On Being a Reluctant Amateur Sleuth
By Anastasia Pollack
It isn’t easy when an author hijacks your life for her own literary purposes. One day you’re minding your own business. The next thing you know, your husband drops dead in Las Vegas, leaving you up the wazoo in debt with a loan shark breathing down your neck, your communist mother-in-law as a permanent houseguest, and a dead body glued to your office chair. That’s what happened to me nine books and three novellas ago when author Lois Winston decided to forsake writing romance and began killing people for a living. My name is Anastasia Pollack, and thanks to Lois, I’m the very reluctant amateur sleuth of the Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysteries.
Since turnabout is fair play, I decided to hijack this guest post she was supposed to write and give you my side of the story for a change. Believe me, I would have been perfectly happy to maintain my predictable suburban life. I had two great teenage sons and a job I loved as the crafts editor of a women’s magazine. Granted, it’s not easy raising teenagers, and editors at third-rate women’s magazines don’t make the big bucks, but life was comfortable.
Or so I thought. Lois had other ideas. You see, we characters don’t come with self-determination. We’re putty in our authors’ hands. Now, along with being a widow with debt that rivals the GNP of many Third World nations, I’m juggling a malevolent communist mother-in-law and Manifesto, her French bulldog (I ask you, who names a dog after a political treatise?)
You’d think that would be enough, right? Heck, no! Now, every time I turn around, Lois has me tripping over dead bodies! Does she think I’m New Jersey’s version of Jessica Fletcher? Apparently so.
At least Lois decided to write humorous cozy mysteries. In her prior writing life, she wrote some really gritty romantic suspense that would keep her readers sleeping with one eye open at night, thanks to the extremely evil villains she created. She wrote me into a genre of mystery where readers would protest if she penned plots similar to those of her romantic suspense books. I have it bad, but what she did to poor Emma Wadsworth in Love, Lies and a Double Shot of Deception…All I can say is thank goodness cozy readers would revolt if she tried to pull that stuff on me!
And I’ll admit, she even has me laughing at times—when she doesn’t have me staring down a killer. You wouldn’t believe the cast of supporting characters Lois has given me. Along with my nasty communist mother-in-law and her dog, there’s my much-married mother, who claims descent from Russian nobility, and her haughty Persian cat, Catherine the Great. And lest I forget (not that he’d allow me to), there’s Ralph, the Shakespeare-quoting parrot. I inherited him from my great-aunt Penelope Periwinkle. We’re all crammed into my tiny mid-century suburban rancher. At least I don’t have to share my bedroom with either my mother or mother-in-law!
Over the course of the series, Lois has also introduced some new characters, one of whom has been driving me bonkers from the moment he entered my life. Ira Pollack, my husband’s previously unknown half-brother, showed up with his three spoiled kids in Revenge of the Crafty Corpse. That was bad enough, but in Drop Dead Ornaments, Lois has him moving from across the state to across town!
When I saw what Lois had planned for me at the start of the series, I staged a revolt, demanding that if she was going to give me so much grief, she had to give me a little light within all the gloom and doom. After all, she’s got me two steps away from living in a cardboard box on a street corner. And believe me, no matter how big a carton, that would be one crowded box! She finally gave in and created Zachary Barnes, the photojournalist who rents the apartment above my garage, and allowed us to develop a relationship.
But we’re talking Lois here. She couldn’t leave well enough alone, and right from the start she has me wondering if Zack is really just a photojournalist or if that profession is cover for a more covert one. Which brings us to A Sew Deadly Cruise, the latest Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery. Lois has finally gotten around to revealing some of Zack’s backstory in this book. And believe me, it’s not what I ever expected!
A Sew Deadly Cruise
An Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery, Book 9
Life is looking up for magazine crafts editor Anastasia Pollack. Newly engaged, she and photojournalist fiancé Zack Barnes are on a winter cruise with her family, compliments of a Christmas gift from her half-brother-in-law. Son Alex’s girlfriend and her father have also joined them. Shortly after boarding the ship, Anastasia is approached by a man with an unusual interest in her engagement ring. When she tells Zack of her encounter, he suggests the man might be a jewel thief scouting for his next mark. But before Anastasia can point the man out to Zack, the would-be thief approaches him, revealing his true motivation. Long-buried secrets now threaten the well-being of everyone Anastasia holds dear. And that’s before the first dead body turns up.
Craft projects included.
Apple iBooks: https://books.apple.com/us/book/a-sew-deadly-cruise/id1526052822
USA Today bestselling and award-winning author Lois Winston writes mystery, romance, romantic suspense, chick lit, women’s fiction, children’s chapter books, and nonfiction under her own name and her Emma Carlyle pen name. Kirkus Reviews dubbed her critically acclaimed Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery series, “North Jersey’s more mature answer to Stephanie Plum.” In addition, Lois is a former literary agent and an award-winning craft and needlework designer who often draws much of her source material for both her characters and plots from her experiences in the crafts industry.
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Killer Crafts & Crafty Killers blog: www.anastasiapollack.blogspot.com