Robin Spano and The Dead Politician Society

My guest today is author Robin Spano.

Robin loves to write crime. She loves the plotting, the pacing, and the character arc of her protagonist. Her first novel, Dead Politician Society, will be available Sept. 1, 2010. She is currently working on her second novel, where Clare is undercover as a poker player. She lives in Steveston, BC with her husband, Keith.

To learn even more about her and her book and her main character, please visit these links:




Clare’s Facebook Fan Page:

Take it away, Robin!

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When Marian gave me this topic to write about, I thought 2 things:

  1. That’s really cool of her to ask me to blog about my own book.
  2. What a massive topic: Blog about the whole book? How will I do that?

I looked at the topic again. Maybe she wasn’t asking me to talk about my whole book. Maybe I could home in on the secret society IN the book: The Dead Politician Society.

The obvious reference is Dead Poets Society. And while the stories don’t have much in common genre-wise (Dead Poets Society is a deep and beautiful coming of age story; Dead Politician Society is cold crime fiction), there are similarities. There’s a clandestine student group, a teacher who energizes his students and empowers them to think outside the box, and a murky blend of idealism and moral questions.

The secret society springs from a poli sci course I would have loved to have taken in school, if it had existed and if I’d been majoring in poli sci. (Writing really is the best form of wish-fulfillment.) The course is led by Matthew Easton, a cynical, womanizing professor who feels that life has passed him by unfairly. I can’t tell you whether Matthew is in the society or not—that’s all part of the mystery—but we know early on that the club is inspired by his teachings.

Of course they don’t call themselves the Dead Politician Society—you’d have to be fairly psychotic to name a club for a killing spree, and I’m not writing about dark-minded madness. (Well, I suppose I am, in the sense that there’s at least one killer in my cast of characters, but the tone of this book is on the lighter side, a la Janet Evanovich.) Their official name is the Society for Political Utopia (SPU). Their mandate: to make the world a better place by whatever means necessary, including (sometimes) breaking the law.

The society leaves calling cards whenever they’ve “acted,” and one of their cards is found among the murdered mayor’s possessions with a message on the back: Your death will be your greatest public service. An obituary is emailed to the newspaper claiming credit for the mayor’s death; this is also signed by the society.

Enter Clare Vengel, the 22-year-old undercover cop who will drive the series going forward. She is given her first assignment: to pose as a student, penetrate the society, and find the killer.

Is the secret society actually behind the killings? Has one member, past or present, gone rogue? Or is someone else in the city using the society as a face to hide behind?

I had a lot of fun writing this book. It’s dark, but it’s light at the same time. I hope readers have fun with it, too.

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Thanks, Robin! I’ll be guesting on Robin’s Toastmaster group blog September 13. Hope to see you there! Meanwhile, check out THE DEAD POLITICIAN SOCIETY. Sounds great!

WRITING PROMPT: What sort of secret society would your main character join? OR write a paragraph about a character who is thinking about joining or leaving a secret society.



I was born in Louisville, Kentucky, but now live in the woods in southern Indiana. Though I only write fiction, I love to read non-fiction. The more I learn about this world, the more fantastic I see it is.

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One thought on “Robin Spano and The Dead Politician Society

  1. Dona Matthews

    September 6, 2010 at 2:18pm

    i loved dead poets society, and love the idea of a secret society where the members care so deeply about events in their community that they want to take action.

    was there any real life experience that led you to this idea? or anything you’d like people to take away from your book that might apply to their own lives?

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  2. Robin Spano

    September 6, 2010 at 2:39pm

    What great questions! And I’m thrilled that you like the book’s concept.

    My real life experience was frustration. I was unhappy with certain municipal politicians, and I felt powerless to change things. I certainly don’t advise murder as a way to solve problems, but I think when something’s bugging you, the best way forward is to assess what you can do about it, and act as best you can toward that end. Writing this book helped me understand that.

    What people take away depends on them. I think every book is a different book depending on who’s reading it. Maybe one person will come away wanting to buy a motorcycle, and another with more relationship confidence. A third person might decide to run for office. I just hope that no one takes away a thirst for blood. That would upset me.

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  3. Erin Kawasaki

    September 6, 2010 at 6:11pm

    I love your book and am really enjoying this blog!
    I was just wondering: how deeply do you identify with the protagonist (if at all)? Do you think it’s important for writers to identify with the people they’re writing about, or do you try to step completely outside your own box once in awhile?
    Thanks and I’m looking forward to many more books from you in the future!

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  4. Robin Spano

    September 6, 2010 at 6:46pm

    Hey, thanks Erin and Jane!

    Interesting question, Erin. I think it’s important to identify with all of your characters on some level, but that doesn’t mean they have to be like you.

    In Clare’s case, we’re not much alike externally (she’s good at all the things I only wish I was good at, like mechanics and lock-picking), but I can completely relate to her temperament.

    The character I stepped outside my box the most with was Annabel. She’s an obituary editor who strikes up an electronic dialogue with the killer. She wants to write a bestseller using this inside scoop. Her actions are so far outside the realm of what I would ever do (I hope!) but I had to be sympathetic to her, so I created a scenario where I think someone could act outside their normal moral scope.

    So I guess the short answer is that while it’s important to identify with each character on some level, it’s also important to push the walls of your box out as much as you can.

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  5. Jayne

    September 7, 2010 at 12:05am

    Another inspiring post, Robin. What secret society would I start/join? Well, I’ve long fantasized about writing a group formed in university from students in several different discplines: chemistry, engineering, psychology, medicine…. The story title would be ‘Chlorination’. I leave you to imagine the group’s purpose.

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