June 29, 2013

Lorna Collins

Lorna Collins in Three Words:  
Japan, Ghost, Murder

Lorna Collins was raised in Alhambra, California and attended California State University at Los Angeles where she majored in English.
Between 1998 and 2001, she worked in Osaka, Japan on the Universal Studios theme park with her husband, Larry. Their memoir of that experience, 31 Months in Japan: The Building of a Theme Park, was published in 2005 and was a finalist for the 2006 nonfiction EPPIE award and named as one of Rebeccas Reads best nonfiction books of 2005.
They have written two mysteries together: Murder… They Wrote, published in 2009, and Murder in Paradise, published in 2010. The latter was a finalist for the 2011 EPIC eBook Award in 2011. They are currently working on at least two more in this series.
She and Larry are currently immersed in an historical novel set in San Juan Capistrano, CA between the years of 1820 and 1890.
In addition, Lorna is a professional editor.
Today she and Larry are retired and reside in Dana Point, California.

Could you please start by telling us a little about yourself?
I live in Southern California with my husband, Larry K. Collins. We retired a couple of years ago and now can’t figure out how we ever had time to work!
I write in several genres—mostly because I’m easily bored. So far, I’ve written a memoir, 31 Months in Japan: The Building of a Theme Park, and two mysteries, Murder…They Wrote and Murder in Paradise, with my husband.
My solo work, Ghost Writer, is a fantasy/mystery/romance.
I also write romance anthologies with fellow authors Sherry Derr-Wille, Cheryl Gardarian, Luanna Rugh and Christie Shary.
Right now, Larry and I are working on an historical novel, The Memory Keeper, set in San Juan Capistrano between 1820 and 1890. 

Please tell us a little about your new release without giving too much of a spoiler away.
The latest romance anthology, called The Art of Love, was written with Sherry, Luanna, and Cheryl. It’s about four women, each of whom is involved with a different form of artwork: painting, photography, crochet, and stained glass. Along the way, each finds love. 

What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Coordinating our stories is usually the greatest challenge, but since this is number five, we’ve figured out how to do it. I’m the hub and check for continuity and consistency. 

What comes first: the plot or the characters?
For me, it works both ways. For this book, I had a last name: Amalfitano. When I started thinking about who the girl with that name would be, the story evolved. 

Do you plan all your characters out before you start a story or do they develop as you write?
Again both. I usually start knowing who the character is, but they sometimes surprise me as the story evolves. 

Do you have a ritual when it comes to writing? Example….get coffee, blanket, paper, pen, laptop and a comfy place.
I usually write at my desk where I can hear the waterfall outside. I often wake at two or three in the morning when ‘the voices’ speak to me. Since they don’t let me sleep anyway, I get up and write them. Lately, however, I have been doing a lot of editing professionally and haven’t had as much time to write as I’d like. I need to take a hiatus from editing so I can get back to it! 

Do your books have a common theme or are they all different?
Obviously, they are different. But all our mysteries are set in Hawaii, and all our romances are set in a little town we called Aspen Grove, Colorado. Since it’s fictitious, we can make it look and feel exactly like we want it. (Although, if you were to visit Idaho Springs or Georgetown you might recognize some familiar things!) 

How long does it take you to write and then edit a story?
Since I’m usually working on two or three at a time, it’s hard to say. For instance, I’m not only working with Larry on the historical, we also have the next mystery on the back burner, and we’ve already started the next romance anthology, ...And a Sixpence in her Shoe. 

How do you go about naming characters?
I steal names! If I hear a great first or last name, I write it down. Sometimes a character simply appears who goes with the name. I ‘stole’ Amalfitano from a guy I worked with. Since it’s Italian, her first name became Gulietta, but everyone calls her Julie. 

What so you see for the future of publishing and e-books?
More and more people are self-publishing since it has become pretty easy. For that reason, however, lots of truly bad books are available. It is harder and harder to discover the better ones.
We belong to EPIC, the Electronic Publishing Industry Coalition, and we judge their contest every year. The submissions are generally excellent, and we are privileged to read the work of some very talented new writers.
We are also involved with the New Voices Young Writers Group, started several years ago by EPIC. Their contest is an absolute revelation! We receive hundreds of entries from middle and high school young people from all over the world. The quality of that writing is amazing.
Overall, I am optimistic about the future of ebooks. 

What are your current books out right now, and what are the books coming up for release?
My last released book is called Ghost Writer, released last summer. It’s my fantasy/mystery/romance set in Laguna Beach, CA. (Have you noticed, I set my books in beautiful places. That gives me an excuse to spend time there!)
The Art of Love will be released in September by Whiskey Creek press. The other anthologies, Snowflake Secrets, Seasons of Love, Directions of Love (EPIC eBook Award winner), and An Aspen Grove Christmas, are all available in print and ebook for Kindle, Nook and others from the same publisher as well as from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other online book sources. 

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I love walking in the mornings at the marina, editing, and reading, when I have the time. 

Is there anything else you would like to tell the readers we have not touched on?
I would encourage all writers, readers, and industry professionals to attend EPICon 2014 in San Antonio, TX next March. You can find the details on the EPIC website: www.epicorg.com. We’ll be presenting a workshop at the conference. It’s a great place to meet authors and other industry professionals. 

Where can the readers learn more about you and find your books on the web?
They can find information; buy links, and trailers for our books at www.lornalarry.com.


Lorna Collins - said...

Thanks for having me! Ask me anything, and I'll answer.

Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

Good interview, Lorna. Always love reading anything about you.

jrlindermuth said...

Good to learn more about you, Lorna.

marja said...

Great interview, Lorna. I really enjoyed Ghost Writer and had a lot of fun with it.
Marja McGraw

marta chausée said...

Great interview. Learned a lot. I'm interested in attending EPICon in '14. Please tell me more when I see you, Lorna!


Jacqueline Seewald said...

Enjoyed reading your interview, Lorna. It's always nice to learn more about fellow romantic mystery writers! I love the settings of your novels. Best wishes.

Lorna Collins - said...

Thanks to all of you. Jacqueline, we love our little town of Aspen Grove, too! Quite a few of our readers say they'd love to visit there. We answer, "so would we!"