It’s always great to interview Lois Winston, the award winning author of a number of humorous romances, who is expanding her horizons with a brand new series. Lois’s latest book, Assault with a Deadly Glue Gun, is the first book in her “Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysteries” series, is a January 2011 release from Midnight Ink, and received starred reviews from both Publishers Weekly and Booklist.
Lois is a woman of many talents, since she is also an award winning designer of needlework and crafts projects for magazines, craft book publishers, and craft kit manufacturers. She also acts as a literary agent with the Ashley Grayson Literary Agency. I guess you can say that Lois knows the ropes in a number of different ways, and she is here today to tell us a little bit about herself and her new release.
Q: You’ve previously written romances with a decidedly humorous bent. What made you choose to write in this genre?
A: Assault with a Deadly Glue Gun is a humorous amateur sleuth crafting mystery. I’ve been previously published in humorous women’s fiction and romantic suspense. I decided to write a mystery after my agent learned one of the publishing houses was looking for crafting mysteries. Who better to write a crafting mystery, she thought, than my client who is also a designer in the crafts industry?
Q: Can you tell us a little something about Assault with a Deadly Glue Gun?
A: When Anastasia Pollack’s husband permanently cashes in his chips at a roulette table in Las Vegas, her comfortable middle class life craps out. Suddenly, she’s juggling two teenage sons, a mountain of debt, a communist mother-in-law, and her dead husband’s loan shark. And that’s before she becomes the prime suspect in the murder of a coworker whom she discovers hot glued to her office chair.
Q: Anastasia sounds like quite a heroine! What else can you dish about her?
A: As much as Anastasia might like to, she’s not about to crawl into bed and pull the covers over her head. She isn’t going to let all the crap I’ve dumped on her get her down. And being that this is a mystery, not a romance, she doesn’t have a hero waiting in the wings to come to her aid. She’s got to solve her own problems. First up? Proving her innocence. If she doesn’t do that, none of her other problems are going to matter. And what better way to prove she isn’t a killer than to find the real killer? So Anastasia morphs from a magazine crafts editor into a reluctant amateur sleuth.
Q: Where is your story set and does that influence the plotlines and characters in your stories?
A: Assault with a Deadly Glue Gun is set in New Jersey, where Anastasia lives and works, with a few scenes taking place in Manhattan. I’m a Jersey girl, and even though the state is the butt of many a joke, I happen to think it’s a pretty cool place to live. Trust me, we’re nothing like the way we’re portrayed on television. Well, at least not 95 percent of us. However, given New Jersey’s reputation, I also keep my tongue planted firmly in my cheek at times as I describe the state in my book. Hey, it’s a Jersey thing.
And of course the setting is going to influence the plot and characters. Setting adds richness and texture to a story. Just as characters impact each other, they’re impacted by where a story takes place. As we say here in New Jersey, you can take the girl out of New Jersey, but you can’t take New Jersey out of the girl.
Q: I understand your book has been getting some great reviews. Want to share some with us?
A: Absolutely! I was thrilled to receive starred reviews from both Publishers Weekly and Booklist. Publishers Weekly wrote, “Crafty cozies don’t get any better than this hilarious confection … ”
Booklist had this to say: “Winston has hit a home run with this hilarious, laugh-until-your-sides-hurt tale. Oddball characters, uproariously funny situations, and a heroine with a strong sense of irony will delight fans of Janet Evanovich … ”
I also received a wonderful review from Kirkus Reviews which called Assault with a Deadly Glue Gun, “North Jersey’s more mature answer to Stephanie Plum. Funny, gutsy and determined, Anastasia has a bright future in the planned series.”
Q: It must take a lot of planning to create a book that’s getting such great buzz. What can you tell us about your writing schedule? Pantser or Plotter?
A: Because I’m juggling three separate careers, my schedule is deadline oriented and differs day to day. I’m not a writer who writes x number of words or pages per day. There are days when I’ll write for eight hours straight, and days when the only writing I do is answer emails. However, because my butt spends hours each day firmly planted in my desk chair, no work begins until after my morning trip to Curves.
As for pantser or plotter, I’m a pantser who has become a plotter. Having already published several books, I can now submit on proposal. However, writing proposals means I need to outline my stories ahead of time. Most editors want to know what they’re buying before they’ll offer a contract. This often creates a conflict between me and my characters, when 100 pages into the story they decide to take it in an unexpected direction. They think that since it’s their story, they should be able to do whatever they want. We argue a lot. Sometimes I win, and sometimes they win.
Q: Do you belong to any writing groups and if so, do you find them beneficial?
A: I’m a founding member of Liberty States Fiction Writers, an organization dedicated to the education and support of writers of all genres of fiction. In addition, I’m a member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and Romance Writers of America. I credit these organizations with making me the writer I am today, and owe my success in no small part to what I’ve learned from them.
Q: What are you working on now and what will readers have to look forward to in the future?
A: I recently turned in Mop Doll Murders, the second book in the “Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysteries” series, which will be coming out in January 2012. I’m currently at work on the third book in the series, due out in January 2013.
Thanks for taking the time to chat with us, Lois. You can visit Lois at LoisWinston.com.