From the Booking Desk:
I met Wendall Thomas last year when I was organizing the Speed-Dating sessions for Bouchercon 2018 in St. Petersburg. If you have read her novels (and you really should read them), you will not be shocked to learn that she was just as funny and energetic as you might expect – both before and after the grueling early morning speed-dating session. I knew then that our paths would cross again eventually and today I am thrilled to welcome her to BOLO Books for our weekly series of questions. I just know that you all are going to enjoy this.
Name: Wendall Thomas
Location: Los Angeles
This person from my personal life is such an inspiration:
I’ve been lucky enough to have so many extraordinary and inspiring people in my life—too many to count. My Dad, Grady Thomas, has always given an unconditional “Yes!” to anything I’ve ever tried to do, so for support I owe him the most.
But I have to mention one of my college professors, Doris Betts, because she was the first person I knew who made a happy writing life seem possible. Although she never finished college, she still received a Guggenheim Fellowship and a full Professorship and Emerita status at UNC. Her many writing awards and nominations (The National Book Award, the John Dos Passos award, etc.) included an Oscar for the short film “Violet,” based on one of her short stories.
She was the most well-read person I’ve ever met—I’m still working through the mimeographed list of books she considered “necessary for life”— managed a happy, sixty year marriage, was tough as nails on a manuscript but always had time for a chat, had a great, raucous laugh, smoked unapologetically, and wrote me the kindest recommendation I’ve ever received. Although she passed in 2012, no matter what I write, I’m always wondering what Doris would make of it.
One of the people I admire most in the crime fiction community is:
So many, but if I have to choose one, it would be Sara Paretsky. I’ve always loved her books—I can’t tell you how many times I’ve dropped what I was supposed to be doing to read one in a day. But beyond that, she has always used her writing and her influence for good—she is a true feminist and political icon for me, and her founding of Sisters in Crime has benefited every person in the mystery community.
Last year at Bouchercon, I saw her unprotected in the hall, ran up, and made a complete fan girl ass of myself. She was beyond gracious anyway. That night at dinner, I found to my horror that she was seated at my table. Instead of heading for the hills, she actually came and sat beside me. It’s been the highlight of my mystery career so far. Love her.
STALKER ALERT! If this fictional character were real, they would likely need to get a restraining order against me:
Oh, Ngaio Marsh’s Inspector Alleyn, hands down. I’m mad for him and extremely jealous of his fictional wife, Agatha Troy. They have my favorite marriage in crime fiction.
People are always surprised that I am a fan of this individual (singer, actor, or artist):
I’m not sure everyone would clock me as a rabid Warren Zevon fan. I bought his first album in high school, and especially living in Los Angeles, I appreciate him more and more (“And if California slides into the ocean, as the mystics and statistics say it will, I predict this motel will still be standing, until I pay my bill”). Having read all his authorized and unauthorized biographies, I am delighted to know that he and I frequented the same local Mexican restaurant for years, without my ever running into him and completely embarrassing myself (see Sara Paretsky anecdote).
My personal catch phrase is (or should be):
“Does that make sense?”
Thanks so much for having me, Kristopher!
Thanks so very much for interviewing me, Kristopher. I’m honored to be here!
I’ve had the privilege of chatting with Wendall several times as well as reading her books. She truly is a warm and gracious person.
Mark! You’re too kind. Thank you.
Ahhh…it looks like I am honor bound to become a Wendall Thomas fan. Any fan of Warren Zevon is automatically considered a person well worth knowing!
Ah Jay, we are the few, the brave, the misanthropes! Glad to meet you here.
Wendall attended the dinner I put together at St. Pete Bouchercon last year, and it was the start of a beautiful friendship. She is one of the most positive people I’ve ever met. I could also say one of the nicest, most talented, and vivacious. I love her and her Cyd Redondo books to the moon and back!