Welcome Back Guest Lori Rader-Day

I’m happy to welcome Lori Rader-Day back to the blog. We first met when she moderated a panel we were both on of debut authors at Left Coast Crime in 2014 — I got the date right this time, Lori. We’ve both been writing away since and I love Lori’s books — they are always suspenseful and surprising. Her latest book The Lucky One came out in February. And she is rocking it as the current national president of Sisters in Crime.

Here’s a bit about the book: Most people who go missing are never found. But Alice was the lucky one…

As a child, Alice was stolen from her backyard in a tiny Indiana community, but against the odds, her policeman father tracked her down within twenty-four hours and rescued her from harm. In the aftermath of the crime, her family decided to move to Chicago and close the door on that horrible day.

Yet Alice hasn’t forgotten. She devotes her spare time volunteering for a website called The Doe Pages scrolling through pages upon pages of unidentified people, searching for clues that could help reunite families with their missing loved ones. When a face appears on Alice’s screen that she recognizes, she’s stunned to realize it’s the same man who kidnapped her decades ago. The post is deleted as quickly as it appeared, leaving Alice with more questions than answers.

Embarking on a search for the truth, she enlists the help of friends from The Doe Pages to connect the dots and find her kidnapper before he hurts someone else. Then Alice crosses paths with Merrily Cruz, another woman who’s been hunting for answers of her own. Together, they begin to unravel a dark, painful web of lies that will change what they thought they knew—and could cost them everything.

Twisting and compulsively readable, The Lucky One explores the lies we tell ourselves to feel safe.

Thanks for joining us today, Lori!

Happy 7th birthday to the Wicked Cozies blog and authors!

Seven is supposed to be a lucky number—possibly having to do with its status as a prime number? Or with a sports thing? Seven is a religious touchstone in several cultures—seven deadly sins, seven virtues (you hardly ever hear about those), and on the seventh day, “God rested.” Number of days in the week, number of colors in the rainbow, number of Great Wonders of the world, the number given to super-spy James Bond. Seven is either lucky, or we just think it is.

With my latest novel being titled The Lucky One, I’ve had a little time to think about what it means to be lucky, and not.

Do I believe in luck? Not in the rabbit’s foot school. I believe rabbits should keep their feet. My lucky number is 11, but I haven’t assigned any magical powers to it. I just like it.

But yes, I absolutely believe in good fortune, in being in the right place at the right time, in taking chances and snapping up opportunities when they rain down—in trying new things and working hard toward goals so that I might meet them some “lucky” day. Here’s the kind of luck I believe in, best represented by this quote I found (luckily!) this week from an Entertainment Weekly interview with comedian and actor Chris Rock:

“Naive people will tell you ‘There’s always tomorrow and you’ll always get another chance.’ The smart people will tell you ‘You probably get three chances at anything in life and you’ll probably be busy for the first two…that third one you better be f*#!ing ready.'”

But we write or read crime fiction, in which characters often have the worst possible luck.

In the kinds of stories I like to write, the fictional crime looks an awful lot like real crime. The Lucky One, in fact, is based in part on a real crime that happened to my neighbor, and in part on a moment that had really happened to me as I scoured for story ideas online. (A full essay about the convergence of those two stories is in the back of the published book, if you want to take a look.) The Lucky One is about a group of online amateur sleuths, based on the real-life online amateur sleuths of The Doe Network. When I went to do some research, trying to understand what information an amateur can get about cold case missing persons, I used the real-life crime of a girl gone missing from my childhood neighborhood. That’s a lot of actual crime undergirding a fictional story. Which is fine, right?

Except that when I write a story that has real-world connections, I start wonder about my right to do so. Am I the right person to tell this story? Can I tell it with the right gravitas, so that if someone who has experienced this crime themselves or within their family, they won’t feel violated all over again? For example, for The Day I Died, my third novel, I wrote about domestic violence, something I had never experienced. But I had at least one friend who had survived a violent marriage, and someone I had known in high school had been killed in college (the college where I was also a student) by an ex-boyfriend. The story I was writing wasn’t about either of those women, but as I worked on that book, I wondered if I could write a story that didn’t somehow blame the victim for not being lucky enough to survive. My character survived her violent relationship but not because she possessed more virtue than someone who hadn’t, not because she was smarter or did things “right.” The woman from my high school did everything right, too.

I don’t believe in that four-leaf clover sort of luck, but what I really don’t believe in is assigning virtue for those who seem to possess it.

Am I lucky? Oh, yeah. Every word I write comes from a place of privilege. I’ve been given a lot of breaks. That’s the thing I try to remember, that I’ve had a lot of hands up. That’s what luck really looks like, which means I can give it, too.

So happy 7th anniversary to the Wicked Cozies. If my luck holds, and yours, have me back for your 11th anniversary.

Readers: What story based on real life do you recommend? Writers, I would love to hear about one of your lucky breaks.

Bio: Lori Rader-Day is the Edgar Award-nominated and Anthony Award- and Mary Higgins Clark Award-winning author of Under a Dark Sky, The Day I Died, Little Pretty Things, and The Black Hour. She co-chairs the mystery conference Murder and Mayhem in Chicago and serves as the national president of Sisters in Crime. Her new book is The Lucky One, set in a true-crime amateur online sleuth community.



27 Thoughts

  1. Great that you are joining us today, Lori!
    I was at LCC 2014 (great convention and locale), but alas, I did not see the panel that you and Sherry were on.

    I agree that good luck has played a role several times in my life. Some of the best jobs I ended up taking happened by meeting a stranger at the right time and voila, and a job offer was made and accepted on the spot. This happened twice and required me to move from Toronto, which was another positive change which brought its own good luck.

      1. Ahhh, then I would have been at the Sue Grafton session. Sue was a hoot, as always. Sorry to have missed seeing you, and Edith and Lori, though!

    1. Thanks, Grace! I once got an internship that changed the course of my (not writing) career, all because a friend was researching internships near me and it was something I was more suited for. You never know! Thanks for posting!

  2. Waving hi to Lori! If that was the Monterey LCC, I was at that panel, too.

    I certainly got lucky when an agent came to our SINCNE prez in 2011 looking for authors – but I was also freaking ready for it. I didn’t squander the good-luck opportunity.

    This isn’t a crime story, but I’m also so lucky I ended up with two fine, funny, hardworking, healthy (and handsome…) men for sons who like to spend time with me. Some moms aren’t so lucky and I know how blessed I am.

  3. Yes, you need to work hard and prepare, otherwise “luck” is just a missed opportunity. I’ve had so many lucky breaks over the years. Being in the right place at the right time to make a connection with the right person. Making the right off-hand comment to the right person who then put me in touch with another right person. The luck is in the timing, I think. The success is in being prepared for when it strikes.

    And it’s great to see you here, Lori!

    1. Thanks, Annette!! It really is a lot of coincidence sometimes, which of course we’re not supposed to rely on in our work. But coincidence is REAL. Thanks for commenting!

  4. Welcome, Lori! I have been very lucky over the years. With writing, I was lucky that my series was so well received. It really made my author career possible.

  5. I was lucky to meet Julie Hennrikus at the Malice banquet. She told me to join Sisters in Crime and lucky to meet you on that panel. There have been so many lucky moments. But when I tell my husband — I’m so lucky to have so many books published, he always says, “The first one might have been luck, but the rest are hard work.”

  6. Being in the right place at the right time – and being prepared when you are – is definitely my definition of “luck.”

    I think I was pretty lucky when I walked in and met my local Sisters In Crime that’s for sure.

    1. I feel the same way about getting in with people who said, join in, you’re welcome. The mystery community is so welcoming that way, and it’s not like that everywhere. Thanks for commenting, Liz!

  7. Welcome back to the Wickeds, Lori! I have been so lucky in my life. The primary way was somehow knowing, at the old age of 22 that my husband was the one for the long haul. It seemed so logical at the time, but with hindsight I realize what an enormous bit of luck it was.

    1. At 22!!! That’s pretty lucky, for sure. I guess I met my guy at 24. I feel very lucky to have him and his support for this crazy life. Thanks for having me!

  8. Welcome back to the blog, Lori. I agree about luck bending opportunity and hard work meeting up, and that opportunity doesn’t show up equally for all. I’ve had a lot of what folks call luck, and I’m very grateful. I also know how hard I work for it. Congrats on the book, and thanks for being such a great leader for SinC!

    1. Thanks for having me and thank YOU for your service, Sister. *salute*

      I hope it’s clear in my post how very privileged I have been. I think SinC is one of the ways we can make sure that others get that hand up I mentioned. It’s a good feeling to watch someone you’ve helped a little find her way. See: Mia Manansala. So happy for her, speaking of wicked cozies.

  9. Lori, this book has more twists than a bowlful of rotini!

    Anatomy of a Murder is an old book, from 1978 or thereabouts, but is based on author John D. Voelker’s experience as a judge.

    1. Sounds good. If you could see the number of TBR books in this house… Gotta support those indie bookstores, and now those books are supporting my roof.

      Good to see your name here, Karen. Thanks for reading and commenting!

  10. Welcome back to the Wickeds, Lori! We’d love to have you for the 11th anniversary!

    I generally feel like an astoundingly lucky person but I think my greatest luck is being where I am, when I am. I’ve survived a couple of medical issues I would not have had I been born too much earlier. I was taught to read and write. I am able to vote. And, I can conduct my career, in large part, via the Internet. For the vast majority of history all of that is simply astonishing!

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