Books · Heroine Interviews

SRP Heroine Interview: Anastasia Pollack

mosaic mayhem largerHello readers, today I’m going to be chatting with Anastasia Pollack from the Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery Series. Welcome to the Self-Rescue Princes. My first question:

1. Please tell us a little bit about what is currently going on in your life?

Mosaic Mayhem (An Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mini-Mystery)

The second novelette to the critically acclaimed Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery series.

So much for a romantic getaway…When cash-strapped mom and reluctant amateur sleuth Anastasia Pollack is offered an all-expense paid three-day trip to Barcelona, her only worries are whether her passport is still valid and arranging care for her semi-invalid mother-in-law during her absence. However, within hours of landing in Europe, she finds herself staring down the barrel of a gun and needing to convince a Spanish crime syndicate they’ve kidnapped the wrong person. Why do people on both sides of the Atlantic keep trying to kill this pear-shaped, middle-aged single mom, and magazine crafts editor?

2. What made you decide to take on such a risky endeavor?

Well, it certainly wasn’t my idea! I’m a reluctant amateur sleuth, forced into dire circumstances where I’m constantly trying to keep from getting killed, thanks to author Lois Winston. She seems to take a huge amount of pleasure in getting me into trouble. Then she takes off for Aruba or Bermuda or who-knows-where, and I have to figure out a way to save my own neck.

3. Did you ever imagine yourself being involved in fighting crime?

Are you kidding? I have enough problems without playing Mighty Mouse or Underdog or Batman. Again, it’s all Lois Winston’s fault. Before she came along, I was living a typical middleclass life with my typical middleclass husband and two kids. I had a great job as the crafts editor for a women’s magazine. The next thing I know, I’m smack in the middle of Assault with a Deadly Glue Gun. My husband has dropped dead in Las Vegas after gambling away our life’s savings, and I’m stuck with no money, bills up the wazoo, a Mafia loan shark breathing down my neck, and my communist mother-in-law as a permanent houseguest. I ask you, what did I do to Lois Winston to deserve such treatment?

4. Who would you say is the least pleased about your additional career choice of amateur sleuthing? Or is detective work your only career?

If you haven’t guessed by now, I’m the least pleased. Zack Barnes comes in a close second. Zack is my tenant-turned-boyfriend. Given my financial situation, I was forced to move my studio to my cold, damp basement and rent out the apartment above my garage. Zack is the one bright spot in my life since Dead Louse of a Spouse done me wrong. He’s a globe-hopping photojournalist. Or maybe he’s a spy for one of the alphabet agencies. He denies it, of course, but don’t they all?

5.  What are your strengths and weaknesses?

I’m fabulous at juggling. I have to be, given my work schedule and my dysfunctional home life that not only includes me and my two teenage sons but the aforementioned communist mother-in-law, my self-proclaimed Russian princess mother, Manifesto the French bulldog, Catherine the Great Persian cat, and Ralph, the Shakespeare quoting parrot—all squeezed into a small three-bedroom ranch. And of course, thanks to Lois Winston, I also have to find time to solve murders and kidnappings.

My weakness? That would be coffee and Cloris Confections. Cloris is the food editor at our magazine. She also occasionally plays Watson to my Sherlock. Her cubicle is directly across the hall from mine, and she’s always tempting me with something yummy and fattening. Of course, she’s a Size Two with a fabulous metabolism that never gains an ounce. I’m pear-shaped and overweight and apparently genetically incapable of passing up anything with chocolate in it.

6. Describe what being a self-rescue princess (a strong, confident woman) means to you.

My current situation has taught me that you can’t depend on anyone. Forget the knight on a white charger. Chivalry is dead. If you want something done and done right, you have to be willing to do it yourself. I wish I’d learned that lesson years ago before I allowed Dead Louse of a Spouse to handle all our finances.

I’ve also found, given the situations Lois Winston has forced upon me lately, that you can’t necessarily depend on the police. They’ll hone in on the most likely suspect and build a case around that person. But when that person is you, and you know you’re innocent, you’ve got to find the real perpetrator yourself before you find yourself behind bars.

7. What one advice/wisdom would you like to pass onto young women?

Never marry a man with a communist mother-in-law.

8. What was one lesson you learned during this challenging time in your life?

I learned I have skills I never knew I had. I’ve been able to get myself out of some sticky situations and figure out whodunit when no one else could. Still, I’d be more than happy to go back to my old life. Unfortunately, that’s not going to happen any time soon. I have it on good authority that Lois Winston plans on writing many more full length Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysteries and Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mini-Mysteries.

9.  If your story or life had a theme song, what would it be?

“It Sucks to be Me” from Avenue Q.

10. Do you plan on dabbling in amateur sleuthing in the future, or have you hung up your detective hat?

As I mentioned above, thanks to Lois Winston, I’ll be reluctantly sleuthing for many years to come.

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Books · Excerpt · Scrapbooking · West Virginia · Writing

Designed to Death Excerpt

DESIGNED TO DEATH front under 2mbIn one week, September 10, Designed Death will be out. I’m nervous, excited…and a little scared. I always feel this way when a new book comes out. This will be Faith’s second case and I hope readers love it as much, if not more, than the first book in the Faith Hunter Scrap This Mystery Series.

Today, I’m going to share a little excerpt from Designed to Death:

The buzzer by the employee door sounded then stopped. After a gun-carrying criminal surprised me a few months ago, my grandmothers had Steve Davis add a security system by the back door. If the code wasn’t punched in quick enough, a warning alarm went off at the police station and in the prosecutor’s office where Steve―my grandmothers’ appointed knight-in-shining armor for me―worked.

“Belinda must have arrived,” I said.

Oliver drew in a breath and quickly rushed toward the front of the line.

“The end,” I called out to him.

I watched one of our customers snag Oliver’s arm and draw him to her side. They stood shoulder-to-shoulder and flipped through the magazine. No one else in line seemed to care so I’d let it slide, and Belinda had promised not to leave until every magazine was signed.

Cold wind snaked through the building and I fought back a shiver. October could either be an extension of a warm fall or the beginning of a cold winter. Two years in a row, trick-or-treating had to be postponed because of snow. The October breeze swirled around the room and I scrambled to grab the class schedules and other advertisements that tumbled from the heavy plastic tables.

Belinda waltzed into the store, waving like a teenage girl crowned Homecoming Queen. My grandma Cheryl followed after her, doing her best not to roll her eyes. A few customers began whispering, straining their necks to get a good look at the newest Life Artist Diva.

“Please don’t let this title go to her head.” I muttered.

“Belinda, look over here! Over here!” A customer jumped up and down, holding her cell phone out as she tried to snap a picture.

“Belinda, the library thanks you for the generous gift.” Oliver waved his copy in the air.

“I must speak with Faith first.” Belinda gave another queenly wave, blew a kiss at Oliver, then headed for me.

When she spotted Karen and the photographer, she froze for an instant. In that moment, I saw uncertainty cross her face. The shy woman, who needed her mom to book her signings and appearances, shone through the new confident, celebrity “Belinda.”

“Belinda,” I almost screamed her name to draw her attention, “can you give me some pointers on the class?”

Belinda shook her head. “I can’t give out any secrets. Only those who paid for the class will get to learn this technique. I hope you have some way of making sure those who haven’t purchased a spot don’t get a free lesson.”

Did Belinda expect us to empty out the store when the class started? Or put up a huge partition? I cast a glance over at my grandmothers. Hope looked confused by the request and Cheryl beyond annoyed.

I was both, considering I had to now figure out how to incorporate this new demand from Belinda. “I’m not expecting any secrets. I just want to know which layout is the inspiration for your class.”

Belinda wagged her finger at me. “No sneak peeks. Not even for you.”

I heard Karen’s unladylike snort from across the room. I refrained from giving her the evil eye, and also swatting Belinda with the magazine. Yesterday alone, I had spent three hours on the phone making sure everything was just the way Hazel’s “baby” needed it. Talk about helicopter mom. I had been instructed on the noise level permitted in the classroom area, the temperature best suited for Belinda’s creativity, and how instructions couldn’t be included in the class kit because Belinda feared her idea would be distributed without her permission.

Neither my grandmothers nor I liked the last rule but we went along with it. When Belinda was named a L.A.D., scrappers within a four hour drive-time radius began calling, asking if we had any classes taught by Belinda on our schedule. Everyone considered Scrap This her home store, so they contacted us first and we didn’t want to disappoint them.

“Hard to set up the class properly without the instructions.” I picked up a copy of the magazine featuring Belinda and flipped through it. There couldn’t be too many designs that needed glue, boas, glitter and a hammer.