by Grace Topping
Hearing the name Lorie Lewis Ham, mystery writers immediately think of her Facebook Kings River Life Magazine and MysteryRats Maze Podcasts, where she promotes and supports mystery writers. Recently, Lorie launched her mystery, One of Us. It was a pleasure talking to Lorie and hearing about her new mystery and her KRL and MysteryRats activities.
One of Us
At 35, children’s book author Roxi Carlucci finds herself starting over again after her publisher drops her book series. With no income, she has to pack up her life on the California Coast, along with her pet rat Merlin, and move in with her cousin, P.I. Stephen Carlucci, who lives in Fresno, CA. The one redeeming factor is that Stephen lives in the Tower District—the cultural oasis of Fresno.
Stephen talks Roxi into helping out with a community theatre production, which is also a fundraiser for a local animal rescue. Little did she know that someone would be murdered during a rehearsal, and that she and Stephen would be hired to find the killer. The killer has to be one of Roxi’s new acquaintances since the theatre was locked at the time of the murder, but no one seems to have a motive. How can they solve a murder without a motive? Could the local gossip website hold any clues? Can they stop the killer before they strike again?
Welcome, Lorie, to Writers Who Kill.
In a mystery, an amateur sleuth needs a good reason to get involved in a murder investigation. As a newcomer to Fresno and the Tower District, Roxie gets involved by reverting to her former job as a PI. What made her leave her PI job before this book opens?
She only worked part time as a PI for her cousin Stephen’s PI business one summer in between jobs. Her heart has always been in being a writer and doing animal rescue. But now she is starting over, and since she also has a degree in criminology, it felt like a natural fit at least while she sorts her life out.
Roxi refers to her family’s Mafia connections in passing. Did those connections cause a rift with her family? Will you be providing more about her family background in future books?
Not really for her. It never touched her life that much because her parents ran the “family” winery. Yes, I will be. At some point, we will be looking more into her parents’ deaths—was it really an accident?
You set your story in the Tower District theater scene and write about theater knowledgably. Have you been involved in community theater?
My kids were involved in theater in high school and I was a theater mom, helping with the shows and fundraising. The online magazine that I publish, Kings River Life, covers local theater, so I have been involved in that way since then. I also have friends in theater, and we cast local actors for our mystery podcast Mysteryrat’s Maze.
You’ve promoted writers for years through your Facebook Kings River Life Magazine and Mysteryrat’s Maze podcasts. Now that you’ve launched One of Us, what’s it like to be on the other side?
I published five mystery novels in the past, but things have changed a lot since then and that was before Kings River Life. I had a lot to learn about promoting mysteries now. The mystery community has been super nice and supportive of me with the new book and that has really touched my heart—I appreciate it so much! I also have a whole new understanding for how authors feel when I ask them to do a guest post for us and don’t offer suggestions lol—it can be so hard to come up with ideas!
In your Mysteryrat’s Maze podcasts, you have actors read the first chapter of books by various authors. Do you plan to have an audio version of One of Us?
There is an excerpt up on Mysteryrat’s Maze right now https://mysteryratsmaze.podbean.com/e/one-of-us-by-lorie-lewis-ham/. There aren’t any plans at this time for an audiobook because I don’t have the funds to do it, but that doesn’t mean it won’t happen someday. The actors for the podcast are all volunteer, but to do something as big as a whole book, I would need to pay them.
What came first, writing and then promoting others’ books, or promoting others’ books and then becoming a writer?
Writing. I started writing as soon as I could put sentences together, and I published my first poem when I was 13. So I have been writing for most of my life.
Greeting a dog, Roxi says, “I’d take the love of a pet over the love of a man any day.” What accounts for that?
Roxi is a very independent person who doesn’t really feel she “needs” a man in her life, but she couldn’t imagine life without animals. Plus animals give love unconditionally. Also, she is a bit on the cynical side, and while she has a huge love of King Arthur and Camelot, she has never believed in Prince Charming in real life.
Roxi has a pet rat, Merlin, and talks about what good pets they make. Have you ever had a pet rat?
Not only have I had pet rats, I ran a pet rat rescue for several years. You can check out the whole story of how I got involved with rats in a guest post I did on Clea Simon’s website https://www.cleasimon.com/lorie-lewis-ham-on-a-different-kind-of-pet/.
Recently we adopted a new pet rat whose name is Yuki. He is a blue rat like Remy in Ratatouille.
Animals and animal rescue feature big in One of Us. Is this an issue near and dear to your heart?
Oh, yes. I have had animals my whole life. As I mentioned above, I ran an animal rescue for pocket pets for several years (rats, hamsters, guinea pigs, rabbits). Also, Kings River Life runs regular animal rescue columns from several different animal rescue groups. Fresno Bully Rescue and Rattie Ratz Rescue are real and are both mentioned in the book.
As a fan of old movies, Roxi makes lots of references to Clark Gable and other actors. What is it about the old movies that she particularly likes? Is she using actors like Clark Cable and Cary Grant as role models for the type of man she would like in her life?
Wow good question. Well she gets her love of them from me. I grew up watching old movies on a local TV station that played them every Saturday morning. I am not sure either of us could say exactly why we love them, just that we do. Perhaps it’s nostalgia from our childhood. And actors from that time period feel larger than life so I think there’s more of a tendency to idolize them more than maybe actors now. I’m not saying that it’s good or bad, it’s just different.
But no, she does not see them as role models for the type of man she would like in her life. They are just fun to watch on the big screen.
What are you working on now? What’s next for Roxi?
Book promotion is still taking up a lot of my time when I am not working on KRL and the podcast. I hope to start the next book in the series next month. The next book will be set at a book festival in the Tower District that Roxi will be involved in as an entertainment podcaster. And of course, someone will be murdered. The plan is to set it at Halloween.
Thank you, Lorie. And thank you for all your efforts in promoting writers.
Lorie's Website: https://www.mysteryrat.com/
Kings River Life Magazine: https://www.facebook.com/kingsriverlife
Kings River Life MysteryRat’s Maze Podcasts: