Today we are interviewing USA Today award-winning and best selling author, Lois Winston. If you have checked out her Killer Crafts & Crafty Killers blog: www.anastasiapollack.blogspot.com It’s a must. She has great stuff going on over there all the time.
And now the interview:
When did you start writing?
I wasn’t someone who always knew she wanted to grow up to become an author. I had other career goals. However, one night twenty-three years ago I had an exceptionally vivid dream. Over the next few nights the dream continued, unfolding like the chapters of a book. Since I rarely remember my dreams, this was quite unusual, and I decided to commit the dream to paper. The next thing I knew, I’d written 50,000 words. Ten years and many rewrites later, that story became the romantic suspense Love, Lies and a Double Shot of Deception, the second book I sold.
Have you always wanted to be a mystery writer?
No, I began my career as a romance writer, but my day job was as a craft and needlework designer for magazines, book publishers, and craft kit manufacturers. One day an editor mentioned to my agent that she was looking for a crafting mystery series. With my background, my agent thought I’d be the perfect person to write one.
Why do you write mystery?
Once I began writing mystery, I discovered I enjoyed writing mystery more than romance. After I wrote Assault With a Deadly Glue Gun, the first book in the Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery series, I never looked back and have been writing mystery ever since.
I think this is partly due to genetics. My grandfather rose in the ranks to become captain of one of the largest east coast law enforcement departments in the twenties through the fifties, working out of the county prosecutor’s office. He was responsible for capturing quite a few murderers, bootleggers, and gangsters over his long career. I like to think there’s a part of him in me that steered me in the direction of writing mystery.
What kind of a mind do you think it takes to write mystery?
I think mystery writing takes a very analytical mind. You have to create a puzzle for the reader to solve, because that’s what mystery readers like to do. However, you can’t make it too easy for them. No author likes to hear that a reader figured out whodunit early in the book. You’ve got to come up with plausible red herrings that keep readers guessing.
How did you come up with the character Anastasia Pollock?
When I was asked to write a crafting mystery, I researched the sub-genre and discovered that all the crafting mysteries I came across involved a craft shop owner or crafter of one specific craft—quilting, knitting, scrapbooking, etc. I wanted to create a series that was a bit different. So I made Anastasia the crafts editor for a women’s magazine. I had freelanced for many craft and women’s magazines over the years and was familiar with the workings of magazine publishing. Giving Anastasia such a career enables me to feature a variety of crafts in my books.
I love the crafting aspect. What is your favorite craft?
I’m partial to needlecraft, especially counted cross stitch. I stitched my first sampler when I was in fifth grade for a class project on colonial America and eventually parlayed my love of needlework into a design career.
What is Anastasia’s favorite craft project? What is her favorite crafting mystery from her series? Why?
Hmm…I don’t know that Anastasia has ever mentioned which of her craft projects is her favorite. I know she was emotionally invested in the family scrapbook she put together for her deceased neighbor’s daughter in Scrapbook of Murder, but guilt had a lot to do with that.
As for Anastasia’s favorite mystery in the series, you have to understand that Anastasia is a reluctant amateur sleuth. She’s never forgiven me for turning her world upside-down by killing off her husband before the start of the first book and revealing he was a closet gambler who left her and her kids in debt greater than the GNP of your average Third World nation. She’s not the kind of sleuth who enjoys sticking her nose in other people’s business, but I’ve given her no choice. If pressed, she’d probably admit her favorite book is the one in which she decides she’s spent enough time grieving Dead Louse of a Spouse and moves on, but I won’t say when this occurs in the series.
What’s new for you on the horizon?
Once I finish up my blog tour for the release of Drop Dead Ornaments, the seventh book in the series, I’ll begin work on Anastasia’s next adventure. Right now I’m giving both of us a break from each other, something I’m sure she greatly appreciates.
Drop Dead Ornaments
An Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery, Book 7
Anastasia Pollack’s son Alex is dating Sophie Lambert, the new kid in town. For their community service project, the high school seniors have chosen to raise money for the county food bank. Anastasia taps her craft industry contacts to donate materials for the students to make Christmas ornaments they’ll sell at the town’s annual Holiday Crafts Fair.
At the fair Anastasia meets Sophie’s father, Shane Lambert, who strikes her as a man with secrets. She also notices a woman eavesdropping on their conversation. Later that evening when the woman turns up dead, Sophie’s father is arrested for her murder.
Alex and Sophie beg Anastasia to find the real killer, but Anastasia has had her fill of dead bodies. She’s also not convinced of Shane’s innocence. Besides, she’s promised younger son Nick she’ll stop risking her life. But how can she say no to Alex?
USA Today bestselling and award-winning author Lois Winston writes mystery, romance, romantic suspense, chick lit, women’s fiction, children’s chapter books, and nonfiction under her own name and her Emma Carlyle pen name. Kirkus Reviews dubbed her critically acclaimed Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery series, “North Jersey’s more mature answer to Stephanie Plum.” In addition, Lois is a former literary agent and an award-winning craft and needlework designer who often draws much of her source material for both her characters and plots from her experiences in the crafts industry.
Killer Crafts & Crafty Killers blog: www.anastasiapollack.blogspot.com
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