Monday, March 14, 2011

Scene of the Crime with Author Lorna Barrett

You may know this week's author by a slightly different name, but the name I learned first was Lorna Barrett, when I began reading her excellent cozy "Booktown" mystery series.

Having spent an entire day wandering the streets (and bookshops) of Hay-on-Wye in the UK, I couldn't resist a mystery set in a book town on this side of the pond. Each installment of the Booktown series gets stronger and stronger, and I can't wait for the newest, Sentenced to Death, which will be released in June.

There are five books in the Booktown series:

Sentenced to Death (June, 2011)

But, wait! There's more! (As they say on television.) As L.L. Bartlett, this talented author writes psychological suspense and the Jeff Resnick mystery series: Murder on the Mind (2005), Dead in Red (2008), and Cheated by Death (2011).

If that weren't all, as Lorraine Bartlett, she's just come out with a brand-new series set in Artisans Alley in Victoria Square. The first book in the series, A Crafty Killing is out now, with the second, The Walled Flower, set to be released this fall.

Since I've enjoyed the Booktown series so much, it almost goes without saying that I have a copies of Murder on the Mind and A Crafty Killing on their way to me!

At the very end of the interview in addition to the links to her websites which I've already given you, you'll find links to Lorraine's blogs as well as her pages on Facebook and Twitter. She's also graciously shared a book trailer with us, so settle in and enjoy!

Lorraine and Fred

I love Lorraine's bio from her Lorna Barrett website, so I've nicked it to include here. (If Lorraine doesn't approve, perhaps the next dead body in Stoneham, New Hampshire, will be named for me....)

"She's done it all, from drilling holes for NASA to typing scripts in Hollywood, and lives a life of crime in western New York. Her first sales were to the confession magazine market."

I think I should have asked her about those holes for NASA, but let's get on to the interview!

What was the very first book you remember reading and loving? What makes that book so special?

I read tons of children's books, but I never remember actually loving them.  I was into biographies and the first one I read aimed at children was Indian Captive:  The Story of Mary Jemison.  My parents had taken my brothers and me to Letchworth State Park, where Mary's cabin has been preserved, so it was great to read the book about her life.  I think I read it about six times when I was 10 or 11. I just kept taking it out of the school library.

Outside of your writing and all associated commitments, what do you like to do in your free time?

I love to go junking and find a bargain.  I was a vendor in an antiques arcade for 12 years.  I had to give it up when I began writing full time, but I still enjoy the thrill of the hunt.  I also read a lot--although not always for pleasure.

If I were to visit your hometown, where would you recommend that I go? (I like seeing and doing things that aren't in all the guide books.)

If you like to shop for antiques and collectibles, I'd send you to the Craft Antique Co-Op, which has all kinds of unique things.  (That's where I used to be a vendor.)  The Eastman House is where Kodak founder George Eastman lived and it's also known as the International Museum of Photography.  There are lots of nice restaurants in the area, too, and most of them are moderately priced.  (I wouldn't send you to a franchise place, either.  Nothing interesting to eat there!)

Lauren Graham
You have total control over casting a movie based on your life. Which actor would you cast as you?

Lauren Graham.  She's nothing like me, and a lot thinner.  Yeah, she'd do a good job. 

Who is your favorite recurring character in crime fiction?

Sid Halley, a character in 3 or 4 Dick Francis books.

Before your very first published mystery, what else had you written (short stories, articles, unpublished manuscripts)?

I started out writing Star Trek stories for fun.  I moved on to Starsky and Hutch, Magnum P.I., Beauty and the Beast and Quantum Leap.  Lots of fun.  A great way to learn to write.

What did you do the first time you saw one of your books on a shelf in a bookstore? How did you celebrate when you first heard you were to be published?

My first "real" (meaning I got paid) published story was in 1997, a short romance called "Valentine's Day."  Boy I wish I could find a copy of it, too.  It's probably on a floppy disk down in my basement, but I never got a copy of the magazine it went in.  I don't remember doing much to celebrate except getting a color copy of the check made to hang on my wall.  (It's still there.)

Several crime fiction authors write multiple series. Some authors write everything under one name, others-- like you-- use different names for different series. Do you think this helps you in your writing (and book sales), or do you think it can sometimes be a hindrance?

It definitely does NOT help sales to be writing under different names, but authors don't always have a choice.  My agent (at the time) suggested I write my Jeff Resnick books under the name L.L. Bartlett because men often won't buy a book written by a woman.  (Yeah, go figure!)  My next publisher wanted a different name because I'd previously written suspense and was changing to cozy fiction. (Lorna Barrett writing the Booktown Mysteries.)    It would definitely help if both my cozy series were under one name, but my publisher chose not to do so, so I am writing the Victoria Square Mysteries under my own name, Lorraine Bartlett.

I don't know if you've seen it, but I love Parnell Hall's video about book signings. What is the most unusual experience you've had at a book signing or author event?

It's a great video.  Parnell is very entertaining.  I can't recall anything particularly unusual.  Although I was at a library event with a group of authors and I asked a woman who passed by my table if she liked to read mysteries.  She rather rudely told me that she "only reads GOOD books."

The way some people talk, the only way to read now or in the future is with some sort of electronic device, like my husband's Nook. What is your opinion of eBooks, and how will they affect you as a published author? 

I love e books.  (I have a Kindle.)  I think it's going to be fantastic for authors.  Right now I have a number of items that had been out of print up on Kindle, Nook, etc.  They don't sell a lot, but it's steady income.  When you only get paid twice a year (by a traditional publisher) you really appreciate a few hundred dollars coming in every month to help pay the bills.

Right now I think traditional publishers are charging too much ($9.99 and above).  As of this writing, I have three of my Jeff Resnick novels available as e books (and a 4th to go up in March) at $2.99.  My traditionally published (mass market paperback) books are sold for $6.99.  I make more money per unit on the $2.99 books than the $6.99 because the royalty is three times as high.  In the very near future, publishers are going to have to negotiate higher royalty rates with established authors if they want to continue to publish their work.

Here's the book trailer for Lorraine's latest book, A Crafty Killing:

Here are some more links for Lorraine:

Saturday contributor to The Cozy Chicks (blog)
Facebook: Lorna Barrett
Twitter: Lorna Barrett

Have you read any of Lorraine's books? Which ones? If Lorraine is a new-to-you author, are you tempted to read her books now?

Don't be shy-- tell us what you think!


  1. A new author for me but I would certainly like to read her books.

  2. I'v eread the Booktown series and A Crafty Killing. I don't care what name is used. Loved them all!

  3. I follow Dazed and Confused and it's always fun. Her life is busy and a little wacky at times, and her sense of humor makes me laugh. Loved the trailer.

  4. I've read at least one of the Booktown books and loved it. I have others, but have not had time for them yet. I also have A CRAFTY KILLING on my Kindle. I know that soon I will have more time and concentration for reading again. Great choices for your SCENE OF THE CRIME posts, Cathy! Lorraine/Lorna/L.L., love your books!

  5. Thanks Cathy, I've just ordered Murder on the Mind for my Nook. I'll let you know how it goes.


  6. I am definitely tempted!

    Cathy, you know me fairly well - which series do you think I should try?

  7. I'm so pleased that so many of you have found my books. Thank you so much.

  8. Mystica-- I certainly hope you get the chance. They are soooo good!

    Nancy-- I agree, and since I'm feeling downright Shakespearian, "A rose by any other name would smell as sweet"!

    Barbara-- She certainly does have a great sense of humor!

    Kay-- I'm glad you're enjoying the series!

    Denis-- You know... you sound all polite here, but in person it's "Making me spend money, I dunno!" ;)

    Dorte-- I would think that you'd enjoy either the Booktown series or the brand-new series that begins with A Crafty Killing. Enjoy!

  9. Great interview! I still have Chapter and Hearse to read, which I guess I better get to so I'm ready when the newest comes out in June.

  10. Kris-- I'm ready and waiting!


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