PERSONAL: Daughter of Jane (Piccolo) Shaffer; married Roger Crews (a film producer and writer), 1980; children: two stepchildren. Education: Attended Connecticut College for Women (now Connecticut College) and Northwestern University; graduated from Yale Drama School. Politics: Liberal. Religion: "Same with a bit of fear thrown in."
CAREER: Writer and actress. Operator of Home Sweet Home (animal shelter), GA.
AWARDS, HONORS: Writers Guild of America award, for television script Ryan's Hope; Emmy Award, for her role in Ryan's Hope; four Emmy nominations, for Ryan's Hope and Edge of Night.
All My Suspects (mystery novel), Putnam & Grosset (New York, NY), 1994.
Talked to Death, G.P. Putnam's Sons (New York, NY), 1995.
The Three Miss Margarets, Random House (New York, NY), 2003.
The Ladies of Garrison Gardens (novel), Ballantine Books (New York, NY), 2005.
Also author of scripts for television soap operas, including General Hospital and Ryan's Hope.
SIDELIGHTS: Award-winning soap opera actress and writer Louise Shaffer made her authorial debut in 1994 with the murder mystery All My Suspects, which takes place, appropriately enough, on the set of a soap opera. Perhaps most renowned for playing Rae Woodard on Ryan's Hope, Shaffer puts her knowledge of the television industry to use in her first book. All My Suspects features Angie DaVito, the producer of a soap opera called Bright Tomorrow who finds the president of daytime programming shot dead in a dressing room. As Detective Teresa O'Hanlon searches for answers, Angie launches her own amateur investigation into the mysterious death. Writing for Booklist, Ilene Cooper described All My Suspects as a "bright, witty, first-person narrative" with "a sly ending."
Shaffer exercises Angie's sleuthing skills again in Talked to Death. In her second outing, Angie is hired as the producer of a talk show. When the former producer of the show turns up dead, Angie once again teams up with Detective O'Hanlon to solve the mystery. The author's "characters can border on the one-dimensional," observed a reviewer for Publishers Weekly, "but there's nothing flat about Angie." The reviewer concluded by defining Talked to Death as a "satisfying confection."
Shaffer's next book is one that Miami Herald writer Connie Ogle considered to be a "rich, funny Southern gothic novel that keeps its sense of humor even when the story takes a dark turn." The Three Miss Margarets focuses on three elderly Southern women—Peggy, L'il Bit, and Dr. Maggie—who share more than just a hometown. When a drunken Laurel Selene McCready spies the three Miss Margarets outside a remote cabin where the body of prominent scientist Vashti Johnson is later found dead, a decades-old secret is threatened to be revealed. "Shaffer unravels this tale with skill," wrote Michele Leber in Booklist. A Publishers Weekly contributor commented: "Shaffer's achievement is making each Miss Margaret a complex character with a fiercely guarded interior life." Beth Kephart similarly stated in Book that "Shaffer has a knack for building complex characters with clever, cutting lines."
In The Ladies of Garrison Gardens Shaffer "gives us more of her delightful, scrappy, self-doubting heroine, Laurel Selene McCready," a Publishers Weekly reviewer explained. When one of the Miss Margarets passes away, Laurel is left as the sole heir to her fortune, and with the money comes many problems. A contributor to Kirkus Reviews claimed the book is "like a southern-fried meal, fatty and indulgent, and the more delicious for being so."
Shaffer once told CA: "For most of my life I have been an actress, who happily said other people's words and tried not to think about the fact that she had some words of her own to say. Then I turned forty and, in the fine theatrical tradition of this society, became unemployable. I started using words in a more direct way, and now I'm even happier than I was. I have a home in Georgia, which allows me to indulge in my love of animals. I spend at least half my time in New York, which allows me to indulge in my love of the city."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Book, March-April, 2003, Beth Kephart, review of The Three Miss Margarets, p. 77.
Booklist, August, 1994, Ilene Cooper, review of All My Suspects, p. 2028; September 15, 1995, Ilene Cooper, review of Talked to Death, p. 144; February 15, 2003, Michele Leber, review of The Three Miss Margarets, p. 1050.
Kirkus Reviews, January 1, 2003, review of The Three Miss Margarets, p. 21; April 1, 2005, review of The Ladies of Garrison Gardens, p. 383.
Miami Herald, April 3, 2003, Connie Ogle, review of The Three Miss Margarets, p. 5M.
Publishers Weekly, August 1, 1994, review of All My Suspects, p. 74; August 21, 1995, review of Talked to Death, p. 50; February 10, 2003, review of The Three Miss Margarets, p. 160; May 30, 2005, review of The Ladies of Garrison Gardens, p. 40.
Post Newspapers Online, http://www.postnewspapers.com.au/ (May 24, 2003), review of The Three Miss Margarets.
Random House Web site, http://www.randomhouse.com/ (December 8, 2005), description of The Three Miss Margarets.
Sydney Morning Herald Online, http://www.smh.com.au/ (April 26, 2003), Nicola Robinson, review of The Three Miss Margarets.