Guest Blogger: Lois Winston – An Interview Anastasia Pollack of the Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery Series

An Interview With Anastasia Pollack of the Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery Series by Lois Winston

Tell us a little bit about yourself:
Some people crave the spotlight. Me? I’m a private person who would prefer to live a quiet middle-class life on my quiet middle-class street in a quiet middle-class suburban New Jersey town. My name is Anastasia Pollack, and I’m the magazine crafts editor and reluctant amateur sleuth of Lois Winston’s Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery series. I suppose I should be honored that I have a series of books written about me, but given that Lois continually drops me into the middle of murder and assorted mayhem, I would have preferred the option of telling her to pick on someone else.

As if that weren’t enough, she also pulled the carpet out from under my comfortable middle-class existence. Before Assault With a Deadly Glue Gun, the first book in the series, even opened, she killed off my husband. After he dropped dead at a roulette table in Las Vegas I discovered he’d been lying to me for years. He left me in debt equal to the GNP of many a Third World nation and with his loan shark breathing down my neck.

That’s awful! Let’s move on. Tell us about your family:
I have my author to blame for that as well. Without bothering to ask me, she moved my communist mother-in-law and Manifesto, her French bulldog, into my home. (I ask you, who names a dog after a communist treatise? I’ve taken to calling him Mephisto or Devil Dog, more apt monikers for the beast.) My teenage sons had to double up to give the commie a bedroom. That was bad enough, but author Lois Winston also gave me a much-married, self-proclaimed Russian princess for a mother and moved her into my home in-between each of her marriages. Mama came with her own pet, an enormous Persian cat she calls Catherine the Great. Needless to say, Mama and my mother-in-law get along as well as their pets. Luckily, thanks to events that unfolded in A Stitch to Die For, Book 5 in the series, Mama and Catherine the Great are now ensconced in their own condo. However, that doesn’t prevent Mama from constantly dropping in at mealtime.

Any other members of the household?
There’s also Ralph, the Shakespeare-quoting parrot I inherited from my great-aunt. Although he’s good for comic relief, there are days I wish I’d inherited her Royal Doulton china instead.

Why do you think that your life has ended up being in a book?
I blame it all on a conversation my author’s agent had with an editor several years ago. The editor was looking for crafting-themed cozy mysteries. At the time Lois was a published romance author, but she also worked as a crafts designer for publishers and kit manufacturers. So her agent thought she’d be the perfect writer for such a series. Can you imagine how different my life would be had Lois decided to keep writing romance?

You’ve certainly had it rough. Has your author given you any reason to get out of bed in the morning?
What?!? Avoiding eviction and the fear of ending up living in a cardboard box on the street isn’t enough of a reason to drag my butt to work each morning? However, I do have to admit, Lois isn’t a total sadist. She did allow hunky Zack Barnes to rent the apartment over my garage when she could just as easily have rented to a couple of rowdy college kids. So I do have to thank her for that. Zack and I have developed a relationship that grows with each book in the series. My kids are pushing us to get married, but after the fallout from my first marriage, I’m a bit of a commitment-phobe. Besides, Lois Winston being Lois Winston had to complicate matters. I seriously suspect that along with being a photojournalist, Zack is also a government agent, and the photography gig is merely a cover for his spy work.

Did you have a hard time convincing your author to write any particular scenes for you?
I’ve begged her for some steamy love scenes featuring Zack and me. I know she’s capable of writing them. I’ve read her romances. But she keeps denying my request. She says it’s all about reader expectations and the differences between the romance genre and the mystery genre. In cozy and amateur sleuth mysteries readers are more interested in the solving of the mystery. They don’t want mushy love scenes getting in the way. So Zack and I are limited to the occasional passionate kiss before Lois slams the bedroom door. And she’s made it clear she’ll continue slamming that door.

Is there anything you like about your author’s writing style?
As bad as I have it, thanks to Lois imbuing me with a sense of humor, I’ve been able to survive everything she’s thrown at me—at least so far. Can you imagine what my life would be like if she’d decided to write a series of dark mysteries?

If your story were a movie, who would play you?
Tina Fey, hands down. Publishers Weekly even compared me quite favorably to her Liz Lemon character from 30 Rock in their starred review of the first book in the series.

Tell us about your newest adventure:

Drop Dead Ornaments
An Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery, Book 7

Anastasia Pollack’s son Alex is dating Sophie Lambert, the new kid in town. For their community service project, the high school seniors have chosen to raise money for the county food bank. Anastasia taps her craft industry contacts to donate materials for the students to make Christmas ornaments they’ll sell at the town’s annual Holiday Crafts Fair.

At the fair Anastasia meets Sophie’s father, Shane Lambert, who strikes her as a man with secrets. She also notices a woman eavesdropping on their conversation. Later that evening when the woman turns up dead, Sophie’s father is arrested for her murder.

Alex and Sophie beg Anastasia to find the real killer, but Anastasia has had her fill of dead bodies. She’s also not convinced of Shane’s innocence. Besides, she’s promised younger son Nick she’ll stop risking her life. But how can she say no to Alex?

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USA Today bestselling and award-winning author Lois Winston writes mystery, romance, romanticsuspense, 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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