MM: Lois, give us the backstory on your writing career?
Unlike many authors, I didn’t grow up wanting to write books. Illustrating them, maybe. I went to art school and have a degree in graphic design and illustration. After a brief stint working in advertising, I began designing needlework and crafts for magazines, book publishers, and kit manufacturers.
One day about 20 years ago, a story popped into my head, and much like the song that becomes an earworm, this story wouldn’t go away. I finally decided to write it down. The next thing I knew, I’d written a 50,000 word manuscript. That book, after 10 years and many revisions, became the romantic suspense Love, Lies and a Double Shot of Deception, my second published novel.
Eventually, I segued from romance and romantic suspense into humorous amateur sleuth mysteries, publishing the first of my Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery series in 2011. There are currently five full-length novels in the series, which include Assault with a Deadly Glue Gun, Death by Killer Mop Doll, Revenge of the Crafty Corpse, Decoupage Can Be Deadly, and the recently released A Stitch to Die For, as well as three mini-mysteries: Crewel Intentions, Mosaic Mayhem, and Patchwork Peril. I’ve also started a second amateur sleuth series, the Empty Nest Mysteries. Definitely Dead is the first book in the series. I’m currently working on the second.
MM: What comes first person, plot, place or idea?
Usually idea. Then I decide on characters to fit the idea and formulate a plot. Place is always a given because I prefer to set my stories in real locations that I know very well. So most of my stories are set in either the NY metro area or the Philadelphia metro area.
MM: Is there a mentor or other people you would like to thank for their help?
I had a critique partner for several years who really pushed me to be the best writer I could be. I owe a lot to her, both for her editorial skills and her friendship. Sadly, she died suddenly, shortly after my second book was released. Sadder still, we never actually met. She had lived overseas for years. She was about to move back to the States when she died. We were looking forward to being able to meet in person finally. She was a huge believer in Anastasia and would have been thrilled when I sold the series.
MM: What are you looking forward to in 2016?
World peace? Writing more books and having more readers discover my work would also be nice.
MM: Where is your favorite place to write? Do you have a writing schedule?
I have a dedicated office where I do the bulk of my writing, but since I have a laptop, I can write anywhere. I need silence, though. I’ve never understood how some people can write in a noisy coffee shop. I’d find all that noise far too distracting.
MM: You write a hobby mystery series. Do you have a hobby?
Not any more. I don’t have time for hobbies. My life revolves around my writing and my family. I do occasionally drag my husband to the theater. I love Broadway musicals, and living close to New York City means I can indulge my passion—when we can afford tickets.
MM: If you could sit down with five authors to a wonderful meal. What would the meal be? Who would you invite and what would you want to know from them?
Do they all have to be alive? Agatha Christie, Stephen King, J.K. Rowling, Mark Twain (minus his stinky cigar!), and Neil deGrasse Tyson. Pretty eclectic, right? And I’d just sit back and soak it all in. Although, I would try to wheedle out of Agatha where she disappeared to and why for those 11 days back in 1926.
As for the meal, I’d choose some of my favorites: lobster, asparagus, twice-baked potatoes, and crème brûlee for dessert. And wine, of course.
MM: Do you ever binge watch movies, or television series? If so, which ones?
Orange is the New Black and House of Cards. Everything else I watch on a weekly basis, usually a day or two after it airs so I can fast-forward through the commercials.
MM: What is your favorite dessert, song, movie, place to vacation and season?
Crème brûlee, “Rhapsody in Blue”, Shakespeare in Love, anywhere my grandchildren are currently living, and autumn.
MM: Be our tour guide and tell us about where you live?
I live in what’s called a “bridge and tunnel” community of New York City. I’m on the New Jersey side, about 18 miles from Lower Manhattan. Most people who have never been to New Jersey have a negative opinion of the state, but I love living here. Within little more than half an hour I can be in Manhattan, up in the mountains, or down the shore, depending on the direction I travel. My town is often used for the backdrop of television shows and movies because of it’s quaint downtown and many Victorian homes.
MM: What would you like to say to your readers?
Word-of-mouth is so very important for a book’s success. If you’ve enjoyed one of my books (or any other authors’ books, for that matter,) please tell your friends and family. Also posting honest, thoughtful reviews online is always appreciated.
MM: What would you like to say to your friends?
Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!
MM: Lastly, what would your characters tell us about you? Leave us with a quote that is strictly invented by you or your character?
Anastasia Pollack: “Lois Winston? What does that woman have against me? I was living a typical middleclass suburban life with a loving husband, two fabulous kids, and a great job until she came along and mucked it all up. Now I’m a widow who’s got debt up the wazoo, and I’m permanently saddled with my communist mother-in-law and her devil incarnate dog. And if that weren’t enough, Winston keeps writing me into situations where I’m constantly stumbling over dead bodies! What did I ever do to her?”
USA Today bestselling and award-winning author Lois Winston writes mystery, romance, romantic suspense, chick lit, women’s fiction, children’s chapter books, and nonfiction under her own name and her Emma Carlyle pen name. Kirkus Reviews dubbed her critically acclaimed Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery series, “North Jersey’s more mature answer to Stephanie Plum.” In addition, Lois is an award-winning craft and needlework designer who often draws much of her source material for both her characters and plots from her experiences in the crafts industry. Visit Lois/Emma at www.loiswinston.com and Anastasia at the Killer Crafts & Crafty Killers blog, www.anastasiapollack.blogspot.com. Follow everyone on Tsu at www.tsu.co/loiswinston, on Pinterest at www.pinterest.com/anasleuth, and onTwitter at https://twitter.com/Anasleuth. Sign up for her newsletter at https://www.MyAuthorBiz.com/ENewsletter.php?acct=LW2467152513