Friday, June 25, 2010
Julie Kramer Silences Sam
by Jean Henry Mead
It's not just because I'm a journalist that I liked this book so much. The deadpan humor, sassy characters and authentic behind-the-scenes-broadcast relationships make it difficult to set aside.
Award-winning network producer Julie Kramer's third novel, Silencing Sam, is an intriguing tale of a TV reporter who becomes a suspect while investigating a sensational murder.
When Sam Pierce, a newspaper gossip columnist, is shot and killed at his Minneapolis home, there are plenty of logical suspects, all of whom he has embarrassed in print. But police focus on Riley Spartz, the TV reporter who threw a drink in Sam’s face following an article he’d written about her shortly before his death.
Another broadcast journalist arrives at Channel 3 from Texas. Clay Burrel, a cocky cowboy reporter, is a proverbial thorn in Riley’s side from the moment he appears. When Riley is sent to investigate destroyed wind turbines in farm country on the Minnesota-Iowa border, yet another murderous mystery unfolds. Riley is the widowed reporter-protagonist of all three Kramer mystery-suspense novels, including Stalking Susan and Missing Mark. Her previous novels follow cold cases Riley's investigating with information provided by Nick Garnett, a police detective she falls in love with.
Julie writes about her home territory, where she grew up on a farm along the Iowa border. “It was a hard knock life. And it taught me to work hard. And whatever job I've ever had, bosses and coworkers have marveled at my work ethic. I also grew up reading a lot of fiction, probably to escape the real world. Some of my best childhood memories involved waiting for the bookmobile to bring a new Phyllis A. Whitney book.”
When asked why her protagonist wasn't a producer, she explained that, “In television, a reporter works on camera; a producer works behind the scenes. But both are journalists, and both do their share of writing. As a career television news producer, I feel some guilt that I made my heroine, Riley Spartz, a reporter instead of a producer, but I decided that the role of a reporter gave my character more variety for plot and character development. And that now was not the time to give producers their due, no matter how deserved."
Kramer's first novel, Stalking Susan was nominated for an Anthony Award. It also won a Minnesota Book Award, the Romantic Times Reviewers' Choice for Best First Mystery, and was a finalist for the Mary Higgins Clark Award. “It's your basic serial killer story using the Bible and the calender. But many critics feel the strength of the story comes from the insider newsroom information I weave into the plot. That's something I felt I could do better than anyone else. If I had to build a fantasy world of wizards, I think I'd be stumped.”
Her day job includes assignments that involve “screening and booking guests for shows, or supervising live shots or feeds in the field, or conducting interviews for taped pieces...news producing includes a wide range of skills.” Prior to working as a network freelancer, Julie was a national award-winning investigative producer at WCCO-TV in Minneapolis. She left the station when her children were young because she didn't want to work full time.
“About six months later, NBC called with a freelance assignment. It was September 11th and the network had gotten a tip that something had happened at a flight school in Minnesota. All the airports were closed and they had no way to get a team on the ground. It ended up being a good long term arrangement for both of us. Part time work, but still good stories.
"Right now freelance work is slow because the media is in a meltdown as readers and viewers change how they get their news. Money is short, but I tell myself, this gives me time to concentrate on the world of publishing."
Read Julie Kramer's entire interview in Mysterious Writers.
Watch her book trailer at: Silencing Sam.