August is all about debuts here at BookPage. We introduced you to 11 new authors this morning, and now we’re back to spread the word about another: Tammy Kaehler, author of Dead Man’s Switch, the first of the Kate Reilly Racing Mystery series.
Dead Man’s Switch is about a racecar driver who is suspected of murder—but the mystery’s not all that will keep you turning pages. Kaehler takes you behind the scenes of the American Le Mans Series series, and here she shares how she became such a racing expert. Just for fun, she also lists a few of her favorite cars in literature.
Readers: Do you have a favorite car from a book? Let us know in the comments!
Facing fears at 117 mph
guest post by Tammy Kaehler
Ten years ago, I knew nothing about automobile racing. Today, I’m the author of a mystery about a female racecar driver—told from her perspective, behind the wheel. In between . . . you can bet I did a lot of research.
I chose to write about a lesser-known, top-tier racing series, the American Le Mans Series (ALMS), for one reason: I had access. A company I was working for decided to sponsor a racing series, and I traveled to races to entertain our customers. What I found was a fascinating world I never knew existed—one I thought others might be equally interested in.
That’s when I started asking lots and lots of questions. And watching lots and lots of racing on television. Once I understood the intricacies of the sport (and it does have them), and once I knew some of the back stories, I was hooked. I went to as many car races as I could, talked to everyone and read scores of books, magazines and web sites.
There was still an elephant in the room, however—and that was racing school. I knew I had to go, had to be behind the wheel of a racecar. But I’m a real chicken. In the end, I screwed up my courage and went to a three-day school run by friends of friends (at the ALMS home track). I was terrified. I was slow. I wasn’t good. But I did it, and I learned a lot about what it feels like in the car, as well as what a driver needs to think about behind the wheel. (That’s me in the #8 car.)
In the end, I can say that racing school was one of the toughest experiences I’ve ever had, because I had to push past my fear and perform. To this day, I’m proud that I not only survived the course, but also had fun doing 117 mph on the backstretch!
Just for fun, here are a few of my favorite cars in literature:
James Bond, Aston Martin DB5. Granted, I know more about 007’s car from the movies, but the movies originated as literature, so I’m counting the Aston Martin DB5—with or without the gun barrels behind the front indicators. James Bond was the epitome of smooth, and this was his car, outfitted with whatever gadgets his predicament required, courtesy of Q. And the car is the perfect 60’s cool design. Nuff said.
Mrs. Merdle, Lord Peter Wimsey’s cars. He called them all “Mrs. Merdle” after a Dickens character who “hated fuss.” They were sometimes Daimlers and always expensive. Wimsey inevitably racketed about the countryside in them, scaring children, bicyclists and his own passengers. The cars suited the slapdash, careless behavior he affected to hide his incredible intelligence—the cars perfected that image. And they just seemed cool. I wanted to be driving one.
Nancy Drew’s blue roadster. The make of Nancy’s car was never really pinned down, and I was surprised to go back and discover that her car color changed after not very many books in the series. But Nancy’s blue roadster was as important to her character as her two best friends (Bess and George) and her somewhat remote—yet still caring—father and boyfriend (Carson and Ned). Is it reaching to consider Nancy Drew a feminist icon or a role model? Perhaps. But consider that I, and many other young girls, read stories in which a female was always the focus, always the primary actor in the unfolding events and always the hero! I’m positive Nancy influenced my understanding of what was possible for me to achieve. Sadly, my roadster isn’t blue, or as cool as hers, but I do have one . . .
[Thanks, Tammy! For more news from this author, visit Tammy's website. And pick up Dead Man's Switch—on sale today!]