From the Booking Desk:

I first met Liz Milliron as Mary Lederman Sutton – not really such an unusual occurrence in a genre populated by pen-names. She has been a loyal advocate for this blog from very early on, long before the blog itself was of any benefit to her personally. I was thrilled when I was finally able to review her excellent short story “Three Rivers Voodoo” as part of the Blood on the Bayou Bouchercon Anthology 2016. This was followed by her launch of (and my reviews of) the Laurel Highlands mystery series from Level Best Books. And now in a sort of “full circle” moment, Mary is here at Liz Milliron for our weekly Composite Sketch. I am hesitant to say that this is another very special sketch – for obvious reasons which you will find out below – but in all honestly, Liz made me both laugh and cry with her answers (and not the one that involves me!). I know you will enjoy. Happy reading.

Name: Liz Milliron
Location: Pittsburgh, PA

This person from my personal life is such an inspiration:

There are so many people I could choose for this. And I’ve read enough of these to know that cheating is allowed. But this is a composite sketch not a composite novel, so I’m going to limit it and say my mom, Mary Kathryn Lederman. Now, this may seem like a cop-out (isn’t Mom a hero to most people?), but bear with me.

When Mom was in high school, she won a small scholarship. Her dad refused to sign for it, saying he’d “flip” the day she made it to college. Too bad he died in 1975 because not only did Mom go to college, she earned Associate’s, Bachelor’s, and Master’s degrees in nursing. Take that, Grandpa.

Mom was the perfect example of working hard for what you want and letting nothing stop you. It’s something she passed on to me. Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you can’t do something just because. If you really want it, go get it.

Mom was generous to a fault, but she lived by a saying: “I can’t stand a liar, a cheat, or a thief.” She passed that on to me. Really, I could stop after “liar,” because to me, a cheat and a thief are just different kinds of liars.

Sadly, Mom lost her battle with breast cancer in 2001 at age 54 – just as she was entering the phase of her life she was looking forward to most, being a grandmother. I can’t even count the number of times I wished I could call her up for some motherly advice as I was raising my kids. What would Mom do?

One of the people I admire most in the crime fiction community is:

Again, there are so many people I admire. I know other genres probably say the same thing, but the crime fiction community is the best. Whether you’re up, down or somewhere in between, there’s always someone to cheer with you, give you encouragement, or lend a shoulder to cry on. From the biggest stars to the smallest twinkling dots.

Here I am going to cheat and name two people: Dru Ann Love and Kristopher Zgorski. No, I am not brown-nosing.

There are literally thousands of books published every year (I think the actual figure is in the millions). How do readers find the gems among the dross? They look to influencers. Enter Dru Ann and Kristopher.

I’m sure neither of them think of themselves in that way. They’re just readers and book lovers, and they want to shout their love of books from the rooftops. To do that, both have built impressive online platforms in Dru’s Book Musings and BOLO Books. So impressive, that both have won the prestigious MWA Raven award. They do this in their free time and for no pay. It’s just because they love books. Thank goodness for it, because otherwise only the authors with mega-publishers and big publicity budgets would get noticed.

When I started my publishing journey, one of my bucket list items was to get a review from Dru Ann and Kristopher. I was so happy when I crossed that item off the list in 2018.

And now I’m a Composite Sketch subject. Cool!

STALKER ALERT! If this fictional character were real, they would likely need to get a restraining order against me:

Finally, an easy one! DS James Hathaway from Lewis, hands down. Not a book character, but he works with DI Robert Lewis who many crime fiction fans will know from the Inspector Morse books and TV show. Cambridge-educated and classically-trained Hathaway is polished, urbane, and droll, with that dry, understated British wit I love. Doesn’t hurt that he’s portrayed by the “dishy” Laurence Fox, either. Hathaway is the more educated member of the team, but he also has a great deal of respect for Lewis (in fact, I believe the Lewis-Hathaway relationship is the gold standard for detective partnerships, but I digress). He has just enough flaws to make me want to take care of him. And he hates misplaced apostrophes. So do I, Hathaway. So. Do. I.

People are always surprised that I am a fan of this individual (singer, actor, or artist):

Another relatively easy one. I’m not sure how surprising it is, but I’m a fan of 80s/90s country. Think George Strait, Reba McEntire, Brooks & Dunn, and Travis Tritt. Those songs tell stories in a way contemporary country music (or any other current music, for that matter) doesn’t often do, even if some of them are a little twangy. That appeals to the story-teller in me. And they are fun to sing along to!

My personal catch phrase is (or should be):

I’ve never thought of this, but it probably should be “Just keep swimming,” Dory’s line from Finding Nemo. Having a bad day, writing not going well, something not quite what it should be? Just keep swimming – Nemo’s out there somewhere.