My guest this week is an award-winning craft and needlework designer and author from the world of traditional publishing who’s now an “indie” author. Lois writes women’s fiction, romance, romantic suspense, and non-fiction under her own name as well as under her pen name, Emma Carlyle.
Her critically acclaimed Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery series is a clever combination of humor, mystery, and crafts, with material for characters and plots drawn from her personal experience in the crafts industry. (Who knew crafts could be deadly?) The series features a magazine crafts editor who’s also a reluctant amateur sleuth.
The first in the series, Assault with a Deadly Glue Gun, earned starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Booklist (quite an achievement!). Kirkus Reviews called the series “North Jersey’s more mature answer to Stephanie Plum.”
Here’s Lois, talking about her series:
Although I’m not Anastasia, we share many of the same experiences. I’ve spent much of my adult life working in the crafts industry as both a designer and an editor. My work experience, coupled with setting my books in Manhattan and actual New Jersey towns, make it possible for me to infuse my books with rich, factual details.
Like Anastasia, I’m the mother of two sons. However, my husband is not a closet gambler (really, he’s not!), and thankfully, he’s still very much alive. I also don’t make a habit of stumbling over dead bodies, but I did have a very mean-spirited communist mother-in-law who lived with me for six (although it felt like sixty) years. My revenge has been to turn her into the character readers love to hate.
Unfortunately, due to allergies, I don’t have a single pet, let alone Anastasia’s unlikely menagerie, living under my roof. Ralph, the Shakespeare-quoting parrot, the white Persian cat known as Catherine the Great, and Manifesto, the communist French bulldog, are all figments of my very fertile (and often warped) imagination.
True to the tradition of cozy mysteries, there’s no sex and no explicit violence. A few characters use foul language on occasion. (Hey, Mafia loan sharks aren’t going to say “gosh darn it!” Teenagers in the series will probably slip now and then, although they’re quick to apologize when reprimanded by Mom.) My books are most likely to appeal to adult readers of humorous amateur sleuth mysteries.
The Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysteries
When Anastasia’s husband permanently cashes in his chips at a roulette table in Las Vegas, her comfortable middle-class life craps out. She’s left with two teenage sons, a mountain of debt, and her hateful Communist mother-in-law as a permanent houseguest—not to mention stunned disbelief over her late husband’s secret gambling addiction and the loan shark demanding fifty thousand dollars. And that’s before she becomes the prime suspect in the murder of the magazine’s fashion editor.
Each book in the series finds Anastasia moonlighting at various jobs to pay down her debt. Unfortunately, she keeps stumbling over dead bodies and coming up against killers.
“Winston…plays for plenty of laughs…while letting Anastasia shine as a risk-taking investigator who doesn’t always know when to quit.”
—Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine
In the most recent full-length mystery in the series, Anastasia and her fellow American Woman editors are steaming mad when minutes before the opening of a consumer show, they discover half their booth usurped by Bling!, their publisher’s newest magazine. CEO Alfred Gruenwald is sporting new arm candy—rapper-turned-entrepreneur and Bling! executive editor, the first-name-only Philomena.
During the consumer show, Gruenwald’s wife serves Philomena with an alienation of affection lawsuit, but Philomena doesn’t live long enough to make an appearance in court. She’s found dead days later, stuffed in the shipping case that held Anastasia’s decoupage crafts. When Gruenwald makes cash-strapped Anastasia an offer she can’t refuse, she wonders, does he really want to find Philomena’s killer or is he harboring a hidden agenda?
“Beware the Bling!”
Read an excerpt here: http://www.loiswinston.com/excerptdecoupage.pdf
Enjoy the whole series in trade paperback or e-book editions:
NEW! Get all three mini-mysteries together in Crafty Crimes