Recently, New York Times best-selling author Lorna Barrett sat down to chat about mysteries, readers and why her series is so enormously popular.
Q. The Booktown Mysteries are enormously popular and readers love Tricia Miles, the owner of the Haven't Got a Clue bookstore. Is there a "real" Tricia Miles who served as the inspiration for this delightful character? How did you come up with the idea of an amateur sleuth who owns a bookstore?
LB: Um ... me. I used to sell used book when I was a vendor in an antiques/collectibles co-op. But most of Tricia came from my imagination. The idea for the series came from my editor.
Q. You're working on three series at once. Can you tell us about the Victoria Square Mysteries, written by your alter-ego Lorraine Bartlett?
LB: As I mentioned above, I was a vendor at an antiques/collectibles co-op for twelve years. I thought the location would be a great place to set a mystery series and I had a lot of fun putting the series together. Thanks to an investment made by her late husband, Katie Bonner owns 10% of Artisans Alley. When it's owner manager is murdered, she inherits half the business, which gives her 55% stake in the business, a going concerning quickly going downhill. Not only does Katie feel pressured to find out who killed the former owner, but she must pull Artisans Alley out of the red--and her methods have her vendors wishing someone would bump her off!
Q. As a psychologist, I'm intrigued by the Jeff Resnick series. Have you always wanted to write psychological suspense?
LB: When I wrote the first book, I had no idea I was writing psychological suspense. I was intrigued with my protagonist, Jeff Resnick, and the strained relationship he had with his older half brother. Exploring that complicated relationship--and everything the brothers encounter as they investigate crimes--as been enormous fun.
Q. The publishing landscape is in flux but your readership remains rock-solid, and your fans eagerly await each new release. You've hit the New York Time Best-seller list, the Barnes and Noble best-seller list and you've been nominated for an Agatha and a Macavity. Heady stuff for a novelist. This is the big-time. How does it feel?
LB:I toiled away in obscurity for many years with virtually no one reading my work. To now have thousands of readers who enjoy and anticipate each new adventure from my various series is enormously satisfying. I hope I get to do this for a long time to come
Q. How do you stay in touch with your fans? I know that you're into social media and you offer a newsletter.
LB: I have a web site for each of my series, Facebook pages for each of my writing names, and Twitter accounts for each name, too. I participate on a number of reader loops, too. They're sales tools, but they're a lot of fun, too. I've met many of
Q. When did you know you wanted to be a writer? It seems that you've always loved books.
LB:I always had "stories" whirling around in my head, but I didn't have the
Q Why are mysteries so enduringly popular?
LB:These days far too many people get away with murder in real life. I believe readers like to see justice done--and swiftly, which usually happens in a mystery.
Q. What's the secret to writing a great mystery plot?
LB:I certainly don't know the secret. I write the kind of stories that I like to read. So far that strategy has worked okay.
Q. What one thing hasn't happened in your writing career that you wish would?
LB: I'm surprised that readers don't ask me more questions about my characters. While I get a lot of reader mail, the question most asked os when the next book will be out rather than a desire to discuss the previous books. I always wonder what authors don't tell their readers about their characters--I thought everyone did.
Readers can contact Lorna Barrett at www.lornabarrett.com. Her next release, SENTENCED to DEATH will be out in June.
Dr. Mary Kennedy is a licensed psychologist in private practice in the northeast, and the author of The Talk Radio Mysteries from Penguin. Visit her at www.marykennedy.net
More from entertainment