Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Interview with Lois Lamanna

Today, I have the honor to post the last interview of 2011, and I have got someone very special for you: A new author whose first Avalon novel has just come out! I know you'll enjoy meeting Lois Lamanna.

Thank you for inviting me to be the guest on the Avaloners Blog. As a new member of the Avalon author group I am very flattered.

Please tell us about your mystery novel Matrimony and Murder.

Matrimony and Murder is a humorous account to two over-fifty, over-weight, over-educated sisters who attend the wedding of a distant cousin in the hopes of finding information about their ancesters. Instead, they find the body of one of the groomsmen in the basement of the church.

What a great premise! I'm already grinning . . . please tell us what you personally like most about this novel.

1) I like the interaction between the sisters. I think Bethany, the older sister, demonstrates the role of an older sibling in real life, caring for the younger one, taking a lead role in social situations, making decisions for the both of them. Marlene, the younger sister, floats through life and accepts Bethany as the dominate person.

It is very much like my relationship with my own sister.

I recently read that when siblings get together, the roles defined in childhood naturally reform. Marlene and Bethany must have had fun in their youth, because they seem to be having fun now.

2) I like the depths of the books. On the surface, is a simple, humorous story about two women bumpling their way into solving a murder. There is also a social issue of deeper significance in the story.

I have a younger sister, too, so I can relate to that . . . and the social issue sounds like a great hook! Have you developed the plot from something else you've experienced?

The only things I am familiar with in this novel are church weddings, barns leaning toward the west, pizza boxes, Wal-Mart, and hotel rooms.

I grew up living next to a church and we were allowed to sit quietly in the back of the church during the ceremony so we could see the bride. The barn is one I remembered on my great aunt's farm in Ohio.

I think pizza boxes, Wal-Mart, and hotel rooms are self explanatory.

Yes, they are (grin). Have you published any other novels?

Published? No. Written? Yes.

Like all of us . . . I don't think there's a single author on earth who has published every manuscript she has ever written . . . When did you start to write and how long did it take you to become published?

Unlike many of my writer friends, I never yearned to write a book in my youth. I just wanted to read them. In 2004, two things happened. One was the lack of new books, of the genre I read, on the shelves of my library. The second one was a fateful fishing trip I took with my sister. Sitting in a boat in the middle of a lake, with slimy worms and stinky fish for entertainment, was the most boring thing I have ever done. My mind started to wander and I imagined what would happen if we found a dead guy floating in the water. I couldn't wait to get home and get my ideas on paper.

I wrote half the book before I told anyone what I was attempting to do. My kids humored me with encouragement, but I think they smirked behind my back. My husband outright laughed (although he kept me loaded with paper and pens.) I was very insecure about the quality of my work and wouldn't let anyone read it.

It took me a nine months to write the book. I was naive enough to think that just because I had written it, someone would publish it. Editing a book and sending it out to publishers and agents takes much longer than the writing process.

What a funny start - no wonder your novels are humorous. I wonder if the worms appeared in that novel, too? Let's stay on this topic a bit: What is the funniest thing that ever happened to you as an author?

Two things came to mind when you asked this question.

1)To promote Matrimony and Murder, I made bookmarks to pass out at my reunion. My classmates were receptive to them and I looked for other opportunities to distribute the bookmarks. My daughter was getting married in October and I asked her if I could pass them out to the guests. "Mom, if you had named the book anything else...."

2) "You are what you teach," is an expression used in education. I was a victim of this kind of thinking. As a vocational teacher, I had to use a variety of creative methods to entertain as I taught in order to keep my students' attention. To teachers of more traditional subject material and with a homogeneous class of students my strategies often appeared - strange. When Avalon Books presented me with a contract for Matrimony and Murder, I told my teacher friends. Everyone of them said the same thing, "But you weren't an English teacher."

I wish you had distributed the bookmarks at the wedding anyway. It would have given the ceremony such a special flavor :-)! What do you do when you're not writing?

After I retired from teaching, I tried a variety of parttime jobs including packing muffins, doing inventories, working at a car wash, and cleaning a gym. I am currently working as a jewelry salesperson.

When I get a couple days off in a row, my sister and I get in the car and go. We actually have a map with a spinner in the middle of it. One time we backed out of the driveway, spun the spinner, and ended up in Detroit. That was one of the best trips we took.

Much to my husband's disappointment, I do not spend my spare time cleaning, cooking or doing yardwork, although I have been known to do these things.

I really have to try this idea with the spinner; it sounds like a good way to get out of the rut. Thank you so much for this fun interview, Lois!
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Sandy Cody said...

Love this interview. I laughed out loud when I read about your idea to pass out bookmarks for Matrimony and Murder at your daughter's wedding. As a fellow mystery writer, this is a definite "must read" for me.

Thanks, Lois, for adding a laugh to my day, and to you, Beate, thanks for asking just the right questions.

Tessa McDermid said...

Very fun! As a former teacher myself (not yet retired, though), I understand about the comments. I taught kindergarten and everyone always expected me to write for children.

All the best with your writing!!

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