My author, Lois Winston, was recently asked why she loves to write murder mysteries. It’s a question I’ve often asked her, given that I bear the brunt of all the mayhem involved in sleuthing around dead bodies.
Unlike many mystery authors, Lois didn’t grow up devouring Nancy Drew books. I have it under good authority that she never read a single one. She was a Cherry Ames girl, mostly because an older neighbor gave her a vast collection she’d outgrown. Because of Cherry Ames, Lois once dreamed of becoming a nurse—until her grandmother stated that no granddaughter of hers was ever going to empty bedpans. However, Lois was young enough that other career pursuits eventually took hold of her imagination. For a time, she even wanted to be an astronaut. Then she learned NASA wasn’t interested in vertically challenged candidates prone to motion sickness.
Eventually, Lois aged out of Cherry Ames and discovered Leon Uris. (Yes, she was an extremely precocious reader.) However, none of those novels sparked career interests in her, even though she did learn far more history than any of her teachers ever imparted.
Lois was also not one of those writers who grew up dreaming about becoming a novelist. She came to writing much later in life, but not by writing mysteries. Her first novels were romances and romantic suspense. She segued into writing mysteries years later. Her agent knew an editor looking for a crafting-themed mystery series and suggested Lois try writing one.
The rest, as they say, is history. It was the proverbial match made in heaven, at least for her. I’m still upset she didn’t write me into one of those earlier romances. My life would have been far less stressful. But why did the mystery genre turn out to be such a perfect fit for her?
Lois tells me she’s always had a knack for figuring out whodunit early into most movies and TV shows. But where did that talent come from? She was trained as a graphic designer and illustrator, not as a forensics investigator.
The only explanation she’s ever been able to come up with is that she was genetically predisposed to solving crimes, thanks to her maternal grandfather. His career in law enforcement spanned nearly forty-plus years and culminated as the captain of a major metropolitan-area New York police force. During his long career, he was instrumental in bringing many mobsters to justice, including some famous ones.
Fate didn’t see fit for Lois to follow in her grandfather’s footsteps. It never crossed her mind that she could. But that crime-solving gene sat dormant inside her. Would she have started writing mysteries if her agent hadn’t suggested she try writing one? I suppose it would’ve depended on whether something else triggered that gene to wake up and take over her imagination.
Meanwhile, I’m still forced to deal with all those dead bodies. In A Crafty Collage of Crime, the twelfth book in the Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysteries Series, Lois tempts me with a trip to Tennessee wine country. You probably don’t have to strain your brain cells to figure out what I discover within minutes of arriving at the winery.