Creative Careers in the Arts

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Spirited Woman Q & A

Interview with Mystery Writer and 'Mind Games' Author Rochelle Krich

By Nancy Mills | Posted June 1, 2006 | Updated May 12, 2019

I met Rochelle Krich on a bus in Chicago at the Book Expo two years ago. This very pretty woman (that would be Rochelle) sat next to me, and with our convention badges on — we went through the typical hellos and "What do you do?" conversation. I almost fell over when I found out she was a highly successful mystery author (she looked so sweet), with over 10 books to her credit. Her first book "Where's Mommy Now?" even went on to become a made-for-TV-movie. Not bad for a woman who published her first novel post 40.

Since that fortuitous ride, Rochelle and I have stayed in touch. We both live in LA, are fascinated by murder (I read three mysteries a week) and when her book signings are in LA, I always try to attend. In fact, I am a fan of one of her characters, Molly Blume, her famous Jewish female detective. Rochelle, 58, is the mother of six kids (three boys and three girls), the grandmother to eight, and has been married to her husband Hershie for most of her adult life.

Currently, Rochelle is working on her 15th book, tentatively titled "Mind Games" and she is busy touring the country on her constant and numerous book tours.

Now, here's Rochelle in an interview that I believe is as candid as they come. I urge you to read it. Rochelle is a true fighter for the underdog and a woman on a mission to see that justice is fair play for one and all.

Q. You are the daughter of holocaust survivors — how did that affect you growing up?

A. When I was growing up I was probably less aware of how it affected me than later as an adult looking back. I would say we had a sense of more earnestness and seriousness in our home, but it was not a morbid environment. I really credit my parents for establishing a normal home under the circumstances when their lives had been anything but normal. I also credit the fact that I have surrogate aunts and uncles, all holocaust survivors, so my community was a healthy one. My mother didn't talk as much about her experiences, my father talked more. My father had a wife and two daughters who perished in Auschwitz and I discovered that when I was a young teenager — it was a very mind-jolting discovery and it really turned my world upside down because I could never get over the realization if my father's wife had not perished, I would not exist.

Q. You were past 40 when you wrote your first book, "Where's Mommy Now?" — why did you wait so long to write your first book?

A. Looking back I use to say, oh well raising six children and all that — that's not really true. I think if you are committed or passionate about doing something you will do it. It doesn't matter if you have six children or fourteen children. I think Danielle Steele had many, many children and she sat down and wrote. For me I think it was more fear of failure. As long as I was fantasizing about being a published writer I couldn't fail. In my fantasy I could be on the New York Times, I could be Oprah's pick, whatever I wanted to be. You know the fear is what if I started writing after 35 or 72 pages and I had nothing left to say. When I start a book, every book, I say oh-my-god will I have enough material for a book and I look at page three and I am overwhelmed. That fear is still there. Before I was published I said what if I finished a book and I can't find an agent, or a publisher, or everybody who reads my book says go back to teaching high school English.

Q. Were you surprised by "Where's Mommy Now?" success?

A. I was really surprised and thrilled. The first agent I sent it to called and he wanted to represent me. And I was just beside myself with excitement as you can very well imagine. Then I called him about something a few days later, and he said on second thought he had some reservation about the plot, the character, everything he had been raving about a few days before, and he said so, if you want to work on it…. and I said no, because I just didn't trust him anymore. So it went out unedited and a new agent sold it, and it went on to win an award. What it taught me was one agent was one opinion. You have to pay attention to what people say, but you can't let one comment cripple your imagination or your drive or your determination.

Q. I read that in college you considered pursuing a career in law or medicine. I also read that you always dreamed of becoming a published writer. Tell us about that.

A. I love medicine and I love law, anything with criminal justice, those have always been my passions. I actually got to be a doctor in a book, when I wrote a medical thriller called "Fertile Ground." I wrote a legal thriller called "Speak No Evil."So in a sense by becoming a published writer, I was able to pursue all my aspirations. If I had it to do all over again, I don't know if I would have gone to medical school, but I would have gone to law school. When I was young, I was always a storyteller and a reader. They would have to drag me away from the books to eat dinner or help clear the dishes — it was always one more chapter. Then when I was raising kids it was always one more chapter. I just love words — there is a magic and a music to words — and I've always been enchanted by the world that fiction could take me to.

Q. How did a nice Jewish mother with six kids become fascinated with and start writing about murder?

A. I think that is just self-explanatory raising six kids. Teaching high-school English to all these adolescents. It naturally leads one to a life of crime. But, I've always loved mysteries and as a kid I loved playing the game. I loved playing with the detective. I loved trying to be the detective. As an adult reader and as an adult writer — I still love the game very much. I am very careful about making the game work as the writer and I am frustrated as the reader when the game doesn't work because I feel it is just not fair. In addition to that, I love the sense that at the end of a crime fiction novel justice is served, ordered is restored and that probably goes back to my being the product of parents who survived one of the greatest injustices in the world.

Q. How did you juggle raising six kids, have a full-time career as an educator, and writing your novels?

A. Well not always successfully. I have to be honest. And I think anybody who says you can do it all and do it all truly well — I'd like to meet that person. I don't think it's possible, I really don't. I think you make choices. Most of the time you prioritize well, sometimes you don't. I was away from home on my book tour and I missed moments, and in the scheme of things they were not huge moments, but for me personally they were important moments. Every night I was on the road, I'd sing a lullaby to my son who was a toddler at the time — but it's not the same as being there — to tuck your child in and give a kiss and say goodnight.

Q. Your books touch upon very serious subjects. In "Blues in the Night" you wrote about postpartum illness — how has that disease affected your life & family?

A. Well I can say thankfully that it has not affected my life and family. But I was doing research into the subject because I was fascinated and appalled in particular by the Andrea Yates case. I wanted to examine that situation. I was really trying to learn whether it was possible that a woman could kill five children who she loved and say with sincerity that she did it to save their souls. I just didn't know if that was possible, so I wrote that book, and I explored the subject and I created a woman, Lenore, who shook her baby to death. After talking to numerous therapists who specialize in post-partum psychosis, I believe that she certainly was mentally ill and that she should never have been incarcerated. But, I wanted to know if my character was like Andrea Yates or was she like Susan Smith who lied and cried on national TV and said a strange black man drove her car with her two boys into the lake — and we found out she did it because her boyfriend didn't want a family.

Q. Do you consider yourself an advocate for justice?

A. I do, yes. And again, I do it through my fiction. I often mentally write letters in my head when I am upset by something. I don't usually send the letter. I should do it more. But my novels are those letters. And also it's an inspiration for me as I said before, because often I will start a book with a mindset or an opinion and ultimately at the end, I find that my opinion has changed — sometimes five degrees, sometimes 180 degrees. But that is okay. I enjoy the opportunity of taking the reader on that journey with me.

Q. What advice would you give other women to pursue their dreams?

A. I would say follow your dream, it may sound very trite but it's true. Don't be afraid of failure. My cousin in Florida recently told me that the guy who started failed five times before he came up with it — and look who's laughing now. I think most people have failed efforts in their lives before they ultimately succeed. The ones you read about in the newspaper are of course the successes, but they don't tell you about the 10 or 15 years of struggle before the person achieves success in whatever form or whatever career.

Q. Why do you feel that you are a Spirited Woman?

A. I think I am a Spirited Woman because first of all I embrace the company of women. Some of the most important people in my life have been and continue to be women friends, daughters, and aunts. I find that I gain from my relationships with women in ways that are immeasurable and I find that women inspire me, encourage me, understand me, empathize with me, propel me, and bring out my best qualities. I think I'm spirited because I want to make a change in the world. I do it through fiction, but there are countless ways for women to make a difference.

Rochelle Krich would love to hear from you. She invites you to visit her website at:

©2006 Nancy Mills. All rights reserved.

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