Today is release day for Annie Hogsett’s debut mystery with Poisoned Pen Press, Too Lucky To Live. I had the chance to ask her a few questions. Thank you, Annie.
Annie, would you introduce yourself to readers?
Hi, Readers! I’m Annie Hogsett and I’ve been writing almost my whole life. Little poems my mom liked a lot. Short stories. A truly terrible first attempt called Rain of Terror. Eek! Advertising copy for years and years. If you ever bought something you didn’t really want or need, go ahead and blame me. I have to admit, it was a very fun job. And now Too Lucky to Live. Imagine how thrilled I am.
Tell us about Allie Harper and Thomas Bennington III.
Allie Harper, happily divorced/seriously broke, part-time librarian is equal parts feisty/funny and wounded/insecure. She thinks a lot of things are missing from her life, especially love and money. Then she meets nice, smart, hot Tom Bennington and his $550 million MondoMegaJackpot. Tom’s blindness is a disability, for sure, but he loves teaching English literature and is comfortable in the life he’s carved out for himself. He doesn’t care about money—the jackpot was a total accident. And he doesn’t notice he’s missing out on love and adventure until he meets Allie.
Without spoilers, summarize Too Lucky to Live.
Allie rescues Tom—and his grocery bag with the winning ticket in it—from a crosswalk, after he’s been honked at by a blonde in a Hummer. Tough town, Cleveland. Right after the kissing starts, the Mondo Ball drops, and much murdering ensues. As Allie and Tom climb the learning curve of “How to stay alive when every evil scheming weasel in Cleveland is after you and your ridiculous amount of money,” they find out who they really are—and start to become the amateur sleuths they need to be.
You set your mystery in Cleveland, an unusual setting for a novel. So, where do you take visitors when they come to Cleveland?
First, I take our visitors out on the deck and show them Lake Erie. A surprising number of folks don’t know Cleveland is backed up against a Great Lake, and even many Clevelanders don’t know just how Great our lake is. After that, I’d recommend the West Side Market—a hundred years of history and every single food thing you can imagine in an architectural wonder. If our visitors are music fans, The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame is—forgive me—where it’s at. Readers can get a tour of the Rock Hall in Too Lucky to Live. Ms. Erie is part of Allie’s story, too.
What can you tell us about the next book in the series?
Well, it’s a bit of a spoiler if I say, “Tom and Allie are in it.” Read: Still alive. But that’s probably no surprise. I’m excited about Book #2 of The Somebody’s Bound to Wind Up Dead Mysteries, because it builds on characters I love (and one in particular I love to hate) and it takes the “T & A Detectives” into their first real case.
How did you react when you learned Too Lucky to Live would be published?
We were in a restaurant at JFK in New York when I got an email from my now editor. I cried. And then there was champagne—well, sparkling wine. It was an airport, after all. I’m sending our waiter, Glenn, a signed copy of the book, because he was there at the beginning and so excited for me.
When did it really hit you that you’re a published author?
I went to a workshop that was like the many, many I’d gone to as I was trying to learn to be a better writer and find a home for Too Lucky to Live. The presenter asked me who my publisher is. I told her, and I could feel the other writers looking at me the way I’ve been looking at published writers for years—as if I had all the answers. It was spooky. And cool. And, of course, they were wrong.
What authors inspired you?
Agatha Christie, Janet Evanovich, Sue Grafton, Stephen King. I get serial crushes on writers and I’m shocked to discover all the ones I haven’t heard of who are everybody else’s classic favorites. Inspiration for the writing itself? Anne Lamott. Elizabeth Gilbert, and, especially, Julia Cameron, whose The Artist’s Way finally got me off the dime. They tell wannabee writers, “Try this. Do this,” and “You are so not alone.”
What were your favorites books as a child?
Well, after The House at Pooh Corner, I’d say Nancy Drew, The Hardy Boys, and many, many books about horses. I was not a discriminating reader as a child, and I will never catch up on the 10,000 classics I missed while I was reading about horses.
What author would you like to recommend who you think has been underappreciated?
Brian Doyle, the author of Mink River, one of my favorite novels. I’m shocked by how many avid readers have never heard of him. His writing so touches my heart and its sense of place is wonderfully compelling.
What’s on your TBR pile now?
I’m trying to pare it down. Commonwealth by Anne Patchett for my book group. The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead for my other book group. The Long and Faraway Gone by Lou Berney, because everybody says so. I’m not even going to try to describe my ever-rising stack of TBRs by all the fellow Poisoned Pen Press writers I’m discovering as I go. So many mysteries, so little time….
Thanks, Annie! Annie Hogsett’s website is http://www.anniehogsett.com/
Annie Hogsett will be appearing at The Poisoned Pen on Sunday, May 7 at 2 PM as part of the 20th Anniversary Celebration for Poisoned Pen Press. You can order a signed copy of Too Lucky to Live through the Web Store. http://bit.ly/2q8PH1X