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Author Talk: May 11, 2017

Annie Hogsett enjoyed a long career as an advertising copywriter, and now is ready to embark on a new journey as a published author. Her debut novel, TOO LUCKY TO LIVE, introduces readers to Allie Harper, a lonely and broke divorce-survivor who gets much more than she bargained for when she meets and falls in love with Thomas Bennington III, a blind man who has just bought a MondoMegaJackpot ticket. In this interview, Hogsett talks about the moment when she realized she wanted to write books for a living, the mystery writer whose work she admires the most, and why she will want to continue hanging out with Allie for many more books to come.

Question: For how long have you wanted to become a published author? And was there a key event that brought you to that realization?

Annie Hogsett: Since high school, at least. It was a reverse “key event” for me. During my sophomore year, I realized I needed to veer away from math as fast and as far as I could. So I decided I wanted to write books. However, I assumed this was a fantasy until I read THE ARTIST’S WAY by Julia Cameron. I owe it all to Mr. Pew for geometry and to Julia for teaching me to trust that writing is worth the risk and the work.

Q: Once you committed to the idea that you were going to write a novel, was your initial effort the book that now has just been published? Or did you embark on a false start or two before arriving at your eventual debut novel?

AH: Oh, no. That would have been way too easy. But I don’t like to refer to my three complete and --- as yet --- unpublished novels as “false starts.” Never ready for primetime, maybe. I have two completed­­ YAs --- one set in an alternate universe, one set in a universe that needs to be rebooted every hundred years --- and a thriller set in Cleveland. TOO LUCKY TO LIVE is my “fourth time’s a charm.”

Q: Considering that most mystery readers have dozens of authors whose work has left a favorable impression, could you zero in on one or two mystery writers whose books are emblematic of what you aspire to for your own work?

AH: Sue Grafton. Something about Kinsey Millhone has always resonated with me. I want to be like her. It could be the peanut butter and pickle sandwiches or her cool apartment that’s designed as efficiently as a ship. Mostly, I am in awe of how business-like and methodical she is. My protagonist needs Kinsey’s 3x5 index cards. Or maybe I do.

Q: How soon after you completed your debut novel did you latch on to the idea for what your second mystery ought to be? Is there one particular dead-end path you stumbled into in the writing of your first book that you will be sure to avoid on the follow-up novel?

AH: While I was writing this novel, I was obsessed with my lack of a murder in the first chapter. Allie and Tom needed a minute or two to meet and get acquainted before he could win the jackpot and all hell could break loose. I am now consoled that this was not some sort of P.D. James deal-breaker. But while I was still working on TOO LUCKY TO LIVE, I got the idea for a murder on a snowy night, down on MLK drive. Book Two. Chapter One. Right out of the box.

Q: Mystery fans seem to embrace a central character whose life choices can be observed from book to book to book. Do you feel that Allie Harper is built for the long haul? Can you see yourself living with her for as long as, say, Robert B. Parker wrote about Spenser, or Sara Paretsky has written about V.I. Warshawski? Or do you see yourself venturing into a new area with a different protagonist down the line?

AH: I believe it would take me a lot of stories to get tired of Allie. For a young woman faced with numerous bad breaks and challenges, both before and after she meets Tom, she has this incredible “jump and build your wings” attitude about almost everything. I love her energy and audacity. And her very kind heart. She’s way more daring and probably kinder than I am, so it makes me happy to hang out with her.