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Friday, July 17, 2015

BOOK CLUB FRIDAY--A VISIT FROM ANASTASIA'S AUTHOR LOIS WINSTON


Downtown Westfield, NJ
USA Today bestselling and award-winning author Lois Winston writes mystery, romance, romantic suspense, chick lit, women’s fiction, children’s chapter books, and non-fiction under her own name and her Emma Carlyle pen name. Kirkus Reviews dubbed her critically acclaimed Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery series, “North Jersey’s more mature answer to Stephanie Plum.” Learn more about Lois and her books at her website

Downtown Westfield, NJ
Anastasia’s Westfield
The Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery series is set in Westfield, an actual New Jersey town. I chose a real town, rather than making up a fictitious one, because I’ve learned that many readers enjoy being able to make a connection between the settings in books and places they know.

If you’ve never been to New Jersey, you might have an extremely negative and erroneous image of The Garden State, associating it more with bumper-to-bumper traffic, industrial waste, crime-ridden cities, and obnoxious reality TV stars. Yes, unfortunately we do have our share of those. However, we also have beautiful rolling hills, mountains, beaches and the most spectacular skyline in the world right outside our windows (for those of us lucky enough to live on the western side of the Hudson River.)

We also have some very lovely, historical small towns that date back to pre-Colonial times. Many have appeared in TV shows and movies over the years. One such town is Westfield, home to Anastasia (and her author.) Do you remember the NBC television series “Ed” from a few years ago? Most of the exterior scenes were filmed in Westfield, including the opening sequence. “The Perfect Holiday,” starring Queen Latifah, was also filmed in Westfield, and we even had a Japanese romantic comedy shot in town.

Westfield was also the home of Charles Addams, creator of the Addams Family cartoons,
Downtown Westfield, NJ
which appeared in The New Yorker and were the basis for the television show of the 1960s and the subsequent movie and Broadway musical. Addams was inspired to create his iconic cartoons by the Westfield Victorian home of his childhood.

Westfield was settled in 1720. It covers an area of approximately 6-3/4 square miles and has a population of just over 30,000 residents, many of whom commute into New York each day by bus or on the train that divides the town in half.

Westfield, NJ police station viewed from Mindowaskin Park
Last year Westfield was named the 30th safest place to live in the United States, but that was before A Stitch to Die For, the newest Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery. Luckily, such surveys don’t include murders that are the product of this author’s imagination.

A Stitch to Die For
An Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery, Book 5
The adventures of reluctant amateur sleuth Anastasia Pollack continue in A Stitch to Die For, the 5th book in the Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery series by USA Today bestselling author Lois Winston.

Ever since her husband died and left her in debt equal to the gross national product of Uzbekistan, magazine crafts editor and reluctant amateur sleuth Anastasia Pollack has stumbled across one dead body after another—but always in work-related settings. When a killer targets the elderly nasty neighbor who lives across the street from her, murder strikes too close to home. Couple that with a series of unsettling events days before Halloween, and Anastasia begins to wonder if someone is sending her a deadly message.

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27 comments:

Angela Adams said...

New Jersey has the best beaches!

Lois Winston said...

We certainly do, Angela! Thanks for stopping by.

Kathye Quick said...

Love Westfield. Used to get there more than I do now. A friend and I liked to walk in the park - I think I remember a small lake - and so some shopping in the cute stores there.

Lois Winston said...

Hi Kathye! It's actually more of a pond than a lake if you're referring to the one in the park in the middle of downtown. It's the one pictured above across from the police station. However, there's also a lake in Echo Lake Park, a larger park that straddles the border of Westfield and Mountainside. We also have several other really nice parks scattered around town, but none of them have lakes or ponds.

Caridad Pineiro said...

Love this look into your town! It's always fun to see real places in books.

Lois Winston said...

Thanks, Caridad!

Charmaine Gordon said...

Terrific and real life look into your town, Lois. Thanks for more than a peek. I'm a big fan of Long Beach Island, a must each summer for the family. Your books are unique and oh so clever.

Lois Winston said...

Thanks for stopping by, Charmaine! Long Beach Island was our beach of choice back when I lived in Philadelphia. Now we hit the beaches farther north. I especially like Ocean Grove with it's tree-lined Victorian ambiance.

Red L. Jameson said...

Oh, that looks like such a great place!!!

Lois Winston said...

Thanks, Red. It is a cool town.

Dru said...

I love when author's use real towns because if I ever get to visit that location, I'm looking for sites mentioned in their book.

Lois Winston said...

Dru, if you ever come to Westfield, I'll give you a personal tour!

Ana Morgan said...

East Orange used to be my hometown, and I agree. NJ is a great state. Summers in Bay Head. Nothing better!

Lois Winston said...

Thanks for stopping by, Ana!

Rosie said...

Hi Lois!

I know the bucolic town of Westfield quite well, having taught English in its awesome (if I do say so) high school for 13 years. It has a wonderful literary history, too--Paul Robeson lived in town, as did Langston Hughes.

Good luck with your release!

Lois Winston said...

Thanks, Rosie! Yes, we do have quite a history of being home to many famous people and one very infamous person. Maybe I'll save that for a future blog post.

Maggie said...

I’m from North Plainfield and have visited Westfield countless times over the years, especially after my older sister married and raised her family there. I’ve seen many a movie at the Rialto, and have fond memories of the tiny Westfield Diner, the Jolly Trolley, Hahne’s (sp?). I could go on. I’m glad I “discovered” you and I’ll tell my sister, nieces, and nephew (no longer in the area) about your books.

Lois Winston said...

Hi Maggie! One of my oldest friends lived in North Plainfield until a few years ago when she moved down the shore. The Westfield Diner is still going strong, but the Jolly Trolley is now The Office, and Hahne's became a Lord & Taylor years ago. (FYI, Anastasia's Mama loves to shop at L&T.)

Thanks for passing the info about my books on to your family members.

Maggie said...

Maybe I misnamed the diner, because the one I'm thinking of closed about 20-25 years ago and they sent it to Germany. It was very small and one of the original designs.

Lois Winston said...

Hmm...I'll have to do some research about that. I know there have been quite a few original NJ diners that have sold and wound up in Europe, but I haven't heard about one from Westfield. I've only lived here 17 years, though. Although I'm a born Jersey girl, I spent quite a few years in the Philly area before moving back. So that was before my time in Westfield.

Judy Penz Sheluk, author said...

I remember Ed! Loved that show, never missed it. It starred Canadian Tom Cavanagh and a young Julie Bowen, now of Modern Family fame, and Justin Long was just a kid. I had no idea Stuckeyville was actually Westfield, NJ. Great fun, reading this, and it sure brought back some memories.

Rosie said...

LOL on the "infamous person." Would make a great post!

And the diner that Maggie is referring to was the one on North Avenue near the Garwood border. I also heard that it now resides in Germany!

Maggie said...

It was called the Excellent Diner and is now at Disneyland Paris. Here's an article from the Westfield Leader: http://www.goleader.com/06jan12/05.pdf

Lois Winston said...

Yes, Judy, Stuckeyville, Ohio was really Westfield, NJ--at least the exterior shots.

Maggie, thanks for the article from the Leader. The diner departed for Paris two years before we moved to Westfield. That's why I didn't know about it.

Maggie said...

I loving finding out stuff like this.

Anne Carrole said...

I grew up in Scotch Plains, next door to Westfield. It is a lovely small town. I just loved going to the Rialto theater when I was little as well as Woolworth's 5&10 for a sundae after. Your blog brought back many memories.:)I never realized the exterior scenes of "Ed" were filmed there. I wish I had paid more attention. I loved that show. Great blog.

Lois Winston said...

Hi Anne! Thanks for stopping by! In the opening sequence of "Ed" as the credits ran, the camera panned down Mountain Ave., as if in a car, and turned onto Broad St. right in front of the Rialto Theater.