Sunday, October 19, 2008

Interview with Lorna Barrett

I’d like to welcome Lorraine Bartlett (who also writes as L.L. Bartlett and Lorna Barrett) to Socrates’ Book Review. She is the author of Murder is Binding as Lorna Barrett and Dead in Red as L.L. Bartlett. Lorraine has graciously agreed to be interviewed on our blog and we thank her so much for giving up some of her time for us.

Sit back and relax as we get to know this excellent author a little better.

1.) What was your first book or article that was published?

I had a lot of short stories published in my early 20s in amateur magazines, but my first “professional” story was for a little romance magazine. I was paid $10 and I was thrilled.

2) How did you celebrate being a published author?

With a martini! (And I still celebrate that way,)

3) How did you create the Booktown Mystery series? Is it based on a real town and on real people?

The look of the town of Stoneham is based on the small village of Wolcott, New York, and one I visited in New Hampshire about a decade ago. At the time, I had no idea I would ever write about New Hampshire, or I would’ve paid a lot more attention.

4) Are the recipes in the back of Murder is Binding yours? Are they old family recipes?

They’re all recipes I’ve adapted, and they come from all over. Some I’ve made over and over again, and some I’ve only made for the book(s). I had a hard time with one from the second book and kept making it over and over again. My husband swears he will never eat another sausage and cheese muffin again!

5) Who are some of your favorite authors or books?

How much time do you have? Currently, I’m reading a lot of cozies. But I also read a broad range of other mysteries and a lot of non-fiction (especially decorating and cookbooks). I love Dick Francis, Barbara Michaels, John Mortimer, Lawrence Block, Julia Spencer-Fleming, yada, yada, yada -- but I’m also a huge fan of a lot of my friends’ work: Kate Flora, Sandra Parshall, Judy Clemens, Doranna Durgin, Sheila Connolly, Leann Sweeney, Hank Phillippi Ryan, Krista Davis, Roberta Isleib, and on and on.

6) Do you get to choose your own book titles and pick out your covers? Or is that strictly up to the publisher?

I’m terrible with titles, although I named Murder On The Mind and Dead In Red myself. I held a contest for the first couple of Booktown books (Murder Is Binding and Bookmarked for Death), I only came up with the title for the third booktown mystery two weeks ago: Bookplate Special.

Five Star, the publisher of my Jeff Resnick mysteries, welcomes author input for covers, and I did a mock-up for Dead In Red. Their cover designer found the perfect shoe (something I hadn’t been able to do) and did a dynamite cover. Berkley Prime Crime doesn’t encourage author input, but I feel very lucky with the first two covers in the Booktown series. Their Marketing and Graphics Departments really know what they’re doing.

7) Who influenced you the most in your writing career and who gives you the most support?

My first mentor really encouraged me to stretch as a writer. She hasn’t yet published a novel, but she’s working on it. And when it is published, I hope I can help her promote it. As for support, my husband strongly encouraged me to switch from amateur publications and go pro. He’s still my biggest supporter.

8) Have you ever written other genres besides mystery? Are you interested in writing other genres?

I’ve written a little romance, some SF (years ago), and some things that aren’t easy to pigeonhole. But I guess I just prefer the mystery genre.

9) How long does it take to write a book?

Forever!!! (No, it just seems that way during the first draft.) It took me 11 years to write and rewrite (and rewrite some more) Murder On The Mind and sell it. It was my first novel, and the first book I had published. During those 11 years, I wrote three more books in the series. Dead In Red took me just over two months. It just seemed to write itself. Because I’m under contract, I must finish my Booktown mysteries in nine months. That’s pushing it for me.

10) Was there ever something an editor wanted to cut or change from your book, but you fought to keep?

No. In fact, I’ve had little editorial interference. I’m either very good, or they’re very busy. (I tend to believe the latter.)

11) Do you have any advice for the aspiring authors reading this?

Read a lot and write a lot. There are a lot of writing how-to books out there, but nothing replaces plunking down in your chair, fingers on your keyboard, and just writing. You’ll learn a lot more that way. If you find the time to do it every day, all the better. Don’t give up. But don’t believe that a first draft will find a publishing contract. It’s all in the rewriting. And don’t be afraid to join a critique group. They don’t all work. Heaven knows I’ve been involved in a couple of real doozies. But for aspiring mystery writers, there’s no better place to find acceptance and learn the rules of the publishing industry that the Sisters In Crime chapter Guppies. No other mystery writer’s organization has this kind of support for the unpublished.

12) What is your next book and when will it be released? Can you share some info about it with us?

My next book out is Bookmarked for Death. A New York Times best-selling author is murdered at Tricia Miles store, Haven’t Got a Clue. The author’s obnoxious assistant/niece is the only suspect. And with a sheriff who provides more obstacles than answers, Tricia will have to take matters into her own hands--and read between the lines to solve this mystery….

Thank you so much for giving us this opportunity to learn a bit more about you and your work.

Thank you for having me!


  1. What a neat interview!! I've not had the opportunity to read any of your books but I will absolutely be looking for them the next time I go to the bookstore!!

    Blanche :)

  2. Kudos to you for this interview. I really enjoy reading her blog and her books of course.

  3. Excellent interview. Lorna Barrett's books sound very interesting and I will add one to my Wish List.

    Best Regards

  4. Hey--
    What a great interview! Lorraine is a real example of how real talent and diligent hard work and astonishing generosity can combine to be a knockout success...

    The buzz on your books is endless, Lorraine! And well-deserved. You're a real inspiration.. Blanche and Lea--you've got a treat in store.

    Yvonne--thanks for doing such an interesting and revealing interview!

  5. Thanks, everyone. (Hank--you're your idol!) I feel honored that Yvonne wanted to include me.

  6. That was supposed to be Hank's MY idol. (See, an an author can always improve--and proofread, proofread, proofread!)

  7. I've had the pleasure of reading both Dead in Red and Murder is Binding, and I can't recommend them highly enough. They are both terrific mysteries! Great job, Lorraine. Can't wait for the next Booktown mystery ~

  8. I'm so glad you all enjoyed the interview. I loved Murder is Binding and am anxiously awaiting for the next book. In the meantime, I'm going to find Dead in Red and read that one. It looks wonderful.

    Thank you so much for the interview, Lorraine!

  9. What a great interview - thanks for sharing!! I haven't read any of these books, but they sound interesting. Another to be added to my wish list!

    :) Wendi


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