March 8, 2006

Author Lonnie Cruse NOT Murdered in Metropolis

Today I’m being halfway serious for a change and interviewing Lonnie Cruse, author of MURDER IN METROPOLIS, MURDER BEYOND METROPOLIS and coming up, MARRIED IN METROPOLIS, due out sometime this spring. All three are part of the Sheriff Joe Dalton series, set in the small midwestern town of Metropolis, Illinois, and all published by Quiet Storm Publishing. She’s currently working on more of the Dalton series as well as another series she’s developing (glutton for punishment that she is). We already know it’s going to be wonderful.

Her website is and her blog, where she interviews a different author every week, is at . That’s the reason I decided to ask her if she’d like to (or dare to) let ME interview HER for a change. Lonnie interviews everyone else in the universe, right? I thought it’d be a good thing to let her have her turn on the hot seat, so here we go!

Hotclue: There has to have been one defining moment, one exact point in time when you suddenly realized you were going to write a book. When was that moment for you? When you were small, or when you were growing up, or just recently? What made you realize this was what you wanted to do more than anything else you could think of?

Lonnie: Hehehe, you’re gonna love this one. I’d wanted to write a novel for eons, particularly when I was a young mom in my twenties. But no computer back then, and hand writing for very long periods is difficult for me as a lefty. AND I often can not read my own writing when it goes cold. I was under the impression ALL writers had journalistic backgrounds and the author police would nab me if I attempted to write without one. Then my kids grew up, I hit my mid-fifties, I read TWO books with HUGE plot holes that the editors for their very large, very important publishing houses didn’t catch, and I learned to use a computer. I figured, hey, I couldn’t do any worse than those authors, could I? Well, yes, I could, but ignorance is bliss, and I’m about as blissful as they come.

Hotclue: I do love it! But you’re not one bit ignorant and we’re all so glad you’re blissful! After you started trying to write that book and then discovered how hard it is, what made you continue on? Did someone inspire you, and if someone did, who was it and how did they inspire you? Did that same book turn out to be the first book you got published?

Lonnie: What made me continue writing that first book was that I believed so much in the story. I made up my mind I’d get it published even if I had to self-publish it. Did I mention ‘ignorant bliss’ yet? I’d have to say I was inspired by the many authors I’ve met on the Internet who publish with small publishers. They all admitted how tough it was to get recognition with small publishers and none of them thought in terms of “rich and famous.” They just wanted to get their stories out there and so did I. And yes, the first manuscript I wrote was the first book I published, done through a small publisher. But it had to go through a ton of revisions before it was even ready to submit.

Hotclue: That’s important to tell people, because so many people think no small publishers edit, but we know better, don’t we. Lonnie, your books so far have been set in the small town of Metropolis, Illinois. Do you envision ever setting a book in a major large US city, or even another country? If your answer is yes, what city or country would you like to start with? Would you want to visit there first, or do you feel confident you could do it with enough research?

Lonnie: Setting my books in Metropolis has been the key to my success thus far. While I do sell across the country and even in other countries, the local folks have supported me in ways I couldn’t have imagined. I have started a new series and the first in that one is also set here, but with new characters. However, I’m branching out. The second book in the new series (I’m about five chapters in to it) is set in Pigeon Forge, TN. We’ve visited there several times, so I feel confident with the amount of research I did, even though I didn’t realize I was researching it at the time. I’d also love to set a book in Las Vegas, NV because I was born and raised there. But I’d either have to go back there and do TONS of research (because it’s changed so much over the years) or set it in Vegas in the 40’s and 50’s, which would be great fun to do. Vegas was a wonderful place to live then. We visited Jamaica in the early 90’s, teaching Bible in the back woods areas, VERY rural and poor. I’d like to set a book there some time.

Hotclue: Oh, I can’t wait to read a series set in Pigeon Forge! That should be great fun! Now, on a different note, do you envision ever writing a romantic suspense, with all the angst and emotional conflict and sizzling hot love scenes?

Lonnie: I have a zinger of a romance in my head. Will I ever put it on paper? Dunno. I’ve toyed with the idea. Let me just say it’s a positive maybe. Would I write hot love scenes? Nnnnoo. I can’t write and/or publish anything my Christian friends or grandkids can’t read without blushing. BUT I believe it’s very possible to lead the reader up to the bedroom door, gently close it in her face, and leave what’s going on behind that door to her imagination, and still make it “hot.” I think most people’s imaginations are far better left to their own devices. Besides, as an editor or a reader, I get reeeeaaallly bored with scenes that include graphic accounts of who touched who, where, when, how, and why.

Hotclue: I couldn’t agree with you more. Now, have you taken any of your characters’ personalities from your family or people you know in real life? Can you tell us who and what they were?

Lonnie: Yes, all of my characters are taken from people I’ve met in real life. That said, they are usually a mixture of traits, stirring in a little of this and that from several people. For instance, when I visualize my lead character, Sheriff Joe Dalton, I think of actor Brian Dennehy. I met him when he was in Paducah, KY making the movie River Rat with Tommie Lee Jones. (Our middle son, Craig, had a one line part in the movie.) Dennehy is a very nice guy. But the personality traits Dalton has are a mix of several men I know. Ditto for the females. A friend of mine read the first draft of the manuscript for the new series I’m beginning with a female lead. She swears it’s me. Maybe some, but a lot of other women are in that character as well.

Hotclue: Personally, I couldn’t imagine a nicer heroine than you. When I grow up I want to BE you! Who is your favorite character from your own books so far?

Lonnie: Hmmm, tough one. I enjoy writing Dalton, but his wife is even more fun to write. I enjoy writing Kitty Bloodworth for the new series. I think my most fun character so far was Leonard, a bratty five year old who helped Dalton solve the mystery in my second book of the Metropolis Mystery series, Murder Beyond Metropolis. And I’ve had a lot of readers tell me he was a fun character to read.

Hotclue: He definitely was fun and he was certainly real! Have your family and friends always reacted as you would have expected to the fact that you’re a published author, or have there been some big surprises? What were your biggest surprises?

Lonnie: Lonnie: For the most part they have been even more supportive than I’d hoped, which was the big surprise. I expected them to be supportive, but they went far beyond. I’ve heard more than one author say his/her family isn’t supportive. That would make writing VERY difficult for me if not nearly impossible. I think my sons are a bit shocked that mom is now a published author. But they seem to enjoy my books.

Hotclue: You’re a lucky lady to have all that support! What has so far been your absolute all-time favorite signing event so far?

Lonnie: Probably the first because so many people showed up and bought books. And the snacks were terrific. What to hear about the worst? Signing with another author at a Kroger store. They forgot we were coming. We had to use those plastic square milk boxes turned upside down for a table, decorated with a Christmas flower arrangement. Thankfully I always bring a tablecloth. I sold ONE book. And they didn’t pay me for it for months. Other than that, it was fine.

Hotclue: Good thing you have a sense of humor AND carry a tablecloth. Inquiring minds want to know: Is Lonnie your real name, or is it short for something else? 😉

Lonnie: Sigh, it’s my real name. My mom and dad decided before I was born (which was waaaay before ultrasound technology) that they would name me Lonnie for my dad’s best friend, whether I was a boy or a girl. Since they used the male spelling, it has caused more than a few problems over the years, like when Uncle Sam tried to make me register for the draft. I did talk my way out of that one. I’m just thankful the friend’s name wasn’t Horace, or Oswald, or something like that. I considered using a pen name, but when I mentioned it to my publisher, he advised me to stay with my own because it’s distinctive. I’m sooo glad I did. Much easier to keep records, etc. And some days I have trouble remembering my own name, so I’d never be able to keep up with a made up one.

Hotclue: Just be glad they didn’t name you Hotclue. 😉 If you could have only One More Thing in your life than you have right now, what would it be?

Lonnie: Eeeek, only one? Then I’d have to say a trip to some really romantic place like Hawaii with my hubby. The only other thing would be to win an Edgar for one of my books. (Notice I did manage to put the selfish wish second?)

Hotclue: We did notice, and you probably will win an Edgar one of these days. Do you have any rituals you go through when you’re writing? What are they?

Lonnie: Check e-mail, work on my blog, play Spider Solitaire, look at my story board, check the laundry, have a snack, look at my story board again, sigh deeply, pick an index card with a story idea on it for the next chapter, start typing. Get excited about where the chapter is going, kick myself for messing around so much that morning when I could have been writing this chapter, finish the chapter, check the word count, wish it was much longer, read it over a couple of times and try to add words, decide it’s done because there isn’t room for one single more word, get excited, go have another snack, switch out the laundry, check e-mail again, quit for the day. I do keep pictures of the setting for my books on my story board for inspiration.

Hotclue: Sounds about like an average procrastinating–I mean, working–day for any good author. So do you watch the news or would you rather make up your own world?

Lonnie: I watch the news sometimes but not regularly. When I click into Yahoo to check mail, if there’s anything world shaking going on, it’s posted on the Yahoo site and I read it. I read the newspaper regularly and get a LOT of story ideas and research information from there. I like to create my own world, but I like to use real-world stuff in it.

Hotclue: It’s a good thing you don’t live in Chicago, you don’t EVEN want to watch our news on television. 😉 What’s your favorite television show?

Lonnie: Law & Order Criminal Intent and Closer. Plus anything on HGTV. Cops. I’ve kinda quit watching some of the forensic reality shows lately, because some of the really violent murders they solve tend to stay with me.

Hotclue: I’m always afraid to watch Cops; I might see myself in it. What has so far been your all-time favorite book written by someone else? Was it this book that helped inspire you to want to write?

Lonnie: I’d have to say We Have Always Lived In The Castle by Shirley Jackson. I read it last year, so I was already published. I love her writing, even though it usually has a dark twist at the end. I love Bill Crider’s Dan Rhodes series, he always inspires me to write. Ditto for Anne George’s wonderful Southern Sisters series. Too bad there won’t be any more of those.

Hotclue: Jackson’s book is one of my favorites too. You have several books in progress. Do you find it hard to concentrate when you have so many different people and plot events running around in your head?

Lonnie: Not really because I tend to focus on the one that’s working at the moment. If I hit a stall, I switch to the other. However, I just finished a manuscript last week, and it needs to “sit” before I try to do more to it, so I’ll go back to the one with five chapters and see where I am. I’m taking a few days off.

Hotclue: Hope you enjoy them, but I’m betting your book is on your mind the whole time, am I right? Is there anything else you’d like to say to your readers today?

Lonnie: Lonnie: Yes, thank you so much for this opportunity. I hope your readers will read my books. AND I hope they will read YOUR books because I love your writing as well! I wanted to learn to write in first person after reading your Night Sounds!

Beth: From your mouth to God’s ears. Thank you so much for dropping in on my blog and adding an air of some kind of legitimacy to my usual silly blatherings. It’s been a real pleasure learning more about you and I wish you all the good luck in the world with your current and future books. And hey, say YO! to everyone in Metropolis for me!

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5 Responses | TrackBack URL | Comments Feed

  1. Hey, Hotclue and Lonnie, great interview! How did you like the big light shining on you? (g)


  2. I had a lot of fun with this! Hotclue asks much better questions than I can think of on my blog. I tend to use the same questions over and over to see what different responses I’ll get. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!


  3. And here I was thinking about doing the same thing because it is a good idea and all the answers have been different.

    As for the questions I asked, Hotclue just loves to have fun, don’tcha know.

    Hugs to both of you,


  4. Thanks, Beth, for putting the spotlight on Lonnie. And Lonnie, I love the way you spend your writing day. Gave me a good laugh.

    Carry on,
    Pat Browning, World’s Worst Lollygagger


  5. Hey, Pat, Lonnie’s writing day sounds like my writing day too. Are you absolutely SURE you’re the World’s Worst Lollygagger? I thought I was…

    Hugs, Hotclue


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