I'm pleased to welcome Lori Duffy Foster to Cozy Up With Kathy today. Lori writes the Lisa Jamison Mystery series. A Dead Man's Eyes is the first book in the series and will be released next week.
Kathy: In A Dead Man's Eyes we meet Lisa Jamison, a reporter who is the single mom of a teen age daughter. Do you think that Lisa would have handled things differently if she wasn't a reporter?
LDF: If Lisa had not been a reporter, she might never have known her ex-boyfriend, the father of her daughter, was murdered. The cops labeled it a drug killing. Any other reporter might have given his death a paragraph or two and forgotten about it until an arrest was made. Most people don’t have that much time for the news. They read the headlines and the biggest stories of the day. That’s about it. A brief about a murder is easily overlooked. Even if Lisa had noticed the story and realized the victim’s identity, she would not likely have the resources to investigate further.
Kathy: Lisa winds up fighting for her family in a morbid, black market world she never knew existed. Were you aware of this type of black market before you began your book?
LDF: That’s a hard one to answer without spoilers. I knew this particular black market existed, but I had no idea how large it was and how much it encompassed. I was shocked and mortified by what I learned. It is not a world I would ever want to get too familiar with, that’s for sure!
Kathy: Do you consider A Dead Man's Eyes to be more of a thriller or mystery?
LDF: A Dead Man’s Eyes is more of a mystery, but it is fast-paced, like a thriller.
Kathy: What first drew you to mysteries?
LDF: I never intended to write mysteries. I am intrigued by human nature, how we become the people we are, why we make certain decisions, how we communicate (or miscommunicate) with each other. But I was a crime reporter for six of my eleven years as a journalist and crime kept making its way into my fiction until it stole the show. Crime fascinates me. It is probably the best arena for studying human nature. We like to believe that there are good people and bad people and that we are safely on the side of good, but it is far more complicated than that.
Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?
LDF: I do! I have also written two standalone thrillers and one novel that is an historical courtroom drama. I also have a nonfiction book, Raising Identical Twins: The Unique Challenges and Joys of the Younger Years. I self-published that one with permission from our identical boys.
Kathy: Tell us about your series.
LDF: The series focuses on Lisa Jamison, a journalist who ran away from her drug-addicted parents at 15, got pregnant, and then landed in foster care after witnessing the tragic death of a friend. She is successful in her career and has given her daughter the life she never had, but she has never confronted her past and it’s all starting to crash down on her, beginning with her ex-boyfriend’s murder.
Kathy: Do you have a favorite character? If so, who and why?
LDF: I hate to pick a favorite because I love them all, but I really do enjoy Dorothy. Dorothy came into Lisa’s life as babysitter for her daughter Bridget, and then became Bridget’s live-in nanny. By the time the novel begins, Bridget is 16 and no longer needs a nanny. Dorothy is “Grandma Dorothy” to Bridget and Lisa’s best friend. She is an artist with secrets of her own and an inner strength that can only come from the worst of hardships.
Kathy: Did you have a specific inspiration for your series?
LDF: I do. The idea came years later, but it started with a house fire on a city street in Syracuse. I had already interviewed the occupants, who escaped unharmed, and was waiting for a chance to talk with the fire chief when an obviously pregnant 15-year-old began talking with me. She was in foster care, but she was determined to keep the baby and make something of herself. She struck me as extraordinary—smart and capable—and her name seemed familiar. I looker her up in my old notes when I returned to the newsroom. She shared a name and age with a girl who had witnessed a fatal game of Russian roulette. I forgot her name over time, but I never forgot her. She is the main inspiration for the novel along with a couple of colleagues who were single moms and successful, one with a toddler-in-tow and no father in the picture. That is not easy in journalism.
Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?
LDF: It never occurred to me that I wouldn’t publish, even when I was a kid. I knew it would happen eventually if I worked hard enough. I am very self-critical though, so I have always liked the idea of gatekeepers, people in the business who would decide when my work was ready for a broader audience. I know the system is not always fair, that success on the journey to publication often involves luck, but I have always needed that kind of validation. So, even though I self-published a nonfiction book, I knew I would not self-publish fiction. I am happy for people who can do it and I know I could have been published years ago if I had taken that route, but I think the timing is right for me now and that the wait for worth it.
Kathy: If you could have a dinner party and invite 4 authors, living or dead, in any genre, who would you invite?
LDF: That’s a tough question because there are a lot of really awesome authors I already have shared dinner or a drink with, thanks to writing conferences. So, I will focus on those I’ve not met in person: Margaret Atwood, Anita Shreve, John Irving and Jamie Ford. Jamie Ford would have to bring his wife, too, though. She is at least as interesting as he is.
Kathy: What are you currently reading?
LDF: I am reading three books right now. I just started Marco Carocari’s debut novel Blackout and Lisa Jewell’s Then She was Gone. I have physical copes of those books. I am reading Watership Down on my Kindle because my twins are reading it for school. I like to read what they read, so I can discuss the books with them.
Kathy: Will you share any of your hobbies or interests with us?
LDF: Sure! We live on 151 acres in the middle of nowhere. I love to hike around the property and take photos to share on social media. Hiking anywhere is one of my favorite things to do. My husband and I also enjoy gardening and making maple syrup. I used to be a runner with races every weekend and at least one marathon a year. I had planned to start racing again when my kids were older, but I was derailed by two foot surgeries and lots of weight gain. I am trying to get back on track. I love running and I miss it.
Kathy: Name 4 items you always have in your fridge or pantry.
LDF: I always have Jasmine rice, chocolate chip morsels, green peppers and Vidalia onions on hand.
Kathy: Do you have plans for future books either in your current series or a new series?
LDF: I am under contract for five more books with Level Best Books – two more in the series and three standalones. The second in the series is finished, but I am only halfway through the third. So that is what I am focusing on now. I have an idea for a fourth and it is so hard not to skip ahead! One of my standalones is an historic courtroom drama set in the Adirondack Mountains of New York State in the 1920s. I would love to write another like that.
Kathy: What's your favorite thing about being an author?
LDF: I love writing. I wish I could just write and write and write, and that someone else would do the rest.
Lisa Jamison has done well for a single mom who got pregnant at fifteen.
She’s a reporter at a well-respected newspaper and her teenage daughter is both an athlete and honors student. Though their relationship is rocky these days, Lisa has accomplished what she set out to do. She has given her daughter the kind of life she never had.
But all that changes when Lisa sees her daughter in the eyes of a dead man.
The cops call it a drug killing, but Lisa doesn’t believe it. She knows her ex-boyfriend was no drug dealer even though she hadn’t seen him in sixteen years. Lisa ignores warnings from her medical-examiner friend. She fails to heed barely veiled threats from the sheriff of a neighboring county. Instead, she risks her life and the lives of her daughter and their closest friend on a dangerous quest for answers.
The investigation leaves Lisa fighting for her family in a morbid, black market world she never knew existed. She learns that trust is complicated and that she, despite her cynical nature, has been blind. She trusted the wrong people and now she might have to pay with her life.
Lori Duffy Foster is a former crime reporter who writes from the hills of Northern Pennsylvania, where she lives with her husband and four children. She was born and raised in the Adirondack Mountains of New York State, where a part of her heart remains. Her short fiction has appeared in the journal Aethlon, and in the anthologies Short Story America and Childhood Regained. Her nonfiction has appeared in Healthy Living, Running Times, Literary Mama, Crimespree and Mountain Home magazines. A Dead Man’s Eyes, the first in the Lisa Jamison mystery/suspense series, is her debut novel. Look for book two in the series, Never Broken, in April of 2022. She is also author of Raising Identical Twins: The Unique Challenges and Joys of the Early Years. Lori is a member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, The Historical Novel Society, International Thriller Writers and Pennwriters She also sits on the board of the Knoxville (PA) Public Library.
Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/a-dead-mans-eyes-lori-duffy-foster/1138999040
Apple Books: https://books.apple.com/us/book/a-dead-mans-eyes/id1557869449?id=1557869449&ign-itsct=books_toolbox&ign-itscg=30200
IndieBound link: https://www.indiebound.org/