“The motive for the
murder was up for grabs. Revenge, retaliation,
perhaps he’d also
stolen candy from a baby…”
L. L. Bartlett (p. 53, Dark Waters)
Some authors are more prolific
than others. Lorraine Bartlett proves her prolificacy by writing four series.
Berkley Prime Crime publishes two of Lorraine’s cozy series, The Booktown
Mystery Series, sales for which have placed it on the bestselling list, written
under the pseudonym Lorna Barrett and the Victory Square Series written under
her real name, Lorraine Bartlett. She also writes an adventure-fantasy series,
The Tales of Telenia. Although I love cozies and fantasy, the series that
attracts me the most is her Jeff Resnick series. He’s an unforgettable
character, and his story is not cozy.
Please Welcome Lorraine to WWK. E. B. Davis
Please give our
readers a series synopsis, if you would.
Jeff Resnick was viciously mugged by a couple of street
thugs; broke and needing a place to recover, he is taken in by his estranged
older half-brother, physician Richard Alpert. Soon after, Jeff is assailed by
visions that lead him to investigate the death of a local banker. He not only
has to prove to Richard that these visions are real, but to himself as well. It’s
his skills as a trained investigator that lead him to the murderer.
Is Jeff’s character
based on a real crime victim?
a former insurance investigator, Jeff uses skills he acquired in that job and
combines them with his new found sixth-sense, but it comes at a personal cost.
Do you think great
talent requires great sacrifice?
I sure hope not. : ) Jeff has
always been a tortured soul. In fact, it takes his psychic mentor to remind him
that he always had a sort of latent psychic talent, but he not only didn’t
recognize it—he wouldn’t have believed it if he had.
Jeff and his
half-brother Richard lived together for a while in their younger years. Will
readers find out about these years?
After their mother’s death, Richard became fourteen-year old
Jeff’s legal guardian, and he went to live with him at Richard’s grandparents’
home. He was there for the better part of four years. I’m currently working on
a collection that chronicles those years. It’s called Evolution and was
released on Christmas Day.
For two brothers, it
seems like they have few rivalries, although Brenda, Richard’s black girlfriend
who becomes his wife, causes friction. How are Jeff and Brenda kindred spirits?
They both have a deep sense of compassion, and they’re both
a little psychic. Brenda has what she considers hunches and trusts her
instincts. That’s why she was so open to the idea that Jeff has visions and
what he calls his funny feelings.
The setting, Buffalo,
N.Y. seems volatile due to its extreme weather. Have you kept Buffalo true to
I hope so. Buffalo hasn’t had a blizzard for a few years,
but being at the east end of Lake Erie, it does get slammed by what’s called
lake effect snow. Storms build up over the lake and dump the snow on the whole
area. I live on Lake Ontario and we get the same thing, but not as bad.
While I have never lived in Buffalo, my husband is a Buffalo
native, and we visit there often.
Richard is a doctor,
who doesn’t practice medicine. Jeff is an investigator, who bartends. Do these
guys need career counseling?
LOL! Richard is loaded; he doesn’t need to work. His former
job was as a medical researcher (evaluating medical equipment and a variety of
other scientific stuff) for a think tank in California. Because of Jeff’s frequent
headaches, he ends up calling in sick a lot. Luckily, he has an understanding
Sofie seems like a
spirit guide to Jeff. Are they related?
You have to read Cheated
by Death to find out.
In each book, Jeff
and Richard take on hot-topic issues, including abortion, sex crimes within the
transsexual community, experimental psychology, Ponzi schemes, and racism. Does
Jeff have a death wish? Is Richard living vicariously through Jeff’s
I never thought Jeff had a death wish, but maybe he does. (I
must think about this.) Richard definitely lives vicariously through Jeff’s
adventures. He’s led a very quiet life, and he realizes that it’s been perhaps
a bit too quiet. He isn’t getting any younger, but he also feels a great sense
of guilt that he wasn’t a better guardian when Jeff was younger. Of course, now
that Richard has a child, he’ll have to reevaluate the extent to which he
becomes involved in Jeff’s adventures.
Do you believe that
people can have a sixth-sense?
Was the Jeff Resnick
series the first you developed? How did you market it?
Yes, it was my first mystery series. I spent five times my
advance (which wasn’t much) to send out bookmarks, go to conferences,
libraries, book signings, the works. It didn’t do much. It wasn’t until I took
control of the series and offered it as an eBook that the series took off. I
had a lot of good fortune, which continues to smile on that series. Jeff and
the other characters in the books are still my favorite to write.
Again, I’m working on a non-mystery collection for Jeff
called Evolution: Jeff Resnick’s Backstory.
While writing the series, I
sometimes wanted to know exactly why Jeff and Richard acted the way they did,
and I wrote a number of short stories to explain it—just for myself. I’ve
mentioned these stories to some of my readers, who expressed a desire to read
them, even though they are more character sketches and with no mystery. The
book was released on Christmas.
I’d heard that Murder On The Mind, the first-in-series,
had been acquired. Then, I’d heard you decided to self-publish this series.
What happened, and did Polaris Press publish the series?
The first two books in the series were acquired by Five
Star, a small press that targets libraries. The print runs were tiny. I thought
I could market the series better myself and took the plunge to become an indie
author. It was a great decision. The series found new readers through eBooks on
all formats. The first book, Murder On The
, is free on all e formats in many countries around the world. (Check
out my Website
You write under
different names. How do you feel about that? Do you think branding serves a
good purpose, or does it fragment your audience?
I was forced to take a pseudonym when I accepted the
contract for the Booktown Mysteries; I wish I could have used my own name, but
it wasn’t an option. Writing under three names is difficult. Most of my cozy
readers have no idea I write the Jeff Resnick mysteries; likewise most of my
Jeff readers have no idea I write the other three series. Although I have an
author bio with links in all my books (and on my websites), many readers seem
to miss the information. It definitely fragments my audience. : (
Lorraine, beach or mountains?
Hmmm…mountains. (But I don’t ski.)
is the latest Jeff Resnick novel. To find out more about her series, check out Lorraine's website.
The suspenseful ending had me clinging to my sofa cushions.