Wednesday, May 10, 2017
Recap - Lori Rader-Day on Book Tour
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 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
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,
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 www.loriraderday.com
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.