Thursday, October 25, 2012

Interview with mystery author Lois Winston

Today's guest is a return visitor, but this time she's using her real name, Lois Winston and her new book is called, Elementary, My Dear Gertie. 

Award-winning author Lois Winston writes the critically acclaimed Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysteries series featuring magazine crafts editor and reluctant amateur sleuth Anastasia Pollack. Assault With a Deadly Glue Gun, a January 2011 release, is the first book in the series and received starred reviews from both Publishers Weekly and Booklist. Kirkus Reviews dubbed it, “North Jersey’s more mature answer to Stephanie Plum” Death By Killer Mop Doll, the second book in the series, was released this past January. Revenge of the Crafty Corpse will be a January 2013 release.

Lois is also published in women’s fiction, romantic suspense, and non-fiction under her own name and as Emma Carlyle. In addition, she’s an award-winning crafts and needlework designer and an agent with the Ashley Grayson Literary Agency. You can visit Lois or Emma, or Anastasia at the Killer Crafts & Crafty Killers character blog for more about each of their stories.

Lois, welcome back to Reviews and Interviews.

Please tell us about your newest release, Elementary, My Dear Gertie.
In this novella, sequel to the award-winning Talk Gertie To Me, two years have passed since the happily-ever-after that isn’t doing so well. Nori Stedworth has moved in with the love of her life, Mackenzie Randolph, much to her parents’ displeasure. They’re coping as best as parents from Ten Commandments, Iowa can. They want Mac to make an honest woman of their daughter, and that means nothing short of marriage. Mac is all for exchanging I do’s. He’s even bought the ring, but before he can pop the question, an explosion hurls him and Nori right into the middle of a murder investigation, and yet another scandal envelopes the not-so-pious residents of Ten Commandments.

What inspired you to write this book?
For years I’ve had people asking me if there would ever be a sequel to Talk Gertie To Me. Because I had left my publisher and turned to writing mysteries, I never considered a sequel. However, Gertie doesn’t take no for an answer and kept nagging me the way she always nagged Nori. She also has this annoying habit of always being right. I eventually capitulated and sat down to write a sequel.

However, writing mystery had taken over my life, and as I started to work on the book, all sorts of mystery plots bombarding me. So I decided to write a sequel that combined the humorous women’s fiction of Talk Gertie To Me with the humorous amateur sleuth style of mysteries I’m now writing. The result was Elementary, My Dear Gertie, a novella sequel.

What’s the next writing project?
I'm currently working on Death By Decoupage, the fourth book in my Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysteries series.

What is your biggest challenge when writing a new book? (or the biggest challenge with this book)
Because I'm writing an ongoing series, my biggest challenge is finding new adventures for Anastasia that both progress her story and keep the readers wanting more of her. There's a story arc that runs throughout the series, but I can't have any major resolutions of her main problems or the series will be over. So I keep dangling the carrot in front of her, giving her little nibbles, but always yanking it out of her reach in the end.

If your novels require research – please talk about the process. Do you do the research first and then write, while you’re writing, after the novel is complete and you need to fill in the gaps?
Because I'm writing an amateur sleuth series that features a protagonist who works at a job I'm familiar with, I don't need to do much research. Occasionally I'll need to verify something and place a call to an expert. For instance, in Revenge of the Crafty Corpse, which will be out in January, I needed to learn the sequence of events after someone dies in a nursing home. I placed a call to the owner of a local funeral home. Most people are thrilled to be able to help an author with research.

What’s your writing space like? Do you have a particular spot to write where the muse is more active? Please tell us about it.
I have a dedicated office that I use for both my writing and crafts. There's a wrap-around desk and four large bookcases. My husband erected shelves in the double closet, and that's filled with all my craft supplies.

What authors do you enjoy reading within or outside of your genre?
I'm a very eclectic reader. When I want to laugh, I pick up the latest Stephanie Plum book by Janet Evanovich. A few years ago I fell in love with Ariana Franklin's historical mysteries. Both her Mistress of the Art of Death series and the stand-alone City of Shadows were phenomenal. For romance, no one beats Susan Elizabeth Phillips. For women's fiction, I turn to Kristin Hannah.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers today?
I hope readers will check out my website, Emma's website, and Anastasia's blog. And drop me a line. I love to hear from readers. Also, I've offered to make a $500 donation to breast cancer research for every 1,000 Emma Carlyle books that are sold through the end of October, Breast Cancer Awareness Month. There's still a few days left in October for people to help me make a difference. For less than the price of a latte, you can help save the girls!

Thank you for coming back to Reviews and Interviews!
Thanks for having me, Lisa!

You're very welcome. Keep the words flowing!


Linda Andrews said...

I mysteries and have enjoyed your crafty series. Do you plan to write more books in both?

Lois Winston said...

Thanks, Linda. I'm currently working on the 4th book in my crafting mystery series and will continue to write them as long as readers want to read them.

As for more books about Gertie and the gang, that's a definite possibility now. As a matter of fact, I had an idea for another mystery novella come to me while taking a shower this morning. I get my best ideas in the shower!

Roxy Boroughs said...

Hi Lisa and Lois. I enjoyed the interview.

The Emma Carlyle books are not part of a series. Is that correct?

Lois Winston said...

Hi Roxy! No, the Emma Carlyle books are all stand-alones -- contemporary romance, chicklit, and romantic suspense. You can read blurbs and excerpts at