Meow, my guest today is author Virginia Lowell!
Virginia Lowell is the national bestselling author of the Cookie Cutter Shop mysteries. She lives in the frozen north with her husband and two bossy cats. She grew up in a wonderfully quirky small midwestern town that rarely experienced a murder.
• Welcome Virginia! Tell us a little about your background:
I grew up in a small midwestern town populated by quirky, interesting, and sometimes irritating people. They all had stories to tell. I thought about teaching, even earned a Ph.D. and worked as a researcher, but in the end nothing was as intriguing to me as stories.
• Tell us about your cookie cutter series. Are you a cookie lover/baker?
Yes, I’m definitely a cookie lover and baker, as time permits. In truth, Olivia and Maddie are far better at baking and decorating cutout cookies than I will ever be, so I leave that to them.
• Tell us a bit about your latest book, DEAD MEN DON’T EAT COOKIES
Cold cases have always fascinated me, the older the better. Less blood, more puzzle. Solving a cold case reminds me of conducting research… except for, you know, the dead body thing.
• How do you “get to know” your characters before and while you’re writing the books?
I plunk them into a scene and watch how they behave. Honest. I do encourage them to fight with each other, which draws out their personality quirks and their secrets.
• How do you construct your plots? Do you outline or do you write “by the seat of your pants”?
In my experience, outlines are instruments of torture. I often start a story with an idea—such as “cold case”— and then begin creating characters who promise to have interesting secrets, resentments, anything that ratchets up the intrigue and tension. Letting the story evolve through the characters’ behavior (and their secrets) feels most natural to me.
• Which do you consider more important, plot or character?
For me, at least, the characters drive the plot. Sometimes they surprise me. I love that!
• What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a writer and what inspires you and keeps you motivated?
I’d have to say that finishing DEAD MEN DON’T EAT COOKIES with tendinitis in both arms, while my father was dying, was right up there at the top of the challenge list. What kept me going? Besides panic? When I’m in the story, watching it unfold, the real world feels more distant, almost less real. I love the experience of dropping into another world, especially one with lots of cookies!
• Do you have an “How I got my agent” story you want to share?
I found my agent through my husband’s college alumni magazine!
• What are you working on now and what are your future writing plans?
When I need a break, I work on another mystery series which I haven’t shown to anyone yet. Shhh.
• What is a typical workday for you and how many hours a day (or week) do you devote to writing?
I wish I had a typical workday, but I just work as long as it takes… or until my brain melts.
• If you could take only three books with your for a year-long writing retreat in a gorgeous setting with no library, which three would you take?
PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, a dictionary, and a thesaurus
• What advice do you have to offer to an aspiring author?
Write what you love.
• What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done?
When I was young and daring, I purchased a one-way ticket to London and went by myself. (In those days, such behavior wasn’t seen as suspicious… just dumb. But I had a great time! And I found my way back eventually.)
• What’s one thing your readers would be surprised to find out about you?
I’ve been diagnosed with ADHD—as you probably guessed from my answer to the previous question.
• What question do you wish interviewers would ask? (And what’s the answer?)
Honestly, I can’t think of one.
• Where can we learn more about you and your books?
Just for Fun:
Night or Day? I’m a night owl. My brain refuses to function before 10 a.m., and I have a hard time turning it off at night.
Dog or Cat? (answer carefully) I’ve lived with dogs and currently have two cats, and I’ve loved them all. Of course, dogs do have to be walked. I’m just saying.
Beach or Pool? Beach, but only under a large umbrella and with a fun book to read.
Steak or salad? Salad. I have to admit, I’ve never liked steak. Hot dogs, on the other hand…
Favorite Drink? Strong hot tea with milk and sugar. I drink gallons of it while I’m writing.
Favorite Book? PRIDE AND PREJUDICE, always and forever. Mr. Darcy… sigh.
Favorite TV Series? Joan of Arcadia, which didn’t last long, but I can watch it over and over. Fantastic dialogue.
Favorite Movie? Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Favorite Actor: James Mason. What a wonderful, mellifluous voice he had.
Favorite Actress: Maggie Smith (Yes, I’m addicted to Downton Abbey.)
Dirty Martini or Pina Colada? Chardonnay, and lots of it.
Hawaii or Alaska? England
Finish this sentence: If I could meet anyone in the world, past or present, it would be: Jane Austen…no wait, Agatha Christie, preferably on a dig in Egypt. ___________________
If I had just one wish, it would be: a better memory. Oh yeah, and world peace. _________________________________________
If I could trade places with anyone in the world, it would be_____
I wouldn’t trade places with anyone, especially if it meant leaving my cats! Oh yeah, and my husband.
Thanks Virginia! Folks you can keep up with her at:
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