5 Things We Bet You Didn’t Know About…Lorraine Bartlett
The immensely popular Booktown Mystery series is what put Lorraine Bartlett’s pen name Lorna Barrett on the New York Times bestseller list, but it’s her talent — whether writing as Lorna, or L.L. Bartlett, or Lorraine Bartlett — that keeps her there. This multi-published, Agatha-nominated author pens the exciting Jeff Resnick Mysteries as well as the acclaimed Victoria Square Mystery series, and now the Tales of Telenia fantasy saga, and has many short stories and novellas to her name(s). Lorraine shares a few fun facts about her life.
1. I worked production in a machine shop for 18 months, which was undeniably the worst job I ever held. The company did a lot of subcontracting work. I worked on a Cincinnati milling machine that modified projector bodies for Kodak, and many more projects that don’t stick out in my mind. But the most exciting project was for NASA and the space shuttle. As a long time Star Trek fan, it was a kick to be a miniscule part of the space program. I was a fanatic about keeping my parts in tolerance (and had many arguments with the inspectors). That said, it was a terrible environment for women (this was before sexual harassment laws became commonplace). I learned to swear like a sailor, but I also had a great opportunity to write because some parts took as long as three minutes from the time you put one on the machine, until it was finished milling. I wrote many short stories and a novella while waiting for the machine to drill and tap holes.
2. I worked in the script Department at 20th Centry Fox. It was my dream to work in television. That dream soon evaporated when I saw what happened to a property once a script was turned in. The studio owned two very successful shows at the time: MASH and Trapper John, MD. The scripts for MASH were usually horrible until the cast read-through. We worked late many night retyping (yes, on typewriters!) those scripts and to see the changes was amazing. The actors really cared about their characters and the changes they suggested are what made those shows. The scripts for Trapper John would be marvelous, but after they went through the mill, they were pure drivel. How we dreaded having to type the revisions for that show! Living in a huge city like Los Angeles was a terribly lonely experience, and I didn’t stay long. I guess that’s why I’m drawn to writing about crime in small towns and suburbia.
3. I have a soft spot in my heart for women entrepreneurs and I write about them in three of my series. (The Booktown and Victoria Square Mysteries, and the Tales of Telenia adventure-fantasy series.) For 12 years I had a booth in an antiques arcade. It was a lot of fun (especially the thrill of the hunt), but also heartbreaking because I didn’t have the money to invest in really good stock and my display skills were at best adequate. I usually managed to make my rent, and often came out with an extremely modest profit at the end of the year. I finally gave it up when the Booktown Mysteries were published..
4. I got my start writing “fan” stories. I started with Star Trek, and moved on to other TV shows and movies. It was a wonderful way to learn to write, but ultimately unsatisfying. I yearned to write my own characters, but had little confidence. It was my husband who suggested that I try to “go pro.” I had modest success selling short stories (nine of them in all) and it took 11 years before my third agent sold my first Jeff Resnick mystery to a very small press.
5. I’m an unabashed workaholic and I write under a myriad of names. Why? When I first started, my agent (see above) was convinced men wouldn’t read a book written by a woman—and she was right (at the time). So I hid behind my initials for the Jeff Resnick series. When I landed the Booktown Mystery series, I was asked to take a pseudonym. I chose Lorna Barrett because it was close to my real name—Lorraine Bartlett—when it came to finding the books on a bookstore shelf. (Only Nevada Barr’s titles come between my books!) When I sold the Victoria Square series, I wrote it under my own name. (YAY!) I’ve written under several another names as well.
Check out the links to all of Lorraine’s works on her website.
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