Lori G. Armstrong
Lori G. Armstrong left the firearms industry in 2000 to write crime fiction. Her first mystery novel, Blood Ties, published in 2005, was nominated in 2006 for a Shamus Award for Best First Novel by the Private Eye Writers of America. The second book in the Julie Collins mystery series, Hallowed Ground, was released in November 2006 and was nominated for a 2007 Daphne du Maurier Award for Best Mystery, a Shamus Award for Best Paperback Original of 2007 by the Private Eye Writers of America, and was recently named the winner of the 2007 Willa Cather Literary Award for Best Original Softcover Fiction, by Women Writing the West. The next book in the series, Shallow Grave, was just released in November 2007. Armstrong lives in Rapid City with her family.
Please tell us about the series.
The mystery series features Julie Collins, a 30-something private eye, who lives in Bear Butte County in Western South Dakota and works with her childhood best friend, Kevin Wells. Julie is a tough chick, she smokes, she drinks tequila, she swears, she calls it like she sees it, and she has a tendency to end up with bad, but oftentimes, very sexy men. She lives with grief from her dark past – her mother was killed by a drunk driver when she was young, her half-brother Ben, a Lakota Sioux Indian, was murdered. His unsolved death is what drives her. Julie tends to take on cases where the odds are stacked against her, and invariable she ends up in dangerous situations.
Can the books be read out of order?
Yes, but I do think the books have more impact when they’re read in order: BLOOD TIES, HALLOWED GROUND, SHALLOW GRAVE. I finally resolve who murdered Julie’s brother Ben in SHALLOW GRAVE – and that’s been the ongoing thread through the first three books.
Please tell us about your latest release
SHALLOW GRAVE is the third book – here’s a teaser:
Surveillance on an insurance fraud case in Bear Butte County unfolds tragically for PI Julie Collins and her partner, Kevin Wells. The reappearance of a mysterious hole—cause of the fatal accident—brings about the landowner’s unsettling confession; bones were recently uncovered on that remote ridge. Fearing repercussions from their illegal off-season hunting, the hunters reburied the remains and kept quiet.
Now the hole is back, but the bones have vanished.
Were the bones part of an ancient Indian burial ground? Connected to the unsolved disappearance of a Native American woman? The overworked, understaffed sheriff asks for Julie’s help.
But the case opens old wounds, and she finds herself at odds with the Standing Elk family, discovering they withheld information from her in the months before Ben’s death. And Julie’s relationship with Tony Martinez hits a rough spot when she agrees to go undercover in his strip club.
On the wrong side of tribal politics, family disputes, and employee rivalries, Julie continues to dig for answers . . . while the personal stakes climb. In a brutal fight for her life, Julie finally comes face to face with her brother’s killer . . . and realizes not all deceptions run deep.
(Readers, Lori’s latest release, Shallow Grave was 4 ½ stars TOP PICK from Romantic Times Magazine!)
What inspired the story?
We’re in the midst of a long drought in South Dakota and lots of stock dams are drying up or are completely gone. So as we were driving along a country road one afternoon, I got to thinking…what if bones suddenly appeared in one of those dried up stock dams? Who put them there? Why? When? And I twisted the idea around.
What do you hope readers get out of your books?
More than anything I hope they’re entertained! The South Dakota setting is a big part of my books and I think it gives an accurate idea of the geography, the weather, the people and the problems.
What makes your books stand out from others in the genre?
Well, the setting is unique. And as much as I love the fact Julie is a kick-ass take no prisoners, in your face character, she has an acute sense of right and wrong. Julie usually does the right thing, even if it’s not necessarily the legal thing. She is not perfect, she’s made mistakes, she continues to make mistakes, but she’s fiercely loyal to those who deserve it, and I think it makes her more realistic.
Describe a typical day for you.
Get the kids to school, catch up on email, and then work until the kids are out of school. Then mom/wife/kid stuff.
What is your favorite part of being a writer?
Getting to kill people – kidding. I love it when the story finally comes together, and for me that’s usually after about the second or third draft. I have a love/hate relationship with the process of writing – I used to hate to self-edit but now it is my very favorite part. I have no problem coming up with ideas, I need more time in my life.
This is not a ‘least favorite’ per say, but because I’m blonde and I live in South Dakota…people think everything I’ve written about has happened to me, and that Julie Collins is just a better, faster, smarter, tougher, thinner! version of me. Not true. SO not true. I will admit I have a colorful vocabulary, and I do like to drink Don Julio tequila on occasion, but unlike Julie, the last time I was in a bar fight – I lost. Again, kidding. My life is interesting to me but doesn’t make good fiction. And Julie is a much better shot with her bow and her guns than I ever thought of being.
Is there another genre you’d like to try your hand at writing?
I do 🙂 I also write erotic romance under a different name!
What would you like to tell aspiring writers?
Keep at it, if you love it you’ll do it. Don’t expect to get rich!
What is next for you?
I’m finishing up the next Julie Collins book, SNOW BLIND, which will be out from Medallion Press in October of 2008.
Describe yourself in 3 words.
Driven. Darkly funny.
If you had a time capsule to be opened 50 years in the future, what would you put in it?
Umm…my dirty laundry? Really, I have no idea. What have other authors answered? I’d put in Twinkies to see if they really don’t biodegrade like everyone claims.
Where can readers find you online?
My website is: www.loriarmstrong.com I’ve been part of a group blog since 2005 – we were all first time authors on a panel, we hit it off like gangbusters and I don’t know if I would’ve survived without these awesome people! The blog is called First Offenders and we discuss writing things, and whatever else pops into our heads:www.firstoffenders.typepad.com
Is there anything you would like to ask readers?
What makes them pick up a book? Genre? Setting? Recommendations? Reviews?
Thanks a bunch for having me
Thank you Lori for that great interview and congrats on the great review for Shallow Grave! I wish you much more success in the future!
Readers, you can find out more about Lori’s books here: www.medallionpress.com or click on the book covers above to read more!
So readers, what makes you pick up a book?