Thursday, January 20, 2011

Lois Winston

I've known Lois Winston for many years now. First as a colleague then as a friend. I think when you're not laughing at her answers, you'll discover she doesn't know how not to tell it like it is. Please welcome Lois Winston as we get lost in her story ASSAULT WITH A DEADLY GLUE GUN.

Donnell: Which of your characters would you most/least invite to dinner, and why?

Lois: Anastasia Pollack because she needs a decent meal.

Donnell: Do you read reviews of your books? If so, do you pay any attention to them, or let them influence your writing?

Lois: I know authors who claim they never read their reviews. I don’t know whether or not to believe them. Reviews are part of the business of publishing. It’s important to know what the public thinks of your books because reviews can impact sales -- both on the wholesale and retail level. Besides, if I didn’t read my reviews, I wouldn’t know that the recently released ASSAULT WITH A DEADLY GLUE GUN, the first book in my Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysteries series, received starred reviews from both Publishers Weekly and Booklist. And that’s going to go a long way in taking the sting out of any bad reviews the book may receive.

Donnell: Have you ever written a character who wasn’t meant to be a hero/heroine but he/she wouldn’t go away?

Lois: Oh yeah! To see what I mean check out the excerpt of ASSAULT WITH A DEADLY GLUE GUN on my website -- http://www.loiswinston.com/. Lucille Pollack, Anastasia’s mother-in-law and curmudgeon-in-residence, will definitely get under your skin, but I dare you not to want to read more about her.

Donnell: What is your favorite cheese?

Lois: Tough question. I’m a big cheese freak. Extra-sharp cheddar or buffalo mozzarella, depending on the circumstances. Then there’s cream cheese. Gotta have cream cheese to go with my bagels!

Donnell: Tea or coffee?

Lois: Definitely coffee -- low-fat vanilla latte.

Donnell: What name have you been dying to use as a lead character, but haven’t found the right fit yet?

Lois: Harry Potter but someone beat me to it.

Donnell: What’s in your refrigerator right now?

Lois: Lots of leftovers. I had company for dinner last night and cooked way too much. Which I suppose is better than having people leave hungry.

Donnell: What is something that not a lot of people know about you but you WISH more people COULD know?

Lois: If I ever became rich and famous, I wouldn’t grow a huge ego and become unapproachable like too many other rich and famous people.

Donnell: Is Elvis really dead?

Lois: Of course not! Who do you think trains and manages all those Elvis impersonators in Vegas -- for a hefty fee? He figured out how to have the best of both worlds. He’s richer now than he ever was, and he gets to sit back and munch on fried peanut butter and banana sandwiches while others do all the work.

Donnell: What is your favorite tradition from your childhood, that you would love to pass on or did pass on to your children?

Lois: LOL! At Dysfunctions-R-Us we had no traditions. What I took away from my childhood was how not to be a parent.

Donnell: What does it mean to love someone?

Lois: It means you put that person’s needs before your own. Notice I said “needs,” not “wants” or “desires.” Love doesn’t mean becoming a second-class citizen.

Donnell: What color would you make the sky if it weren't going to be blue anymore?

Lois: I wouldn’t choose one color. I’d make it rainbow-hued.

Donnell: What do you do to unwind and relax?

Lois: Take in a Broadway show. I’m lucky enough to live right outside NYC, and I know how to get half-price tickets ahead of time, so I don’t stand in line at the TKTS booth with all the tourists.

Donnell: Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it?

Lois: A contractual deadline is the best defense against writer’s block. Don’t write; don’t sell; don’t eat. What more incentive does a writer need?

Donnell: What dreams have been realized as a result of your writing?

Lois: Getting published, of course. That was a biggie. Selling a series, another biggie. Getting a starred review from Publishers Weekly and Booklist -- priceless! Now if that dream of winning the lottery would come true…

Donnell: What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

Lois: I’m not someone who can write through to the end, then go back to revise. I have to be happy with what I’ve written before I can move forward with the story. I don’t see the point in continuing if I’m dissatisfied with a scene or chapter. What if that unsatisfactory scene or chapter moves the book in the wrong direction? I’d then have to rewrite everything from that point on after I’d finished the first draft. By revising as I write, I only have to tweak rather than do heavy editing once the book is finished.

Donnell: What was one of the most surprising things you learned while writing/researching a book?

Lois: That I need to buy a larger Atlas or use a magnifying glass when checking the one I own. Unfortunately, I didn’t learn this lesson until after the book was published and wound up mistaking the Continental Divide for the Mississippi River. Worse yet, the mistake wasn’t caught by my critique group, agent, editor, or copy editor.

Donnell: What is your favorite kid joke?

Lois: “What’s black and white and red(or read) all over?” because you can always stump the other person. If she says, “a newspaper,” the answer is, “a blushing zebra.” If she says, “a blushing zebra,” the answer is, “a newspaper.”

Donnell: Which era would you least have liked to live in, fashion-wise? Most?

Lois: Least? Any era prior to the invention of indoor plumbing, air-conditioning, and deodorant. I was once in Colonial Williamsburg during a summer heat wave. I was wearing shorts and a tank top. The enactors all wore enough clothing to pass out from the heat. I got to talking with one woman and learned that what she was wearing was actually an undergarment. If she had been in true colonial dress, she would have been wearing several additional layers! It’s amazing any of our ancestors survived.

Lois: Most? Ancient Greece. They knew how to dress for summer’s heat.

Donnell: Tell me how many hats you have in your home?

Lois: Mine? Five. Two winter, two summer, and my Mets baseball cap. I have no idea how many hats my husband owns.

Donnell: Dog person or cat person?

Lois: Allergy person.

Donnell: Which is your favorite language other than your native language?

Lois: Italian, especially when sung by Andrea Bocelli.

Donnell: If you were given a chance to travel to the past where would you go and specifically why?

Lois: The 1920s, Algonquin Hotel as part of the Round Table with Dorothy Parker and the gang. Dorothy could certainly hold her own against all those guys, but I think they could have used another female voice in the group.

Donnell: What would you do if you had a time machine?

Lois: I’d go back in time and try to rewrite history to avoid all the wars men have gotten us into throughout the ages.

Donnell: How much money does it take to be happy?

Lois: Enough not to have to worry about having enough.

Donnell: What question are you never asked in interviews, but wish you were?

Lois: Hmm…after answering all of these questions, I think I’ve been asked just about everything other than “innie or outie.” For the record, the answer is “innie.”

Donnell: If you couldn’t be a writer anymore, what profession would you take up?

Lois: Since I juggle three careers, I’d just concentrate on the other two. However, I’d really like to be a Broadway star. Too bad God didn’t see fit to give me singing and dancing genes.

Donnell: What’s the first thing you do when you finish a book?

Lois: Type THE END. Then I go shopping.

Donnell: If you could interview one person (and it doesn’t have to be a writer) who would it be?

Donnell: Leonardo da Vinci. If it’s got to be someone living, Alan Alda.

Award-winning author Lois Winston writes the Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysteries series featuring magazine crafts editor and reluctant amateur sleuth Anastasia Pollack. Assault With a Deadly Glue Gun, a January 2011 release, is the first book in the series and has received starred reviews from both Publishers Weekly and Booklist. Kirkus Reviews dubbed it, “North Jersey’s more mature answer to Stephanie Plum.” Lois is also published in women’s fiction, romantic suspense, and non-fiction as well as being an award-winning crafts and needlework designer and an associate of the Ashley Grayson Literary Agency. Visit Lois at at her website: http://www.loiswinston.com and visit Anastasia at her blog: http://www.anastasiapollack.blogspot.com.

In celebration of the release of Assault With a Deadly Glue Gun, Lois is doing a blog tour throughout January. You can find the schedule on her website, , and at Anastasia’s blog, http://www.anastasiapollack.blogspot.com. Everyone who posts a comment to any of the blogs over the course of the tour will be entered into a drawing to receive one of 5 copies of Assault With a Deadly Glue Gun. (If your email isn’t included in your comment, email Lois privately at lois@loiswinston.com to let her know you’ve entered.

Lois's question for Readers: In ASSAULT WITH A DEADLY GLUE GUN, Anastasia meets someone who may or may not turn out to be hero material. How do you feel about romance in your mysteries, and what do you think is the right balance?

Thanks, everyone. Tune in on Friday as Cat Schield hosts Helen Johansen!



17 comments:

  1. I love romance in my mysteries! That, and humor. Otherwise, it's going to either be too scary for me, or too sad. You pretty much had me at "glue gun"-- they are too much fun to craft with! I have the burnt fingers to prove it. :) Congratulations on those starred reviews!

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  2. Great interview! Lois sure does have a sense of humor, a requisite for a writer. Another answer for what's black and white and red all over is a penguin with a sunburn. I'd love to win a copy of Assault with a Deadly Gluegun. Thanks for the chance.

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  3. Lois, it was a pleasure reading your answers LOL. I would have LOVED seeing you in a conversation with Dorothy Parker and her gang.

    I like what you say about your editing process. I've never understood people spitting out a draft. My muse is right there on the page, and as you well know, take a wrong turn in a mystery, and you can pinpoint the killer, or produce a plot that doesn't make sense.

    So, how did you learn that you'd made the Mississippi/Continental Divide mistake; did a reader tell you .

    And thanks for the *innie* question -- Angie, we need to add that to the list :)

    Lois, thanks for stopping by to answer the GLIAS crew's questions.

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  4. Donnell, thanks for inviting me! I learned about the Mississippi error from a reader who lives in Iowa. Amazing how no one picked it up prior to that. I turned it into a lemonade moment and ran a contest on my website. The first person to find the error won a prize. It took quite a number of tries before someone finally won. I guess we're all geography challenged to some extent!

    Gillian, I suggest a low temp glue gun. Saves the fingers!

    Kaye, I love penguins. Why didn't I think of that answer?

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  5. Thanks for the explanation, Lois. Ken Follett once admitted that he said his protagonist drove a car in one of his novels that hadn't come out yet. We fret and fret over getting things right (sigh).

    As for your question about if you introduce a love interest and it doesn't turn out, I think that works well in mysteries, not so much in romance. Irish Johansen once had a character through the mid-part of her novel. I really like him, then she killed him off and the real protagonist was a man set out to find out who killed likable guy. Was upset at first, but darn if I didn't keep reading ;)

    Great question. Thanks for joining us here today.

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  6. HI LOIS !! And welcome to GLIAS. I have to laugh about the glue gun. I began working with them making everything for my wedding --well 23 years ago. There weren't any low-temps then. I think I lost every single fingerprint I had. They're still rather smooth...

    So glad to see your success !
    ~~Angi

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  7. Hi Lois,

    Deadly glue gun. Haha! And a little romance never hurts any genre!

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  8. Loved the interview, Donnell and Lois! You're both a treat!

    I lived along the Mississippi River most of my life. If you ever need info about the area for future books, Lois, I'm your gal.

    Your series is a hoot and I look forward to reading more Anatassia mysteries!

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  9. Great interview!
    Love your book title!
    As for romance in mysteries, the two go hand in hand.
    Maybe not in the traditional sense on the HEA. But still.. a love interest for the protagonist adds another layer to the story

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  10. Hi Lois, (and great interview Donnell)

    I was so glad to hear that you revise before you finish your first draft. I do that too and agree that if I'm not satisfied, the scene could take the book to a place it shouldn't go. Now that's even more wasteful than revising before completed. So, you are not alone.

    Your book title has my credit card dangling from my hand. What's your hook? If I'm going to buy--I have to know.

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  11. Angi, actually I think there were low temp glue guns around 23 years ago. I've been working in the crafts industry since the early 80's and was given my first low temp gun shortly after starting in the industry. That's one of the perks. Free supplies. :-)

    Gjillian and Laura, you'll be happy to know that I do advance the love story as the series progresses.

    Misty, thanks for the offer. I'll definitely take you up on it if I need Mississippi River info.

    E.B., you can read more about the book and the first chapter on my website -- http://www.loiswinston.com. I hope that will spur you to use that credit card.

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  12. Wow -- some questions I never would have thought of -- but very interesting. Thanks for coming!

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  13. Hi Lois! So sorry for the late welcome...snow day, toddler. I loved your interview, and can't wait to read your series! Congrats on the starred review...wishing you many more great reviews to come!

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  14. Thanks, Heather. I'm supposed to fly home today and am hoping my flight isn't canceled due to snow. We've had enough snow in NJ so far to last us the year.

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  15. I love romance in a mystery....but it doesn't always have to be the lead characters! Most publishers have got stuck on that track...I like off shoots from the mystery. Have a safe trip home.

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