Guest Spotlight: Lois Winston

As a member of Sisters in Crime, I get to rub shoulders with some amazing writers. One that I’ve really enjoyed getting to know is Lois Winston, and I can hardly wait to read her new book. It has Scrapbook in the title – I know, right?! Mystery + Scrapbook = AWESOME! So, I asked Lois if she’d be willing to answer a few questions for me. Welcome, Lois!

In what genre did you begin writing?
LW: I started out writing romantic suspense. Love, Lies and a Double Shot of Deception, was the first book I ever wrote. It became the second book I sold. Before I sold that book, though, chick lit became popular, and since I wasn’t getting offers on any of my romantic suspense books, I decided to try my hand at chick lit. Talk Gertie To Me, a fish-out-of-water story about a mother and daughter, became my debut novel.

How has your writing/genre evolved from that time?
I’m not a funny person in person. I’ve been known to flub the punch line of every joke I’ve ever tried to tell. However, in writing Talk Gertie To Me, I discovered I had a talent for writing funny. Who knew? So when my agent told me of an editor looking for crafting mysteries and suggested I try writing one, I decided on a humorous amateur sleuth series. I created Anastasia Pollack, a crafts magazine editor and widow who, along with her two teenage sons, lives with her communist mother-in-law, her self-proclaimed descendant of Russian nobility mother, and a zany menagerie of pets, including a Shakespeare-quoting parrot.

How long did it take from beginning to write seriously to seeing your book published?
Ten years, almost to the day.

What prompted you to write for publication?
I didn’t grow up yearning to be an author. I’ve worked most of my adult life as a designer in the consumer crafts industry, creating craft projects and needlework for craft kit manufacturers and craft magazine and book publishers. One day a story popped into my head and took up residence. Eventually I decided to write it down. Before I knew it, I had written a book. The next logical step was to see if anyone thought it was worthy of publication.

Tell me about the moment when you realized you were a “real writer.”
That would have to be the day I received the phone call from my agent, telling me she had an offer of publication for Talk Gertie To Me.

What book (that you wrote or read) had the biggest impact on you?
I’d have to say Talk Gertie To Me, the first book I sold, because it proved to me that I could write a book people would want to read, showed me I had a hidden talent for writing humor, and paved the way for all the other books I’ve written.

What book are you the most proud of, and why?
That would have to be Assault With a Deadly Glue Gun because it received starred reviews from both Publishers Weekly and Booklist and was dubbed, “North Jersey’s more mature answer to Stephanie Plum” by Kirkus Reviews. Being compared so favorably to Janet Evanovich is an incredible honor!

If you could take a vacation with any of your characters, who would you choose and where would you go?
I hope my husband doesn’t read this because I’d definitely choose Zack Barnes, Anastasia’s love interest in the Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysteries. The guy’s genes cavorted in the same primordial pool as Pierce Bronson, George Clooney, and Antonio Banderas. Aside from that, Zack would make a great tour guide. He’s been just about everywhere. So I’d suggest a yearlong world tour. Nothing wrong with dreaming big, is there?

You suddenly find out that you have an entire day free – what are you going to do?
If I won the lottery or the day came with tickets to see Hamilton, I’d go to the theater. I’m a huge Broadway fan. I just wish I could afford to feed my addiction more often. I’d have to mortgage my home to afford tickets to Hamilton!

Anything else you’d like to tell me about your writing?
Scrapbook of Murder is the sixth novel in the Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery series. Other books in the series include: Assault With a Deadly Glue Gun, Death By Killer Mop Doll, Revenge of the Crafty Corpse, Decoupage Can Be Deadly, and A Stitch To Die For. In addition, there are three mini-mysteries: Crewel Intentions, Mosaic Mayhem, and Patchwork Peril.

Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me, Lois. Readers, read on for a bit about the newest book on my TBR list!

Scrapbook of Murder
An Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery, Book 6

Crafts and murder don’t normally go hand-in-hand, but normal deserted craft editor Anastasia Pollack’s world nearly a year ago. Now, tripping over dead bodies seems to be the “new normal” for this reluctant amateur sleuth.

When the daughter of a murdered neighbor asks Anastasia to create a family scrapbook from old photographs and memorabilia discovered in a battered suitcase, she agrees—not only out of friendship but also from a sense of guilt over the older woman’s death. However, as Anastasia begins sorting through the contents of the suitcase, she discovers a letter revealing a fifty-year-old secret, one that unearths a long-buried scandal and unleashes a killer. Suddenly Anastasia is back in sleuthing mode as she races to prevent a suitcase full of trouble from leading to more deaths.

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USA Today bestselling and award-winning author Lois Winston writes mystery, romance, romantic suspense, chick lit, women’s fiction, children’s chapter books, and nonfiction under her own name and her Emma Carlyle pen name. Kirkus Reviews dubbed her critically acclaimed Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery series, “North Jersey’s more mature answer to Stephanie Plum.” In addition, Lois is an award-winning craft and needlework designer who often draws much of her source material for both her characters and plots from her experiences in the crafts industry.

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