Melissa Bourbon, who sometimes answers to her Latina-by-marriage name Misa Ramirez, gave up teaching middle and high school kids in Northern California to write full-time amidst horses and Longhorns in North Texas. She fantasizes about spending summers writing in quaint, cozy locales, has a love/hate relationship with yoga and chocolate, is devoted to her family, and can’t believe she’s lucky enough to be living the life of her dreams. Melissa is the author of Bare-Naked Lola, on this weekend’s WE Magazine for Women worth reading list.
Cozy mysteries are hot right now. Why do you think that is?
Great question! There are some amazingly great series out there right now. People really seem to respond to the small town flavor that’s typical in a true cozy. There’s the sense that justice prevails, and there’s usually some romantic element that gives that slight smolder between characters.
Who is Lola Cruz, PI?
Dolores Cruz, Lola for short, is a black belt in kung fu, is smart and determined to prove herself in a man’s world, despite her parents’ very traditional expectations of her. I like to say that she’s my alter-ego, if I were a smart, rather sexy Latina private investigator! I’m married to a first-generation Mexican-American man, and I feel that Lola really represents who our children are. We work hard to maintain and instill the Mexican culture into their lives, but they are American.
Bare-Naked Lola is the third book in the series (but anyone can easily start the series here!). It takes Lola to the world of a professional sports dance team, and then to a nudist resort , all to catch a killer. She’s got Manny, her muy misterioso boss, always in the background, and Jack Callaghan, her super sexy reporter on-again/off-again boyfriend in her life, as well as her somewhat over-involved family.
You’re also the Marketing Director at Entangled Publishing, which also happens to be the publisher of Bare-Naked Lola?
Before I was a writer, I was a teacher. I still teach at Southern Methodist University in Dallas and at Savvy Authors . I met Liz Pelletier, the founder of both Savvy Authors and Entangled Publishing, while I was teaching at Savvy, and the rest, as they say, is history. She put together a phenomenal team of people, of which I’m lucky to be a part, and launched Entangled.
The first two books in the Lola Cruz mystery series were published by Thomas Dunne Books/St. Martin’s Minotaur. My agent and I made the switch to Entangled with the series to bring it to more people via trade paperback and digital options that weren’t available for the first two. I love what Entangled stands for, the books we put out, and the author support. It’s the Google of the publishing world, truly a fun, invigorating place to work!
Tell us about A Magical Dressmaking Mystery series with NAL. What’s that about?
A Magical Dressmaking Mystery series is a true cozy mystery series (a bestselling one!), while the Lola Cruz Mystery series is more PI caper (think smart, spicy, sexy, Latina Stephanie Plum). The heroine is Harlow Cassidy, a descendant of Butch Cassidy. Yes, that Butch Cassidy based on an alternate history where he had a child born while he was in Argentina with the Sundance Kid.
Due to a wish in an Argentinian fountain, the women in his family are charmed. Harlow’s charm is in the discovery phase, but the magical dressmaking is a big hint. Her mother has a green thumb (with flowers, weeds, you name it!) and her grandmother is a goat-whisperer 🙂
I love the series!
You also have two romantic suspense novels coming soon, Love’s Sacrifice and Love’s Curse, as well as a light paranormal romance tentatively titled Deceiving the Witch Next Door. Tell us about these novels.
The first romantic suspense was released in June and I’m so excited! It’s MUCH sexier than the other books I write, so it’s a new adventure. These are all true category romances. The series is called Deadly Legends and the three books in the series (Love’s Ritual will be coming in 2013) all have to do with Mexican legends (la Llorona, Chupacabra, curanderas, and ancient Aztec stories). I love the Mexican culture and especially love these legends and how wonderfully they tie into suspense novels. Deceiving the Witch Next Door is also a traditional romance, also a new venture for me.
Please tell us more about Bare-Naked Lola.
As I said, Lola is my alter-ego, if I were a sexy, Latina PI! At least I like to think so, anyway. I love this series so much, and writing Lola and her friends and family is like hanging out with friends. These are characters who are so full of life and Lola is able to do and say things I only wish I could say and do. She’s a black belt in kung fu, love Chinese food and the fortunes in Fortune Cookies, has had a big crush on Jack Callaghan, her brother’s best friend from high school, and is determined to prove herself as a PI, despite her family’s resistance.
She works to balance her traditional Mexican culture and the American woman she is. I think she’s relatable to everyone because she IS American, but her life is infused with her culture and that adds another dimension to her. My husband is Mexican and we work really hard to make sure we share his culture with our five kids. They are Lola and the people in her world, and that’s another reason why I love her so much.
Jennifer Lopez’s production company read the books last year (multiple reads!) and who knows, maybe one day there will be a Lola Cruz series on TV. My fingers are crossed!