October 2012 | Nate Pedersen

Bibliomysteries: Lorna Barrett

Our occasional series of Q&As with bibliomystery authors continues today with Lorna Barrett, author of the Booktown series from Berkley Prime Crime.  The series began in 2008 with Murder is Binding.  The most recent entry, from earlier this year, is Murder on the Half Shelf.  The seventh book is scheduled for release next year.

lorna.jpg NP: Could you tell us a bit about the Booktown series?
LB: The idea of a mystery bookstore in a town full of bookstores was the catalyst.  An American take-off on the village of Hay-On-Wye in Wales.  Of course, the independent booksellers I've spoken to want to know how my protagonist, Tricia Miles, gets her hands on so many first edition vintage mysteries.  They say they can't do it.  (That's why we call this fiction!)  I'm currently working on the seventh book in the series.  The sixth book, Murder On The Half Shelf, was published on July 3rd.

murderisbinding.jpgNP: What sort of research do you conduct for the Booktown series?

LB: Google and Wikipedia are my best friends.  I also have a data base of old mystery titles and their publication dates that I use when talking about the vintage mysteries Tricia reads and sells.  Of course, it doesn't hurt to read a few of them myself now and then.

NP: What do you think makes bibliomysteries so appealing to readers?

LB: Readers seem to be fascinated with the inner workings of the industry -- be it bookselling, book repair, or libraries.  I grew up loving libraries and bookstores, where one could go and see loads of books for lending or sale on any subject you could imagine.  When you brought the books home, you could get lost in other worlds and lives. That appeal has never tarnished for me, either.

NP: Are you personally a book collector?

LB: I wouldn't say I'm a collector; more a packrat when it comes to books.  I can't bear to see a book mistreated, and it's extremely difficult for me to part with a book once I've got it. Because I write three different mystery series, a lot of my recreational reading is devoted to nonfiction.  I have enough coffee table books to start my own library.  I love non-fiction, and am addicted to reading lifestyle, cookery, and decorating books.  Right now I'm reading a history of the Biltmore estate, and am amazed at how I might apply what I've learned to a story that's percolating in the back of my mind.  Everything's grist for the writing mill.

[Many thanks to Lorna for answering our questions.  Photo from the author's profile on Goodreads.  The other entries thus far in this series are Marianne MacDonald and Carolyn Hart].