Thursday, July 30, 2015
My Grandfather's Influence
Lois makes me look like a real slacker. She writes mystery, romance, romantic suspense, chick lit, women’s fiction, children’s chapter books, and non-fiction under her own name and her Emma Carlyle pen name. Her latest Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery, A Stitch to Die For, has just been published.
Kirkus Reviews called her series, “North Jersey’s more mature answer to Stephanie Plum.” Lois is an award-winning craft and needlework designer as well, who often draws source material for both her characters and plots from her experiences in the crafts industry.
The inspiration for the series came from within her own family, as she shares with us today.
— Sheila York
I started out writing romance and eventually also wrote romantic suspense and chick lit. Several years and seven books later I wrote my first mystery, settling into a genre where I discovered I felt the most comfortable. I’m not sure why I didn’t think to write mystery from the start. Given my family history, it should have been a logical genre for me, but I never gave it a thought until an editor asked my agent if she had any authors who wrote crafting mysteries. Based on my career as a designer in the crafts industry, my agent suggested I try my hand at writing a cozy mystery with a crafting protagonist.
What my agent didn’t know at the time was my familial connection to the world of organized crime. My grandfather spent his entire career as one of the good guys, working to bring down some really badass bad guys associated with Murder, Inc. Climbing his way up the ladder from patrolman to Detective Captain of Essex County, New Jersey, he spent the decades of the twenties, thirties, forties, and fifties on a quest to lock up many a name you might know from various gangster movies.
I’m assuming my grandfather was one of those officers. I have no way of knowing. He died when I was six years old. I would have loved to learn more about his illustrious career directly from him. Most of what I know is secondhand from relatives or the little I’ve been able to discover on the Internet, such as the attached news clipping about a talk he gave in 1957.
My own personal memories are of a loving, gentle man who would read me the Sunday funnies. It was years before I had any inkling of his statewide fame, but I do have one memory of sitting with him front and center in the grandstand at a Thanksgiving Day parade. I was probably no more than three or four at the time.
New Jersey has always had the reputation of being a corrupt state. My grandfather spent his life countering that reputation. His own reputation was so stellar that he was often approached to run for office, but he declined each time. He felt he served his state much better doing what he did best—rooting out evil.
I’ve often wondered, had my grandfather lived longer, would I have chosen a career in law enforcement? Probably not, given when I came of age, and I’m not sure he would have wanted me to take that path. I doubt he was that forward thinking when it came to women in the workforce. Neither my mother nor my aunt attended college. Few women did back then. However, I hope my grandfather is smiling down from Heaven, watching me deal with badass bad guys in my own “novel” way.
A Stitch to Die For
Ever since her husband died and left her in debt equal to the gross national product of Uzbekistan, magazine crafts editor and reluctant amateur sleuth Anastasia Pollack has stumbled across one dead body after another—but always in work-related settings. When a killer targets the elderly nasty neighbor who lives across the street from her, murder strikes too close to home. Couple that with a series of unsettling events days before Halloween, and Anastasia begins to wonder if someone is sending her a deadly message.