Thursday, November 19, 2009
Author Interview with JULIE LOMOE
Julie Lomoe brings a wealth of mental health and home health care experience to her mystery novels, Mood Swing: The Bipolar Murders and Eldercide. Her work as an art therapist at a psychiatric hospital inspired her to turn to fiction as a creative outlet. She later founded and ran ElderSource, Inc., a Licensed Home Care Services Agency in upstate New York. A vocal advocate for the rights of mentally ill and elderly consumers, Julie is a member of the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill and of the Mental Health Players, an improvisatory theatre troop.
How long have you been writing? What prompted you to self-publish your first book in 2006?
I began writing fiction in the early 1980’s when I was working as an art therapist at Hudson River Psychiatric Center in Poughkeepsie. The experience was so overwhelming that I needed writing as a therapeutic outlet. I landed a New York agent, but she didn’t sell my book, so I put writing aside until 2004, when I began Mood Swing: The Bipolar Murders. I tried landing an agent the traditional way, with query letters, sample chapters and self-addressed return envelopes, but after a dozen or so rejections, I found the process inordinately depressing, so I decided to go the self-publishing route. I’m delighted I did.
You write mysteries and poetry. Tell us about the challenges and rewards of writing in two so very different genres.
Writing mysteries is an all-consuming, long-term commitment, and the challenges are enormous. The rewards come when the writing flows well and I’m swept up in the story. Feedback from readers can be very rewarding too. Mood Swing has touched many people who praise the sensitive way I treat bipolar disorder and say it’s helped them to better understand family members diagnosed with the disease.
The rewards of writing poetry are very different. I do it for fun and self-expression, and although I’ve published some poetry and been featured at open mics, I don’t have lofty professional ambitions for my poetry. It’s great to write a poem in the afternoon, then go out the same night to read it and bask in the applause. The instant gratification is wonderful.
In addition to being a writer, you also paint and some of your work has been exhibited in the Museum of Modern Art, the Brooklyn Museum, the 1969 Woodstock Festival of Music and Art, and in a number of galleries in Manhattan. Where do you find the time to write, paint, AND work? Share with us your excellent time-management skills!
I’m afraid my time-management skills are far from excellent, and there’s never enough time for everything I want to do. I did the cover illustrations for both my mystery novels, but other than that, I’m not currently painting. Right now, I find writing much more gratifying, and I’m not great at multitasking. Besides, my attitude toward painting has changed radically in recent years. Creating one-of-a-kind works of art in hopes someone with disposable income will be able to afford them seems old-fashioned and snotty. With fiction, I’m able to reach far more people, far more affordably.
As for work, my husband and I put in the requisite years to earn ourselves an adequate retirement, so now I’m pretty much free to follow my bliss, as Joseph Campbell would say. I have a very part-time job as Administrator for the Memorial Society of the Hudson-Mohawk Region, a not-for-profit affiliate of the Funeral Consumers Alliance, but I do that because it’s a cause I believe in more than for the income.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a writer?
Getting published! But the industry is changing radically, and with all the new Internet and self-publishing options, I believe this is a great time to launch a career as a writer. The traditional gate keepers of the publishing industry no longer have total control, and we writers are taking back our power.
What is the title of your most recently published book? Briefly tell us what it’s about and let us know where we can buy it.
You can order both ELDERCIDE and MOOD SWING from Amazon or Barnes & Noble online, or bypass big business and order them directly from the publisher at www.virtualbookworm.com. To read the first chapters of both, visit my blog, Julie Lomoe’s Musings Mysterioso.
What are you working on now and when/where do you expect it to be available?
ELDERCIDE is the first in a series featuring the staff and clients of Compassionate Care, a home care agency in the fictional town of Kooperskill in upstate New York. I’m working on the second, but it’s too soon to speculate about publication prospects.
Writers, especially new writers, are always looking for tips and helpful information. What is the single most important “tip” you can give to a new writer?
Choose subjects you feel passionately about and write to please yourself, not some imaginary market.
Do you believe membership in writer’s groups helps a writer’s career? Why? Why not?
While I was writing MOOD SWING and ELDERCIDE, I belonged to three writers’ critique groups which were enormously helpful. One was a mystery writers’ group based in Saratoga, another was an online critique group that originated with Sisters in Crime, and the third was a local group with writers from several genres. I’d definitely recommend seeking out a good critique group, but make sure the tone is positive and not too critical, and don’t take any single opinion too seriously.
Writers’ organizations like Sisters in Crime and Mystery Writers of America are good for networking. I can’t honestly say they’ve helped my career yet, but I’m keeping my memberships current.
Do you have any upcoming book signings or appearances? If so, give us all the details.
My Author of the Year luncheon yesterday was the last in-person event on my schedule for the time being, and I’m greatly relieved at the prospect of a break.
Here’s your opportunity to tell us anything else you care to share.
I’m fascinated by the possibilities of online social networking as a way of building my career as a writer. Frankly, I enjoy it more than I like most in-person appearances. And it’s virtually free – no dress-for-success clothes, no polluting the environment with excessive gas mileage. I believe it’s the wave of the future.
What are the addresses of your website(s) and blog(s):
My blog is Julie Lomoe’s Musings Mysterioso. The link is http://julielomoe.wordpress.com/. Please visit and say hello!