Lois Winston's Death By Killer Mop Doll

Happy 2012 everyone! I’m excited and thrilled to start the new year with a visit from Lois Winston.

Lois is the author of the critically acclaimed Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysteries published by Midnight Ink. Assault With a Deadly Glue Gun, the first book in the series, received starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Booklist. The new year brings with it the release of Death By Killer Mop Doll, the second book in the series.

Welcome, Lois!

Lois - Anne, before we begin the interview, I want to thank you for inviting me to your Muriel Reeves Mysteries blog as part of my virtual tour for the release of Death By Killer Mop Doll, the second book in my Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysteries.

I’d also like your readers to know that I’ll be giving away 5 signed copies of Death By Killer Mop Doll at the end of the tour. To enter the drawing to win a copy, readers only need to post a comment to any of the blogs on the tour. The full tour schedule can be found at my website, and the Killer Crafts & Crafty Killers blog. In addition, I’m giving away 3 copies of Death By Killer Mop Doll on Goodreads.

Anne - Do you have a fear, phobia, or habit you’d rather no one knew about?

Lois - Fear of failure is a biggie for me. I constantly angst over how each book will be received by my editor, reviewers, and readers. Because I write humorous amateur sleuth mysteries, I always worry about whether readers will get my particular brand of humor. Humor is so subjective. I know I’ll never please everyone. I just hope that I please more people than I displease, but it’s only human nature to want everyone to love your darlings.

Anne – I completely relate! When did you first realize you were destined to be a mystery/suspense writer?

Lois - I have my agent to thank for that. I’m previously published in romantic suspense and humorous women’s fiction. Truthfully, I’d never considered writing a mystery. Then one day my agent was speaking with an editor who said she was looking for a crafting mystery. With my background as a crafts designer, my agent thought I’d be a natural to write something crafts related. So I gave it a try. I enjoyed writing mystery so much that I never went back to writing in the other genres.

Anne - Tell us about your book.

Lois - DeathBy Killer Mop Doll is the second book of my critically acclaimed Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysteries.

BLURB: Overdue bills and constant mother vs. mother-in-law battles at home are bad enough. But crafts editor Anastasia Pollack's stress level is maxed out when she and her fellow American Woman editors get roped into unpaid gigs for a revamped morning TV show. Before the glue is dry on Anastasia's mop dolls, morning TV turns crime drama when the studio is trashed and the producer is murdered. Former co-hosts Vince and Monica—sleazy D-list celebrities—stand out among a lengthy lineup of suspects, all furious over the show's new format. And Anastasia has no clue her snooping has landed her directly in the killer's unforgiving spotlight.

Anne – What’s a mop doll?

Lois - As you can probably imagine, I’ve been getting this question a lot lately. A mop doll is a doll crafted from a cotton string mop, those mops you often see janitors using in office buildings. Yuck, right? Hold on! These dolls are made from unused string mops, ones that have never come in contact with a bucket of Mr. Clean.

Crafters are very resourceful people. We’re constantly finding new uses for readily available materials, and cotton string mops are readily available in just about any hardware store, home store, or supermarket.

At some point in the late 1980’s, these dolls started popping up at crafts fairs, first in
California, then throughout the country. Suddenly, mop dolls were all the rage, and mop head manufacturers were selling tens of thousands of mop heads to craft stores. Like all trends, though, the mop doll craze eventually went the way of the pet rock -- until now, thanks to my crafty amateur sleuth, Anastasia Pollack.

The picture shows me with a mop doll at Bouchercon this past September. For anyone attending The American Library Association’s Mid-Winter conference January 20-24 in
Dallas, Midnight Ink will be raffling off this hand-crafted mop doll during the opening reception Friday evening. Librarians and reviewers in attendance are encouraged to stop by the Midnight Ink booth #1459 to register for the drawing.

Anne – Fascinating and I can’t wait to read Death By Killer Mop Doll! Tell us about the defining moment when you felt as if you’d finally made it as an author.

Lois - That would have to be last year when Assault With a Deadly Glue Gun, the first book in the series, received a starred review from Publishers Weekly.  My previous books hadn’t even been reviewed by PW. So this was the best day ever in my writing career.

Anne - What activity (cause, charity, or organization) consumes your time when you’re away from the keyboard?

Lois - Away from the keyboard? Is that possible? Between my iPhone, iPad, netbook, and desktop computer, I’m never away from the keyboard! However, I’m one of the founding members of Liberty States Fiction Writers, a multi-genre writing organization based in NJ with nearly 200 members throughout the U.S. As a member of the board and the program chair, when I’m not writing (or juggling one of my two other careers,) the organization consumes much of whatever time is left. And if there’s any time left after that, I spend it with my husband. ;-)

Anne – Would you share an excerpt with us?

Lois – My pleasure!


Upstairs, the front door slammed with enough force to register a five on the Richter scale. Dust dislodged from the exposed basement rafters and drifted down like polluted snow, settling over the basket of clean laundry I’d been folding. The ensuing shouting, barking, and yowling drowned out my muttered curse of choice and yanked my attention away from the now Dalmatian-spotted white wash.

“Once more unto the breach, dear friends,” squawked Ralph, the Shakespeare-spouting African Grey parrot I’d inherited when Great-aunt Penelope Periwinkle died two years ago. “Henry the Fifth. Act Three, Scene One.” He spread his wings and took flight up the basement stairs to check out the action. I raced after him, eager to prevent World War Three from erupting in my living room.
“Muzzle that abominable creature, or I’ll have the pound haul him away,” shrieked Mama. “He’s traumatizing Catherine the Great.”

“So shove some Prozac down her throat,” said my mother-in-law Lucille. “What the hell are you doing back here? And don’t you ever bother to knock? Just barge right in like you own the place.”

“I have more right to be here than you. This is my daughter’s house, you…you pinko squatter.”

As I hurried through the kitchen, I glanced at the calendar tacked next to the telephone. Mama wasn’t due back from her Caribbean cruise for another three days. Damn it. I needed those three days to steel myself for the inevitable explosive reaction that occurred whenever Flora Sudberry Periwinkle Ramirez Scoffield Goldberg O’Keefe, my mother and the former social secretary of the Daughters of the American Revolution, locked horns with Lucille Pollack, my mother-in-law and current president of the Daughters of the October Revolution. I’d been swindled out of seventy-two hours.

By the time I entered the living room, Mama’s and Lucille’s voices had reached glass-shattering decibel range.

“Crazy communist!” yelled Mama. She stood in the middle of the room, cradling Catherine the Great, her corpulent white Persian with an attitude befitting her namesake.

Manifesto, my mother-in-law’s runt of a French bulldog, stood inches from Mama’s Ferrigamos, his bark having switched to growl mode as he glared up at his nemesis. With a hiss and a yowl, Catherine the Great leaped from Mama’s arms. Showing his true cowardly colors, Mephisto, as we always called him behind his back and often to his snout, scampered to safety behind my mother-in-law’s ample girth.

Lucille barreled across the room, waving her cane at Mama. “Reactionary fascist!”

“How dare you threaten me!” Mama defended herself with a French manicured backhand that would have done Chris Everett proud. The cane flew from Lucille’s grasp and landed inches from Mephisto’s nose. Demon dog yelped and dove between Lucille’s orange polyester clad legs.

Anne – Where can readers reach you online?

Lois – At my website and Anastasia at the Killer Crafts & Crafty Killers blog. You can also follow Lois and Anastasia on Twitter @anasleuth.

Anne – Thank you so much for dropping by today, Lois. I’d like to remind readers about your Death By Killer Mop Doll giveaway (details above), and that comments are always welcome and appreciated. (Hint, hint!)

Next week my guest will be Richard Bylina. Become a blog follower today so you won’t miss a single word. 2012 is going to be a fantastic year. 

Happy reading!

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pennyt said...

I don't think I've ever been lucky enough to leave the first comment before. There's a copy of Assault with a Deadly Glue Gun in my TBR pile and I'm thrilled to hear there's a second book in the series.

Lois Winston said...

Thanks for stopping by, Pennyt. There will be at least 3 more Anastasia books after this newest one.

jeff7salter said...

I've prev. told this to Lois, but a starred review in PW is HUGE! And a guarantee of big sales in public libraries. And I know of what I speak: having spent nearly 30 years in librarianship.
Please enter me in the drawing. I'm nearly out of breath trying to catch up to Lois and it's still the first WEEK!

Lois Winston said...

LOL! Think of all the exercise you're getting, Jeff.

Melissa St. John said...

I loved Assault with a Deadly Glue Gun and can't wait to read the next one! (Totally love the humor btw.)

Lois Winston said...

Thanks so much, Melissa! I love hearing comments like that!

KentuckyGal said...

What great titles and books combining two of my loves, crafts and mystery? SWEET!

Lois Winston said...

Thanks, KentuckyGal! I hope you'll check my books out and enjoy them.

Katy Lee said...

I read the Assault with a Deadly Glue Gun...can't wait to read this one!