It is my pleasure today to introduce you Lorna Barrett. Readers of The Conscious Cat have come to know Lorna as the author of the Booktown Mystery Series featuring Tricia Miles, owner of the Haven’t Got a Clue bookstore, and her feline sidekick, Miss Marple.
Lorna Barrett is the nom de plume of author Lorraine Bartlett. Lorraine’s other alter ego, L.L. Bartlett, writes psychological suspense and the Jeff Resnick mystery series. She’s done it all, from drilling holes for NASA to typing scripts in Hollywood, and lives a life of crime in western New York. Her first sales were to the confession magazine market.
I’m delighted to have the opportunity to ask Lorna/Lorraine some questions today.
How did you get the idea for the Booktown series?
My editor came up with the idea, but I ran with it.
Miss Marple doesn’t help solve the crimes in the series, but she’s an integral character of the books. Is she based on a real life cat?
Yes, she’s based on one of my cats: Cori. She’s was a long-haired gray cat with a white blaze. She never weighed more than eight pounds and was a gentle, loving soul who lived to be 20. She was toothless and deaf by that time, but none of the other cats ever bothered her or tried to take her food away. I have pictures of her on my web site, along with a drawing of her my husband did.
Tell us about your cats.
Currently we have two pairs: boys and girls. My husband is owned by Chester (who’s all black) and I am owned by Fred, a handsome Tuxedo. The girls (Betsy and Bonnie) are sisters—who are pretty cranky (and always have been). My husband and I share them. We can’t sit down without some cat coming and getting on our laps. It’s wonderful on a cold winter night—not so wonderful on a hot summers day.
You are a prolific writer – did you always know that you wanted to be a writer?
No. Although I always had stories circling around in my head, it wasn’t until I learned about Star Trek fanzines that I decided to put my own stories on paper. It hadn’t occurred to me that regular people wrote stories. (A real “duh” moment.) I was hooked from the very start, although they were terrible stories. I learned an awful lot from several excellent mentors. Some of them have gone on to be “traditionally” published authors themselves.
Why did you decide to write under several different names?
Long story. Short version: Cozy mysteries are very different from psychological suspense. It was thought that having a pseudonym would be better than to “confuse” my readers.
My names are: Lorna Barrett, author of the Booktown Mysteries. Chapter & Hearse, released on August 3, as well as the whole series on audio as mp3 files.
Lorraine Bartlett: Author of the Victoria Square Mysteries (A Crafty Killing will debut in February 2011.) I also have two short romances available under this name on Kindle/Smashwords, plus a short mystery. They are: What I Did For Love, Only Skin Deep, and We’re So Sorry, Uncle Albert.
L.L. Bartlett, author of the Jeff Resnick Mysteries. Currently I have two Jeff novels available on Kindle and Smashwords (Nook, Sony E readers, etc.): Murder On The Mind and Cheated by Death. (I also have two short stories related to this series available electronically: Cold Case and Bah Humbug.) Murder On The Mind is also available as an audio book.
What does a typical day of writing look like for you?
Bleak. No, seriously, I like to do most of my writing in the afternoon. I do “office work” in the morning, which can include writing a blog post, answering email, or packaging up bookmarks and bookplates for my readers.
What do you love most about being a writer?
Not having a day job. Of course, I miss the security of the day job, but this is a fabulous job and much less stressful. Although, I’m a harder taskmaster than most of my former supervisors.
What do you like least about being a writer?
The lack of job security. Without readers buying my books, Im out of a job. And it’s difficult having three names. I was thrilled to sell my Victoria Square mysteries, but now I’m worried that most of Lorna’s readers won’t get the connection that they’re written by the same person and will never hear about the new series or be willing to give it a chance. (I’m definitely a “see the glass half-empty type of person” – but I’m working on changing that.)
Who or what inspires you?
I have no idea. I like to keep busy.
What is one of the most memorable experiences you’ve had at a book signing or event?
The most memorable? The times when very few or nobody came. They feel like failures. One library event stands in my mind. It wasn’t a talk – just a gathering of authors at the library’s Arts Festival. I asked a woman if she read mysteries, and she glared at me and said, “I only read worthwhile books.” Whoa—that took the starch out of my sails pretty darn quick. You try not to let rude comments like that rattle you, but they do.
What are you reading at the moment?
Thank you so much for this opportunity, Lorna, and much success with Chapter and Hearse!