I met the ebullient and charming Lane Stone when we both joined an Art Crimes panel for Left Coast Crime 2022. We hit it off right away and discovered we have more in common than writing for the same publisher. Which is why I’m absolutely thrilled to introduce Lane as our newest Miss Demeanor. Cue the trumpets!
Lane writes The Big Picture Trilogy for Level Best Books. More about that later because I have some questions that just won’t wait:
Connie: Lane, you began writing crime fiction like I did—later in life after another career. Tell us a bit more about that transition. Why did you decide to write crime fiction? Were there writing habits you had to break?
Lane: I was in human resources. My business writing couldn’t have “voice.” When I started writing fiction I had to give myself permission to do that. My first series, Tiara Investigations, was very, very voicy. Dead Men Don’t Decorate (which I wrote as Cordy Abbott) is voicy, but not as much as the series about three former Georgia beauty queens. I like to think my cozy and traditional mysteries are a conversation with my readers. Another shock was what a big thing a book is. There’s so much to keep up with. For example, I often have co-protagonists and I have to remember who is driving. When they reach wherever they’re going, it had better be the same character behind the wheel.
Connie: Who helped you along the way? Were you given good advice—and can you share that with others?
Lane: Some good advice, some not so good.
Good: In a craft talk at Killer Nashville, Jeffrey Deaver talked about the difference between being a guy who wrote a book and an author. It’s in how you spend your time. Authors don’t see movies on weekdays. That was exactly what I needed to hear and when I needed to hear it. There are no shortcuts, but you can give yourself more hours in the day.
Bad: “Send out 50 queries, then 100, then 200.” If you are getting rejections, first, welcome to the club, and next have someone read your query letter before you send out the next batch, If your rejections are coming after the agent or editor reads pages, get thyself into a critique group. The real secret to getting published is to improve your writing, then improve it again, and then again.
Connie: Lane, I couldn’t agree with you more. Don’t send out a manuscript hoping an editor will fix it for you. You’ve just earned yourself a quick rejection. But let’s talk genre. You’ve written cozies, and now you’re writing an international thriller. Do you enjoy one genre more than the other?
Lane: As a creative person, I am fed by each of the series. In The Big Picture Trilogy, I have a big playground and very big stakes. I write about super-rich people and museums all over the world. Cozies are like coming home after a fabulous vacation. Back to your favorite people, maybe your pet, and objects you’ve surrounded yourself with that make you happy. Yes, it’s cozy.
How did it come about? After I wrote two cozy series and one standalone, I was ready for a new challenge. My agent supported me moving into writing thrillers, with one caveat. I had to be willing to go with a smaller press. That was fine with me, and she sold The Big Picture Trilogy to Level Best Books. Each publishing house has been perfect for the series I wrote for them.
Connie: What authors do you like to read?
Lane: I’m in four book groups! Two read mysteries exclusively. One is a diversity book group, and in the last one, we read whatever we want. That one is called The Eclectic Book group. That’s pretty much all the time I have for pleasure reading.
Connie: Do you have any writing routines or tips? Are you a pantser or plotter? If a plotter, how detailed are your outlines?
Lane: I’m a plotter. I start out with a question or an idea that interests me. In The Collector it was the difference between art crime and other types of crime. Particularly, vandalism. The psychology behind damaging a painting is quite different from say, keying someone’s car. Then I set up a day-by-day outline for the action. (It helps keep the pace fast.) That outline was eight pages.
Connie: Are your characters based on real people?
Lane: Yes! My husband, Larry Korb, and I split our time between Alexandria, VA, and Lewes, Delaware. In Lewes, our go-to Italian restaurant is run by the meanest man in town. The food is fabulous but everyone has a story to tell about how outrageous he is. They call him the pasta nazi, like Seinfeld’s soup nazi. The victim in Dead Men Don’t Decorate is based on him. I guess he pushed me too far,
Connie: Let’s hope he doesn’t recognize himself! If he does, you might have to get a taste tester. Seriously, though, if you could change one thing about your writing life, what would it be?
Lane: Visual artists very often think of themselves as “carrying on the tradition of” someone. For example, Peter Doig carries on the tradition of Cézanne and Matisse. Cecily Brown’s art is in the tradition of Willem de Koonig. Usually, when you read that about one of us, our publicist wrote it. While we do love our foremothers, from Agatha Christie to P.D. James, we rarely think of ourselves in the lineage. And we should.
Connie: What’s next for you?
Lane: The second book in The Big Picture Trilogy, The Canvas, will be out this summer. To sign up for my newsletter and get notified when it’s out, please visit https://lanestonebooks.com.
Connie: Lane, thanks so much for sharing your writing journey with us. We look forward to your first blog on February 22.
THE COLLECTOR – is the first installment in Lane Stone’s art thriller trilogy, The Big Picture. Art expert, Emma Kelly’s, life looks like a masterpiece, but she’s keeping a very big secret.
When a disgraced philanthropist is murdered in the Metropolitan Museum, and a famous painting is destroyed, her FBI husband needs her help. In the days to come a devastating world war on art is waged, and museums seem powerless to defend their treasures. As Emma fights the extremist group from Japan to Mexico to Belgium, and, of course, France, she learns someone has gotten too close to learning her secret – to the big picture.
Proud baby boomer and dog mom, Lane Stone is originally from Atlanta, Georgia, but has lived in the DC area for over three decades. She now lives in Alexandria, Virginia, and Lewes, Delaware, with her husband, Larry Korb, and their Standard Schnauzer, Cordy.
Her first series was the “Tiara Investigation Mysteries,” followed by a co-written standalone romantic suspense, MALTIPOOS ARE MURDER. Next, she wrote the “Pet Palace Mysteries” series. Her art thriller trilogy, “The Big Picture,” debuted in May 2022, with the publication of THE COLLECTOR. As Cordy Abbott, she wrote DEAD MEN DON’T DECORATE, published in November 2022.
When not writing, Lane enjoys traveling—Antarctica and Oberammergau in 2022 and Panama Canal and Norway in 2023. Volunteering for worthy causes has always been a part of her life. She is the Virginia state president of the American Association of University Women and the immediate past co-president of AAUW-Alexandria. In that capacity, she was one of the originators of their human trafficking rescue program. (A portion of the proceeds from DEAD MEN DON’T DECORATE is donated to that project.) She serves on the Board of Directors of the Delaware River & Bay Lighthouse Foundation. She is a graduate of Georgia State University and serves on the university’s political science department advisory board. She has a post-graduate certificate in Antiquities Theft and Art Crime.
She is represented by Dawn Dowdle, Blue Ridge Literary Agency. And is a member of SinC, MWA, and ITW.