Q: Assault With a Deadly Glue Gun, the first book in your Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysteries series, came out this month from Midnight Ink. How much of Lois Winston is in Anastasia Pollack?
LW: LOL! When I was writing romance, the first question I usually got was about how I researched my sex scenes. Now that I’m writing mysteries, everyone wants to know how much of Anastasia Pollack is really Lois Winston. I like this question much better.
Anastasia and I have similar backgrounds. We’re both North Jersey girls. We both went to art school. She’s a crafts editor for a women’s magazine. I worked for many years as a crafts designer and editor for various kit manufacturers and publishers. I still design for several magazines. We both have two sons and one other relative in common. The differences? My husband is very much alive (thank goodness!), I don’t have a Shakespeare quoting parrot, and I haven’t found any dead bodies glued to my office chair -- at least not yet.
Q: Several reviews have favorably compared Anastasia to Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum character. Kirkus Reviews called Anastasia, “North Jersey’s more mature answer to Stephanie Plum.” Other than both series taking place in New Jersey, what do you see as the differences between the two characters?
LW: Anastasia is an amateur sleuth, and quite a reluctant one at that. Stephanie works in a field where she comes into contact with bad guys on a daily basis. And even though Anastasia and Stephanie are both born Jersey girls, Stephanie is the embodiment of blue-collar Central Jersey. Anastasia is more middle-class North Jersey. At least she was until her husband permanently cashed in his chips at a roulette table in Las Vegas and her life crapped out. Now she’s stuck with a mountain of debt, her communist mother-in-law, and her dead husband’s loan shark attempting to shake her down for fifty thousand dollars.
Q: What about the other characters in your series? Are they based on people you know?
LW: Lucille is loosely based on my deceased mother-in-law. I guess that’s why most of my husband’s relatives no longer speak to me.
Q: Where do you get your plot ideas?
LW: Mostly from the voices in my head who demand I tell their stories. However, I’m also a news junkie. I have a loose-leaf binder filled with stories I’ve clipped from magazines and newspapers. Whenever I’m stuck for an idea, I read through my clippings, and invariably an idea will present itself.
Q: Are your books character driven or plot driven?
LW: Both. No one wants to read about cardboard characters or stale plots. However, in a mystery, plot is paramount. Still, I want my characters to come alive on the page, be both interesting and believable to the reader, and never TSTL.
Q: Do you find it hard to write humor?
LW: Absolutely. Humor is very subjective, and I never really know until after the book is written whether or not others “get” the humor I’ve infused into the story.
Q: Do you read reviews of your books?
LW: I do read my reviews, and I don’t expect all of them to be good. Taste is very subjective. Not everyone is going to like my writing or get the humor in my books. I’m fine with that. I just hope at the end of the day there are more people who love my books than hate them. Reviews are part of the business of publishing, and I believe it’s important for an author to know how her books are being received. Word-of-mouth has huge impact in driving sales. Besides, if I didn’t read my reviews, I wouldn’t know that Assault With a Deadly Glue Gun received starred reviews from both Publishers Weekly and Booklist. And that’s going to go a long way in taking the sting out of any bad reviews the book may receive down the road.
Q: Anything else you’d like to tell us?
LW: First, I want to thank you for inviting me to guest today at Crime Writers’ Chronicle. Also, in celebration of the release of Assault With a Deadly Glue Gun, I’m doing a blog tour throughout January. The schedule is on my website, http://www.loiswinston.com, and at Anastasia’s blog, http://www.anastasiapollack.blogspot.com. Everyone who posts a comment to any of the blogs over the course of the tour will be entered into a drawing to receive one of 5 copies of Assault With a Deadly Glue Gun. (If your email isn’t included in your comment, email me privately at email@example.com to let me know you’ve entered.)
Q: Thank you, Lois!