Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Author Interview with Lorna Barrett

Our interview today is with New York Times best-selling author Lorna Barrett, author of the Booktown Mystery series. Today we're interviewing her on the newest book in the series, Bookplate Special.




FQ: Tricia Miles was wondering if there was “something in the Stoneham water supply causing relationships to crash and burn.” Do you think there was something in the water supply that made her take a closer look at Captain Grant Baker and do you think we’ll be seeing more of him?


I think (like my readers) she was just relieved not to have to deal with Sheriff Adams. The readers spoke, and I listened. And yes, Captain Baker will be back.


FQ: Unfortunately we didn’t get to know Pammy Fredericks very well before she ended up head first in a trash cart with only her worn jeans and pink Crocs sticking out. Were you thinking of someone you knew when you developed her fascinating, but annoying character? No names please.


Pammy isn't based on anyone I know. Most of my characters are composites. I'll take a trait from one person I know, and add another from someone else. Sometimes my women characters might have a trait that some man I know has/does--and vice-versa. And, as a matter of fact, the scuffed up pink Crocs are mine!


FQ: I had never heard of the term “freegan” before I read it in Bookplate Special. We’ve all heard of dumpster divers, but is this an increasing phenomenon in this day and age and where does the word “freegan” come from?


According to Wikipedia, "Freeganism is an anti-consumerist lifestyle whereby people employ alternative living strategies based on 'limited participation in the conventional economy and minimal consumption of resources'. The lifestyle involves salvaging discarded, unspoiled food from supermarket dumpsters, known as dumpster diving. Freegans salvage the food for political reasons, rather than out of need."


The term freegan comes from the words "Free" and "Vegan," although you don't have to be a vegan to be a freegan. (And my characters certainly aren't.)


I first heard about freegans while watching Oprah and was fascinated by them. (I've also seen the lifestyle featured on an episode of "The F Word" (cooking show).) I was already thinking about writing about a food pantry, and adding the freegans just seemed like a natural fit. (And may I add that my editor was very nervous about it until he read the manuscript.)


FQ: We didn’t see much of Miss Marple in the Tricia’s Haven’t Got a Clue bookstore this time. She must have been hiding out in the stacks taking a catnap.


Yes, she likes to take long naps in the front display window, where there's ample afternoon sun.


FQ: Are you a cat lover and do you have any cats of your own?


I'm definitely a cat lover and currently have four cats: Betsy, Bonnie, Chester and Fred. (You can see their pictures on my web site: http://www.lornabarrett.com/cats.html). It just seemed natural to add cats to my stories. (And, as it happens, my editor requested Tricia have a "store cat.")


FQ: As your Booktown Mystery series develops you have been adding more characters. How do you keep track of them and their little idiosyncrasies without getting lost?


I keep what I call the Booktown Bible, it's a computer document that lists all the people I've used in my stories, where they live, what they look like, and anything else I might need to use in a future book. That way I don't have to go searching through the books when my memory is faulty. (As it often is.) Even if I mention a character in passing and they don't show up in the current story, I note it in the Bible in case I need to use them again. It works out handy.


FQ: Tricia and her sister Angelica seem to be getting along much better now and Tricia was even seen at Angelica’s cafĂ©, Booked for Lunch, waiting tables. You have a few of Angelica’s recipes in the back of the book. Your favorite and why?


My favorite of all the recipes I've mentioned in the books happens to be in Bookplate Special--the mini spinach quiches. I just love hot hors d'oeuvres, and try to find any excuse I can use to make (and eat) them. It doesn't hurt that my husband loves them, too, and encourages me in this.


FQ: You’re now, understandably, garnering a large fan base with this series, but what kind of book do you like to read when you have a few moments to relax?


Who has time to relax? Seriously, when I'm on deadline (which seems to be every three months), I tend to read non-fiction; decorating and cookbooks. When I'm not on deadline, I read a lot of manuscripts written by my friends (other published authors) either for critique or for a blurb.


FQ: Any favorite authors, genre, books?


These days I mostly read cozies, and I love books by Julie Hyzy, Leann Sweeney, Cleo Coyle, Mary Jane Maffini, Krista Davis, Jeff Cohen, Maggie Sefton, Kate Collins, Jennifer Stanley, Heather Webber, Hannah Dennison, and Sheila Connolly. When I want a chance of pace, I'll read books by Doranna Durgin, Kate Flora, and the always wonderful Julia Spencer-Fleming.


For more information on Bookplate Special, read the review at Feathered Quill Book Reviews. Also, please visit the author at http://www.lornabarrett.com/