Killing Readers With Lighthearted Murder
Jun 14, 2016 11:25AM
By Kate Sullivan
Writing a book is a dream of many people, including Robin Donovan. While many people dream of writing the Great American Novel, the now-president of Bozell began by writing a non-fiction business book.
A business tome, however, did not fuel her creative fire. That fire was stoked after Robin and her business partner, Kim Mickelsen, purchased Bozell from the parent company about six years ago. They (and the first book) started out in plush, shiny west Omaha offices and then moved to a downtown building with high ceilings, uneven floors, and exposed pipes. It was a bold move.
“I honestly didn’t know how I’d feel about such an old building with no offices, just cubicles. But it’s very freeing to be in a more rustic environment. It’s more collaborative,” she says.
Unable to finish a business book, she switched to writing light-hearted murder mysteries and has been writing since.
The creaky floors and exposed pipes of her office even inspire her. Donovan’s latest book, I Didn’t Kill Her, but That May Have Been Shortsighted, is based on a fictionalized version of her own company. The main character, Donna Leigh, is buffeted by Clovis, her evil “Jiminy Cricket,” who spouts thoughtless comments that lead Donna to the murderers.
“You can learn about business and laugh at the same time with my books,” the Bozell president says. “The books are primers on how to work with colleagues. It’s all based on real life, the real behavior of real people. And as we all know, one of the hardest things to do in any business is trying to deal with other humans.”
Writing these books involved the collaboration of the Bozell team. Donovan’s 40-member staff has jumped in to make suggestions on each book, and they designed the front and back covers.
Donovan said both “Shortsighted” and her second book, Is it Still Murder Even If She Was a Bitch? review the psychology of characters, how to work as a team, and how to produce good work for clients—even if it means working through character flaws along the way.
“In the books I’m also championing an imperfect woman. I’m portraying someone who is not perfect looking, is over 50, and has character flaws. But that’s OK. And it needs to be said that it’s OK,” Donovan says.
Local readers can expect to read about familiar places. Donovan’s original publisher strongly suggested she remove Omaha from her first book. Donovan refused in order to keep location details clear and authentic. Besides, Donovan said, she wants to promote Omaha.
“People don’t know what a cool place Omaha is. I’d like to help change that,” she says.
Omaha has great restaurants and smart people. It’s such a beautiful city.
“People here are conscientious about making things better. Omaha people try to identify what could be better, and work to improve it. It’s a place where anyone can live and feel good. It’s a place where you can talk to strangers. I don’t always find that true in the Northeast, where I came from.”
Donovan has already written half of her third book: I Don’t Know Why They Killed Him. He Really Wasn’t That Annoying. She hopes to finish it by December.