By Julie Anderson
"Hi I'm Julie Kramer, I write a series of mysteries about the desperate world of television news."
With those words, author Julie Kramer introduced herself time and time again August 13, to readers during a book signing at the Cherry Street bookstore in Alexandria, Minn. Kramer, a baby boomer at 52-years-old, is becoming a well-respected and widely read author on the national scene. The Minnesota native reinvented herself after leaving her career as a television producer. I used to work for her when she ran the WCCO I-Team. More than a decade later she is selling books and I am writing about her for my website.
Kramer's mystery series revolves around a character named Riley Spartz who is a hot shot investigative reporter for Channel 3; a fictitious newsroom that looks and feels a lot like WCCO. Kramer's latest book is titled Killing Kate. Before that she wrote: Stalking Susan, Missing Mark and Silencing Sam. Believe me, they are all page turners that have you cheering for Spartz as she challenges her boss and the cops to get her investigative reports on the air. Kramer takes you inside the world of television news as few can. She knows what Spartz is up against in a television world that rises with every household that watches the late news and falls with all those who turn away.
Kramer left fulltime television news to raise her two sons with husband Joe Kimball, also a journalist. She says she started writing when her boys stopped asking if she was going on the school field trip with them and said, instead, you're not going on this field trip too?
Kramer tells me she honored her mom by giving Riley Spartz her mother's maiden name. The character's parents live in southern Minnesota just like Kramer's and Spartz shares a few other traits of the award-winning television producer. Spartz has a messy desk and she loves to lay out her stories in maps and diagrams. Kramer also digs pieces out of past cases she worked on at WCCO to give her fictional stories a factual flavor. Plus readers can relate to all the Minnesota landmarks Kramer references in her books.
At her book signing in Alexandria, Kramer talks easily with the women who come to meet her. She says she is having a blast as an author and encourages anyone with a story inside of them to get writing. Kramer says it doesn't count until it's on paper. She also believes it's healthy to do more than one thing in life.
A sentiment shared by the woman who opened the Cherry Street bookstore in Alexandria and hosted Kramer's book signing. At 59-years-young Kathleen Pohlig opened the store despite having no business background. The closest thing came from volunteer work he mother of three did while raising her kids. But she says she always liked to read and she really felt Alexandria needed an independent book store.
She took a week long course and learned how to order her first inventory and work the computer programs necessary to keep the accounts. Pohlig says customers return time and again to her store on Broadway in downtown Alexandria. I am one of them. Because I believe independent book stores are vital to our way of life, I buy books as often as I can at Cherry Street.
And I tell all my friends about Kramer's series of books. I am so proud of her success as an author. All these years after the I-Team, she and I are both still telling stories and we are thankful people want to read them.