Fritz Van Derzee got himself in trouble when he told the world he planned to clear his name of an old embezzlement scheme at Tompkins College, where I’m an economics professor. Fritz’s daughter, Emma, was one of my students last year, and she pleaded with me to help her dad but, let’s face it, whoever actually embezzled the millions from the college was not going to sit back and let Fritz track them down. I had no desire to get involved, and I thought Fritz was crazy for putting himself at risk like that.
Then my husband, Kyle, started wondering if he could recreate the old accounting system and figure out how the millions went missing and who was responsible. I desperately tried to talk him out of it, but it was no use. When he gets on the scent of a computer puzzle, there’s no stopping him.
2. What made you decide to take on such a risky endeavor?
How could I not get involved once Fritz was murdered and Emma was named the prime suspect? I knew Fritz was not an embezzler, and I knew Emma loved her dad. So Kyle and I joined forces to find the killer and the money.
3. Did you ever imagine yourself being involved in fighting crime?
Never! When I met Kyle a few years ago, all I wanted was to marry him, have a career of my own, and have babies with him. To be honest, that’s still what I want. But both of us believe in justice and fairness, and I work at a college that’s got a history of dirty dealings. Our college president is also Kyle’s good friend, Justin Cushman, and he’s committed to rooting out all the bad guys and making the college an honorable institution of higher learning. Kyle and I both support that ambition.
4. Who would you say is the least pleased about your additional career choice of amateur sleuthing?
The bad guys, for sure. Together, Kyle and I have exposed a drug dealer on campus, solved an old disappearance that turned out to be murder, and now we’re working hard to recover ten million dollars and identify embezzler and Fritz’s murderer. Actually, there’s one more person who’s unhappy about our extracurricular activities, and that’s State Trooper Hank Moran. Hank appreciates our help, and it’s pretty clear he wouldn’t have solved the cases without it, but he’s worried we’re going to mess up his investigation or, worse, get ourselves killed on his watch.
5. What are your strengths and weaknesses?
I’m brainy and funny. I’m a good actress, so I might look cool under pressure but, trust me, I get panic attacks with no warning.
6. Describe what being a self-rescue princess (a strong, confident woman) means to you.
I love that phrase! To me, it means doing the right thing even when you’re scared. It means using your brain and anything you can put your hands on to defend yourself when you’re life’s on the line. And it means putting yourself at risk to save the life of someone you care about.
7. What one advice/wisdom would you like to pass onto young women?
Think for yourself, but act in concert with others who have similar goals. Hard problems are rarely solved by one person alone.
8. What was one lesson you learned during this challenging time in your life?
Oh my gosh, you’ll think I’m crazy. In Stuck, I finally make my debut as Kyle’s corporate wife. I was terrified to do it, so I enlisted a friend to put together the wardrobe for my first gig (in Iceland, if you can believe it). However, I forgot to schedule a haircut and manicure before my flight to Reykjavik. I showed up looking like a shaggy dog. The client’s wife took pity on me and volunteered her stylist to make me over. Seriously, you can go a long way on the strength of your personality, but don’t forget to dress and look the part.
9. If your story or life had a theme song, what would it be?
This is a real oldie, and you may not even know it. Aretha Franklin sang it, “I Say a Little Prayer for You.” I was always saying little prayers for my sister, Manda, and me. We had a tough childhood and we were apart all through college and after for a few years. And I still do it, say little prayers all the time, for Kyle and for myself and the people we love.