Lynnette Baughman is the author of four mysteries set in New Mexico and Nevada. She’s working on a romance set in her new home state of Washington. She lives on the Olympic Peninsula.
Interview of Lynnette Baughman
I haven’t had the chance to read your book yet, but the synopsis you sent me sounds fascinating. Have you actually been to New Mexico, Washington, D.C. and Israel?
I live in Los Alamos, New Mexico, and I grew up and went to college in Las Cruces, NM. Some of Lost Almost takes place in and around Washington, D.C. and New York City, places where I have spent time. The parts of the story in Tel Aviv, Israel, and St. Petersburg, Russia, I had to research in absentia.
Is Lost Almost the first book you’ve ever written? If not, where does it fall in your personal library?
My “collected works” number three with the publication of Lost Almost by Wings ePress. The first book is A Spy Within. A contemporary mystery set in Los Alamos, A Spy Within introduces newspaper reporter Patrice Kelsey in a dangerous search for a network of atomic spies with roots in the Manhattan Project during World War II.
Lost Almost is the sequel to A Spy Within. Spy was published in trade paperback by Top Publications of Dallas, Texas. It’s available in stores and the major online bookstores. Observant readers (yes, I know you are out there!) will notice that while A Spy Within is told in third person, always from Patrice’s point of view, Lost Almost is a mix of Patrice (first person POV) with third person of other major characters’ POVs. Several authors use this mix. I like to point to Nelson DeMille’s exclusive use of first person voice of Detective John Corey in Plum Island, then the mix of Corey in first person with chapters in third person for multiple characters (including the villain) in various locations in The Lion’s Game.
My second book is a light mystery about the murder of an overweight movie star in Las Vegas, Nevada. Thin Disguise was also published by Top Publications. The heroine is 50-year-old Olivia Wright.
Did you do extensive research on microbiology? If so, was it easy or difficult to find the information you wanted?
Yes, I did a lot of research. Several scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory helped me, as well as specialists in biowarfare at Dover Air Force Base and the Department of Energy. I’ve been studying forensics as well, learning a lot in a class at Santa Fe (NM) Police Department.
Books I recommend on bioterrorism are Biohazard by Ken Alibek and Saddam’s Bombmaker by Khidr Hamzah. I also recommend a bestseller that came out after I’d finished Lost Almost, titled Germs: Biological Weapons and America’s Secret War by Judith Miller, Stephen Engelberg, and William J. Broad.
Do you have a favorite time to write? A favorite place?
My husband and I have a two-bedroom house and one of them has no bed, just a computer, books, etc. That’s my favorite place, where everything is at hand. As for time, I have to have a good chunk of time (weeks at least) so I can stay on task and build momentum. Then I get up at 4:30 or 5:00 a.m. and write all day. Maybe it’s my age showing, but if I leave a story for two weeks, I can’t remember what the heck these people want and why anyone should care. That’s deadly in a mystery or a thriller where it’s absolutely essential that a character learn a piece of information--and then that he doesn’t ask the same question again, leaving the reader to say, “Duh!”
Do you do everything on a computer or scribble notes first?
I do most of my work on a computer, but I tack up calendars of the “story time” and diagrams of the characters’ relationships and what each of them learns at various points.
Is there a bit of you in your heroine?
Well (ahem), yes. Patrice is 5’7” and weighs about 125 pounds. And while I’ve never stood over 5’2”, I have weighed 125 on a number of occasions. None of them recent. Patrice is a newspaper reporter, which I have been. And she’s tenacious as a hungry wolverine, which pretty well describes me, too. Patrice and I share an idealistic view of the importance of a free press, and disgust at what it too often becomes in the world today.
Your book has hit the New York Times bestseller list! What will you do with your fortune?
As I answer this, I’m on vacation in Washington state--all over the state, in fact. I fell in love with Port Townsend, Sequim, and five or six towns in Puget Sound. (I was born in Bremerton.) Show me the money, and I’ll be on a deck looking out over a bay in the time it takes the check to clear the bank.
What other books do you have in the works?
I’m polishing my fourth book, Vegas Centennial, the second in the Olivia Wright series, and I’m going to start the next one as soon as I get home to Los Alamos and unpack the car.
Finally, something I asked in my last interview. Where do you see yourself in five years as a writer? Ten years?
In five and ten years? I’ll still be writing mysteries and/or thrillers. I have years of experience in newspaper writing and magazine work (including two features in Reader’s Digest) but my heart is in fiction.
And...I will weigh 125 pounds.