This past week, I spotted the Dos Equis Man (the most interesting man in the world) at the Pro Bowl scrimmages, giving the quarterbacks tips on how to throw long bombs to entertain the crowd*. Today, we meet his cousin, CiCi McNair, the most interesting private investigator in the world. Her bio tells us why.
Clarissa McNair, whose nickname is Cici, was born and grew up in Mississippi. She graduated from Briarcliff College in New York with a B.A. in American history.
In Toronto, she worked as a researcher for CBC-TV on a documentary on organized crime. Connections was given a standing ovation in the Canadian Parliament and won every possible award. In Rome, McNair was a news writer, on-air newscaster, and producer of documentaries for Vatican Radio. Her main field of interest was the Third World.
While writing her first novel, Garden of Tigers, she was head of international publicity for a Los Angeles film company. Her second novel, Dancing with Thieves, was written in a fishing village on an island off the coast of Tuscany. McNair moved to Geneva to write her third novel, A Flash of Diamonds, which dealt with the world of private bankers and the Genevois.
Clarissa McNair has traveled from the Canadian Arctic to Patagonia, from Haiti to Hong Kong, from Afghanistan to Cyprus. She has spent time in the Middle East and a year in Africa. After living in half a dozen countries, she now resides in Philadelphia where she heads her own private detective agency. Green Star Investigations handles all sorts of cases including missing persons, intellectual property, stolen art recovery and homicide. http://www.greenstarinvestigations.com/
Detectives Don't Wear Seat Belts is the story of why she became a private detective. She has written about her adventures undercover, the men she worked with and some of her cases. McNair's newest book, Never Flirt with a Femme Fatale, is true tales from her files as a detective and as a journalist. She writes about powerful women, seduction and murder.
Kim: From Mississippi to New York to Toronto to Rome, you made a significant cultural leap! What influenced your decisions to pursue an American History degree in New York, work for a Canadian television station, and eat pasta with the Pope?
CiCi: I love American history so that's why I picked it as my college major. I confess that I wanted to major in International Studies but could not satisfy the language requirement. Very disappointing. Hilarious, too, as years later I would live in Italy and, for two years, translate Pope John Paul II's speeches and go on the air to be heard round the world with my one or two minute synopsis of what head of state he'd met with and what had been said. I struggled mightily with Italian and now speak it but there were times at my desk at Vatican Radio that I thought I 'd better turn to prayer. This was only part of my job there...it was writing and announcing the international newscasts twice a day plus doing interviews of ambassadors, cardinals, all sorts of illustrious characters and producing documentaries. I loved that job but was treated horribly by my seven colleagues in my immediate newsroom. Because I was the only Protestant at the Vatican and because my Italian was so bad they all decided that the only possible reason for me to have been hired was that I was the mistress of the CIA station chief in Rome! When I was told by my Jesuit boss that they had decided I was a spy and a plant, I told him that if I were a plant, I wanted to be a geranium.
Kim: (laughing) But your adventure was not over - you've lived around the world, in some places where women are considered second class citizens. How did you adjust to this environment? Can you share an amazing moment in a far away place?
CiCi: I remember being told that in Malawi it was the law that a woman be covered to her ankles and trousers were frowned upon. So I bought a few yards of fabric at a market in Rhodesia which is now Zimbabwe and upon arrival in Malawi draped it around my skirt and tucked it in the waistband. It was awkward but all went well until I found myself standing at the front desk in the lobby of a little guest house and heard the gasps and laughter. The fabric was in a colorful pile at my feet and there I was in my tiny miniskirt! No arrest, no jail time but I can remember turning beet red!
Seriously, being in another country demands respect. It's proper and correct to respect their traditions. I am a guest or even an interloper.
|Women's advocates in Mawali|
Kim: What inspired your interest in writing fiction? What prompted you to move to nonfiction? Did your work experiences and/or international travel assist you and/or prepare you for publishing?
CiCi: Everything I've ever done has been material for writing. As for fiction, I love to tell a story. I love to daydream about characters and plot what they might do, what they will say, and how to move the action from scene to scene. Nonfiction is a great discipline for me because I want to get the story, the conversations exactly right. I feel I owe the truth to the characters I've met.
CiCi: Aung San Suu Kyi of Burma. Any woman doctor who works in a society that forbids her to practice medicine. Any little girl anywhere who fights for the right to go to school.
Kim: Are there any fictional books, movies or TV series that accurately portray PI's? Accurate or not, what is your favorite?
CiCi: I am a big fan of Law and Order. Lots of the shows are strictly entertainment. Just for fun. They are jokes if you have really worked with law enforcement.
|The original series with original cast|
Kim: What's next for Cici McNair?
CiCi: I want to write more. Maybe go back to a novel next time. I became a detective after two novels were published and now I want to do both--writing and running Green Star Investigations. DETECTIVES DON'T WEAR SEAT BELTS and NEVER FLIRT WITH A FEMME FATALE made me remember how much I really love to write.
Mahalo, CiCi, for visiting us today at SOS Aloha. I am honored for the opportunity to meet you and share your adventures with SOS readers - you are inspiration of how we are only limited by our imagination.
I also thank Mary Gramlich, the Reading Reviewer, for introducing me to CiCi. Mary posted a review of NEVER FLIRT WITH A FEMME FATALE on her website. Mary is giving away her review copy of the book to one randomly selected commenter:
To enter the giveaway,
1. Leave a comment about your favorite PI (real or fictional) and an amazing woman you admire.
2. The giveaway is open only to US residents but ...
... I welcome comments from all readers - whether or not you are entering the contest.
3. Comments are open through Monday, January 31, 10 pm in Hawaii to enter the giveaway.
4. If you are an international reader, I am happy to share Aloha with you - send your mailing address to firstname.lastname@example.org to receive a Hawaiian treat.
Join us tomorrow as we welcome Carolyn Jewel and MY IMMORTAL ASSASSIN.
Kim in Hawaii
|Chang Apana (left) and "Charlie Chan"|
Hawaii's history offers a colorful detective and amazing woman ...
- I'm sure you thought I would mention Magnun, PI! But a more colorful character was the real life HPD detective Chang Apana from the 1920s. He inspired the fictional Charlie Chan in books and movies. From Hanahou magazine,
One of the most dramatic exhibits in the Honolulu Police Museum is the actual weapon that Chang Apana used in his exploits, including one Chinatown raid in which he single-handedly arrested seventy gamblers when his backup failed to appear in time. That weapon wasn’t a gun or a billy-club, but a braided leather horsewhip—a legacy of Apana’s days as a Big Island paniolo (cowboy). “Chang hated guns and refused to carry one,” Croom explained. “So the Police Department wrote a new directive allowing him to carry any weapon he chose.”
- Queen Liliuokalani was the last reigning monarch of the Kingdom of Hawaii. From Aloha Hawaii,
On January 17, 1893, pro-American forces overthrew the government and proclaimed a provisionist government with Sanford B. Dole as president. Queen Liliuokalani had no choice but to surrender her throne. She made a plea to the U.S. government for reinstatement, and a representative of President Grover Cleveland found the overthrow to be illegal. Dole, however, refused to accept the decision.
The queen withdrew to her residence, Washington Place, and urged her supporters to be patient and avoid bloodshed. A fierce uprising was firmly squelched in January 1895, and although she denied playing a role in the attempted takeover, Liliuokalani was arrested and taken to a second-floor room at Iolani Palace. It would serve as her jail cell for nearly a year. During her confinement, the queen wrote one of Hawaii’s most beloved songs, "Aloha Oe" ("Farewell to Thee").
Liliuokalani was pardoned in October 1896. In her remaining years, the deposed queen fought for the restoration of the Hawaiian kingdom. She died in 1917 at age 79.
* A little fiction ....