The Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysteries
My author Lois Winston recently relocated from New Jersey to Tennessee to be closer to family. Lois was born and bred in the Garden State and except for a stint in Philadelphia and its suburbs, has lived in New Jersey her entire life. Until now.
When Lois created me, she created another Jersey Girl, maybe because she never had a daughter of her own, only sons. And although Lois had the temerity to make me a reluctant amateur sleuth instead of one of the heroines in her romance novels, for which I’ve never forgiven her, I’m glad she chose New Jersey for the setting of the Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysteries.
When you grow up in New Jersey, you develop Jersey ‘tude. You have to in order to deal with all the insensitive comments from the rest of the country. We’re the butt of many a late-night comedian’s joke—even those who happen to live here. I have no idea why. I’ve been to most of the other forty-nine states in the U.S., and in my opinion, many of them fall far short of New Jersey.
Out-of-staters think we’re nothing but strip malls. To them I say, come visit Westfield or Haddonfield or Princeton or Summit or Chatham…I could go on and on. We have dozens and dozens of quaint towns, many of which have been used as settings in movies and TV shows. And no matter where you live in New Jersey, within a relatively short time you can be in the mountains or down the shore. (Yes, we call it down the shore. Other people go to the beach or the seaside but not those of us from the Garden State.) Plus, if you live in the northern half of the state, as I do, you’re a short train or car ride from Manhattan. Theaters and museums galore!
New Jersey has culture, sports, and cow pastures. Horse farms and high-rises. We’re home to the famous and the infamous. We probably have more authors per capita living in New Jersey than any other state.
We even legally own the Statue of Liberty, but try telling that to New York. However, since they usurped our national landmark, we took their beloved football teams. That’s right, folks, for those of you who live in other parts of the country, both the New York Giants and the New York Jets play in New Jersey.
However, because we’ve had to put up with so much negative press and razzing for so long, those of us from New Jersey have had to develop a tough hide. We’re also known for our sense of humor, which runs more toward snark than Minnesota Nice.
I’ve had to channel my inner Jersey Strong to cope with what Lois has dumped on me—kidnappings, Mafia loan sharks, a communist mother-in-law, and more dead bodies than I can count at this point. I cope with it all by channeling my Jersey ‘tude and sense of humor.
But right now, I’m getting a bit nervous about whether Lois will allow me to continue living in New Jersey or if she’ll force me to move to Middle Tennessee. She tells me you can take the girl out of New Jersey, but you can’t take New Jersey out of the girl. That sounds ominous. I’m hoping she’s only toying with me. But if she isn’t, I just may go on strike and give her a whopping case of Writer’s Block. We fictional characters do have some tricks up our sleeves.