Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Author Interview with LORNA BARRETT

Lorna Barrett is the nom de plume of author Lorraine Bartlett. Lorraine's other alter ego, L.L. Bartlett, writes psychological suspense and the Jeff Resnick mystery series. She's done it all, from drilling holes for NASA to typing scripts in Hollywood, and lives a life of crime in western New York.

Who is the one person who most encouraged or influenced you to be a writer—and why?

There really is no one person who encouraged me most. My parents have always been behind me, and my husband encouraged me to keep writing even during the darkest moments when all I received was rejection for my work. They are the three most creative people I’ve ever known and have cheered and commiserated with me when I needed it, and celebrated my success. They’re the best.

How long have you been writing? Tell us about all your different series and writing endeavors.

I’ve been writing since I was a teenager, although I entertained myself with “my stories” long before I hauled out the typewriter and put down my first (Star Trek) stories. I’m currently working on two mystery series for Berkley Prime Crime: The Booktown Mysteries, featuring Tricia Miles and her independent mystery bookstore, Haven’t Got a Clue, and The Victoria Square Mysteries, featuring Katie Bonner, who manages Artisans Alley. I like to think of them as “sister series” (even though they are written under two different names) as they both revolve around a small town and both women are dedicated to their careers. The first Victoria Square Mystery will debut in February of 2011. (My Jeff Resnick psychological suspense series is currently on hiatus.)

What does it feel like to know you hit the NY Times Bestseller list?

Wonderful and scary all at once. Now that I’ve hit it once, my publisher expects me to hit it every time. That’s a lot of pressure. Still, I sure hope I can please my editor and his management by hitting the list again (and again). To do that, I need to sell books. A lot of them. And the most important time to do that is during the first three weeks of a book’s release. My readers can help me by buying Bookplate Special during the next couple of weeks--even if they can’t get around to reading it for a couple of months.

What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a writer?

Disappointment. Any job in an “entertainment” field is fraught with rejection. I have notebooks full of rejection letters. There were many times I wondered why I persevered, but I’m glad I did. Still, getting published is only the first step. Staying published is just as difficult, and there’s still rejection to deal with.

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.

Bookplate Special, the third book in the Booktown Mystery series is released today. It should be available in all chain, and many independent bookstores, as well as with online booksellers. Here’s a blurb: Tricia Miles has put up—and put up with—her uninvited college roommate for weeks. In return, Pammy, has stolen $100, among other things. But the day she’s kicked out, Pammy’s found dead in a dumpster, leaving loads of questions unanswered. Like what was she foraging for? Did her killer want it too? To piece the case together, Tricia will have to dive in head-first.

What are you working on now and when/where do you expect it to be available?

I’m currently polishing up the first Victoria Square Mystery, A Matter of Murder, which will be available in February of 2011. Young widow Katie Bonner discovers the body of Ezra Hilton, who ran the local artisan cooperative like his own fiefdom. Katie has little reason to mourn Ezra, who convinced her late husband to invest in the Artisans’ Alley before he was killed. Ezra's will makes Katie the controlling partner in the enterprise--much to the chagrin of his nephew, who comes to town hell-bent on collecting money as quickly as possible...and barely arrives before one of the vendors also ends up dead. The entire co-op is in a disgruntled uproar, and it seems like the detective in charge of the investigation does everything except investigate the murder. Everyone from the village’s lawyer to the quilt shop owner had motive to want Ezra dead, and it’s up to Katie to find out who’s responsible before more of her vendors die.

Writers, especially new writers, are always looking for tips and helpful information. Do you mind sharing a couple of tips for new writers?

If you write mystery, join Sisters In Crime and their Guppy Chapter. (www.sinc-guppies.org) The Guppies have a lot to offer. First, is their wonderful list, where members engage in conversation about the industry, writing problems, etc., and to offer support for the highs and lows inherent when submitting material for publication. They have many subgroups, including critique groups, Mystery Analysis, Brainstorming, and groups that are dedicated to the various subgenres of mystery, like cozy, noir, etc. There's also Agent Quest, which helps members polish their query letters and synopsis, and where Guppies share news and information about agents and editors.

The best thing one can do is join a critique group. Your mom, husband, and best friend may love your story, but a writer needs objective feedback to polish his or her work to make it publishable.

What writers organizations claim you as a member and how has membership benefited your career?

I currently only belong to Sisters In Crime and their Guppy and New England chapters. I can honestly say if it wasn’t for the Guppies, I wouldn’t be published. (See above!) Although the group was set up for unpublished authors, many of us who have gone on to be published retain membership, giving back to the group that helped us in the early days of our struggles to get published.

Do you have any upcoming book signings or appearances? If so, give us all the details.

I’ll be signing Bookplate Special on Saturday, November 7th, 2-4 p.m. at the Greece Ridge Barnes & Noble (Rochester, NY). I have two more signings in the Rochester area: November 28th, 11am-1pm Lift Bridge Books (Brockport, NY) and November 29th, Towne Center at Webster Barns & Noble, 2-4 pm.

Here’s your opportunity to tell us anything else you care to share.

One of the themes in Bookplate Special concerns feeding the hungry. Tricia attends the opening of the newly expanded Stoneham Food Shelf. There she learns that looks are deceiving, and how she can help those going hungry in her own town. The holiday season is fast approaching, but hunger knows no season. I hope that my readers will be touched by this storyline and motivated to help their local food pantries, not just during the holidays, but all year round.

What are the addresses of your website(s) and blog(s):

Dazed & Confused Blog: http://www.lornabarrett.blogspot.com/
Writers Plot Blog (I post on Tuesdays): http://www.writersplot.typepad.com/
Cozy Chicks Blog (I post on Saturdays): http://www.cozychicksblog.com/

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