Q&A With Lori Duffy Foster
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Q&A With Lori Duffy Foster
Tonight I have the honor of doing a Q&A with Lori Duffy Foster. Lori is the author of many mystery thriller novels which are the Lisa Jamison Mystery Series, her standalone novels, “Never Let Go” (which I have on the netgalley app and I plan on reading soon), “Spring Melt” (Courtroom drama) which comes December 2023 and “No Stranger Here” which comes in December 2024.
Q: So Lori when did you realize that your calling was to be an author?
A: Thanks so much for having me here!
As a kid, I wrote poems and short stories, never imagining I would someday write novels. I fought the writing bug in college because I worried about money. I’d been on my own since age 17. I needed financial security. So, and I tried to major in geochemistry. That lasted one semester. I finally caved, declaring creative writing and interpersonal communications as my majors. That led to a journalism career. I loved working as a journalist, especially on the crime beat, but I wasn’t passionate about the profession itself. I took a few graduate writing courses here and there, trying to regain my narrative voice, and ended up with a master’s degree in creative writing. That is when it became real for me. I had stories in my head, novel-length stories, which were screaming to be written. By then, I had had married my husband, a journalist and nonfiction author. He got a job offer in Arizona. Neither of us was happy about the changes in the journalism world, so we agreed that I would work part time after the move and start a novel. I never turned back. Now I can’t imagine doing anything else.
Q: What made you want to write mystery thrillers specifically?
A: I never meant to write mysteries and thrillers. John Irving, Toni Morrison, Anita Shreve, Margaret Atwood, Philip Roth, Wally Lamb, Russell Banks—they were my early inspirations and the authors I wanted to emulate. But when I wrote Spring Melt, which was my first novel and will release next year, I realized that crime offers an incredibly intriguing look at human behavior. Even as a journalist, I was always fascinated by the forces that drive us to violate our own social and moral codes, and by the ways we adjust our definitions of good and bad to always put ourselves on the side of good. What better way to explore those dynamics than with mysteries and thrillers? I took another look at my favorite books and realized how much I enjoy a good, fast-paced dose of crime and suspense. A Time to Kill, Defending Jacob, Gone Girl, Room, The Lovely Bones – those are just a few of my all-time favorite books. So, I started writing mysteries, and then thrillers, and I fell in love. Crime is at the heart of Spring Melt and I do think I will write more historical fiction with a crime element in the future, but right now, I am enjoying thrillers and mystery/suspense.
Q: Where do you get the ideas to write all your novels?
A: That is a big question because so many forces act on my writing. I tend to ask “what if” when I am looking for ideas, often pulling from my own life experiences, and then twisting them with that question. The idea for Never Let Go started with my high school friends. I am still in contact with most everyone, but I now realize that I didn’t even know some had siblings when we were growing up. That got me pondering how well we really know the people we should know best. Those years from childhood through young adulthood are so formative, but they are also somewhat egocentric. It would be easy to live intimately with someone throughout that period of life without ever really taking the time to recognize changes and get to know them again. Never Let Go takes that dynamic to the extreme. Carla never really knew Rachel and now she might pay for that ignorance with her life.
Q: What advice do you give to anyone who feels the call to be an author? What advice do you give to those who struggle with writers block?
A: First, I would advise all writers, new and established, to eliminate the term “writer’s block” from their vocabularies. It isn’t real, not unless you make it real. Writing is hard work. “Writer’s block” is an excuse for giving in and giving up. When you are stuck, write something different, do research, or draw your characters or your setting (It doesn’t matter whether you are talented. The drawings are just for you.). Exercise your brain in different ways and, eventually, you will be moving forward again.
If you really want to be an author, learn the craft from every angle. Take writing workshops or join a writers group so you can learn how to give, receive and properly use criticism. Join professional groups, like Mystery Writers of America or Sisters in Crime, before you finish that first novel so you can take advantage of all the help and connections they offer. Attend conferences so you can learn from the workshops and connect with established and emerging writers. Read, read, read, read, not only in your chosen genre, but in other genres as well. Don’t feel you have to write every day. If I had adhered to that rule, I wouldn’t be published today. I sometimes went months without writing fiction, especially after the births of my kids. Prioritize writing, but don’t force a schedule on yourself that you can’t keep. Most important, believe in yourself. Be critical of your own writing when necessary, but not of your ability to write. Doubt is your enemy.
Q: Does Hollywood have the rights to all your novels?
A: Oh, how I wish they did! I am hopeful that Never Let Go will appeal to a producer or two, and I have seen evidence of some interest. I could easily envision this novel as a miniseries. I retained my film rights to my novels, but I need an agent to sell them. I am working on that. It is difficult to find an agent who will sell film rights when they were not involved in the initial novel sales.