When a writer writes multiple series, has been nominated for an Agatha, and has hit the New York Times Bestseller list, I’m impressed. Lorna Barrett, whom readers may know as Lorraine Bartlett or LL. Bartlett, fits this description. For this behind the story interview, Barrett discussed her new Booktown Mystery, “Title Wave.”
The initial inspiration for “Title Wave” came after Barrett and her husband took several cruises. Barrett said she used those experiences as background and quipped, “My protagonist, Tricia, needed to escape her ‘real life’ for a short time, and the Chamber of Commerce, which her sister runs, was offering a cut-rate deal.” As for her own preferences, Barrett said, “I don’t like to fly. Cars, trains, and boats. That’s it for me.”
Barrett describes the story in “Title Wave” as being about family dynamics. “Tricia explores where she fits in with her changing definition of what the term ‘family’ means to her and those around her. Tricia and her mother don’t have a good relationship, and Tricia only found out why in the previous book. Because of extenuating circumstances—the death of her ex-husband, she hasn’t had an opportunity to process how the first relationship she experienced affected every other relationship she’s had.”
When her husband read the manuscript for “Title Wave,” Barrett said he laughed at how many of the things they’d seen and done had been squeezed into the story. “Of course, we didn’t experience any murders while on our cruises, for which I’m grateful. I’m amazed there are so many lighthearted segments, and that through all the strife, Tricia carried on with—what I hope is—aplomb.”
The biggest personal challenge I faced was finishing ‘Title Wave’ at all. My mother had cancer and as I was her primary caregiver…
Having three names makes it difficult for readers to find her other work because each series seems to have its own life cycle. Bartlett said, “There’s no doubt my Lorna Barrett name is my most recognized name, but not necessarily my most successful work in terms of sales. That would be my Jeff Resnick mystery series under the name of L.L. Bartlett.”
No matter which series or character Barrett is writing, she strives to bring readers a good story, even when she’s facing personal challenges. She said, “The biggest personal challenge I faced was finishing ‘Title Wave’ at all. My mother had cancer and as I was her primary caregiver, I wasn’t able to write as fast as I usually do. She passed away when I was about mid-way through the book, and I found it very difficult to finish.
I’ve never confused my characters. They’re all separate in my mind. I’ll often go back and revisit the previous books, mostly by listening to the audio editions…
“I have a wonderful editor at Berkley Prime Crime, Tom Colgan, and he was amazing—trusting I would finish the book in enough time to get it into production. I delivered it late, but they held my publishing date open. I’m very grateful for the trust Tom put in me.”
With each series essentially being its own world, the question naturally arises, how does Barrett keep all those characters straight? “I’ve never confused my characters. They’re all separate in my mind. I’ll often go back and revisit the previous books, mostly by listening to the audio editions, before I start a new book in one of the series, just to remind myself where I left off.
“I’m currently finishing up the next Jeff Resnick book, then I’ll be juggling the next Booktown book and ‘Tales of Telenia: Treachery,’ which is about thirty percent completed. After that, I must revisit Tori and Kathy in the Lotus Bay Mysteries, although I will probably write a short story for them before the next novel. And I’m committed to write another Tales of Blythe Manor short for the next Storytellers Unlimited anthology. It’ll be a very busy summer!”
Learn more about Lorna Barrett on her website at lornabarrett.com.