Handbasket Interview: Lori Rader-Day



About a year and a half ago, I attended a wildly fun day-long conference in Milwaukee called Murder and Mayhem in Milwaukee. During my panel–and I can’t for the life of me remember what the subject was because we laughed a lot–I sat beside the delightful mystery writer, Lori Rader-Day. Lori is young, fresh, clever and a heck of a writer. She’s a keeper, and I predict a long, long successful writing career for her. You know I love sharing new writer friends with you, so I invited her to come by and answer a few interview questions. To learn more about her (and I know you’ll want to!), check out her website and Amazon author page.

Welcome, Lori!



Your first novel was set in Chicago, but your second, and the new one, The Day I Died, are set in small towns. Are you a small town or big city girl? Which is your favorite to write about and why?

I’m probably a small town girl at heart. I live in Chicago now, and there are many things I love about Chicago. Chicago is a great literary town, a great crime fiction town, and a fascinating city to write about. But I love small towns, especially Midwestern ones, and those are the places I tend to write about. The Day I Died takes place in two small towns in Indiana and Wisconsin, both of them based on towns I’ve spend time in. My next book is set in Michigan. I guess I go where the story needs to be. But if I could live anywhere, I’d probably choose a secluded lake house in the woods near some small town. You couldn’t pry me from such a place, and all my books would be set there.

What inspires you to get out of bed every day?

The fact that I quit a lucrative day-job to take a chance on writing fiction. To be completely honest. Given the chance to write full-time, I can’t stand the thought of wasting it. That black dog also is a good alarm clock. Unless it’s raining. We both want to sleep in if it’s raining.


Where is your favorite place to write?

On the beach on Maui, but if you mean where do I actually get work done—I love a good coffee shop. I have headphones in case things get out of hand, but I like the vibe and white noise of a Starbucks. They also have good tea and really hot water to steep it in. I can write almost anywhere and in any noise, including silence. Most of the time I’m writing in my house, though. No beach, no noise. Just one black dog wanting to go out.

Which of your characters would you like to have a glass of wine with?

Amelia Emmet, one of the two protagonists of The Black Hour, would be the most fun to have a drink with. She would have two or three with you, and the conversation would be really fun. She’d give you the truth, or lie to you, or both.

Who was the last writer you met and went all fangirl over, and when?

I fan-girl a lot, so this might not be the last time. At the 2015 Edgar Awards, I had the chance to meet Lois Duncan. Lois Duncan’s books were some of my early favorites and probably one of the reasons I write the kinds of books I do. She died the next year, so I’m just so glad I was able to tell her how much her books meant to me while I had the chance. I’ve fan-girled over Dan Chaon, Jennifer Weiner, Lisa Lutz, and Mary Higgins Clark herself. My fan-girldom knows no bounds.




What did you do with your first advance?

I promoted my first book. I also bought myself a cute Kate Spade purse, but most of the advance—hmm, maybe more than that—went out the door to help promote the book, go to conferences. I didn’t want to regret not putting my all into that first opportunity. I was also published by a small press, so let’s remember that my advance wasn’t huge, or I would have bought that lake house with it instead.

Milk, Dark, or No Chocolate?

Milk. 100 percent. Who says “no” to chocolate? Who are these psychopaths?



Lori Rader-Day, author of The Day I Died, The Black Hour, and Little Pretty Things, is the recipient of the 2016 Mary Higgins Clark Award and the 2015 Anthony Award for Best First Novel. Lori’s short fiction has appeared in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, Time Out Chicago, Good Housekeeping, and others. She lives in Chicago, where she teaches mystery writing at StoryStudio Chicago and is the president of the Mystery Writers of America Midwest Chapter.


April 20th Words
Journal:  0 words
Long fiction: 0 words
Short fiction: Copy edited story, cover changes
Non-fiction: 0 words
Blogging: 819 words
Exercise: Massage to get all the editing tension out–that counts, right?

7 thoughts on “Handbasket Interview: Lori Rader-Day”

  1. skyecaitlin says:

    Wonderful interview! And….massage counts! 🙂

    1. Laura Benedict says:

      So happy you liked it. Someday maybe this shoulder thing will go away, and I’ll get massages just to relax. 🙃

      1. skyecaitlin says:

        Ouch, with great understanding: I live with shoulder pain. Check e-mail for links…sending you something to help.

  2. “I spent more than my advance on promoting the book.” Truer words never spoken. Great interview, Laura. Lori is a class act and gifted writer who is also blessed with some of the best cover designs I’ve seen. Thanks for sharing L and her chocolate with us.

    1. Laura Benedict says:

      She is, indeed, terrific! I’m so glad to see you here, my dear!

      (I probably told you that along w/ promo, etc, we bought the other half of our pond and remaining 6 acres w/ my advance. Also, WTF with selling half a pond, lol. Only in So Ill.)

      1. Here in NoIll, I couldn’t buy a puddle for the price of both halves of your pond 🙂 Keep up the Handbasket notes, I really enjoy reading them.

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