Friday, November 2, 2018

Interview with mystery novelist Lea Wait

Mystery novelist Lea Wait is helping me wrap up the week by chatting with me about her new cozy novel, Thread Herrings, A Mainely Needlepointer Mystery.

Lea Wait lives on the coast of Maine. A fourth generation antique dealer, and author of the Agatha-nominated Shadows Antique Print mystery series, she loves all things antiques and Maine, and she’s learning to do needlepoint. She also writes historical novels for young people set in (where else?) nineteenth-century Maine. Find her at Facebook, Goodreads, and her website.

Please tell us about your current release.
Tagging along to an estate sale with her fellow Needlepointer, antiques shop owner Sarah Byrne, Angie Curtis impulsively bids on a tattered embroidery of a coat of arms. When she gets her prize back home to Haven Harbor, she discovers a document from 1757 behind the framed needlework—a claim for a child from a foundling hospital. Intrigued, Angie is determined to find the common thread between the child and the coat of arms.

Accepting her reporter friend Clem Walker's invitation to talk about her find on the local TV news, Angie makes an appeal to anyone who might have information. Instead, both women receive death threats. When Clem is found strangled in a parking lot, Angie fears her own life may be in jeopardy. She has to unravel this historical mystery—or she may be the next one going, going... gone...

What inspired you to write this book?
I’m a fourth-generation antique dealer, so it makes sense that Angie Curtis, my protagonist, has a close friend, Sarah, who’s both a needlepointer and an antiques dealer, and that Sarah would take Angie with her to an auction. Angie can’t resist bidding on a piece of 18th century needlepoint … and then wants to learn more about it. And so the mystery begins.

Excerpt from Murder in Maine:
I’d parked near Sarah’s shop and apartment. This time of day she’d be sorting and pricing items for her shop, or studying recent prices for antiques. I decided to stop and see her.

I was two stores away from her door when my phone rang. I pulled it out quickly. Clem?

But it wasn’t Clem. It was Pete.

“Angie, are you still downtown? You were waiting for your friend Clem Walker twenty minutes ago.”

“I just left the Harbor Haunts,” I answered. “Why?”
His voice was steady. “Sorry to have to break it to you this way, but Clem won’t be meeting you for lunch.”

I stopped walking. I didn’t feel cold or hot, despite the wind whirling fallen snow around me. “What’s happened?”

“We had a call from someone else who had lunch at the Harbor Haunts. Clem had parked next to them at the town wharf.” He paused. “She never got out of her car.”


“She’s dead, Angie.”

I stood in the snow. My mind went blank. “No!” Not Clem. I’d coped with death before. Even murders. But none of the victims had been my friends. “When? How?”

What exciting story are you working on next?
Most small towns include a few characters who, because of intellectual disabilities or mental health issues, are accepted by the town, and play a role in it, but basically live their lives in parallel with others. Ike Hamilton has lived in Haven Harbor all of his life, where now he lives on disability payments and collecting bottles for deposits. So why would anyone want to kill him? And who is the teenaged boy who Ike had been watching out for? Thread on Arrival will be published in May of 2019.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Since I learned to read, I’ve wanted to be an author. In college I wrote poetry and plays, and my first post-college job was as a corporate executive speech writer. I supported myself doing corporate writing and writing about adoption (I adopted four older girls as a single parent and was an adoption advocate) while I raised my family.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I’ve been a full-time writer for twenty years now, although I continued my antiques business for the first ten of those years. Thread Herrings is my twenty-fifth published book; I write three mystery series for adults and historical novels for young people.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I only use one pen – a Bic GripRoller Fine. I buy them by the box, and always use them to sign my books.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A writer, of course. Also a marine biologist, president of the United States, and an archaeologist. Three of those four occupations didn’t work out, but are still interests of mine.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
When I was single I was an adoption advocate and adopted four daughters. Now I write mysteries and historical novels about people searching for love, acceptance, and a place to call home.

Thanks for being here today, Lea.

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