Monday, April 28, 2014

LORIE LEE STEINER - Jamie Tremain's Guest for April


Our guest this week is a woman of many interests and passions. A short story writer, wannabe mystery novelist, magazine editor, photographer, activist, mom, granny, old house aficionado and animal lover.  She especially adores her four-footed companion, Tobe. Oh, and she loves hanging wallpaper when there is nothing else needing her attention.


In her spare (!) time she volunteers at a seniors’ memoir writing class. She’s amazed at the incredible lives these folks (in their 60s – 90s) have lived.  Initially they told Lorie they were afraid to start writing, having no experience, but now she says they won’t stop!

Lorie agrees that networking with fellow writers, whether through social media or attending writers’ conferences or book signings, is very important for inspiration and that ever-necessary nudge. That said, being one of the ‘unpublished’ at places such as Bloody Words still makes Lorie feel “like the ‘undead,’ lurking in the shadows without a book-length credit to my name. But I keep going, nevertheless.”
No stranger to personal adversity, it was during very tough emotional times that Lorie found immersing herself in her writing was instrumental in getting her through some devastating personal losses.



Welcome, Lorie, to Jamie Tremain's blog and thank you for joining us from your home town of bucolic Paris, Ontario.  Lorie has graciously provided photos for this blog from her own collection.

  Paris from the Lookout 

Back of Paris Shoppes Along the Grand  

Paris in the Fall



You wear many hats Lorie. What is your favourite occupation above all others?

Hi Pam, it’s great to be here in the hot seat as an ‘author-in-progress’. Many thanks to you and Liz for inviting me to Jamie Tremain’s blog.

As to hats, after mom  and granny, I can truthfully say that ‘writer’ is my favourite. Whether it’s a 500 word article on ladder safety, or a 20 chapter cozy mystery, writing is a magical process. To start with a basic idea, do scads of research, interview people knowledgeable in the field, come up with the perfect beginning ‘hook’ and then write the story in your own voice to conclusion is very satisfying.

Of course, the bee in this particular bonnet often carries a painful sting. That would be the editing and endless revisions. But the end result is worth it, every time.

I enjoy your photography of everyday things. Do you have formal training in this art?

I’m glad you like my pics. I can’t draw a passable stick person, but I am fortunate to have a pretty good eye with a camera. Completely self-taught, my secret is taking literally hundreds of photos in a single outing – of those, there are always a few ‘keepers’ that are submission quality. I shoot anything that catches my attention and have thousands of images on file – my own personal ‘Shutterstock’. After I’ve written an article, or when I’m looking for a topic to write about, I go through the photo files and choose ones that are suitable accompaniments. They are also great for reference i.e. scene details or setting a mood, when writing fiction. Note to writers wanting to submit to magazines: editors love a story that comes with high quality pics.

        At the Carriage House

Your new position as Senior Editor at HOSS magazine sounds like a dream job for a self-confessed paper hanger. As a DIY program junkie I need to check this out. Tell us about this new endeavour.

I’ve been addicted to TV ‘house porn’ for ages, coupled with a passion for old architecture and home decor that I come by honestly. My grandfather was a master painter and wallpaper hanger in England in the early 1900s. He moved here to Paris in 1912, took up the trade and taught his son (my father), at an early age. Dad, in turn, taught my sibs and me, and I passed the skill on to my kids. Over the years, I’ve owned a variety of older homes where I learned about renovation, first-hand. That makes my job as Senior Editor at HOSS a dream come true.

HOSS is a hot new Home Renovation Resource magazine with star-studded covers and lively content. Each issue features more than 100 pages of the latest DIY tips, trends, products, and a wealth of expert advice from your favourite celebs in the realm of all things reno. We’re just proofing our 4th issue now… who knew work could be so much fun?

My responsibilities as Senior Editor include researching, writing, editing, proofing and more than a little brainstorming with our editorial and design team... AND I get to work on stories with HGTV hosts like Alison Victoria (Kitchen Crashers), Drew & Jonathan (the Property Brothers), Chris Grundy (Cool Tools)… Yes, I’m smiling. Now you know why a 500 word article on ‘ladders’ suddenly seems a lot more sexy.

If someone were to cast a movie about your life, who would you like to see portray Lorie Steiner?

I would say Diane Lane, because I can really relate to her portrayal of Frances in Under the Tuscan Sun. I watch it every now and then, as my own life ‘drama’ unfolds – happily, I’m past the moping-with-the-other-dumped-spouses stage and looking forward to finding that broken-down old charmer to love (a house, I mean).

Tell us about your two "simmering in the pot" mysteries. When will we get to read them?

Classic answer: “When they’re finished?”

Sealed with a Crypt (working title) is a light-hearted cozy, wrapped around a case of arson and murder in a century old manor house. A year after the tragedy, young realtor Annie Borden and her sister CC have purchased the property – anxious to restore it and sell it as a B & B. Enter the evil local developer who wants to raze the once gorgeous house and build condos. He’s livid that they scooped the property first. But is there more to it? Rumour has it that old lady McElroy’s murder and the fire were really about family riches hidden somewhere in the house. As more of the small town’s buildings go up in flames, the questions grow. Then, two days before Halloween, Annie goes missing from the McElroy house, and CC and the handsome contractor are scouring the creepy mansion top to bottom for clues before the arsonist strikes again.

My other book is set in 1912 and based loosely on my grandmother’s life, around the time she came to Paris from England at the age of 18. She travelled to Canada by ship with a group of other young girls to work in the local Penman’s textile mills, just a few months after the sinking of Titanic. The ladies settled into a boarding house, sans chaperones, and the fictional story that follows includes adventures in back-stabbing; a late evening train called ‘Cupid’s Car’; and sabotage in the mill that ends in death. Which one of these innocent Brit beauties was to blame, or was it a gentleman friend?

Being the old house nut that I am, the fun thing about this story is that I get to resurrect the 19th century house where my grandmother lived and which was our family home until the year I was born – when the Dept. of Highways expropriated the property and tore the house down to widen Hwy #2. Today, there is an empty lot where the house stood and I often go there and try to get a ‘feel’ for the past. In my novel, the home is back in all its beauty, kitty corner to the thriving Needleworks building, a century old gothic treasure which today is for sale and at risk of demolition.


Do you have a favourite author?

Many favourites from the past and present – mostly writers of detective fiction, cozies, some horror. I’d name drop, but I don’t want to leave anyone out. (Canadian crime writers, you know who you are!)

For me, it’s always a pleasure to escape with a good murder mystery after a hard day’s work or a bad night’s sleep.

Speaking of authors and books - over the years I’ve collected several favourite books. Ones which I could read more than twice.  You’ve read extensively can you share with us your all-time favourite – or three?

1.    Harvest Home by Thomas Tryon. love, love, love. It’s now out of print - $94 for a used copy! – I’ve read my own tattered paperback so many times that the pages have separated from the spine and I have to keep it in a Ziploc bag with an elastic around it. Still my favourite, wish they’d do a reprint, so I wouldn’t have to wear gloves!

2.    A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole

3.    The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie

4.    Non-fiction: On Writing by Stephen King (my writer’s bible). I also have this as an audio book narrated by Stephen himself. Never fails to inspire.

What is a typical writing day for you?

Like many writers, I have the luxury of working from home. So every morning, I leash up Tobe and we walk two miles to work. By 8 am, I’m at my desk with the first of many, many mugs of tea and a full day of writing / researching / editing ahead. When you work for a magazine that publishes 6 times a year, there is no 8 to 4 or 9 to 5 Mon to Fri schedule. Hours are flexible – often long – and weekends are just a suggestion. But somehow, you don’t mind…

Every day there’s something new to learn, someone interesting to meet; even during the stressful proofing process, when you want to scream and pull your hair and often do, there’s a sense of accomplishment and the knowledge that you’re creating something that’s the best you can make it. Something that will eventually influence someone else in a positive way.

Throughout the day, you’ll see me pop up on facebook to LIKE your post, or to add a new photo or brilliantly conceived comment. Lol.

Nights are reserved for fiction – not every night, and definitely not as often as I should. I use a small netbook for novel writing, never my ‘day job’ laptop, and I’m forever kicking myself for not keeping at it. When I’m in the groove, it all comes so easily, it’s just making the time on a regular basis. Wonder if anyone else has these commitment issues…

On a not-so-typical day, whenever there’s a chance to experience the unusual or seldom seen, I jump at it. Like going on a photo tour of a derelict industrial complex slated for demolition; tip-toeing through the charred shell of a century home; and did I mention being tasered? Voluntarily. By the local constabulary, as part of the Citizens’ Police Academy course. Why? Just to see what it felt like, so I could write about it from experience. Now that’s dedication.

Pam and I are saddened that this year’s Bloody Words will be the last – do you have other venues where you can connect and network within Canada?

It is sad to see Bloody Words die, last year Scene of the Crime on Wolfe Island said goodbye. There’s no way the mystery genre is falling out of favour – it’s more popular than ever! More likely, the amount of hard work and time that goes into running these events has worn out the ‘usual suspects’ who plan and present them every year.

So what to do? There is a plethora of networking opportunities posted online through social media. Groups such as Crime Writers of Canada and Sisters in Crime keep members updated on book launches and special events across the country via email newsletters, websites and facebook. LinkedIn also offers a great chance to connect with fellow writers.

Personally, I’d like to see more local occasions for authors and readers to get together in person. Not everyone can travel to Toronto or Ottawa or Vancouver, so planning more intimate events in small town bookstores, libraries or historic buildings (*hint, hint) might just be the way to go. As long as there is fun involved… after all, that’s the best part of being a writer!

Murder in the Recently Renovated Carriage House anyone??

Pam and Liz:
Thank you for being our guest today and we wish you much success in your new role with HOSS Magazine and look forward to seeing you at Bloody Words in a few short weeks.  And keep on writing – your day will come.

“Good things come to those who write.” L.L.S.
Lorie Lee Steiner hails from Paris, Ontario, nicknamed the Prettiest Town in Canada – an historic valley town nestled at the forks of two rivers. As a child, her path to and from school passed through an old cemetery in the midst of tall, whispering trees. That moody atmosphere and occasional stumbles over broken gravestones fuelled a young girl’s imagination for all things eerie. Over the years, P.D. James, Stephen King and Agatha Christie fed the fire. Fast forward to 2004, where a chance introduction to Ottawa crime writers Mary Jane Maffini and Barbara Fradkin at a local bookstore ‘Mystery Night’ inspired this fledgling writer to, in MJ’s words, “Go forth and be dangerous!”

The cemetery Lorie passed on her way to school

In her day job as editor and non-fiction writer, she has the opportunity to read about and interview a wide variety of people from all walks of life, “so I’m constantly learning about new things and encountering interesting personalities. Makes for great character studies.”
Today, Lorie is Senior Editor at Canada’s HOSS magazine and an accomplished freelance writer, editor and photographer with more than 4 dozen non-fiction publishing credits in various magazines. A member of Crime Writers of Canada, her ‘claim to fame’ in fiction is a short story “Cobwebs” in the 2008 Ladies’ Killing Circle anthology, Going Out with a Bang!... and 2 novels currently simmering in the pot


Make sure to check back next month for an interview with debut author Kay Kendall talking about her new book Desolation Row.

Talk soon,

Pam and Liz

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