Today Anastasia Pollack is visiting Ascroft, eh? to tell us about Stitch, Bake, Die!, the latest novel in the Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysterie series.
Welcome, Anastasia. Let’s get started, shall we?
Tell us about the novel that you live inside. Is it part of a series? If so, please tell us about the series too.
I’m the crafts editor at a women’s magazine, and thanks to Lois Winston, I’m also the reluctant amateur sleuth of the Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysteries. Stitch, Bake, Die! marks the tenth novel in the series. Lois has now been turning my life upside-down and sideways for ten books and three novellas. Prior to that, I was a typical middle-class wife and mother of two teenage boys. Then Lois came along and killed off my husband before the first page of the first book. As if that weren’t enough, she decided he was a closet gambler and had not only left me with debt greater than the GNP of most Third World countries, she stuck me with his communist mother and his bookie who’s demanding I pay off Karl’s debts—or else. Ever since, I’ve been scrambling to find ways to earn extra cash to climb out of that debt.
Before Lois decided to mess up my life, she wrote romance. If she wanted to make me a character in one of her books, why couldn’t I be the heroine of a romance? I really, really don’t like all these dead bodies she keeps tossing in my path.
Does the writer control what happens in the story, or do you get a say, too?
Did you read how I answered your first question? If I controlled any part of my story, would I be dealing with murder and mayhem—not to mention all that debt?
How did you evolve as the main character?
It all started with a conversation Lois’s agent had with an editor. The editor was looking for a cozy mystery series with a crafting theme. Lois worked as a designer in the consumer crafts industry, creating projects for craft and women’s magazines, craft book publishers, and kit manufacturers. Her agent thought she’d be the perfect person to write such a series. So Lois patterned me after her own career, making me the crafts editor for a women’s magazine.
And remember how I mentioned I got stuck with my communist mother-in-law? Guess who had a communist mother-in-law that lived with her for six long years. Sometimes I think this series is more roman a clef than fiction. (Lois is demanding that I tell you her husband is still very much alive and has never set foot in a casino, she doesn’t have a Shakespeare-quoting parrot, and she’s never stumbled over a single murder victim, much less the countless dead bodies she’s forced upon me. All of which she claims proves the series really is fiction.)
Do you have any other characters you like sharing the story with? If so, why are you partial to them?
I will give Lois credit for one thing. She brought Zachary Barnes into my life when she had me rent out the apartment over my garage. (I’m convinced his genetic material swam in the same primordial soup as Pierce Brosnan and Hugh Jackman!) In my financially solvent days, the apartment was my studio/office, but I needed a way to bring in extra cash. However, in typical Lois fashion, although she made Zack a photojournalist, I suspect he’s got a side gig working for one of the alphabet agencies because he’s always dashing down to D.C. or flying off to weird places like Madagascar.
My bestie is Cloris McWerther, the food editor at the magazine where we both work. Cloris occasionally plays Watson to my Sherlock, which she does in Stitch, Bake, Die! after we’re both roped into working at a conference for retired women executives and—surprise, surprise—it’s not long before one of them winds up dead.
What’s the place like where you find yourself in this story?
Home is Westfield, NJ, which is a real suburban commuter town outside New York City. Lois claims if you set your books in a real location, it’s easier to keep from making mistakes, like having a one-way street going in one direction in one book and in the opposite direction in another book. I say she’s just lazy. However, since she recently relocated to Tennessee, she’s going to have to rely heavily on her memory from now on. This Jersey Girl is NOT moving out of New Jersey. (Don’t tell her I said that! She just might move me to Tennessee to spite me!)
Is there anything else you’d like to tell readers about you and the book?
I certainly hope your readers will be interested in giving the series a try if they haven’t already. And if they’ve read other books in the series, I hope they’ll read and enjoy Stitch, Bake, Die!
Thank you for answering my questions, Anastasia, and good luck to you and your author, Lois Winston, with Stitch, Bake, Die! the latest book in the Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysteries series.
The novel is available at the following online retailers:
About Lois Winston: USA Today and Amazon 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.