Interview with Lori Rader-Day

Interview with Lori Rader-Day

Tell us about your latest book.

The Day I Died is the story of Anna Winger, a handwriting expert and single mother of a young teen son, who has been keeping ahead of a secret past by moving around the Midwest. They’ve just landed in a small town in Indiana that reminds her of the hometown she can’t return to when a crime occurs that needs her particular expertise. She’s drawn in, but maybe not the way the local sheriff had hoped when he asked for her help.

Interview with Lori Rader-Day
Who are your favourite authors?

Agatha Christie, Josephine Tey, Tana French, Catriona McPherson, Charles Todd, just to name a few. I also have a sweet spot for old-time favorites like Beverly Cleary, Lois Duncan, and Roald Dahl.

What advice do you have for other writers?

Write. It’s easy not to write, but especially when you’re still trying to find an agent and get published, no one is holding you accountable. No one is asking for that book. Get a writers group or join an association for the genre you write. Find your tribe and connect, connect, connect. If you’re writing mystery, join Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime now. You don’t have to be published to go to meetings and meet other writers; in fact, before you publish is the best time to join these groups. 

What's the best thing about being a writer?

Hearing from readers who have enjoyed my book is the best part. The fact that people are out there reading my books is both thrilling and nerve-racking. The other best part: other writers. The mystery community is very welcoming and lots of fun.

Why do you think readers are going to enjoy your book?

I enjoy books when I can go along on an exceptional ride with a character who feels real and troubled, who is in trouble. That’s the kind of story I try to write. Someone recently called my books “dark stories with heart,” and that’s pretty apt.

Interview with Lori Rader-Day
How long did it take you to write your book?

This book has a bit of an origin story. It was a short story I started in 2007, then a full manuscript that I finished but didn’t like. I put it away and wrote another novel, The Black Hour, which was published in 2014. After my second novel, Little Pretty Things, was turned in to my publisher, I had to decide my next project. I wondered if I had progressed as a writer enough to save that book from the drawer, so that’s what I tried. With the distance of that many years, I was able to see where the early draft had gone wrong. I rewrote the manuscript in 2015. When it comes out in April, that will be ten years since I began that short story.

How do you research your books?

I like to write into a story before I worry too much about the kind of research I’ll need to do, and then seek help. I’ve read textbooks and other resources to write about expertise, such as Anna’s handwriting analysis, or I’ve enlisted willing experts to take a look at my work after the draft is done. For The Day I Died, I read a nonfiction book about handwriting but I didn’t adhere too closely to it. What I was more worried about was making sure that the scenes that had to do with the local sheriff’s office were at least not ridiculously off-base. I had a friend who had worked at a small-town Indiana sheriff’s office as a dispatcher and deputy read the book for that kind of information. I made a few small tweaks based on her experience that made the book more true to life.

Who or what inspired you to become a writer?

I was a big reader as a kid and tried to write very early on. I didn’t finish much until high school and college, and then had a few years where I gave it up because life got in the way. I always wanted to be writer, but didn’t become a writer—a person who writes—until I was in my 30s.

What is your work in progress? Tell us about it.

I’m revising my next novel for William Morrow for release in 2018, an as-yet-untitled murder mystery that takes place in a dark sky park—a place kept free of light pollution so that visitors can see the stars.

Where can people find out more about you and your writing?

I keep a website at and also have a public Facebook page at


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