Friday, September 26, 2014

9mm interview with JA Jance

One of my favourite things about being a keen reader is discovering new-to-me authors who have written many books that I haven't tried yet, opening up a whole world of possibilities in terms of future reading enjoyment. There are so many good and great crime writers out there, I know I'm never going to get to even a large chunk of them, but it sure is enjoyable to try the ones we do.

One of the ways I try to continually expand my crime fiction palette is by grabbing books by local authors from places I travel (or authors who set their books in that place). Given I am a bit of a vagabond soul at heart and in practice, and love to travel, this has opened me up to many new authors over the past few years, from reading Jason Goodwin's THE JANISSARY TREE while touring Turkey to Bernard Schlink's SELF'S MURDER while spending Christmas in Cologne to PC Doherty's THE ANUBIS SLAYINGS while working my way up the Nile in Egypt to Johan Smits' PHNOM PENH EXPRESS while wandering Cambodia (tip of the iceberg). This habit of mine continued while in the United States and Canada last year, so while I was enjoying the delights of Washington State, I picked up a book by JA Jance. Since she had a detective series set in Seattle, was born in South Dakota, and grew up in Arizona (and I was travelling through all three states for various reasons), it seemed a good choice!

JA Jance debuted in 1985 with UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY, which introduced Seattle detective JP Beaumont. That series has grown to 22 books over the years, alongside Jance's other popular series starring Arizona country sheriff Joanna Brady (that began with DESERT HEAT in 1993 and now numbers 17 books). A prolific storyteller, JA Jance moved past the 50 published books mark this year. She splits her time between Seattle and her home state of Arizona, and her two most popular main characters actually meet in her crossover novel PARTNERS IN CRIME.

You can read more about JA Jance's wonderful books, and the author herself - including one of the most open and honest bio pages I've read on an official author website, detailing her life struggles and how they've played a part in her successful writing career - at her website here.

But for now, JA Jance becomes the 85th author to stare down the barrel of 9mm.


1. Who is your favourite recurring crime fiction hero/detective? 
Jack Reacher.

2. What was the very first book you remember reading and really loving, and why? 
Smokey, the Crow. I was in first grade, and the book belonged to one of my older sisters.  The story was about some kids adopting an injured crow.

3. Before your debut crime novel, what else had you written (if anything) unpublished manuscripts, short stories, articles? 
I wrote a volume of poetry--After the Fire, which is still in print, by the way.  It's poetry I wrote while my first husband was dying of alcoholism, and while I was trying to find my way out of that relationship.  Doing a poetry reading of that book a year after it was published is how I met my second husband.  I also wrote a 1,200 page thinly fictionalized true crime book about crossing paths with a serial killer in Tucson in the early 70s. That book, called By Reason of Insanity, was never published and rightly so.  Since I was denied entrance into a creative writing program in college because I was a "girl," writing that unpublished book was my on the job training in the world of writing.

4. Outside of writing, and touring and promotional commitments, what do you really like to do, leisure and activity-wise? 
Stay at home with my husband, kids, grandkids, and our rescued dachshund, Bella.

5. What is one thing that visitors to your hometown should do, that isn't in the tourist brochures, or perhaps they wouldn’t initially consider? 
They should go to Bisbee, Arizona, walk up and down Tombstone Canyon, and figure out why the high school's colors are red and gray.

6. If your life was a movie, which actor could you see playing you? 
Helen Mirren

7. Of your writings, published and unpublished, which is your favourite, and why? 
Second Watch, a Beaumont book that features a schoolmate of mine from Bisbee, a guy named Doug Davis.  Doug died in Vietnam at age 22, forty-eight years ago today (August 2, 1966).  But through the magic of fiction, he comes to life so the world can know about him and about Bonnie Abney, the girl he left behind.

[Ed Note: I interviewed JA Jance on 2 August this year, but with the rapid reloading of 9mm, I have a large backlog of terrific interviews, so I'm spacing them out a week at a time over several months]

8. What was your initial reaction, and how did you celebrate, when you were first accepted for publication? Or when you first saw your debut story in book form on a online or physical bookseller’s shelf?
I called my kids' school principal and asked him to have them come to the office so I could give them the news.  My daughter, who was never in trouble, came right away.  My son, however, was another story.  As he came down the hall, the principal heard him bellowing, "Whatever it is, I didn't do it!"

9. What is the strangest or most unusual experience you have had at a book signing, author event, or literary festival? 
I was doing a grocery store reopening event.  The publicity for the event amounted to my sales rep putting brochures on the windshields of the cars in the parking lot.  I had barely taken my seat when a young man came waltzing up to me, waving the brochure.  "Are you the woman who writes murder mysteries?" he asked.  I told him yes, and he continued.  "I've just been acquitted of murdering seven people.  Do you want to write my book?"


Thank you JA Jance. We appreciate you taking the time to chat to Crime Watch


You can read more about JA Jance and her books here:


Have you read JA Jance?

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