by Julie Moffett, author of the Lexi Carmichael series
I love writing the Lexi Carmichael Mystery Series! I created Lexi as an antithesis to James Bond—female, geeky and socially awkward. I envisioned writing about a young woman struggling to find her place and future in two careers traditionally dominated by men (the tech field and espionage). As an interesting note, the first publisher I pitched the book to rejected it, saying they didn’t think there was a market for a female hacker protagonist. I was so grateful when Carina Press snapped it up. I’d always intended to make Lexi’s story a series, so as she grew, the readers could grow with her. I just had no idea how long the series would continue! The first book in the series, No One Lives Twice, came out in August 2010. That’s over eight years ago! And yet, in Lexi’s lifetime only about one year has passed. I did this on purpose, wanting Lexi to evolve in the pages of the stories, rather than in a period of time passing between each installment. She becomes stronger and more confident as each book progressed.
Although the series is character driven, the plots are an important part of the stories. This is a spy/mystery series, so naturally there are secret agents, spies and foreign players who cause a lot of trouble. Lexi ends up traveling on boats, planes and helicopters even though she hates flying and boating and is scared to death of heights. But she faces her fears and always comes through. I’m a military brat, so I’ve traveled extensively all my life and lived in foreign countries. Incorporating travel in my stories is a natural extension of my life experience. Some of the places in the books I’ve visited, and some I haven’t. But I always draw from my inner well of experience with foreign cultures and places to help me authentically incorporate all the sights, smells, tastes and feels into each setting. It’s so much fun!
Location: Washington, DC, and Sweden
What trouble does Lexi get into? – Lexi takes on a male and female terrorist at Djurgarden Island with nothing more than her brain…but only after she awkwardly seduces and handcuffs her future boss to a bed.
Setting inspiration: I visited Sweden back in the mid-80s and loved Djurgarden Island, especially the Vasa Museum with all the Viking artifacts and history.
Location: Washington, DC
What trouble does Lexi get into? Lexi fills in for a stripper and nearly brings the club down.
Setting inspiration: Thank God, I’ve never danced with a pole, but I did go to a male strip club for a bachelorette party once. :)
Location: Ocean City, MD
What trouble does Lexi get into? Lexi uses a vacuum with disastrous results, nearly removing the pants of a friend for the second time on the same vacation.
Setting inspiration: My family loves Ocean City and we’ve spent many summer vacations there.
Location: Rome, Italy
What trouble does Lexi get into? Lexi uses perfume as a deadly weapon.
Setting inspiration: I visited Rome for the first time this past summer and I loved it! I’m pretty sure I was Italian in another life.
Location: Hollywood, CA
What trouble does Lexi get into? Lexi ends up on a reality-television dating show while tracking down a hacker, and chaos ensues.
Setting inspiration: I’d never watched reality television until I got the idea for this book. After watching just one show, I knew I had enough material to make the book hilarious.
Location: Washington, DC
What trouble does Lexi get into? Lexi faces her worst nightmare and goes back to high school undercover and blonde! Spoiler: It wasn’t any better the second time around.
Setting inspiration: I loosely based the high school on a local school for gifted and talented students that my genius nephew attended.
Locations: Washington, DC, Central African Republic, Somalia
What trouble does Lexi get into? Lexi must be protected by the Navy SEALs, except who will protect them from her?
Setting inspiration: I come from a military family (air force), so this story was a BLAST to write. My entire family provided information to make this book come together in a realistic way down to the smallest details, including a parachute jump. Insider information: Like Lexi, I’m afraid of heights! J
Location: Papua New Guinea
What trouble does Lexi get into? Lexi takes on snakes, leeches, monkeys and a lot of bad guys in the jungle after a plane crash.
Setting inspiration: In an unplanned twist, my nephew’s girlfriend was in Papua New Guinea while I was writing this book and sent me gifts from the island to keep me inspired.
Location: Washington, DC
What trouble does Lexi get into? While trying to save the world from a dangerous Chinese cyberattack, Lexi tries to plan her best friend’s bachelorette party with disastrous results. A wedding dress fitting gone wrong, a fake fireman in a plastic wading pool filled with baby oil and spiked lasagna are only a few of the many catastrophes.
Setting inspiration: I majored in Soviet and East European Studies in graduate school, and I was inspired by the concept of détente and how that concept would work in today’s world. Thus, I wrote the book around the concept of cyber détente.
What trouble does Lexi get into? Lexi goes all Indiana Jones while trying to track down an ancient artifact and save her best friend’s father. Pyramids, centuries-old puzzles and a runaway camel are all part of the fun.
Setting inspiration: I’ve never been to Egypt, but I am fascinated by the pyramids and always wanted to set a book there. This one came together in a fun way.
Location: British Virgin Islands
What trouble does Lexi get into? Lexi must navigate the scary duties of maid of honor at her best friend’s wedding and deliver a package to a Caribbean paradise. Crocodiles, the mafia, a boatload of proctologists and a kidnapping are all involved.
Setting inspiration: My brother and his wife took a trip to the British Virgin Islands right before I started writing this story, inspiring me to set my story there.
Locations: Rome, the Vatican, and the Amalfi Coast, Italy
What trouble does Lexi get into? Lexi travels to Rome to help find out who is threatening her fiancé. Amazing Italian food, intrigue at the Vatican and a cat with a mind of its own all play a big role in this story.
Setting inspiration: After I’d turned in the first draft of this book, I took a trip of my own to Rome, the Vatican and the Amalfi Coast. It allowed me to add a lot more authentic detail in the second round of edits!
Which of these locations would you like to visit? Let us know in the comments section below!