Second to Nun by Alice Loweecey
By Amy Lignor
There are interesting lives; there are interesting authors. Then, there are interesting authors who’ve led interesting lives. Alice Loweecey is one of those people.
From hearing the “call” and heading to the convent to, in her words, “jumping the wall” and moving on to become an actress, wife, mom and, of course, beloved author, Alice Loweecey has become a literal godsend to her fans. Vivacious, fun, and as entertaining in real life as her characters are in her books, this interview is time spent with one of the coolest minds out there, who will go on your list—if she’s not already there—as being the author you most want to have lunch with. Perhaps she’ll even bring along her “mascot,” which you will most definitely want to see.
You have gone from ex-nun to on-stage prostitute to accepting a marriage proposal on the second date from a very lucky husband. The question here should be “Huh?”, but instead I’m going to ask, with all this action, when did the writing bug enter your world?
Actually, I got the writing bug at the wee age of nine. I’m one of those fortunate people who hit adolescence before the Internet came along, so all of my “angsty” teenage poetry and short stories have long been shredded and burned.…You’re welcome.
The Falcone & Driscoll series is spectacular suspense: humorous, charming, and the mystery within to be solved is riveting. Is it easier for you to create these novels having the background of being a nun? There is no guilt factor, I would assume, having a character who is a whole lot fun, yet ceased to be a nun.
Writing Giulia is both easy and a little stressful. Some situations she gets into bring on convent flashbacks for me, more so than for her. She’s getting tougher with more PI experience. My family, on the other hand, gets weirded out by the oddest parts of the books. My oldest son said he felt uncomfortable reading a scene where Giulia and Frank sit down to a normal dinner and then snog, as married adults are wont to do. I laughed at him rather than apply sympathy. He was not amused.
Can you tell our readers about your other works? I know YA, paranormal and horror are among the genres you have also written in; is there a particular genre you like better than others?
Horror is my first love. My dad and I used to watch Saturday night horror movies starting when I was five years old. There’s a funny story attached to that: When I was in the convent I would occasionally be allowed to go out to a movie with my dad. Always a horror movie, of course. One day we went to see Deadly Blessing. The young man in the ticket booth beckoned my father closer, and whispered, “There’s nudity in this movie. Do you think the Sister should see it?” My dad’s reply: “It’s nothing she doesn’t see in the mirror every day.” So we saw the movie. As we came out, we passed a long line of people talking while waiting for the next show. Dead silence. A moment later, everyone started whispering in each other’s ears and staring at us. It was a hoot.
Getting back on track, I’m published in mystery and horror (The Redeemers, Dark Recesses Press). My mysteries are light and humorous, but the horror is where I let my inner dark side reign. I also have a YA waiting on revisions and a paranormal on submission. But I truly love writing them all.
I have to ask, have you seen the movie, Whiplash, in which the teacher may be a little overboard? On the About page of your website you have a wonderful note in which you describe whacking students on the knuckles back in your early years, reminding me of this on-screen teacher. Do you miss the student/teacher interaction? In addition, you have a scary handmade nun doll. Is that really your mascot, helping and keeping you in line? And does she have a name?
I haven’t seen Whiplash. I mostly watch “turn your mind off” popcorn movies. Or bad horror. I love bad horror. My collection of it could keep me entertained for months nonstop. Writing is an intense process and I use movies to relax. I don’t miss teaching one bit. It was not how I wanted to spend the rest of my life. The convent I used to belong to had two life choices: teaching or nursing. It was a good thing I jumped the wall.
My ex–Disney Princess nun doll is my mascot at conferences. I also make amigurumi nun dolls. She doesn’t have a name, though. Hmm…I sense a contest coming on.
Could you please offer some information about your new title, SECOND TO NUN?
A few summers ago, my husband and I stayed at a lakeside B&B in upstate New York. All the decorations and furnishings were antiques, including a few china dolls with real-looking hair and glass eyes. I knew I couldn’t pass up the opportunity, so I took dozens of photos and put them in a “plot bunny” folder. That bunny hopped right into my lap when I was plotting SECOND TO NUN. Haunted dolls (maybe) and a haunted lighthouse (possibly) and Ouija boards, are all new to Cradle Catholic Giulia. I am so evil to that poor woman.
Have you ever thought, or discussed with an industry pro, the idea of your ex-nun PI having her own TV show or movie? It would be a great character.
From your lips to Hollywood’s ears! I’ve mentioned it to my agent, especially now that Hallmark Mysteries are producing cozies. I’d keep my fingers crossed 24/7, but it’s hard to type that way.
Are you a writer who likes “mapping a story out beforehand” or one that just sits down at the computer and goes for it?
I’m a confirmed outliner. When I started writing mysteries, I knew I’d need to keep clues and red herrings straight. I changed my “pantser” mindset and I’ve never looked back. My outlines run about five thousand words, with snippets of dialogue and notes and scene blocking. My acting days come in handy when writing scenes. But even with all the preplanning, my characters will surprise me. They’ll move scenes around or add scenes or do something completely unexpected, and I’ll have to rewrite parts of the outline. So my outlines are a work in progress as much as the book itself is.
What is next up for Falcone and Driscoll? Will a new nun novel be next, or a standalone, perhaps in another genre?
Up next is family drama and cults and doomsday preppers, oh my! Giulia’s brother disowned her when she left the convent, but Giulia is all about helping desperate people. There are also a couple of surprises in the next book, but that’s all I’m saying.
What is your favorite thing about writing? Meeting people at events, book signings, or the quiet times with your characters one-on-one/nun-to-nun.
I do like nun puns. My favorite thing about writing is how the characters take the story and run with it. Sometimes I’m writing at tremendous speed while running after them, shouting, “Wait! I have to write this down!” The creative process is endless fun. And work. But also fun.
Fan mail, too. I have the best fans.
I always end with this question because readers love to know: If you could have lunch with one writer, living or dead (they would be alive for lunch, of course) who would it be, and why?
Nope, nope, nope. It’s so unfair to ask me to pick just one! I’d have a barbecue on a sunny deck and invite Jane Yolen, H. P. Lovecraft, Kazuya Minekura, Charles Dickens, Patricia McKillip, and Aeschylus.
There would be no language barriers and HPL would not be the bigoted git he was in life. It would be epic. And I’ve loved Jane Yolen’s books since I was a tiny little thing. Her talent is endless. HPL’s works are what inspired me to write; Minekura’s Saiyuki series is one of my go-to favorite mangas; Dickens could write characters like no one else could; McKillip’s Riddle-Master series was and is one of my all-time favorites; and Aeschylus’ Orestiad is one of the best Greek dramas ever. The book I will write one day is a retelling of the Orestiad in a modern setting. I ache to write it, but I’m loving writing Giulia right now!
And as one of Alice’s great fans, I can say we are loving reading Giulia right now as much as she is loving writing them. Now, about that contest…
Baker of brownies and tormenter of characters, Alice Loweecey recently celebrated her thirtieth year outside the convent. She grew up watching Hammer horror films and Scooby-Doo mysteries, which explains a whole lot. When she’s not creating trouble for Giulia Driscoll, she can be found growing her own vegetables (in summer) and cooking with them (the rest of the year).
To learn more about Alice, please visit her website.
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