Where are you from? Did you have a happy childhood? I grew up in the small town of Conejo Hills, in Ventura County just west of Los Angeles. Looking back on ones childhood is subjective, as one has no other frame of reference as to what is “normal.” Music was a huge part of my upbringing. My mother was a professional singer before she got married, and my father is the founder, conductor and artistic director of the Golden Wing Orchestra. I started singing in the boy’s choir at church but surprisingly never sang in a school choir, probably because when I outgrew the church chorus I was busy with piano and violin lessons. My brother, Warren, and I were, naturally, quite competitive, always trying to win Father’s affection. My sister, Celeste, was born blind, so the family pampered and watched out for her. Sis and I were pretty close growing up.
Where do you live now and what do you do for a living? Is there something you'd rather be doing? I own a house in the Hollywood Hills, overlooking Universal City. In my late teens/early 20s I was a teen idol and starred in my own TV show, “Buddy Brave, Boy Sleuth,” as well as two Buddy Brave movies. Those four years were quite a ride. But as they say, the bigger they are, the harder they fall, and I crashed and burned big time when my show was cancelled and the record company became more interested in promoting the next big sensation. For a number of years I did an occasional TV guest spot but I mostly drank myself crazy and got into trouble with the law.
Now I’m 38 years old and finally sober. In my first book, “The Baffled Beatlemaniac Caper,” I describe how I tried to kick off my comeback and ended up cornering a killer at a Beatles fan convention. I’d love to make some more movies or possibly another TV series, and spending more time with my kids (my ex has custody). I’d like to try my hand at songwriting. A new album would be fun, something introspective and personal instead of pop ditties. But for now I’m taking one day and one job at a time and counting my blessings.
What's going on in your life right now? I just got back from a week of concerts onboard a Caribbean cruise (you can read about that adventure in “The Cunning Cruise Ship Caper”). On the cruise I patched things up with my estranged sister, but my brother and I were still barely speaking. That changed in my upcoming book, “The Quirky Quiz Shop Caper,” when one of Warren’s students at the college was murdered, and the killer framed my brother. Not only am I helping to find the murderer, but also Warren and I have to smooth out our rocky road to put on a show together for a black tie benefit gala. Also, I’m a guest panelist on a dreadful TV game show and I discover the producer is manipulating the winners and losers. Can I beat him at his own crooked game?
Is there someone special in your life? Ha ha, funny you should ask. Yes, there is. She’s a lovely girl named Cinnamon Lovett. We’ve know each other for a while but now we’re finally able to start dating and get to know each other.
How did you meet? What's his/her family like? I met Cinnamon in my second book, “The Sinister Sitcom Caper.” When I did a guest appearance on a sitcom, the studio hired her as my choreographer for a dance scene in the show. When I first saw her in the practice studio, wow! my libido kicked into overdrive. Her first words to me were, “You’re late!” Hardly an auspicious start, but we’re finally starting to mesh. I haven’t met her family yet. That will be often awkward because most people know me as the kid teen idol and it’s hard at first for them to relate to me as an ordinary guy.
What's keeping you two apart? Cinny’s been burned by previous relationships so she’s hesitant to jump into another one. Also, my reputation as a ladies’ man is not helping—Cinny’s afraid she’ll end up as just another notch on my bedpost. But I’m not going to let that happen. I really care for her. I’m use to women throwing themselves on me, so I’ll have to slow down with Cinny. Besides, we’re both quite busy. She runs a dance studio and I have my work as well. And she lives in Ventura County, a distance from my L.A. home, so I can’t run over to see her on the spur of the moment.
What one thing could you do that would make you feel like the relationship will work out? I’ve thought about moving to Ventura County myself. A number of show biz people live there to escape the L.A. hassle. My parents and kids reside there as well, so I’d be closer to everyone important to me. But we’ll see. In the mean time, I’ll see Cinnamon as often as I can and keep her involved in my life and my sleuthing. A guy never knows when he’ll need a choreographer.
Any last comments? I’ve thought about what makes me a good amateur sleuth. Since people know me, or at least my public persona, they feel comfortable around me and they’ll answer questions about the murder. And the bad guys underestimate me. They think I’m just a pretty face and I’ll outsmart them. Hey, a fella has to have some brains to be a teen idol.
Coming Soon from Cozy Cat Press: “The Quirky Quiz Show Caper”
Book blurb: Sandy’s family is in a pickle. His father’s orchestra is facing bankruptcy, and his brother is framed for murder. Sandy finds himself in an art deco theater, a college campus, a radio station and on a crooked TV game show as he pursues the killer. Sandy nearly sings his swan song at a black tie gala benefit when the murderer tries to silence him for good. And Sandy’s also looking for clues on how to make his lovely choreographer his steady girlfriend.Excerpt.
(Set in an old art deco theater)
I wormed my way through the dark, labyrinth backstage area. No wonder old theaters had ghosts—a performer could get lost in here and die. I descended a stairwell with concrete walls that shut out all other sounds. The door at the bottom opened to the basement level. The hall went straight into a dead-end and also split with a branch to the left. Just past this corridor was the elevator. To my right stood the door to the organ room. Just as I started punching the numbers onto keypad, from the left-hand hall came the sound of people running—and a scream.As my left ear had lost some of its hearing during my boisterous concert days, I turned my head to listen. Footsteps echoed through the passageway. How odd. Nobody else should be here. Warren was the only performer in here on Mondays; he worked in rehearsals around his teaching schedule. Maybe he was meeting somebody, but why make an appointment in the basement of an empty, dark theater?“Warren?” I called. “Is that you?” Curious, I detoured into the split-off.A flickering fluorescent ceiling light cast a cold glow. Doors for the dressing, makeup and costume rooms lined the lengthy corridor. The strong odor of disinfectant hung in the air, the result of the cleaning crew. A young man, his ample girth ready to explode out of his tee-shirt and jeans, staggered toward me. He weaved about, ready to topple. Was he drunk? Sick? He flailed his arms and made odd gurgling sounds.“Are you all right?” I asked.Something from the man’s hand fell onto the tile floor with a “clink.” He tumbled forward. I dropped my cane and caught him. I staggered; his weight pushed me back against the wall. I couldn’t hold his hefty frame and I slid down the wall, still holding the man. I landed on my butt.That’s when I noticed the knife stuck in his back.
Sally Carpenter is a native Hoosier now living in Moorpark, Calif.
She has a master’s degree in theater from Indiana State University. While in school her plays “Star Collector” and “Common Ground” were finalists in the American College Theater Festival One-Act Playwrighting Competition.
Sally also has a master’s degree in theology and a black belt in tae kwon do.
She’s worked as an actress, college writing instructor, jail chaplain, and tour guide/page for Paramount Pictures. She’s now employed at a community newspaper where she writes the Roots of Faith column (www.theacornonline.com).
Besides the Sandy Fairfax Teen Idol cozy series, she’s written short stories in two anthologies: “Dark Nights at the Deluxe Drive-in” in “Last Exit to Murder” and “Faster Than a Speeding Bullet” in “Plan B: Omnibus.”
Her first mystery, “The Baffled Beatlemaniac Caper,” was an 2012 Eureka! Award finalist.Author links, webpages, fan pages, and book trailers.
Group blogs: ladiesofmystery.com (first Monday), thecozycatchronicles.com (third Friday)