Tuesday, May 18, 2010
An Interview with Lorraine Bartlett
Lorraine, give us the backstory on why you became an author.
I like to think that I'd always been a storyteller, but I didn't have a lot of confidence and never considered writing them down until I discovered Star Trek fanzines. Here were regular people, not "real authors" writing stories about characters I knew well and loved. I decided to try my hand at it, too. That's when I discovered that I really knew nothing about writing. I made friends with other people writing these stories, and one of them became my mentor.
Tell us the genres you write and and a brief overview of each series and books you write.
I write crime stories, be they labeled cozies or psychological suspense. My first series, The Jeff Resnick Mysteries, are really more suspense. They're set in Buffalo, NY and feature Jeff Resnick, a former insurance investigator who'd been brutally mugged. Because of his brain injury, he is able to sense strong emotions and sometimes has flashes of insight--almost always about a crime. With the reluctant help of his older brother, he attempts to solve these crimes. The series is currently on hiatus, although I have two finished manuscripts sitting on the shelf--waiting for the right time (and publisher) to see them in print.
The Booktown Mysteries feature mystery bookseller Tricia Miles and are set in the village of Stoneham, NH--otherwise known as "Booktown" because of the many booksellers who've been recruited to populate a once-dying Main Street. As a tourist Mecca, Stoneham attracts all sorts of bookworms--from collectors to authors. There's always some kind of crime going on and Tricia and her sister Angelica always seem to get caught up in solving them.
The Victoria Square Mysteries, which will debut in February 2011, feature Katie Bonner, the manager of an artisans arcade. When the owner is murdered, Katie takes over the operation, but to keep it afloat she has to make some unpopular decisions that anger her vendors and the co-owner of Artisans Alley. Before long, one of Katie's vendors is murdered and she feels she must figure out what's going on before any one else is killed
If you were to mentor another writer what are the pitfalls you would tell them about writing a series?
I've never written a "stand alone" novel, so I don't see a lot of pitfalls to writing a series. One of the things you learn to count on is your characters taking over. Once you know them, they'll often lead the action.
Tell us about your writing schedule and do you call it a day after reaching a certain page count or word count?
It seems to change with every book. I used to write early in the morning, but now I get so much email I find it better to take care of the "business" end of my career in the morning, and do most of my writing in the afternoon or early evening. That changes with the seasons, too. I find it a lot easier to write when it's gloomy out, and very difficult to concentrate when the garden is calling me to take care of it.
What conventions, conferences, writing groups and online group are you a part of and tell us about each one?
I don't go to many conferences. In fact, I really only go to one, Malice Domestic. I go to see my friends, my editor, my agent and my readers. It's always a lot of fun--and it's drivable. (I don't fly any more.) I also like it because it's not too big. I get nervous in crowds, and find the big conferences like Bouchercon to be overwhelming. I keep meaning to go to Bloody Words when it's in Toronto, but somehow keep forgetting to sign up.
I'm a member of Sisters in Crime and am currently their "social networking Guru," although that title gives me a lot more credit than I deserve. I basically take care of their blog, their Myspace, Facebook, and Twitter accounts. For the blog, I work closely with author Ellen Hart--she coordinates the content, and I upload it to the blog, choose pictures, etc. I post announcements on Twitter and the Facebook page. I also take care of the Sisters In Crime Book Club Data Base. SinC encourages book clubs to sign up. Our members contact the book clubs and send promotional material, which helps the clubs decide what books they want to read throughout the year.
As a member of the Cozy Chicks blog, I take care of posting the blog on Myspace, and I take care of the Facebook page. We all work on the Cozy Chicks Facebook fan page. The Cozy Chicks are a delightful group of women. We all have the same goals, and there's a terrific spirit of cooperation among the group. They're the best!
What are your future writing plans?
To stay employed.
Now for a few fun questions; What is your favorite dessert, comfort reads, movies, places to visit?
Right now, my favorite dessert is coconut cake.
Comfort reads? House of Many Shadows by Barbara Michaels; Witch by Barbara Michaels; The Egg and I by Betty McDonald.
Favorite Movies? Groundhog Day, Night Shift, The Santa Clause, ST: III--The Search for Spock, Superman (with Christopher Reeve), Pollyanna, Julie & Julia ... just off the top of my head.
Places to visit? I want to go back to England and Scotland, but not flying makes that difficult. I'd like to go by oceanliner, but it takes a long time and my husband wouldn't want to leave the cats for that length of time. Here in the US? For years, I've wanted to visit Asheville, NC and Biltmore. I love New England, especially Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont, and go back as often as I can.
Tell us a little about your family life and other than writing what fills your days?
Email! I live with my husband and four cats. It seems like I spent 90% of my day either writing, networking, or on promotion. In the summer, I spend time at my family's cottage on Sodus Bay where I read, write, and look at the water and pretend I'm living a life of leisure . . . until it's time to wash the dishes (by hand).
In closing leave us with a quote from either your character or from you?
"Always tip your bartender."
I hope readers will visit my websites:
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