Q&A 18 December
Welcome to my last blog tour for 2020! And what a way to finish!
Many thanks to the fabulous Emma Welton of damppebbles blog tours for inviting me on the blog tour and to Rich Leder for answering my questions!
Fountain of youth? More like murderous medication!
Carrie Kromer pushes the boundaries of science, not her social life. The brilliant behavioural gerontologist’s idea of a good time is hanging out with her beloved lab rats and taking care of her elderly mother and the other eccentric old folks at the nursing home. So no one is more surprised than Carrie when she steals the lab’s top-secret, experimental medicine for aging in reverse.
Two-time ex-con Johnny Fairfax dreams of culinary greatness. But when his corrupt parole officer tries to drag him from the nursing home kitchen, the suddenly young-again residents spring to his defence and murder the guy—and then request Johnny cook them an evidence devouring dinner to satisfy their insatiable side-effect appetite.
As their unexpected mutual attraction gets hot, Carrie and Johnny find themselves caught up with the authorities who arrive to investigate the killing. But even more dangerous than the man-eating not-so-senior citizens could be the arrival of death-dealing pharmaceutical hitmen.
Can Carrie and Johnny find true love in all this bloody madness?
Cooking for Cannibals is a dark comic thriller with a heaping helping of romance. If you like fast-paced plots, unconventional characters, and humour that crosses the line, then you’ll have a feast with Rich Leder’s wild ride.
Describe Cooking With Cannibals in 10 words or less
The wildest, darkest, most outrageous romantic thrill ride of the year!
What inspired you to use cannibalism in your novel?
Like most of my crazed story ideas, I have no real sense of where the inspiration came from to make cannibalism the side effect of the Fountain of Youth drug. It’s not like I wake up thinking about cannibalism. It’s not like I know anyone who wakes up thinking about cannibalism. I don’t personally know any cannibals. I don’t know anyone who knows any cannibals. I don’t know anyone who knows anyone who knows anyone who knows any cannibals. I imagine I thought it might make for an insane ride. And I was right about that. But like so many other things in my life, I don’t know why. I have a thing for dark humour. Maybe that’s it. Not too many things darker than cannibalism. That’s about as out-there as dark humour gets. But in the right context and written with funny in mind at all times, lots of dark stuff can be funny—even this.
What sort of research did you do into gerontology and cannibalism?
I always do a ton of research. I think it’s part of being an engaging writer. So while I was deep in the book, I was a mini-expert in gerontology. I lose lots of that knowledge when I move on to the next book, of course. But when I’m in there, I like the story to feel real. My stories and characters are crazy enough. I like the world in which they’re bouncing off walls to be the real world we know it. Carrie had to be an actual gerontologist for the insanity to play as authentic. As far as the side effect, I researched how Carrie and Johnny would get rid of the bones. And I became a momentary expert in butchery. But as far cannibalism itself, no research was done. No humans were harmed in the making of this book.
Talk us through a typical day in the life of Rich Leder?
Most days, I get up reasonably early and swim laps at the local YMCA. That’s my routine for the last 17 years or so. I suppose that makes me a swimmer. Then I come home and walk two miles. So I’m a walker too. I don’t usually sit down to write until after lunch. I’m not good as a sentient human being if I haven’t exercised. So that’s first. I’m thinking about my plot lines and character arcs all morning, but I’m not writing yet. Just working through that day’s scene in my head and heart. I might record some thoughts on my phone when I’m walking, but mostly I’m thinking it through. Then I do a solid four or five hours of arranging words into sentences that (hopefully) produce the desired emotional reactions I want the reader to feel, which means I have to feel it first. It’s a deep dive into everything that makes me alive, so I’m usually too whipped to do more than five hours. I can tell the quality of my writing, the depth to which I’m able think and feel words and moments are turning to mush. So I stop. I never beat myself up about it. When I’m done, I’m done. Whatever I finished that day is good news. Nights are spent with my wife, the awesome Lulu. Friends too, when we’re not in the midst of a global plague. Phone calls to our children, dinner, movies, reading, bourbon or tequila. Those are my days and nights in a nutshell.
What sort of books do you read and what are you reading at the moment?
I read all genres. I read anyone who can hold me in the book. There are plenty of drop dead phenomenal writers who grab me and don’t let go. Life’s just not long enough for all their books. That’s the problem as I see it. Too many books; not enough time. Right now, I’m reading a straight thriller. The Incident by Lars Emmerich. Some really quite excellent antagonists. Good fun.
Can you share anything about your current Work In Progress?
I’m three quarters of the way through Gottiguard, the fourth and final Kate McCall Crime Caper, a hilarious murder mystery series set in New York City. Kate is a way-off Broadway musical actor who inherits her father’s PI business after he’s found brutally murdered in an insurance company elevator. In each book, she solves her new case while she tracks her father’s killer. She uses the eccentrics in the brownstone she lives in and manages and the melodramatic members of her histrionic acting troupe to help her with her cases—like a crazy kind of Mission Impossible. They’re funny books, yes, but they’re also rocking good mysteries. You won’t know whodunnit until the very end.
Just for fun: What would your Mastermind subject be?
I’ve been a working screenwriter for 30-plus years—19 of my scripts have been produced as movies. The last one was Primal, starring Nicolas Cage, released by Lionsgate pretty much exactly a year ago. So if anyone would listen to anything I said, I think teaching folks how to write a movie might be my Mastermind subject. I’ve privately tutored more than 100 screenwriters over the years. I like teaching.
What’s the most unusual meat(s) you’ve eaten?
Sounds like your circling back to cannibalism. Nope, not that exotic. I’m not much of a meat eater, truth be told, but I have tried a buffalo burger, a venison steak, and a roasted goose. None of them were as good as pasta with red sauce.
Thanks Rich for some entertaining answers!
Who Is Rich Leder?
Rich Leder has been a working writer for more than three decades. His credits include 19 produced movies—television films for CBS, Lifetime, and Hallmark and feature films for Lionsgate, Paramount Pictures, Tri-Star Pictures, Longridge Productions, and Left Bank Films—and six novels for Laugh Riot Press.
He’s been the lead singer in a Detroit rock band, a restaurateur, a Little League coach, an indie film director, a literacy tutor, a magazine editor, a screenwriting coach, a wedding guru, a PTA board member, a commercial real estate agent, and a visiting artist for the UNCW Film Studies Department, among other things, all of which, it turns out, was grist for the mill.
He resides on the North Carolina coast with his awesome wife, Lulu, and is sustained by the visits home of their three fabulous children.