Sparky of Bunker Hill and the Cold Kid Case
by Rosalind Barden
Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’m hopelessly creative, with a whimsical way of looking at the world, when I’m not looking at the world with a pair of satirical glasses, that is.
What are three things most people don’t know about you?
Yes, my hair is real; 2) I’m a decades-long vegetarian/mostly vegan; 3) No, I don’t understand why I’m not thin.
What is the first book you remember reading?
“One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish” by Dr. Seuss, and “Put Me in the Zoo,” by Robert Lopshire. In a burst of de-cluttering awhile back, I gave away “Put Me in the Zoo,” and have regretted it ever since.
What are you reading now?
I typically read several books at the same time. The first book I’m reading is the short story collection “Arithmophobia” by Ruschelle Dillion. It’s published by Mystery and Horror LLC, which also published “Sparky of Bunker Hill and the Cold Kid Case.” I’m enjoying the darkly humorous, well-constructed stories in “Arithmophobia” that weave around the theme of numbers. Intriguing stuff.
I’m also re-reading two books I picked up on a whim from the Homer Bookstore: “Tails of a Dogsitter” by Karen Roush, and “Invisible Ink,” an anthology of short stories by Homer authors edited by Joyce Baker Porte. I think these two books have possessed me. By the way, it’s worth going to Homer, Alaska for this bookstore, in my opinion. Homer is an interesting place.
I regularly re-read books that I’ve enjoyed in the past. That’s why I find it so hard to give them away even though I probably should be “de-cluttering” them. I like being surrounded by interesting books.
What made you decide you want to write?
I always assumed I’d be a writer. I liked telling stories and reading stories from as far back as I remember. My Mom was a big influence on me. She was a creative person who did some writing too. She always encouraged my creative pursuits and believed in me. I remember our frequent trips to the library where me and my siblings camped out in the children’s section, while she headed to the biographies, her favorite section. She’d buy us kids plenty of books too, even though we lived on a tight budget (“Put Me in the Zoo,” for example). I was raised with books. Not everyone is, so I’m really lucky to have had a Mom like that.
Do you have a special place you like to write?
I have my laptop on a table where it fits. I write where I can. I also write long-hand in paper notebooks if I’m out and about. Got tired of lugging my laptop around. Plus, I worry about someone snatching my laptop (and all my writing-in-progress!). There’s not a lot of resale value in used paper notebooks, so less snatching worries there. I do have a fantasy of a dedicated writing office with a sublime view, lots of shelf space for my books, and a couch where I can drowsily dream of new ideas.
Do you write at the same time every day?
No. For me, that’s not practical. I write when I can.
Where do the ideas for your books come from?
Everywhere. The seed of an idea will come into my head, and then I let my mind wander from there. I usually don’t remember where the original little bit of an idea came from. There are exceptions. For “American Witch,” I vividly remember watering the backyard where I used to live, and it was like the character of George came right up beside me. So, of course, I had to write his story. I’ve never had another character come to me so strongly. “American Witch” probably is the best I’ve written, and I wish it’d gotten a wider readership. But that’s the challenge of self-publishing. It’s tough to promote, which is something I learned from that book. I’m making more of a promotion effort nowadays!
What books have most inspired you?
It’s challenging to narrow my list down, because I read so much and am inspired and impressed by so many books and writers. I may have a different answer tomorrow, but today, here goes: “King Rat” by James Clavell and “Catch-22” by Joseph Heller for their dark satire. Same for “Bonfire of the Vanities” by Tom Wolfe. Tom Wolfe’s writing style amazes me. His words bounce off the page with impertinent glee. I confess I have been known to “borrow” some of his favorite style bits. Douglas Adams and P.J. Wodehouse inspire me for their satire of the lighter variety. The first two “Harry Potter” books by J.K. Rowling are my favorites from the series. “Five Children and It” by Edith Nesbit because it’s slyly subversive. I enjoy older humorous books and short stories, like Robert Benchley’s essay collection, “My Ten Years in a Quandry,” Josephine Dodge Daskam’s short story “A Study in Piracy,” and cozy mystery “The Haunted Bookshop” by Christopher Morley. “Ghosts, A Treasury of Chilling Tales Old and New” selected by Marvin Kaye also comes to mind. Douglas Clegg’s books are dark and impossible to put down. Going back to my early reading years, “Where the Wild Things Are” by Maurice Sendak influenced me. I desperately wanted to take that boat to the island with the Wild Things. I did rig up a “boat” and hoped I’d have the same result as Max in the book, but no such luck. Maybe I’ll try again later.
Is there anything about writing you find most challenging?
Finding the time. That’s the toughest. Not many people understand that a writer needs a lot of time to sit down, create, revise, plus daydream about the concept in the first place. It’s hard to tell a friend I can’t do something over the weekend because that’s the only free weekend I’ve had in awhile and I desperately want to stay in to write. People tend to become upset.
And the promotion. In this day and age, writers also have to be marketers. It eats up precious writing time, and to me, it’s harder than doing the writing itself. The exception is meeting readers in person at book signings. That’s fun. But trying to puzzle out promotion dos and don’ts? Not so fun. Because I write in different genres, my “brand” is elusive, which is a big frowny-face in book marketing. I remain hopeful that readers with a sense of humor will discover my work and be patient that I don’t fit neatly within a brand.
What do you think makes a good story?
Wanting to turn the page and keep going. Also thinking about the book, the characters, the scenes long after I’ve finished reading. Deciding to give the book another read after a couple of years, or couple of months. Third read, then fourth read. I once told another writer that I’d read “Bonfire of the Vanities” twenty times. She didn’t believe me, but it’s true. Tom Wolfe is a word master and I love his sentences!
Which, of all your characters, do you think is the most like you?
I’m in every story I write, sometimes more, sometimes less. For “Sparky of Bunker Hill and the Cold Kid Case,” there’s a lot of Sparky in me. Sparky is resourceful, adventurous, but misunderstood, which I think describes me.
Why did you pick your particular genre?
I’ve been toying with mysteries for a long time. They’re challenging to write, because they have the puzzle solving element. But that’s what makes mystery writing interesting. “Sparky of Bunker Hill and the Cold Kid Case” grew out of my short story “The Monkey’s Ghost,” which appears in the short mystery anthology, “History and Mystery, Oh My!” published by Mystery and Horror LLC in 2015. Some of the characters are the same, though I made Marigold older in “Sparky.” The main characters in “Sparky” are new, except silent screen vamp, Tootsie, who is pulled from another, unpublished short story of mine. That story explains Tootsie’s early, pre-stardom days that are only eluded to in “Sparky.”
Of course, I also write horror and sci-fi, because I enjoy reading them. My novel “American Witch” is dark satire because, again, I enjoy reading satire. I love picture books, which explains why I wrote and illustrated “TV Monster.” Picture books are an art form in their own right. I love to read many types of books, which leads me to write many types!
What makes your books different from others out there in this genre?
I don’t think there’s another humorous, noir, 1930s, Los Angeles, Young Adult mystery novel out there besides “Sparky of Bunker Hill and the Cold Kid Case.”
What’s next on the horizon for you?
I’m currently writing book two in the “Sparky of Bunker Hill” series, tentatively titled, “Sparky of Bunker Hill and the No Nose Knucklehead.” After that, “Sparky of Bunker Hill and the Monkey Island Murder.” Sparky bumps into one challenge after another in both books.
In “No Nose Knucklehead,” life gets really real, really fast for Sparky. Bobby, the bum, is out of town with his cozy family so is no help whatsoever. She’s got to handle the mess (it’s a big mess) on her own. And find out who the real cannibal is.
In “Monkey Island Murder,” she goes back to school, which is tough for independent, smarty-pants Sparky. Will any of the other kids ever talk to Sparky? And what’s with the escaped gorilla?
Thank you, Rosalind, for visiting today.
Keep reading to find out about Sparky of Bunker Hill and the Cold Case Kid!
About the Book
Sparky of Bunker Hill and the Cold Kid Case
Young Adult Mystery
Mystery & Horror, LLC (October 9, 2018)
Paperback: 216 pages
Digital ASIN: B07H49P46T
Lots of characters have it bad, in my Bunker Hill neighborhood smack dab in the middle of Los Angeles, but I’ve had it rougher than most.
There may be something to this 13th business.
That’s my birthday, and I’m learning to dread seeing it roll around. My mother died on one birthday. The cousins dumped me on my last. This year, 1932, I found a dead kid on a park bench. It’s my eleventh birthday, and the day me, Sparky, ended up on the run, wanted for murder.
If the dead girl wasn’t enough, the dirty newspapers pinned every body in LA on me, and even blamed me for the Great War. I wasn’t even born then. The price on my head got bigger by the day.
It was up to me to find out who killed the girl and why I got framed, before I ended up dangling from the hangman’s rope.
Praise for Sparky of Bunker Hill and the Cold Kid Case
by Rosalind Barden
What a fun, exciting adventure book! . . You just can’t help loving Sparky and her way of thinking and talking.
~Here’s How It Happened
About the Author
Over thirty of Rosalind Barden’s short stories have appeared in print anthologies and webzines, including the U.K.’s acclaimed Whispers of Wickedness. Mystery and Horror, LLC has included her stories in their anthologies History and Mystery, Oh My! (FAPA President’s Book Award Silver Medalist), Mardi Gras Murder, and four of the Strangely Funny series. Ellen Datlow selected her short story “Lion Friend” as a Best Horror of the Year Honorable Mention after it appeared in Cern Zoo, a British Fantasy Society nominee for best anthology, part of DF Lewis’ award-winning Nemonymous anthology series. TV Monster is her print children’s book that she wrote and illustrated. Her satirical literary novel American Witch is available as an e-book. In addition, her scripts, novel manuscripts, and short fiction have placed in numerous competitions, including the Writers’ Digest Screenplay Competition and the Shriekfast Film Festival. She lives in Los Angeles, California. Discover more at RosalindBarden.com
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