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An Interview with Anne White, Local Celebrity and Author

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Anne WhiteAfter retiring from her position as Queensbury High School librarian, Anne White decided to try her hand at writing mysteries. Now the author of five books, all of which are part of a Lake George Mystery series, and the recipient of numerous awards, Anne has become somewhat of a local celebrity. One of the first to introduce a mystery series to the Lake George area, she’s also an expert on the time spent in the area by artist, Georgia O’Keeffe, whose work is integral to her first novel, An Affinity for Murder.

Anne is a lifelong resident of Glens Falls, the mother of six children (one of whom is the Editor-in-Chief of Cosmopolitan Magazine), and a member of various organizations, including Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, the Lake George Arts Project, the Adirondack Center for Writing, and the Lower Adirondack Regional Arts Council—making her a very busy lady. We caught up with Anne over coffee one day to find out a little more about her work and what her plans were for the future.

The Free George: Before delving into mysteries, were you writing other things?
Anne White:
At the time I was working as a librarian, I was also involved in the career education program for the Queensbury School District. I wrote articles on career topics for young people. Eventually, I wrote more than 100 of them for three different publications. Every fall, I would ask students about their summer jobs—“where did you work, what did you do, how did you like your job?” Then I would research different kinds of jobs and write about them.

TFG: Were there struggles, moving from article to book writing?
Anne:
Lots of struggles. The two involve an entirely different process. In article writing, I did research then presented the facts to readers. With mystery writing, I introduce the characters and setting, but hide key information like the identity of the murderer, the motive, at times even a past relationship between characters. Then I reveal this information at the end of the book with the most important fact, “who did it,” and I do that as close to the end as I can get it. When I wrote the first Lake George Mystery, An Affinity for Murder, I wrote it all the way through, then started over. Though I think that’s a good lesson for anybody wanting to write a book—you don’t necessarily need to use the first thing you write.

TFG: Did you have any mentors when you first started?
Anne:
Matt Witten was a mentor. He was a Saratoga Springs mystery writer. He’s now relocated to California, but he taught a mystery course for the Lake George Arts Project at the time. He was an exceptional teacher—supportive, encouraging, very helpful. Sometimes you get a teacher like that and everything falls together.

TFG: And your choice to use Lake George. That just seems like a great backdrop.
Anne:
I thought Lake George would be an excellent choice, because nobody was setting mysteries there. I made a list of everything appealing about the lake. It was a rather long list, because the area’s history is so rich, along with its beauty, and the tourism and economic issues, the environmental concerns. It makes for a perfect setting.

TFG: It must’ve been interesting to learn about Georgia O’Keeffe’s time here. Actually until we read your article, we had no idea she spent so much time in the area.
Anne:
I heard some fascinating stories. She and Stieglitz would walk down to the Village every day and he would play miniature golf with a friend. A few local people remembered seeing them. Others had heard stories from their parents and grandparents. And she was never called Georgia—she was always called O’Keeffe. She would wait for him and they’d walk home together. They dressed all in black, and because of that, some people thought that was how all artists dressed.

TFG: The paintings in the area that you mention in your book? Is that fiction?
Anne:
That’s fiction. She did paint many of her giant flower paintings while she was staying at the lake, but she didn’t leave paintings behind. She took everything not yet in galleries or museums with her when she moved to New Mexico after Stieglitz’s death. Very disappointing—we’d love to have an original or two around the area.

TFG: You mention in your article how 20% of paintings are forgeries.
Anne:
Oh, that was such an interesting topic to research. When I was working on the book, I wanted my protagonist to find paintings O’Keeffe had left behind at Lake George, but of course, they couldn’t be the real thing. The next step was to learn about forgery. That too is a fascinating subject.

TFG: And the response to the series, it’s been good?
Anne:
When I was writing the first book, I received a grant from Malice Domestic, which is an organization for mystery writers. Every year they give an Unpublished Writers Grant. I’d been encouraged to apply by Matt Whitten, who was awarded a grant by them in the past. I had to send in 50 pages and tell them my idea for the book. I won a $500 grant. It’s now $1000. That was a real step up. Then, an agent called me and I put him off. I didn’t know what a miracle it was to get an agent so easily. He called three times before I signed with him. It was amazing. I’ve heard since he’s out of the business now, because somebody said he’s made so much money he doesn’t have to work.

TFG: An Affinity for Murder was also nominated for some awards?
An Affinity For Murder
was nominated as a Malice Domestic Best First Mystery in 2002, an Agatha Award Finalist for Best First Novel and the Winner of the Dark Oak 2000 Mystery Contest.

TFG: At what point did you make the decision to turn the first book into a series?
Anne:
When you write a mystery now, publishers like to have you write a series. They think in terms of, “Can you do a follow up?” So that’s the way I went about it as well.

TFG: Are you working on anything new right now?
Anne:
I’ve written four more Lake George Mysteries—Beneath The Surface, Best Laid Plans, Secrets Dark and Deep, and this year’s Cold Winter Nights. Lately, I’ve been doing a lot of blogging and contributing to blogs to get more publicity for the Lake George series, but I’d also like to start a new series.

TFG: What’s the new series about?
Anne:
I was thinking about a bookstore in downtown Glens Falls. The only trouble is that there are a lot of books about bookstores already. Maybe I’ll do it on people putting out a beautiful, new publication on the Internet.

TFG: (Laughs) We could provide you with some great material.
Anne:
Yes. (But someone would have to be murdered.)

Anne urges anyone writing a first mystery to e-mail her for more information about the Malice Grant.

Click here to read Anne White’s article for The Free George on Georgia O’Keeffe and Her Lake George Years.

To read more about Anne White’s books, go to www.annewhitemysteries.com

To view readers’ comments on Anne’s books and/or to purchase a copy, visit the following links:

[amazonify]1892343169::text::::An Affinity for Murder[/amazonify]; also available on Kindle, [amazonify]B001L4M4RG::text::::click here for the Kindle version[/amazonify]

[amazonify]1591331234::text::::Beneath the Surface[/amazonify]

[amazonify]1591331706::text::::Best Laid Plans[/amazonify]

[amazonify]1591331986::text::::Secrets Dark and Deep[/amazonify]

[amazonify]1591332982::text::::Cold Winter Nights[/amazonify]

Copies of Anne’s books are also available for purchase at local area bookstores throughout Warren County.

–Monica Sirignano and Dave Bower are Co-Publishers of The Free George.

Short URL: http://thefreegeorge.com/thefreegeorge/?p=2217

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