Susan Cory is an award-winning residential architect in Cambridge, Ma. She has a brown belt in karate. Her mystery series, beginning with CONUNDRUM, features Iris Reid, also a Cambridge architect, as an amateur sleuth trying to uncover a murderer at her Harvard reunion. FACADE, finds Iris drawn into a kidnapping scheme while teaching at Harvard. DOPPELGANGER, the third book in the series, features an obsessed con artist who implicates Iris in a crime, then tries to take over her life. In COLLATERAL DAMAGE, a lover from her boyfriend's past reappears on the scene. As our Author of the Day, she tells us all about Collateral Damage.
Please give us a short introduction to what Collateral Damage is about.
Architect Iris Reid’s new project hits a dead end when a murder victim is discovered in the chimney. Her client becomes the prime suspect and Iris sets out to find the real killer. Things go from bad to worse when Iris’ boyfriend reconnects with an old flame, bringing up buried secrets and unintended consequences that threaten to change Iris’ life forever.
What inspired you to write this story?
I'm a residential architect and have always thought that because our work is so enmeshed with our clients’ lives we would make unique amateur sleuths. That got me started on writing this series. I’m writing Book 5 now.
Why did you decide to involve an old flame of Iris' boyfriend in the story?
Iris’ boyfriend, Luc, is the hottie neighborhood chef and readers wanted to know more about him. I decided to have Iris finally commit to Luc and move in with him, only to have a past girlfriend show up and threaten to take him away.
Besides writing, what other secret skills do you have?
Besides running my architectural practice, I have a brown belt in Karate.
You are an award-winning residential architect. How has this influenced your writing?
When I read a mystery, I love to get an insider view into something new. In each of my books I show Iris designing a different project.
Kirkus Reviews said about Doppelganger:
"Cory’s concise prose establishes a consistent pace that never wavers, and even her descriptions of architecture are exhilarating."
Huh, what did they mean by “even"?
This is the fourth novel of a series. Can it be read as a standalone?
Collateral Damage can absolutely be read as a standalone. Each book shows a different aspect of Iris’ life.
How do the other books in the series tie in with this one?
In Conundrum, Iris attends her 20th architecture school reunion with all her competitive, back-stabbing former classmates. In Facade, Iris teaches a design studio and befriends a visiting superstar architect who is suspected of kidnapping a girl. In Doppelganger, Iris is accused of a bank robbery committed by a look-alike stalker.
Do any of your characters ever take off on their own tangent, refusing to do what you had planned for them?
Yes! Toward the end of Book 3, in a scene on a bridge, Iris was supposed to throw something into the Charles River. She wouldn’t do it and I had to rewrite the ending. Budge, the reporter, is another uncooperative character. He’s always trying to steal scenes.
Why mysteries? What drew you to the genre?
I love the sense of order in mysteries, where justice gets restored by a clever sleuth who pieces together the clues. I got hooked on the genre reading Nancy Drews.
When starting on a new book, what is the first thing you do?
I try to devise a new plot about something scary that could actually happen in real life while avoiding the tropes of amnesiac protagonists, husbands that aren’t really dead, missing children...
Do you have any interesting writing habits? What is an average writing day like for you?
I generally work on my architecture projects in the morning, visiting building sites, meeting with clients and contractors. I work on my writing in the afternoon after an hour walk with my dog during which I’m thinking about plot ideas.
What are you working on right now?
I’m now writing Book 5 in the series. Iris hires a young architect who is not what he appears to be.
Where can our readers discover more of your work or interact with you?