Local author Lida Sideris publishes fifth mystery novel, Gambling with Murder | Arts | San Luis Obispo

While working full time as a lawyer, Lida Sideris relied on nights, weekends, and sparse pockets of free time—usually in the form of 5 a.m. writing sessions—to complete her first novel.

Sideris released the passion project, Murder and other unnatural disastersin 2015. The book introduced readers to an adventurous protagonist, Corrie Locke, who, like Sideris, works as a lawyer by day.

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  • Photo courtesy of Lida Sideris
  • NEW APPROACH Between 2015 and 2022, Santa Ynez resident Lida Sideris wrote five novels in her ongoing detective series. Sideris was born and raised in Los Angeles, but has lived on the Central Coast for two decades.

But Locke does not spend his evenings writing prose. She moonlights as a private detective.

“Corrie was entirely me in the first draft. I just took an outline of myself and started writing, but it was so boring,” Sideris said. “So I had to go back and I had to rewrite it so that she wasn’t me. I made her unpredictable. I gave her skills that I never would have, or that I would have liked to have.”

Over the next seven years, Sideris wrote four more books that track Locke’s tenacious heroism. playing with murderSideris’ latest entry in its ongoing mystery series, was released in late March.

While many aspects of Locke’s character remain loosely based on Sideris’ own traits, the author of Santa Ynez gave his plucky heroine a very particular set of skills – like Liam Neeson Taken the character could call her – to make her the ultimate detective.

“She’s smart, she’s accomplished, she’s fearless. There’s hardly anything she can’t do when it comes to catching a criminal or solving a case,” Sideris said. , who often enjoys the escapism of writing fiction. “And that was a lot of fun for me because on the page you can do that stuff, and nobody gets hurt. It’s way better than me to go out there and try to do something like that.”

One of the skills Sideris gave Locke was proficiency with various weapons, including guns. Sideris had never fired a gun before, but she wanted to see what it felt like before trying to describe the feeling in her first novel.

“Most importantly, I wanted to know what it smelled like. I used it in the first book – it smelled like someone had lit a thousand candles,” said Sideris, who found the scent she was looking for in a local shooting range.

“I sometimes try to do things myself, or at least I try to visualize myself doing it as much as possible, to get a sense of what it is. [Locke] could be doing,” Sideris said. “I also tried lock picking, I can do it to some extent, but not like her.

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TAKE A CHANCE ON ME In Sideris' latest novel, Gambling with Murder, protagonist Corrie Locke investigates the disappearance of a retired politician, Dom Rosetti, in Santa Barbara.  The book came out at the end of March.  - IMAGE COURTESY OF LIDA SIDERIS

  • Image courtesy of Lida Sideris
  • GIVE ME A CHANCE In Sideris’ last novel, playing with murder, protagonist Corrie Locke investigates the disappearance of a retired politician, Dom Rosetti, in Santa Barbara. The book came out at the end of March.

During his last adventure in playing with murder, Locke investigates the disappearance of a retired politician, Dom Rosetti. In order to infiltrate Rosetti’s residence within a posh elderly retirement community in Santa Barbara, Locke employs his mother to go undercover and live among Rosetti’s neighbors.

Sideris said the character is not based on her own mother, but looks like an amalgamation of people she has met.

“Everyone is inspired by someone,” said Sideris, who associates Locke with a handful of different sidekicks throughout the five books.

Some of the author’s supporting cast are based on friends and acquaintances, while others were inspired by celebrities or random individuals who “I just rubbed shoulders with,” Sideris said.

Zachary Levi, the star of Shazam! and Mandrelticked both boxes.

“I bumped into him accidentally in Westwood Village,” said Sideris, an avid Mandrel fan, recalled. “I just saw him line up outside a Starbucks.”

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LOFTY LIBRARY Central Coast residents can find copies of Lida Sideris' new novel, Gambling with Murder, at the Book Loft (pictured) in Solvang, as well as Barnes and Noble in downtown SLO.  - PHOTO FILE COURTESY OF BOOK LOFT

  • File photo courtesy of The Book Loft
  • HIGH LIBRARY Residents of the Central Coast can find copies of Lida Sideris’ new novel, playing with murderat Book Loft (pictured) in Solvang, as well as Barnes and Noble in downtown SLO.

Sideris then based Locke’s best friend and love interest Michael on his impression of Levi.

“He was so nice. He just seemed like a wonderful, wonderful person,” Sideris said.

Although playing with murder is the fifth in the series from Sideris, the author said the book is accessible enough for readers to dive into without reading previous entries.

“I don’t think you need to read the rest, but you’re welcome to,” Sideris said. “I definitely write them on my own.” Δ

Calendar editor Caleb Wiseblood is still online at Starbucks. Send your comments to cwiseblood@newtimesslo.com.

Irene B. Bowles