A Dead Man’s Eyes—An Interview with Author Lori Duffy Foster

A Dead Man's Eyes, © 2021, Lori Duffy Foster, Level Best Books

A Dead Man’s Eyes, © 2021, Lori Duffy Foster, Level Best Books

I met Lori Duffy Foster (“LDF,” below) virtually. I no longer remember where or how, but meet we did, and found we grew up in the same place: upstate New York’s Adirondack mountains! She lived in the village of Saranac Lake, where I went to school, whereas I lived eleven miles away in the hamlet of Lake Clear.

Lori—please tell us a little about yourself!

Most important is that you are I both grew up in the greatest place on the planet, Saranac Lake, in the heart of New York’s Adirondack Mountains. I have lived in many places over the years, and I have loved them all, but a piece of my heart will always remain there. You already know that though, so on to the rest. For eleven years of my writing career, I worked as reporter for The Post-Standard in Syracuse, NY, mostly covering crime. Journalism was awesome, but fiction kept tugging at me. So, when my husband landed a new job that took us to Arizona and I learned I was pregnant, we agreed it was a good time for a change. I spent the next twenty years working part-time, raising four kids and writing fiction. I went through two agents and one other publisher before landing at Level Best Books with six novels under contract, including my debut, A Dead Man’s Eyes, which releases April 13, 2021. I should also mention my nonfiction book, Raising Identical Twins: The Unique Challenges and Joys of the Early Years. I self-published that one and it was a blast.

F. P. Dorchak: I do freely admit that a part of me does remain up there, in the Adirondacks! Such a wonderful place! Interesting how we’ve also traveled similar roads!

What inspired you to go you into writing?

I am not sure I had a choice. Writing was therapy for me as a kid. I got into trouble a lot (temper!), which means I spent loads of time in my room, writing and sketching to calm down. I’d get so immersed that I would forget to come downstairs when my punishment was over. I also won a local poetry contest as a kid and wrote radio commercials for my Catholic elementary school (good ole’ St. Bernard’s), so it would seem logical that I would become a writer, but I fought it. I grew up with very little money and writers don’t earn much. I didn’t want to be poor. I tried studying geo-chemistry in college, but I was addicted to English classes. Finally, I gave in, studying creative writing and communications, which prepared me for my first career as a journalist. I always knew I would go back to fiction though.

FPD: St. Bernard’s. I remember it well! I only did grades 1 – 3. Had my knuckles rapped by the nuns, I did! But that’s where I began a lifelong association with my classmates as we all went through the Saranac Lake school system. To this day, I still maintain contact with many of them!

Do you have a “scariest moment” in your journalistic career?

I have had plenty of encounters that others might find scary. I have seen enough fresh corpses for my lifetime. I have walked into the homes of killers and murder suspects, unarmed and without telling anyone where I was going. I have been escorted off properties by Native American and U.S. Navy security. But the scariest incident, the one in which I actually feared for my life, happened when I was returning a photo. A teenage driver had died in a high-speed crash. I didn’t write the story, but a well-meaning editor added my byline to the front-page article, because I had convinced the family to give me the photo. I hadn’t read the story before I stopped by the next day. When I arrived, the family kindly invited me into the house, where they were all gathered, and then turned on me, threatening to kill me. Turns out, the reporter had led off the story with a litany of this kid’s speeding tickets, giving the impression that he deserved to die. My name was also on the story, so they blamed me. I tried to explain, but they were yelling and yanking me down the stairs into the basement. Another family member rescued me, only to threaten me himself on the front lawn. It was terrifying, but I don’t blame the family. The kid was dead. The article was sensationally written. There was no news value in ripping the kid apart like that. I was ashamed to have my name on that article. My heart still aches for that family.

FPD: Geez, what can you say to something like that? “Glad you’re alive!” comes to mind! Did you ever “thank” that reporter for giving you that little task? I wonder if that’s why he gave you that duty to begin with…?

LDF: It was the editor who asked me to pick it up. I was working in a bureau office just a few miles from the family’s home at the time. The reporter knew better than to even talk to me for a few weeks after that!

Great cover! Did you have any input on the cover?

Thanks! I did. Level Best Books is great about that. The most important consideration for me was there be no eyes on the cover. Book covers with eyes on them are creepy. I didn’t want people turning away from my novel because the cover creeps them out. I was given three concepts to choose from and I loved them all, so it was a tough choice.

FPD: I, on the other hand, love to “creep out” readers (wink). But, outstanding—and I really love that cover! It’s always nice when you have some say in anything about your work, especially the cover art!

How did you find your publisher?

I have known one of the owners, Shawn Reilly Simmons, since she and the other two Dames of Detection announced their purchase of Level Best Books at New England Crime Bake, a writing conference, six years ago. At the time, they published only anthologies. I got to watch them grow, responsibly, into the successful publishing company they are now. When I walked away from a contract with an unreliable and unresponsive publisher, trust and honesty became my greatest priorities. I immediately thought of Level Best and submitted. I had a contract within a few weeks for my series and another contract a year later for my three standalones. It was a great decision. They are wonderful people to work with.

FPD: How fortuitous and advantageous! It’s especially neat when you’ve been aware of a company you want to do business with and know their roots and intents—and especially an owner!

What was your inspiration for your series?

I was covering a house fire one night on a city street in Syracuse when an obviously pregnant 15-year-old began talking with me. She was in foster care, but she was determined to keep the baby and make something of herself. She struck me as extraordinary—smart and capable—and her name seemed familiar. I looker her up in my old notes when I returned to the newsroom. She shared a name and age with a girl who had witnessed a fatal game of Russian roulette. I forgot her name over time, but I never forgot her. She is the main inspiration for the novel along with a couple of colleagues who were single moms and successful, one with a toddler-in-tow and no father in the picture. That is not easy in journalism.

FPD: Your life is certainly not without its drama, but I guess as a journalist, you really are putting yourself out there into unique situations….

Is the publisher requiring anything specific from you for promotion?

Level Best Books does not require that I do anything, but it benefits us both if I do promote the book. I am really lucky. Level Best does more for its authors than most big publishers do for their authors (big publishers tend to focus on the predicted best-sellers). They send ARCs out to the larger review sites, host a podcast, design ads, offer co-op ads, all kinds of things. We also have an awesome authors group that meets virtually every month or two to get company updates and discuss promotional ideas, and we communicate with each other regularly through Slack. It is a welcoming and supportive group.

FPD: Nice that you know the drill and aren’t just taking things easy with the no requirements thing! But it’s also really cool they put all that other promotion toward you! I certainly wish you the best!

What book that’s already been published by another did you wish you wrote?

A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving. It is one of my favorite books of all time.

FPD: Okay, now I have to look that book up; I’ve heard of it but don’t remember what it’s about…okay, looked it up. Sounds quick layered and…deep.

Why do you feel reading (and writing) fiction is important?

That’s a big question. Fiction is, first and foremost, an escape for most of us. It takes us out of our realities and off to other worlds, and we need that sometimes. Think of all the children raised in difficult situations who say books pulled them through some of their worst times. But we can also learn a lot from fiction—about human nature, about other cultures, about the challenges people face who are not like us. Consider Jamie Ford’s Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet. It is a love story set during the Japanese internment. There are people who were totally unaware that we locked Japanese Americans up in encampments during World War II before they read his book.

Novels teach us so much. They help us think critically, develop empathy and live out our fantasies. We get to experience it all—fear, love, compassion, horror, loss—from a place of safety, and then we get closure in the end. Real life doesn’t work that way. Real life is messy. When we read fiction, we experience the extremes of life with no risks or consequences.

FPD: So many discount fiction as worth a read, and those are exactly the kinds of readers who need to read it. I think there’s also a resurgence of some fiction reading, if the industry stats (adult fiction consumption increased 26.4% from Feb 15, 2020 to Feb 15, 2021; note that this doesn’t necessarily mean it was all read…could have been given as gifts then politely shelved/regifted/et cetera…) about increased fiction consumption is any indication. I think, like gaming, there’s also a cathartic release to some fiction. But in all cases it does expand one’s perspectives and teach as you mention.

Do you have any other burning need you want to get out to our readers?

I want them to know what a fabulous writer and human being you are! You grew up with my older siblings, but you reached out when you learned I was a writer and treated me like an old friend. You have been nothing but supportive and I have enjoyed your writing. Buy his books! F. P. Dorchak!

FPD: You are way too kind! Thank you and I return the compliments—you have proven yourself to be a kind soul and extremely easy to get to know and interact with! Thank you for YOUR kindness and for participating in my interview! I look forward to reading your work and I ask all my readers to buy LORI’S books!

A Dead Man’s Eyes is set for release April 13, 2021.

Pre-Order Links:

Amazon A Dead Man’s Eyes Pre-Order.

B&N A Dead Man’s Eyes Pre-Order.

Visit Lori Duffy Foster at:

  • Website: www.loriduffyfoster.com
  • Facebook: @loriduffyfosterauthor
  • Instagram: @lori.duffy.foster
  • Twitter: @loriduffyfoster

About fpdorchak

Speculative and paranormal fiction author. Please check out my website: https://www.fpdorchak.com/. Thank you for stopping by!
This entry was posted in Interview, To Be Human, Writing and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to A Dead Man’s Eyes—An Interview with Author Lori Duffy Foster

  1. Thank you, Frank! You ask such great questions. I really enjoyed doing this!

  2. Karen Lin says:

    Enjoyed the interview immensely. What a background she has! Amazing she’s still with us and willing to put herself out there. Great luck to her in her continuing writing adventures!

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