interesting people—writers do create composites from people they come across, after all. Any, and all, of those may be true. At different times in my life, they were for me. But because I came to publishing later in life, I think I’ve developed a new inspiration: other authors—not only the ones I read, but the ones I meet.
I started attending book conferences the year I started writing after early retirement at 55. Initially, I was struck by the extent to which so many writers are introverts. Having worked in public affairs and communications, I consider myself an extrovert, most times, but not always. I also was struck by the generous spirit of conference participants—publishers, writers, and readers—cheerleaders all. This also includes podcasters, possibly the biggest boosters for authors. (I see you, Debbi Mack!)
My favorite conference early on has been the Golden Crown Literary Society (GCLS) which focuses on sapphic fiction. Having read so many authors in that genre, it was a given that I’d attend a conference or two. I’ve been to the last five, including the pandemic one on Zoom. It’s also how I found my publisher. I knew that my story was something that the readers and writers at this conference might want to read, so it was a no-brainer to hit up a sponsoring publisher. Of course, the introvert in me simply submitted my manuscript online. Fortunately, Bella Books publishers Jessica Hill and Linda Hill called within a week and took a chance on me, for which I am forever grateful.Once published, I was welcome warmly into the Bella Books author community. I tried not to fangirl too much when I met KG MacGregor and the eminent Katherine V. Forrest, but how could I not after they acknowledged following me on Facebook! Then there were the extroverts like Cheryl A. Head, Angela Freeman, Georgia Beers and Karin Kallmaker. The latter two allowed me to make cocktails featured in their novels for a GCLS Zoom cocktail-lesson fundraiser. And then there’s the truly kind people like Jaime Clevenger (How can a veterinarian not be kind?) and Britney Jackson whose brilliant writing belies her shy demeanor. There are so many other authors I’ve met who have readily offered encouragement and advice.
After this year’s conference in late June, I followed more authors on social media. That’s when I realized that they had become my greatest inspiration. Their posts about “the writing life” have pushed me to recommit to my writing and get going again on my second novel after an interruption occasioned by a short-term job I took on as a favor to a friend.
I’ll soon attend my first Bouchercon conference and I’m already fangirling some of the authors I met at the Midwest Mystery Conference (Alex Segura and Tracy Clark), along with this year’s Bouchercon Toastmaster Naomi Hirahara who has been wonderfully supportive. But I may be most excited about meeting them as members of the Crime Writers of Color group, along with the group’s founders, Kellye Garrett, Gigi Pandian, and the incomparable Walter Mosley. Yes, I’m gushing! These communities of authors are new to me but oh so familiar and so welcoming. And I haven’t even mentioned the Sisters In Crime group founded by my first mystery favorite, the great Sarah Paretsky. They all inspire me to get back to writing. I can’t wait to get to The End again!
Verónica Gutiérrez is the author of As You Look, a mystery novel (Bella Books), She is a former community organizer, civil rights attorney, and corporate executive. She draws from years of experience in those worlds for her fiction. Verónica was born and raised in Boyle Heights, the Los Angeles neighborhood that her protagonist, Yolanda Avila, calls home. Verónica and her wife Laura split their time between Los Angeles and San Francisco. Both are home bar enthusiasts and avid travelers. They host cocktail-lesson-themed fundraisers—called Mixology on a Mission—to help Los Angeles non-profits grow their donor base. Verónica published My Little Black Cocktail Book, a journal to organize her research and help others do the same. Veronica claims she is not as psychic as her protagonist. www.veronicagutierrez.com