Interview with Robin Spano, author of Clare Vengel novels

Vengel_Dead_Politician_SocietyA while back, I discovered Robin Spano through Wattpad. She writes the Clare Vengel mysteries which are all based in Toronto. They’re great — and you can read the first book, The Dead Politician Society, for free.
What’s more, Robin was nice enough to agree to an interview with me! Unfortunately, I was a jerk and forgot to publish this until now. Sorry Robin! Luckily for you, the entire novel is now out on Wattpad so you won’t have to wait for each chapter to be revealed like I did (the suspense nearly killed me).
Describe The Dead Politician Society in 140 characters. A lighthearted mystery about politicians who are murdered and the people who might want them dead.
Why did you pick Toronto for the setting of this novel? The city and its people seem to play a big part in the story — could this have happened in any other city?
I grew up in Toronto, so it’s the city I know most intimately. It’s also where I lived when I was furious at the local political climate, so opening a novel with a dead mayor of Toronto felt poetically awesome.
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I personally love Clare because she’s so imperfect and insecure. As a young professional, I get that. What separates Clare Vengel from other fictional cops and detectives?
I think you nailed it. She’s different because she’s still learning the ropes of being an undercover cop. In the instruction books for how-to-write-a-mystery-novel, one of the cardinal rules is that the detective is supposed to be excellent at his or her job. I broke that rule.
While I think Clare has it in her to one day be a great cop, I’m more intrigued to watch her struggle toward excellence than I am to start her off as a hotshot right out of the gate. Readers can watch Clare learn and grow in each novel, and the arc of the series is a bit like a coming-of-age story.
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Did your personal politics find its way into your novel? Be truthful now, is there a municipal politician you’ve wished to off?
Yes! And he knows it. David Miller was mayor of Toronto when I wrote this book. While I loved his attitude toward arts and the environment, I felt like his government was screwing over Toronto businesses. (My husband owned a bar, so I felt this quite acutely.) Before he left office, I had the opportunity to meet Miller and explain why he had to go. He’s a mystery reader, so he was curious to read the book that he inspired. Now we’re quite friendly. (From a distance — on Twitter.)
You’re releasing Dead Politician Society for free one chapter at a time on Wattpad. In the words of Utopia Girl: “What’s in it for me, what’s in it for you?”
Dead Politician Society was published in 2010, and now there are two more books in the Clare Vengel series. (Death Plays Poker and Death’s Last Run.) As promotion for the series, my publisher, ECW Press, asked if I’d release the first one free and engage with readers in the process.

So what’s in it for you? A free read. What’s in it for me? I’m hoping to lure readers into the series with this free sample, make them want to follow Clare on her next adventures.

Meet Clare Vengel, undercover Toronto cop

I am finally embracing my inner Oprah and giving everyone a FREE BOOK! You get a book! And you get a book! And you! And you! AND YOU!

Mind you, the book is on Wattpad… where all books are free. But it’s a really good free book so you should take me up on my offer.

Vengel_Dead_Politician_SocietyThe book is Dead Politician Society by Robin Spano and it’s part of her Clare Vengel Undercover series. She’s been releasing the book for free on Wattpad one section at a time. The rest of the Clare Vengel series is available on Spano’s site.

Clare Vengel is undercover cop extraordinaire. Well, that’s her dream anyways. Her supervisor considers her so green, he considers speaking to her “babysitting”. In Dead Politician Society, the left-wing Toronto mayor is murdered and a secret society at the University of Toronto is suspect number one. Clare lands her first undercover gig as a poli sci student. Remember, left-wing mayor — so this is pre-Rob Ford.

Spano’s writing is fast and fun — switching between a number of eccentric characters all with their own motives to get rid of the mayor. Clare is reminiscent of Deb from Dexter. She’s a fast talker, self-doubting and occasionally sleeps around. She’s also on an uphill battle to prove herself as a skilled cop. If I have one criticism for Spano is that there should be waaay more about Clare than the rest of the characters.

I was a political science major at the University of Toronto once upon a time so the setting of the book was eerily familiar. I’ve literally taken courses in these buildings Spano describes. Pretty awesome to see the campus come alive in fiction.

So there, go ahead — take home your free copy 😉

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