In character: a chat with K.C. Fontero

Hi, kids! Hope everyone’s having a groovy weekend. As some of you know, I’m Andi Marquette and I write mysteries based in New Mexico. The first of those, Land of Entrapment, introduces readers to slightly neurotic sociologist K.C. Fontero; her best friend, Albuquerque police detective Chris Gutierrez; photographer Sage Crandall; and K.C.’s ex, Melissa Crown. Among others. One of the questions I get asked is whether I based K.C. on myself. To answer that, as well as talk about other things that come up (because a conversation with me or K.C. is guaranteed to wander), K.C. agreed to stop by and chat.

Want more? Read on!

K.C.: “Slightly neurotic?”

Andi: Tongue firmly implanted in cheek, girlfriend. You know that. [laughs] How are you?

K.C. Busy with that totally academic stuff. Research, papers, teaching. Getting into all kinds of crap, no thanks to you. [reaches over and smacks Andi’s leg] When are you going to just write me onto a beach or something? For a week of margaritas and palm trees?

Andi:I’ll keep that in mind. And I appreciate that you do that academic stuff. Better you than me. So Kase, tell our fabulous audience the answer to one of the most-asked questions we get. How much like me are you? Or vice versa?

K.C.: A lot and not at all. [starts laughing, reaches for cup of coffee] Writers are weird. Sometimes they do put their own spin into characters–and don’t deny that, A–but they also try to capture characters they might not know much, if anything, about. That’s where y’all are like actors. Where I’m concerned, there are some things we have in common, but I don’t feel like I’m you.

Andi: That’s a relief. [K.C. laughs]

K.C.: As if you don’t have enough things to think about when you’re writing me and the posse.

Andi: True. And have you noticed that nobody has made any “K.C. and the Sunshine Band” jokes?

K.C.: [rolls eyes] Give it time. As long as you say ‘posse’ we’ll be all right. But as soon as you start saying ‘band’ or even ‘gang’ we’ll all be singing ‘that’s the way uh-huh uh-huh I like it.’

Andi: Uh-huh uh-huh.

K.C.: ‘Do a little dance. . .’

Andi: OKAY. Back on track!

K.C.: ‘Make a little love…’

Andi: Hello?

K.C.: ‘Get down tonight!’ All right, all right. [sips coffee]

Andi: Thank you for that fabulous rendition. I’m sure Sage will appreciate it.

K.C.: [waggles eyebrows like Groucho Marx]

Andi: ANYWAY. I will say that some of the things we have in common are that we both track and research scary-ass groups–

K.C.: But different fields. You’re anthro and history. I’m sociology. Different approaches in terms of methodology, maybe. But yeah, same subject.

Andi: And we both have a strange obsession with New Mexico and New Mexican cuisine.

K.C.: And we both like coffee and microbrews. Wine sometimes. You’re not a big fan of Tazo tea, though.

Andi: Not really. I don’t mind it, but you and Chris do dig that stuff.

K.C.: I’m trying to get her off the Diet Coke.

Andi: She likes her Diet Coke.

K.C.: She does that. Tazo’s a nice compromise, though. And she does enjoy beer now and again.

Andi: But she likes those lighter, weenie beers. What kind of cop is that?

K.C.: Uh, hello? You’re the culprit there. Get her to try a couple of nice porters or stouts.

Andi: [Andi’s cell phone buzzes with a text message. She checks it.] Chris says she likes her coffee dark, but her beer see-through. And she says she’ll show me the kind of weenie cop she is the next time she sees me. Uh-oh.

K.C.: [laughing] Better write her a six-pack of weenie beer, mujer.

Andi: [laughs] Will do. Hear that, Chris? Okay, so you and I both like lots of different kinds of music. But you’re really into the teaching and research stuff. I’m not so sure about the teaching stuff for me.

K.C.: That’s ’cause of my own background. I’ve got academics for parents, after all. You don’t. And I have a living grandparent who I actually like hanging out with when I can. I’ve got two sisters. You have one. And I’m from Arizona and you grew up in Colorado then went back to Albuquerque. I was in Texas when Melissa came to ask for my help. [grins, and it’s kind of evil] I don’t mind Texas. You do.

Andi: Hey, Texas is okay [she says defensively]. Just too hot in the summers. Austin is nice. Corpus is okay. San Antonio is pretty. The Gulf Coast and Hill Country–

K.C.: Good beer! Shiner Bock! Yeah!

Andi: We both do like Shiner Bock. And we both do have UNM as an alma mater for one of our degrees. What about mindsets? I do think you’re a little better adjusted in some ways than I am.

K.C.: Why, thank you. That makes up for the neurotic thing. [flicks coffee at me]

Andi: And you’re taller than I am.

K.C.: That’s not hard to do.

Andi: Nice. [laughs] You were a better jock in high school than I was.

K.C.: Pissing off your coach probably wasn’t a good idea.

Andi: Not my fault. Moving along! I think both of us are also a little more impatient than maybe is healthy, sometimes.

K.C.: I’d have to agree. Sage would, too. I think even Chris is more patient than we are. And that’s not saying much. [laughs] And we both get a little too wrapped up in research. I read a review of “Ties” [Andi note: The Ties that Bind is the third book in the NM series] recently and the reviewer said–let me paraphrase–that I get a little obsessive about finding answers. I’d say that you do have that streak in you, but I think mine might be worse.

Andi: Try meditation. And you are trying to find a better balance between your need for answers and letting things go. Sage has been a good influence on you, I think, in that respect. I’m really glad you hooked up with her. [grins]

K.C.: I am, too. Thanks for introducing us. [grins back] But sometimes I know I drive her crazy. ‘Sometimes there is no WHY, honey!’ [K.C. imitates Sage’s long-suffering tone] ‘Sometimes you just have to accept that there aren’t any answers.’ I guess I did see that in action in Ties. There are some things that I can’t logically explain. You’re much better about accepting those things than I am.

Andi: Or maybe I just hide my skepticism better. [nudges K.C.’s calf with her foot]

K.C.: Nah. You’re better able to suspend disbelief. You’re like my mom in that regard. Maybe it’s the anthro background you both have. Sage says that about you, too. She wants to talk to you about that some time.

Andi: Cool. Tell her to give me a buzz when she has time.

K.C.: [K.C.’s cell phone beeps with a text message. She checks it, smiles.] That’s Chris. She says she is WAY more patient than I am. And she also says that you’re impatient, too, but I’m worse. She says she’ll be calling you later to talk about book 4. She says one of the scenes isn’t working.

Andi: [sighs] I know. I’m trying to figure it out. Tell her I’ll have a beer and think some more about it. Back to us. You’re better-looking than I am.

K.C.: That is such a pile of crap. We don’t look alike at all, so you’re basically comparing apples and oranges. And quit being all “oh, I’m so not good-looking!”

Andi: I didn’t say that. I said you’re better-looking than I am. Anyway, I like both those fruits.

K.C.: Whatever. You like ALL fruit! [we both laugh]

Andi: You’re one to talk.

K.C.: Touché! Oh, I think we also have similar senses of humor.

Andi: Mmm…yeah, I think you’re right. And sometimes, we do sound alike. That is, we say similar things.

K.C.: Well, duh! We hang out a lot! [laughs] Speaking of hanging out, are you going to cut me a break in the next book? [pouts, but ends up grinning] [Andi note: that would be Book 5 in the series. K.C. stars in odd numbers, Chris in even]

Andi: Where’s the fun in that? You want me to write “K.C. Goes to Margaritaville” or something?

K.C.: Sure. I could solve the mystery of the missing tequila. Help nice retirees track down their Yorkies. Show tourists around.

Andi: So you basically want to be Magnum, P.I.

K.C.: Without the P.I. part. That’s more Chris’s thing. I’m just naturally curious.

Andi: Mmm hmmm. There’s no cure for that, you know. Dorothy Parker said that. No cure for curiosity.

K.C.: Maybe that’s not such a bad thing, huh? So…are you going to cut me a break?

Andi: Probably not. But how about I write you a nice margarita scene?

K.C.: [sighing] All riiiiigghhttt. With Herradura. The good stuff.

Andi: Deal. Okay, I know you’re working on that paper for an anthology, so get back to it. Thank god one of us is using her academic background.

K.C.: [puts coffee down on coffee table and stands up] Will do. And if you had me as a colleague in grad school, you’d probably be writing a paper for the same anthology. Thanks for chatting.

Andi: Thank YOU. Say hi to Sage and Chris.

K.C.: Always. ‘Til next time.

Andi: Back atcha.

_________________
So you see, dear readers, K.C. and I do share some similarities, but not all. Thanks for hanging out with us and hope your weekend rocks.

peace!

16 comments

  1. Buena Mujuer! LMAO.
    This was wonderful, and here I’m wrestling with on character description. I guess I should just invite the girls for a cup of coffee…if they both drink it??
    thanks for this, Andi. All the NM sun has been good for you.

    Like

    • Definitely invite them over for coffee. Or tea. Or whatever they like to drink. For example, when Chris is on duty or will be soon, she’s all about iced tea and Diet Coke. When she doesn’t have to be on duty the next day, she will have a beer or a glass of wine. Sage likes wine and coffee, but she will indulge in the occasional beer. K.C. loves coffee and microbrews, but she is kind of romantic. She did bring two nice bottles of local wine to her first official date-like situation with Sage (props to you, Kase! Good call!), after all. Dayna is a wine kinda gal, but she also likes coffee. The lawyer thing, I suspect. You’ve got to have some serious staying power when you work as a lawyer or cop. But Chris did use her own version of a mojito to seduce her, so…
      hee hee hee…

      The point is, have ’em over. What do they like to eat? Food can tell you a lot about someone’s character. How they approach it, whether they’re adventurous or not is reflected in the palate, I believe. Also, food reflects culture and family life. Everybody’s got comfort foods. That, too, tells you something about where someone grows up and how they move in the world.

      That’s one thing I have in common with K.C., Sage, Chris, and Chris’s brother John. FOOD! I LOVE FOOD! 🙂

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  2. So, how ’bout one of these days we get KC, Chris, Sage and Dayna up here to Montreal and invite them to the studio for a group interview? 🙂 🙂

    That was fun, Andi.

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  3. Chris wants to have a serious chat with me next. I’ll see if she has time to sit down with me. She’s in the middle of another investigation, after all. 🙂 Dayna will probably call and chime in, too.

    At any rate, thanks, all, for reading! This is actually how I approach my characters. When I’m working on a book, I imagine we’re all sitting around with a script and we’re all talking about how certain scenes are constructed, whether or not the character would actually say something I’ve written, and whether a description works. It’s a very “organic” and hands-on process, the way I approach a book and characters. I find that it’s easier for me as a writer to write a character if I do it this way. In that sense, I think of myself as a director of a movie, and the characters are actors. But I’m also thinking of myself as an actor, and envisioning how specific people would act/react in specific situations. Doing things like this helps me create a fuller picture of characters. Plus, I’m just weird, I guess. 🙂

    Peace!

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