Kathy: In LITERALLY DEAD Gracie Elliott attends a major writers conference. Do you attend writers conferences?
LW: Yes, I attended my first writing conference nearly twenty years ago. That’s where I learned how much I needed to learn—about both the craft of writing and the business end of publishing. All these years later I still occasionally attend writing conferences because there’s always more to learn.
Kathy: Gracie gets to meet one of her favorite authors only to find the woman is NOT a nice person. Have you ever been let down when you've met someone you idolized?
LW: Sadly, yes. I won’t name names, but let’s just say the person’s private persona didn’t come anywhere close to living up to the public one.
Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?
LW: Although I began my career writing romance, I think genetically there was always a mystery author lurking inside me. My grandfather was the captain of a major metropolitan county police force. From as early as I can remember, I was always able to figure out whodunit minutes or pages into most mysteries. However, writing mysteries seemed a safer occupation than actually following in my grandfather’s footsteps and setting out to solve real-life crimes.
Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?
LW: As I said above, I started out writing romance, but Talk Gertie to Me, my first published novel, wasn’t a romance. Although it contained a romance, it was mostly a humorous fish-out-of-water story involving the relationship between a mother and daughter. My second published novel was the romantic suspense Love, Lies and a Double Shot of Deception. Then I moved on to writing amateur sleuth mysteries. I’m also published in nonfiction and have one middle-grade chapter book to my credit.
Kathy: Tell us about your series.
LW: The Empty Nest Mystery series features textile designer Gracie Elliott. Gracie has always had a dream of becoming a published romance novelist. When she finds her career outsourced to a Third World nation, she searches for a job that will allow her time to write. What she doesn’t anticipate are the murders that intrude on her various fledgling business ventures.
I also write the critically acclaimed Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery series, which currently consists of five full-length novels and three mini-mysteries. Anastasia is the crafts editor of a woman’s magazine. When her husband drops dead at a roulette table in Las Vegas, she quickly learns her comfortable middle-class life is built on lies and deceit. She’s left with two kids, a Shakespeare-quoting parrot, her communist mother-in-law, and debt equal to the gross national product of Uzbekistan. Anastasia begins to moonlight at various jobs in order to whittle down that massive debt, but dead bodies keep getting in her way.
Kathy: Do you have a favorite character? If so, who and why?
LW: Oh dear! That’s like asking a mother if she has a favorite child. I love all the protagonists I create. If I didn’t love them, I wouldn’t write about them. Also, just like there’s a little of me in each of my children, there’s a bit of me in all my heroines, especially Anastasia and Gracie.
Kathy: Did you have a specific inspiration for your series?
LW: The Empty Nest Mystery series is my homage to the classic Thin Man movies starring Myrna Loy and Dick Powell. However, I’ve given my series a modern day spin by making Gracie my sleuth. Her college professor husband Blake is her (often reluctant) sidekick who takes on the task of trying to keep her out of trouble.
Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?
LW: This will sound like a cliché, but my entire writing career started with a dream—not a dream to become published but one I dreamt. Normally I don’t remember my dreams. However, not only did I remember this one, it played out in chapters over the course of several nights. I decided to write the dream down, and before I knew it, I’d written a book. The next logical stepped seemed to be finding a publisher. Of course, I had no idea it would take ten years from the time of that dream until I saw my first book in print, but the journey has been well worth it.
Kathy: If you could have a dinner party and invite 4 authors, living or dead, in any genre, who would you invite?
LW: Hmm…I’ve been asked this question before, and my answer has often depended on my mood, what I’ve read recently, and books that have stuck in my head long after I’ve finished them. For today’s dinner party I’ve decided to invite historical mystery author Ariana Franklin for her Mistress of the Art of Death series and City of Shadows, women’s fiction author Kristin Hannah for Winter Garden and The Nightingale, Amy Stewart for Girl Waits with Gun, and B.A. Shapiro for The Art Forger. I highly recommend all of the aforementioned books.
Kathy: What are you currently reading?
LW: In for a Penny by Maggie Toussaint
Kathy: Will you share any of your hobbies or interests with us?
LW: I’m pretty much addicted to Broadway and off-Broadway plays and musicals. Living within a short commute of Manhattan enables me to feed that addiction, but it’s a costly habit and one I need to keep in check if I don’t want to go broke!
Kathy: Name 4 items you always have in your fridge or pantry.
LW: coffee, milk (for the coffee,) chocolate, and ice cream
Kathy: Do you have plans for future books either in your current series or a new series?
LW: Absolutely! I’m currently working on the sixth full-length Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery. Once I finish that, I’ll be starting on the third Empty Nest Mystery.
Kathy: What's your favorite thing about being an author?
LW: When readers tell me how much they’ve enjoyed the stories I create.
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