Interview Lonnie Cruse
Author of the Metropolis Mystery Series and the new Kitty Bloodworth, Fifty-Seven mystery
by Marta Stephens
MS: Lonnie, thanks so much for agreeing to be interviewed. Let me start by asking you to please share with us a little about when you made the decision to become a writer.
LC: Mmmm, long time ago, probably in my twenties. BUT I thought writers had to go to college for that and I hadn't, so I thought the journalism police would arrest me if I tried.
MS: Could you describe your writing journey?
LC: I wrote newsletter articles and our family history but never tried a novel. When I was fifty-five, Idecided to give it a try. I was beyond the age of fear of failure. Well, a little. I still fear it, but not asmuch.
MS: What would you say has been your greatest challenge and your greatest achievement as a writer?
LC: Greatest challenge was finding a publisher . . . twice. And surviving the collapse of the first publisher. Greatest achievement? Five books in print. It was a dream but I wasn't sure it would ever happen.
MS: What genre do you write in and what motivated you in that direction?
LC: I write cozy mystery, both amateur sleuth and law enforcement official. They are light, humorous reads. What motivated me in that direction is loving to read the same things. I've tried to read thrillers,suspense novels, etc, but either they scare the daylights out of me, or they’re so sad I have to stop reading. At my age, life is too short to stick with a book that brings me down. Rather be entertained than terrified.
MS: Who would you say has influenced you the most?
LC: Bill Crider, Anne Perry, Ann George, Donna Andrews, Barbara D'Amato.
MS: What would you say are your main concerns as a writer?
LC: Finding time to write, to promote what is already in print, and still find time for family and for my hobbies. The Internet eats up a lot of time, but it is sooo necessary for promotion. And for keeping up with what's going on in publishing.
MS: How do you deal with these concerns?
LC: I try to limit my memberships to writers or discussion groups that will help with my writing and not spend a lot of time just hanging out, chatting or surfing.
MS: Have your beliefs influenced the direction of your writing?
LC: Yes. I refuse to write anything I wouldn't want my children or grandchildren to read. Or anything graphically violent that might inspire someone to replicate that crime.
MS: What challenges do you see ahead of you?
LC: Keeping my two series fresh, keeping two series going, getting the job of writing done as I get older.
MS: I’m confident that you’ll do great, but how do you plan to deal with these challenges?LC: I'm using 2008 as sort of a proving ground, meaning seeing how well the new series does. Fifty-Seven Heaven, the first in the new series, was just released by Five Star. I plan to put the other series, the Metropolis Mystery series, on the back burner in '08 and promote the new book. And submit the second to see if Five Star will contract for it. And finish the third in the series which I just started. At the end of the year I'll make some hard decisions about whether or not to keep the older series going and what to do with the new Kitty Bloodworth, '57 Chevy series.
MS: You’re a busy lady! When you begin a new project, how do you prepare for it?
LC: I gather up any newspaper articles I've cut out and saved in my research folder that match the story, plus any other research I need. I sit and think a lot. I write character descriptions. Then I either cluster ideas or write ideas of what could happen to my characters on index cards. Then I start writing.
MS: What writing schedule do you follow?
LC: I try to write 3-5 pages per day BEFORE email, but generally I wind up checking email first, sigh.
MS: What is your latest book about?
LC: Fifty-Seven Heaven is about baby boomers Kitty and Jack Bloodworth who take their trophy winning '57 Chevy to a local car show/contest and discover the body of Kitty's extremely irritating cousin in the trunk. Everyone they know has an alibi, but one of them must be lying. It took two months to write the rough draft (I was participating in a writer's challenge and won the prize, a LARGE box of various chocolates.) Then I spent several months polishing it, letting my critique group look at it, etc. Then I submitted it to Five Star and they contracted for it. It was eighteen months and two edits between contract and publication, December 12th. A friend suggested I submit to her publisher, Five Star, and knowing they had a good reputation, I did. I was thrilled when they accepted. They only publish in hardback and sell mostly to libraries, but I've sold in hardback before and I adore libraries, plus I can hand sell a lot of books on my own, so I think we'll do well together. I've really been promoting this book in the last few months.
MS: Which aspects of the work do you like the least and why? The most and why?
LC: Like the least? Asking for reviews or promoting my book to someone I don't know. Book signings are really hard. Sometimes a crowd shows up, sometimes no one comes. It's scary. Like the most? When the writing day is over and I read what I wrote and it makes me laugh.
MS: Please tell us what your next book will be about.
LC: Kitty and Jack visit Pigeon Forge, TN for a car show and meet a murderer. I adore the Pigeon Forge area, so it was a fun book to write.
MS: It’s been such a pleasure for me to interview you. Would you please share your thoughts about anything else you’d like to discuss.
LC: The thing that keeps me writing is readers who meet me in person or receiving email me to say how much they enjoy my books. The characters, the settings, whatever. It means they shared my world and enjoyed it. That makes it all worthwhile. I can be contacted through my website: http://www.lonniecruse.com/