Today’s guest is Julie Lomoe, author, poet, and artist, she even created the illustrations for her own book covers. Multi-talented in the arts an understatement where she’s concerned!
1. Tell us about your books.
Both my mystery novels deal with social issues I feel passionately about. Eldercide asks the question: When quality of life declines with age and illness, who decides if you’re better off dead? Nursing supervisor Claire Lindstrom suspects a killer is making the final judgment call for the clients of her home care agency, Compassionate Care. I was chosen as 2009 Author of the Year by the Friends of the Albany Public Library for the book’s treatment of ethical dilemmas that impact us all.
Mood Swing: The Bipolar Murders is set at a social club for mentally ill consumers on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. When club members with bipolar disorder begin dying unexpectedly, the club’s director suspects murder. She has a special stake in the events – she too is diagnosed bipolar.
2. Anything on the horizon?
Eldercide is first of a series featuring the staff and clients of Compassionate Care. Right now, I’m working on a nonfiction book about writers online and the impact of social networking on our careers.
3. You’re multitalented in the arts: published author, venued poet, and a galleried artist. Do you prefer one over the others and, if so, which one?
I love reading my poetry at local poetry venues because of the instant gratification. It’s great to write a poem in the afternoon, then debut it and bask in the applause on the same night, whereas writing novels is an investment of years rather than hours. Without a doubt, though, I prefer publishing books.
4. I note you advocate for the rights of the mentally ill and elderly consumers, and touch upon these in your novels. Did any particular instance lead you to this interest?
I worked as a creative arts therapist with the mentally ill for many years, long before I was diagnosed bipolar myself, so I’ve experienced the stigma of mental illness as both a professional and a consumer. As director of a social club much like the one in Mood Swing, I was fired the morning after I disclosed my bipolar diagnosis. The outrage fueled the novel.
Eldercide was inspired by my eight tumultuous years running a home health care agency. Like the mentally ill, the elderly often suffer from stereotyping and stigma – they need advocacy, and I give them powerful voices in Eldercide.
5. What inspires you as a writer?
My novels spring from strong convictions, as noted above. The overall message or theme has to come first.
6. What motivated the idea for your first book?
I began writing fiction as a therapeutic way of processing the overwhelming experiences of my first art therapy job on locked inpatient wards for the acutely mentally ill. I never published that book – today it would be a period piece, because those types of hospitals have largely gone the way of the dinosaurs. Today the kinds of patients I worked with would be out on the streets – or all too often, in prison.
7. What do you think works best for you in regards to promoting?
I love promoting my work online, but I’d have to say an individual talk followed by a signing yields more measurable results. Too bad, because as an introvert, I feel happier writing online than putting on my game face in public.
8. Describe a typical writing day.
On an ideal writing day, I have the luxury of several uninterrupted hours and the words flow swimmingly. Unfortunately, that’s not typical – life has a way of intervening.
9. What do you love about writing? What do you dislike the most?
I love the ideal writing day, when the work is its own reward with no thoughts of consequences. I detest the necessity of bringing my work to market.
10. The Dames love romance. How did you meet your husband and how long have you been married?
We met at Max’s Kansas City, the legendary Manhattan bar where the rock superstars and the Andy Warhol crowd hung out in the 1970’s. I had a Pentax camera draped around my neck, and he happened to be writing a book about the Pentax system and said “I see you’re using a Pentax.” We recently celebrated our 35th anniversary.
11. We also love to travel. Tell us about your part of the country.
After years in Manhattan, including the artists’ district of SoHo, we moved upstate and now live in Rensselaer County. The countryside is beautiful, though its rolling farmlands are gradually being gobbled up by suburban sprawl. It’s the inspiration for the fictional town of Kooperskill in my Compassionate Care series. There’s downhill skiing less than an hour away, and skullduggery on the slopes will probably figure in my next book.
12. We adore animals. Do you have any pets? If so, please tell us about them.
My beloved shepherd mix Rishi – rangier than a Rottweiler but huskier than a Doberman – lives on as a major character in Mood Swing, though the fictionalized Rishi is better behaved than the original. Dogs play pivotal roles in Eldercide as well. Currently our lives are dominated by two cats, Beep and Lunesta, whom I wrote into Eldercide as Zoloft and Lunesta soon after their arrival in our lives. Yes, they’re named for the medications that help keep me on an even keel.
Visit Julie Lomoe at her blog, Julie Lomoe’s Musings Mysterioso, at http://julielomoe.wordpress.com. Her books are available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble or the author.