Rollicking craft mysteries don't often get rave reviews from jaded critics, but my pal Lois Winston's new Assault with A Deadly Glue gun hit the exacta -- stars from both Booklist and Publishers Weekly. The former raves, "Winston has hit a home run with this hilarious, laugh-until-your-sides-hurt tale," while PW finds the protagonist Anastasia Pollack "as deadpan droll as Tina Fey's Liz Lemon." So it's a real treat to have an interview with Lois right here at Dot Dead Diary.
LW: Name: Lois Winston; Alias: Telemarketers think I’m a guy named Louis; Regional dialect: Bridge and Tunnel (It’s a Jersey thing!)
Q: How and why did you decide you had to be a writer?
LW: The voices in my head made me do it.
Q: Tell us about your most vivid book-related memory.
LW: The summer I was eleven or twelve I surreptitiously snatched copies of Marjorie Morningstar and Peyton Place off the shelf and read them in secret. Up till then, I thought sex was something you did once when you wanted to have a baby, and you did it standing up. (Yeah, I was a really naïve kid up to that point!)
Q: What’s the biggest idiot mistake you’ve made while writing?
LW: One? Jeez! There are dozens I could rattle off. I suppose the one I regret the most is sinking so much time and money into promo for my first two books. Authors are being pressured by their publishers to do the publisher’s job. That’s so wrong. And at this point, I’m not convinced that any author promo really helps your numbers. Have you ever bought a book because someone handed you a pen or bookmark? I haven’t, even though I have drawers full of promo pens and bookmarks from other authors. What makes for sell-thru is publisher support and buzz, both of which are beyond an author’s control.
Publishers have to have enough faith in their authors to give them good store placement. If your book is buried spine out at the back of the store, no one is ever going to find it. Without co-op dollars from the publisher, your only other hope is buzz, and that’s reader driven. All an author can do is write the best books possible. So after spending thousands of dollars to promote my first two books, this time around I’m concentrating on writing the next book in the series and directing my promo efforts toward blogging, not buying.
Q: What’s your biggest writing peeve?
LW: Sitting for hours on end. And because I have to in order to write, I try to get to the gym five mornings a week. I was the girl who came up with every excuse in the book (hey, a pun!) to get out of gym class while in school, but at this point in my life, it’s either exercise or wind up unable to move because I get so stiff from sitting for hours. And let’s not even discuss all those calories that wouldn’t get burned up if I didn’t exercise.
Q: What story would you write if you didn't have to worry about making money?
LW: I wrote a proposal for a story based on a real-life serial killer here in New Jersey. I have a personal connection. One of his victims was a high school friend of mine. It certainly wouldn’t be a humorous mystery like my current series.
Q: What would you like to conquer next in writing and in life?
In writing, I’d like to make the New York Times list. (Hey, a girl can dream, can’t she?) In life, I’d like to win Power Ball or MegaMillions, but I rarely remember to buy a ticket, and when I do, I’ve never won more than $3 -- which is why I rarely buy tickets.
Q: You created a character blog. What made you think of doing this instead of an author blog?
LW: My heroine is the crafts editor at a woman’s magazine. It seemed only logical to have the various editors of the magazine blog. Mondays through Thursdays feature topics you’d find in any woman’s magazine -- crafts, recipes, health, fashion, beauty, travel, etc. On Fridays, which I call Book Club Fridays, I have guest authors, most of whom have been kind enough to offer books as giveaways. The blog is called Killer Crafts & Crafty Killers, and you can find it at http://www.anastasiapollack.blogspot.com.
Q: Please spill the beans about your new release.
LW: Assault With a Deadly Glue Gun, the first book in my Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysteries series, was released this month from Midnight Ink. Kirkus Reviews called it, “North Jersey’s more mature answer to Stephanie Plum.” Here’s a quick blurb:
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 she discovers hot glued to her office chair.
You can read the first chapter at my website, http://www.loiswinston.com. The second book in the series, Mop Doll Murders, will be released in January 2012. The third book (no title yet) will come out in January 2013. With luck the series will do well enough that there will be more books after that.
Q: Anything else you’d like to tell us?
LW: First, Keith, I’d like to thank you for inviting me to guest here at Dot Dead Diary today. Also, in celebration of the release of Assault With a Deadly Glue Gun, I’m giving away 5 copies of the book. Anyone who posts a comment on any of the blogs where I’m guesting throughout the month will be entered to win. You can find the schedule at my website, http://www.loiswinston.com and at Anastasia’s blog, http://www.anastasiapollack.blogspot.com. (If your email isn’t included in your blog post, email me privately at email@example.com to let me know you’ve entered.)