1. You write the Lake George Mystery series, the first book of which was nominated as a Malice Best First Mystery in 2002. Congratulations! What inspired you to write this series?
Lake George, a popular tourist destination, is a beautiful, spring-fed, 32 mile long lake in eastern New York, formed by glaciers, rich in history (Rogers Rangers and French and Indian War battles) dotted with islands and nestled into the foothills of the Adirondack Mountains. Some fascinating people have lived or summered there. Since no one was setting mysteries there, I confiscated it. My first Lake George Mystery An Affinity For Murder, concerned long lost paintings which may have been left behind by Georgia O’Keeffe during the 15 summers she spent at the lake. It was a fabulous subject for a former librarian and made for some great trips to museums, libraries and art galleries.
But, when I explored the history of the French and Indian War and the many artifacts left in the lake in Beneath The Surface, I had the experience that tickled me most. I interviewed divers at our local dive shop and wrote an article about their experiences diving under the ice in the spring for Mystery Scene. Even though it was hard for me to imagine anyone doing that, I was so convincing Kate Stein asked for a photo of me in my scuba gear. Did I ever have to backpedal fast.
2. Tell us about Cold Winter Nights, the fifth and most recent book in the series.
Cold Winter Nights, Lake George Mystery #5, just out, is the first book in the series to take place in winter. Although winter is sometimes seen as a quiet time at the lake, there were great events to include. I started with a holiday concert, a Christmas Day buffet and a New Year’s Eve activity which ends badly for my protagonist, Loren Graham and her fiance, Don Morrison. I loved writing about the annual New Year’s Day Polar Bear Plunge when almost 1000 men, women and teenagers creep, run or dive into the bitter cold water of the ice-rimmed lake. That is a real event, but I added a Mardi-Gras type Carnival on the Ice, complete with a masked murderer.
My protagonist, Loren Graham, started coming to Lake George as a child to visit her grandparents. After they died and left her their house, she couldn’t bear to sell it. She moved to Emerald Point from New York City, became involved in the community and after a few years was elected mayor. Like many amateur detectives, Loren, now in her thirties, is a buttinski who gets involved when crimes are committed. That causes tension with fiance Don and with the Sheriff’s Investigator Jim Thompson.
4. What’s your current WIP?
I’ve started a new series, set in downtown Glens Falls where I live, but it needs a shot in the arm to come to life.
5. Since you write mysteries, is this your favorite genre to read? Do you have plans to cross over to another genre at some point or do you prefer to stay with mysteries?
It seems funny to me now, but mysteries were definitely not my favorite genre to read for many years. As a high school librarian, I selected and bought the books which I thought would best supplement our curriculum and motivate our students to read. Of course, I included some of the classic mysteries like Rebecca and Sherlock Holmes. Now I read many mystery writers like Dana Stabenow, my current favorite, but not when I’m writing myself. I don’t want to be influenced by them. And yes, I do plan to stay with mysteries.
6. Tell us about your journey to publication.
My journey to publication was as up and down as any of you could imagine. I had written dozens of articles on career topics for young people — a helpful first step because I learned so much about gathering information and putting it into an acceptable form. When I switched to mysteries, I was encouraged by a teacher, Matt Witten, a terrific mystery writer, who moved to Hollywood and wrote for Law and Order, House and Poltergeist. He urged me to apply for a Malice Domestic Unpublished Writers Grant, which he had won himself a few years before. To my amazement, I won a grant for Affinity. It was published and two years later it was nominated as a Malice Domestic Best First Mystery. I urge everyone starting out to check out the Malice Domestic website and the Unpublished Writers Grants and think seriously about applying. (Directions are on their website and the deadline to apply is December 1st so there’s plenty of time to make the submission a good one).
That’s the good leg of my journey, but it wouldn’t be fair to leave the story there. I was on top of the world when Affinity was published, but shortly afterward, the publisher experienced serious financial problems and things went downhill fast. My other books were published by another company, but I’m happy to say things are looking a little better now for Affinity. It’s available on Kindle and I’m hoping it will become an audio book soon. The other titles in addition to Cold Winter Nights — Beneath The Surface, Best Laid Plans and Secrets Dark and Deep — are also being considered for Kindle and audio.
7. Describe a typical writing day for you.
Can I describe what a typical writing day used to be like? Okay — start early, work hard until mid-afternoon, reread in the evening. Now I’m ashamed to say I don’t get going, waste time and try to catch up by working way too late. But I plan to straighten out.
8. What do you love about writing?
What do I love about writing? Just about everything. It’s like entering one’s own special world — and those characters do pretty much what I tell them to. Not always, of course, but if they get too uppity, I can always replace them.and they know it.
9. Tell us about your most recent promotional outing.
I have a book talk at the Red Fox, a book store in downtown Glens Falls, NY , scheduled for Thursday Feb. 25, and so far the response has been great. Now if we don’t have a giant blizzard which keeps everyone off the streets, I hope that one will make the top of my list.
10. I note you have six children. As a mom, I know how hard it is to care for children and find time to write. How did you manage that?
I worked as a high school librarian for more than 30 years while my 6 children were growing up. I found the best way to squeeze in the career articles I was writing in those days was to do them very early in the morning or late at night after everyone was in bed. When I began writing mysteries, my children were pretty well grown so finding time was much easier.
11. Tell us about Glens Falls, NY, where you reside.
Our area was first settled by Quakers and the city of Glens Falls grew up near the falls of the Hudson River. James Fennimore Cooper immortalized the cave under the falls in The Last of the Mohicans. Lumber, lime and insurance were early industries.
12. Tell us about your favorite pet.
I have to credit our wonderful dog, Woodstock, named after his birthplace, but it was Woodstock, Vt. not NY. Woodstock was a Briard, a French sheep dog, with the world’s greatest personality. He loved to dive under water in streams and bring up rocks. If that wasn’t possible, he loved to have someone throw him rocks and he would catch them and bring them back to us. We worried about his teeth, but he seemed to manage it without injuring himself.
For more information about Anne White: http://www.annewhitemysteries.com/index.htm