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Shaffer, Louise 1942–

Shaffer, Louise 1942–

PERSONAL:

Born July 5, 1942, in Woodbridge, CT; daughter of Jane 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."

ADDRESSES:

Home—Hudson Valley, NY. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER:

Writer and actor. Operator of Home Sweet Home (animal shelter), GA. Appeared in numerous commercials and television soap operas, including Ryan's Hope, As the World Turns, All My Children, The Edge of Night, and Search for Tomorrow. Also appeared in television series, including Kojak, All That Glitters, Quincey M.E., Matlock, and Police Story: The Freeway Killings.

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.

WRITINGS:

NOVELS

All My Suspects (mystery), Putnam & Grosset (New York, NY), 1994.

Talked to Death (mystery), 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.

Family Acts: A Novel, Ballantine Books (New York, NY), 2007.

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. Some of 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 contributor 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."

A Publishers Weekly contributor called Shaffer's next book, Family Acts: A Novel, "delightful." The story revolves around Katie Harder and Randa Jennings, two distant relations from very different backgrounds who find themselves thrust together when they jointly inherit a stately but run-down theater in Georgia called the Venable Old Opera House. At first, the two women decide to sell the theater, but soon they find themselves enchanted with the old place and its history, which includes various strong women who, over the years, have kept the theater in operation. Soon the two are resorting to drastic measures to keep the opera house, including hiding a shocking family secret. "Family Acts is a charming and engaging read," wrote Carolyn Kubisz in Booklist. A Kirkus Reviews contributor referred to the novel as "a pleasant excursion into the heart and soul of theater life."

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:

PERIODICALS

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; July 1, 2007, Carolyn Kubisz, review of Family Acts: A Novel, p. 27.

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; June 15, 2007, review of Family Acts.

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; June 25, 2007, review of Family Acts, p. 29.

ONLINE

Fresh Fiction, http://freshfiction.com/ (July 20, 2007), Kay Quintin, review of Family Acts.

Louise Shaffer Home Page, http://www.louiseshaffer.com (April 11, 2008).

Louise Shaffer MySpace Profile, http://www.myspace.com/louiseshaffer (April 11, 2008).

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.

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