Baker of brownies and tormenter of characters, Alice Loweecey recently celebrated her thirtieth year outside the convent. She grew up watching Hammer horror films and Scooby-Doo mysteries, which explains a whole lot. When she’s not creating trouble for Giulia Falcone-Driscoll, she can be found growing her own vegetables (in summer) and cooking with them (the rest of the year.) Learn more about Alice and her books at her website. Today Alice sits down with us for an interview.
What genre/genres do you write in:
When did you realize you wanted to write novels?
In my college years. I wrote reams of angsty teen poetry in high school. (It’s all been shredded. You’re welcome.) All those 30-page papers in college made me remember that long pieces can be interesting, and those were what I wanted to write.
How long did it take you to realize your dream of publication?
Six years. I started writing with the goal of publication in 2005 and my debut, Force of Habit, was published in 2011. (Got married and had kids after college. Kids sort of take up your entire life for their first 10+ years or so.)
Are you traditionally published, indie published, or a hybrid author?
I have traditional, trade publishing deals. Midnight Ink published my first three mysteries. Henery Press is publishing my next three.
Where do you write?
My living room, out on the deck in the few Buffalo months that aren’t buried in snow, coffee shops sometimes.
Is silence golden, or do you need music to write by? What kind?
I can write in silence or with noise. We watch a lot of sports in our house, which are like white noise to me. I also listen to opera or ancient music—anything that isn’t English, so I can’t understand the words. Swedish Death Metal is GREAT white noise.
How much of your plots and characters are drawn from real life? From your life in particular?
I find a lot of my plot elements in real life, because my mysteries are set in present day. From my life, hardly anything. I use some convent anecdotes in each book, but some of them are out of my imagination. Others really happened. I let my readers speculate on which ones are the real stories.
Describe your process for naming your character?
I find cemetery and census records for the counties my books are set in, and put together names from those.
Real settings or fictional towns?
Depends. Cottonwood, PA, where my mysteries are set, is completely fictional. But my characters often travel to real towns. Google Earth is my friend.
What’s the quirkiest quirk one of your characters has?
Sidney Martin, Giulia’s assistant, is the perkiest Christmas Elf on the planet. She’s also all-natural. Her eco-friendly wedding was one of the most fun events to research. If I wrote romance, I could create an entire series with an eco-friendly wedding planner. It’s fascinating.
What’s your quirkiest quirk?
Bad horror movies. I love ’em. The kind where you root for the monster to eat/crush/kill all the characters because they’re TSTL (Attack of the Crab Monster) and you can see the zipper in the back of the monster’s costume (The Alligator People). I can binge-watch them any time. Also, RiffTrax FTW.
If you could have written any book (one that someone else has already written,) which one would it be? Why?
Dracula. My dream, besides a multiple TV/movie deal with Bryce Dallas Howard and Gerard Butler starring as Giulia and Frank, is to create a character that people will be fanficcing and writing spin-offs and parodies about long after I’m dead.
Everyone at some point wishes for a do-over. What’s yours?
Not to have quit piano lessons when I hit puberty. My father, a professional musician, started teaching me when I was ten. Much too soon, I was in the Eyeroll of Death years and didn’t want to be in the same zip code as my parents. So I quit lessons before I could play with both hands simultaneously. I’ve never had time to achieve that. I play guitar and flute and recorder, but still can only use my right hand on the piano.
What’s your biggest pet peeve?
Two-faced people. Nothing sours one’s outlook like discovering people you thought were your friends… really weren’t.
So many possibilities for subplots and Redshirts, though. That’s the only bright side I’ve been able to find.
You’re stranded on a deserted island. What are your three must-haves?
Gerard Butler. (…What?)
The complete works of Charles Dickens.
A desalination machine.
What was the worst job you’ve ever held?
Back in the 1970s I was night clerk at a fitness center, whose women’s division was in the basement. (We most certainly have come a long way.) The pool was also in the basement. The place had inch-long water bugs that went snap-crunch-crackle as you stepped on them.
Then the management ripped out the old lockers and installed new ones without fumigating. Cockroaches. Everywhere. Crawling up the walls, crawling out from underneath my typewriter, crawling in the showers. Everywhere. My baseline criteria for any job since has been “No bugs.”
What’s the best book you’ve ever read?
Our Mutual Friend by Dickens. No, wait. The Twelve Caesars by Suetonius. No, wait. The Man Who Loved Mars by Lin Carter.
Um… can I get back to you?
Ocean or mountains?
Ocean all the way. When you live in a place where winter lasts 9 months* of the year, you appreciate sand and surf and warmth and drinks with little umbrellas in them.
*Okay, it may not literally last 9 months, but it sure feels like it.
City girl/guy or country girl/guy?
City. Sidewalks and streetlights are God’s gift to humanity. Also, cows are evil and not to be trusted. I’ve seen them standing by the sides of country roads, secretly laughing at my Clown Car, a Chevy Aveo hatchback. I know they’re saying amongst themselves, “We can tip that little thing over. Let’s see how the humans like it.”
What’s on the horizon for you?
I also have a dystopian horror novel coming out with Dark Recesses Press in May. I will be continually reminding my mystery fans that the DRP book is NOT a Giulia Driscoll mystery!
My next Henery Press mystery, Second To Nun, comes out in the early-ish fall.
Nun Too Soon
Giulia Falcone-Driscoll has just taken on her first impossible client: The Silk Tie Killer. He’s hired Driscoll Investigations to prove his innocence and they have only thirteen days to accomplish it. Talk about being tried in the media. Everyone in town is sure Roger Fitch strangled his girlfriend with one of his silk neckties. And then there’s the local TMZ wannabes—The Scoop—stalking Giulia and her client for sleazy sound bites.
On top of all that, her assistant’s first baby is due any second, her scary smart admin still doesn’t relate well to humans, and her police detective husband insists her client is guilty. About this marriage thing—it’s unknown territory, but it sure beats ten years of living with 150 nuns.
Giulia’s ownership of Driscoll Investigations hasn’t changed her passion for justice from her convent years. But the more dirt she digs up, the more she’s worried her efforts will help a murderer escape. As the client accuses DI of dragging its heels on purpose, Giulia thinks The Silk Tie Killer might be choosing one of his ties for her own neck.