Introducing Lois Winston . . .
This month, rather than simply introducing the books of authors who may be new to you, I'd like to introduce some of the authors themselves. Several years ago, when I first looked to broaden my opportunities to learn more about the craft of writing, and I tuned into some of the notable author organizations, I noticed that Lois Winston's name was one that kept popping up in the authors' posts---an author from whom I could always count on learning something new. When I sought other authors to post, Lois was the first one I asked and I asked that maybe she speak a little about how she got started and to tell us a little about her work. I'll let Lois take it from here!
Murder, Mayhem and Holiday Cheer
By Lois Winston
It’s that time of year again, time for holiday cheer…and frenzy. If you’re like me, there always seems to be one more thing to do in preparation for the holidays, no matter how early I’ve started or how many items I’ve checked off my to-do list. Maybe that’s the reason many readers often take a break to cuddle up with a holiday-themed cozy mystery.
I’m often asked where I get the ideas for the plots in my books. I’m a news junkie. Every single plot, going back to the very first novel I wrote more than two decades ago, sprouted from the seeds of actual events.
I read three newspapers every day and watch both the morning and evening news. Along with local, national, and international events, I’m inspired by everything from human interest stories to medical research. From advice columnists to op-ed pieces. I love playing the “what if?” game. I have a three-ring binder bulging with clippings and printouts of articles that I often refer to for inspiration.
Since I write humorous fiction, even questionable products advertised in the back of automotive and sports magazines have made their way into my books. Years ago, I’d forgotten to bring a book with me to a doctor’s appointment. Of course, that was the day the doctor was running extremely late. The waiting room magazines were several years old and of no interest to anyone lacking a Y-chromosome. Out of desperation, I began flipping through the pages of Road & Track. That’s where I came across an ad for aftershave guaranteed to increase sexual attractiveness tenfold. A fictionalized version of that aftershave wound up in Four Uncles and a Wedding, one of my early chick-lit books.
Even though I eventually transitioned from writing humorous women’s fiction and rom-coms to writing cozy mysteries, my sense of humor came with me. I now write the eponymous Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysteries, featuring a magazine crafts editor who is forced to become a reluctant amateur sleuth.
“Normal” deserted Anastasia’s world the day her husband permanently cashed in his chips in Las Vegas. She’s now stuck with her communist mother-in-law, her husband’s loan shark, and a steady stream of bill collectors.
Rounding out her chaotic household are her two teenage sons; her self-proclaimed Russian princess mother; Catherine the Great, her mother’s cat; Manifesto, her mother-in-law’s dog; and a Shakespeare-quoting African Grey parrot. They all vie for space and attention in Anastasia’s cramped suburban home. Then there’s the gun-toting, globe-hopping photojournalist (or possible government operative) who moves into the apartment above her garage. (I did mention I write humorous cozy mysteries, didn’t I?)
Throughout the series, now at twelve novels and three novellas, Anastasia takes on side gigs to dig her way out of debt. However, she continually stumbles across dead bodies, forcing her to take on yet another job—that of a reluctant amateur sleuth.
And that brings me back to holiday reading because who doesn’t need a huge dose of endorphin-releasing laughter to deal with the chaos of the holidays?
A few years ago, I wrote Drop Dead Ornaments, the seventh book and first holiday-themed Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery. The plot for this book was inspired by the first billion-dollar lottery win. You know what they say about being careful what you wish for? In Drop Dead Ornaments, that lottery win leads to murder.
I had so much fun writing Drop Dead Ornaments that I decided to add a second holiday book to the series. The plot for Handmade Ho-Ho Homicide had two inspirations. The first was The Great Christmas Light Fight, the TV show that features over-the-top holiday light displays. The second was a murder that occurred in a town not too far from where I was living at the time.
If you need to take a break from the holiday frenzy, I hope you’ll laugh your way through Drop Dead Ornaments and Handmade Ho-Ho Homicide as you try to figure out whodunit.
USA Today and Amazon bestselling author Lois Winston began her award-winning writing career in 2006 with Talk Gertie to Me, a humorous novel about a small-town girl in Manhattan and the mother bent on bringing her home. That was followed by the romantic suspense Love, Lies and a Double Shot of Deception. Lois wrote her first mystery thanks to a conversation between her agent and an editor looking for a crafting-themed cozy series. Thus, was born the Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysteries, which Kirkus Reviews dubbed, “North Jersey’s more mature answer to Stephanie Plum.” The series now includes twelve novels and three novellas. To date, Lois has published twenty-one novels, five novellas, several short stories, one children’s chapter book, and one nonfiction book on writing, inspired by the twelve years she worked as an associate at a literary agency. Learn more about Lois and her books at http://www.loiswinston.com.
Happy Thanksgiving and a happy start to the holiday season to you all!