Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Recap - Lori Rader-Day on Book Tour

Lori Rader-Day is on book tour for her third standalone, The Day I Died. She's a terrific speaker with a sense of humor, which made the audience appreciate her all the more. In fact, when a couple women in the audience introduced themselves as "just a reader", Lori was quick to point out that they are not "just readers". Readers make the world go around. Without readers, writers are out of work, and then they're "just writers".

Rader-Day's The Day I Died came out April 11. Here's her summary of the book. Handwriting analyst Anna Winger is on the run from her past life. She has a job she can do anywhere, and she works for the FBI and corporations. It's a job she can take with her. She's even consulted by people she calls her "Lonelyhearts". My boyfriend is in prison. Has he changed? No. There's a kidnapping in the town she's now living in, and she's asked by her FBI contact to help with it. Some aspects of the case remind her of things she ran from. Her secrets start to unravel.

Asked about her own background as a writer, Lori told an interesting story. The Black Hour was published in 2014. It took her two and a half years to write it. She got and agent, and sold it. It was her first published book, but not her first novel.

The Day I Died, her current book, was actually the first novel. It started as a story in 2007. She was working on her master's degree in creative writing, her M.F.A. She wanted to write a short story over Christmas break so she'd have something for workshop. She went to the local library and trolled the nonfiction section, looking for something of interest. She found a book on handwriting analysis on display. Rader-Day wrote a long short story, thirty pages or so, and it kept getting longer. By the time her instructor looked at it, she said, it's great, but it's not a short story. It's a novel. Keep writing. But, Lori didn't have time. Her thesis dealt with short stories. She finished the entire draft right before going back to work, and it took two years from short story to draft. Lori wrote on it too long. She was too close to it, and her changes were not for the better. She put it in "the drawer", which is where authors put their failed novels. In fact, she has a file on her computer called "The drawer". The manuscript sat there for seven years. Her first published book, The Black Hour, came out in 2014. It took her two and a half years. Little Pretty Things came out in 2015. That took her two years to write.

She needed a 2016 book. In the mystery field, you should have a book a year. The best way to promote yourself is to have a book every year. She tried to fix The Day I Died, but she just wasn't proud of it. She put it away, and didn't have a book in 2016.

She had a demanding job at the time, and finally decided she needed a break from the job. During the missing year, she was writing intensely for ten to twelve hours a day. There was no cleaning, no cooking, very little showering. But, when she finished HarperCollins wanted the book, and she signed a two book deal with them.

Now, she's on her way to 2018. She's already turned that manuscript in. Next year this time, her fourth book should be out. But, The Day I Died was the first novel she ever wrote, just the third one published.

Asked about where she was from, she said Lebanon, Indiana in Boone County. She writes about small-town Indiana. In fact, her first published book, The Black Hour, was about gossip at the university, based loosely on an Indiana university.

Rader-Day went to Ball State in Muncie, Indiana, and loved it. She wrote stories, and the others in
her dorm wanted to read them. She had an audience. She quit writing when she graduated and no one wanted to read her stories. She lost her audience. She moved to Chicago on 9/11, and she had a job writing at work. There were five years or so when she was not writing for herself.

In 2006, Lori started writing again. She had a friend from high school, and she had beaten him in a writing competition. Then, he published a book. She was so excited for him, but also green with envy. It wasn't his fault. He did work at it. He spent all his time writing. Rader-Day was writing great articles for Advocate Health Care. She had to do something about that. So she took a day off, and wrote a short story. Then, she was accepted into the MFA program. She had an audience again. You have to have stories for workshop. She forced herself to write, and she had an audience.

Rader-Day talked about her writing style. There are two types of writers in the mystery field, plotters and pantsers. Plotters such as Jeffery Deaver, plot out the book before writing it. But, Lori is a pantser, who writes by the seat of her pants. She doesn't know a lot about the story when she starts it.

In The Black Hour, a professor is attacked by a student she doesn't know. He died. She lives. So readers know whodunnit, but not why. Lori started with, what if a professor was attacked. What does her first day back on campus look like? She scared of the students. Rader-Day didn't plan on the student narrator taking over the book, but he shares the narration with the professor. But, Lori didn't know why the student did it. "The dark night of the soul" lasted for three weeks before she realized why.

Little Pretty Things was the second published novel. It features a young girl who, while she was in Nickel and Dimed. She said she had several of those jobs. She once worked in a tinsel factory, making Christmas tinsel. She also worked in the recycling department of a company that made plastic spools for wire. They took in old wooden spools, and used sledge hammers to break apart the wood. She thought about doing a series with the character from these books, a dirty job series. But, Elaine Viets writes a "Dirty Job" series. Her jobs just don't come across as dirty, such as working in a designer dress shop.
high school, was a runner. She always came in second to her best friend. Because she's a good runner, she gets to leave her small town and go to college. But her dad dies, and she's forced to leave school. Lori wondered, if she had been forced to leave school, and had been from her small town, who would have she been. She probably would have had a crappy job. So, that's what she gave her character, a crappy job in a small town. She cleans motels. Lori said she did think of making this a series, similar to all the low-paying jobs in Barbara Ehrenreich's 2010 book,

Lori did say she likes writing and reading standalones. She's sort of OCD when it comes to reading mysteries in series. She wants to read them in order.

One audience member told Lori she should read her audio books. She replied that she has a good voice for radio, and loves to do radio, but doesn't really like to do TV.

Asked about more short stories, she said she has a story in an upcoming anthology, Unloaded 2. They stories are crime stories in which no guns are used, and the profits go to gun violence charities. Short stories take a different muscle than novels.

When asked about Chicago, she answered that it's a great city. In the summer, it's the greatest city on earth. And, it's a great place to be a crime writer. You could go to events more than three times a week.

Lori said she's the current President of Mystery Writers of America's Midwest Chapter that covers three states. When she went to her first Bouchercon convention, she only knew one person there, and she asked how to be more involved and learn more. Someone directed her to MWA, and said sign up for that.

Lori Rader-Day ended by talking a little bit about revisions and the editing process, then signed books.

On a personal note, four of us went to dinner after the event, Lori, her publicist, Julie Powers Schoerke, a wonderful friend in the mystery community, Kathy Boone Reel, and myself. It was a fun evening talking about books, theater, mysteries, pearls. Lots of laughter, and we just about closed down the restaurant. So great to spend the evening with people connected through a love of mysteries, and, in this case, with a couple other people who think Lori Rader-Day is wonderful.

Lori Rader-Day's website is

The Day I Died by Lori Rader-Day. William Morrow. 2017. ISBN 9780062560292 (paperback), 432p.

NOTE: I already have a giveaway scheduled for this Friday. Next week, though, I'll kick off a giveaway for two signed copies of Lori's latest book, The Day I Died. Watch for it, beginning Friday, May 19.


Jeffrey Meyerson said...

I saw her on a panel at Bouchercon on a First Novel award panel and she was indeed a good speaker. I still need to get to her books. The second one has always interested me.

Kay said...

This was fun, Lesa! Enjoyed reading about Lori's book tour. I've had recent encounters with Lori as well. I talked with her several times at Malice, monitored the panel she was on, sat at her table at the 'big' dinner - stuff like that. I had met Lori in the coffee shop at Left Coast in Phoenix and so I knew she was funny and friendly. I also read THE DAY I DIED a few weeks ago and liked it a lot. Enjoyed talking with her about it.

I had a great time at Malice. Met so many people. Got to see and meet some real 'heroes' in my reading life. I'm going to do a 5-part post about it all next week. I learned about volunteering and monitoring panels (did 7 of them) and also missed you and Cathy. It was OK attending without knowing anyone, but more fun when you have a 'buddy' before you go. LOL

Lesa said...

Jeff, I haven't read the first two yet, but I have them all on that mountainous TBR pile. I'll get there!

Lesa said...

One of these years I'm going to get to Malice, Kay. I've never been. But, I know what you mean about having a "buddy". It does make it better.

Lori Rader-Day said...

Lesa, thank you so much for the recap and for the invitation to visit to begin with! I had a lovely time talking to your patrons and to you, Kathy, and Julie at dinner!

Lesa said...

You're welcome, Lori. I'm glad you enjoyed the evening. It was so much fun to have you here.

Julie Schoerke said...

Lesa, what a great re-cap! Special evening! And, as nice and funny as Lori is, so equally great is her story-telling (writing) abilities. I just wish I lived down the street from you as you are tons of fun and you review so many terrific books that I am in awe of you and could talk to you for hours! Let's do it again soon!

Jeffrey Meyerson said...

We went to Malice for many years. I sold old mysteries in the book room while my wife went to panels. I'm glad they went back to Bethesda as it was the best location.

Kathy Reel said...

What a marvelous recap, Lesa! I may not need to do one now, or maybe just a short highlight. I had such an amazing time with you, Lori, and Julie! Thank you for bringing Lori to Evansville and making this possible.

Lesa said...

Thank you, Julie. But, you're moving farther away! You'll be floating around someplace. Other than that, I'd be in. I go to Nashville for the Book Festival some years. I fly out of Nashville. It's a great city. And, I really enjoyed our evening. I love people I can talk about books with, and laugh with. Yes, let's do it again!

Lesa said...

I've never been to Malice, Jeff. Some year...

Lesa said...

Wasn't it fun, Kathy? And, you and I need to get together once in a while. I'm available much more than you are with your family. So, let me know sometime.