Thursday, August 8, 2013

J.A. Jance - HBS Author's Spotlight

Today our blog puts the Spotlight on New York Times bestselling author J.A. "Judith" Jance. She is best known for the Joanna Brady series and the J. P. Beaumont series.

Author Genre: Mystery & Thrillers

Website: J.A. Jance
Author's Blog: J.A. Jance - NYT Bestselling Author
Twitter: @JAJance
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Author Description:
J.A. Jance is the top 10 New York Times bestselling author of the Joanna Brady series; the J. P. Beaumont series; four interrelated thrillers featuring the Walker family; and eight books featuring Ali Reynolds.

As a second-grader in Mrs. Spangler’s Greenway School class, I was introduced to Frank Baum’s Wizard of Oz series. I read the first one and was hooked and knew, from that moment on, that I wanted to be a writer.

The third child in a large family, I was four years younger than my next older sister and four years older than the next younger sibling. Being both too young and too old left me alone in a crowd and helped turn me into an introspective reader and a top student. When I graduated from Bisbee High School in 1962, I received an academic scholarship that made me the first person in my family to attend a four year college. I graduated in 1966 with a degree in English and Secondary Education. In 1970 I received my M. Ed. In Library Science. I taught high school English at Tucson’s Pueblo High School for two years and was a K-12 librarian at Indian Oasis School District in Sells, Arizona for five years.

My ambitions to become a writer were frustrated in college and later, first because the professor who taught creative writing at the University of Arizona in those days thought girls "ought to be teachers or nurses" rather than writers. After he refused me admission to the program, I did the next best thing: I married a man who was allowed in the program that was closed to me. My first husband imitated Faulkner and Hemingway primarily by drinking too much and writing too little. Despite the fact that he was allowed in the creative writing program, he never had anything published either prior to or after his death from chronic alcoholism at age forty-two. That didn’t keep him from telling me, however, that there would be only one writer in our family, and he was it.

My husband made that statement in 1968 after I had received a favorable letter from an editor in New York who was interested in publishing a children’s story I had written. Because I was a newly wed wife who was interested in staying married, I put my writing ambitions on hold. Other than writing poetry in the dark of night when my husband was asleep (see After the Fire), I did nothing more about writing fiction until eleven years later when I was a single, divorced mother with two children and no child support as well as a full time job selling life insurance. My first three books were written between four a.m. and seven a.m.. At seven, I would wake my children and send them off to school. After that, I would get myself ready to go sell life insurance.

I started writing in the middle of March of 1982. The first book I wrote, a slightly fictionalized version of a series of murders that happened in Tucson in 1970, was never published. For one thing, it was twelve hundred pages long. Since I was never allowed in the creative writing classes, no one had ever told me there were some things I needed to leave out. For another, the editors who turned it down said that the parts that were real were totally unbelievable, and the parts that were fiction were fine. My agent finally sat me down and told me that she thought I was a better writer of fiction than I was of non-fiction. Why, she suggested, didn’t I try my hand at a novel?

The result of that conversation was the first Detective Beaumont book, Until Proven Guilty. Since 1985 when that was published, there have been 21 more Beau books. My work also includes 14 Joanna Brady books set in southeastern Arizona where I grew up, and seven Ali Reynolds books, set in Sedona, AZ. In addition there are four thrillers, starting with Hour of the Hunter and Kiss of the Bees, that reflect what I learned during the years when I was teaching on the Tohono O’Odham reservation west of Tucson, Arizona.

The week before Until Proven Guilty was published, I did a poetry reading of After the Fire at a widowed retreat sponsored by a group called WICS (Widowed Information Consultation Services) of King County. By June of 1985, it was five years after my divorce in 1980 and two years after my former husband’s death. I went to the retreat feeling as though I hadn’t quite had my ticket punched and didn’t deserve to be there. After all, the other people there were all still married when their spouses died. I was divorced. At the retreat I met a man whose wife had died of breast cancer two years to the day and within a matter of minutes of the time my husband died. We struck up a conversation based on that coincidence. Six months later, to the dismay of our five children, we told the kids they weren’t the Brady Bunch, but they'd do, and we got married. We now have four new in-laws as well as six grandchildren.

When my second husband and I first married, he supported all of us–his kids and mine as well as the two of us. It was a long time before my income from writing was anything more than fun money–the Improbable Cause trip to Walt Disney World; the Minor in Possession memorial powder room; the Payment in Kind memorial hot tub. Eventually, however, the worm turned. My husband was able to retire at age 54 and took up golf and oil painting.

One of the wonderful things about being a writer is that everything–even the bad stuff–is usable. The eighteen years I spent while married to an alcoholic have helped shape the experience and character of Detective J. P. Beaumont. My experiences as a single parent have gone into the background for Joanna Brady–including her first tentative steps toward a new life after the devastation of losing her husband in Desert Heat. And then there’s the evil creative writing professor in Hour of the Hunter and Kiss of the Bees, but that’s another story.

Another wonderful part of being a writer is hearing from fans. I learned on the reservation that the ancient, sacred charge of the storyteller is to beguile the time. I’m thrilled when I hear that someone has used my books to get through some particularly difficult illness either as a patient or as they sit on the sidelines while someone they love is terribly ill. It gratifies me to know that by immersing themselves in my stories, people are able to set their own lives aside and live and walk in someone else’s shoes. It tells me I’m doing a good job at the best job in the world.

SPOTLIGHT Questions and Answers with the Author

First things first. Rumor has it that you have another book on the horizon called Second Watch coming soon. Can you tell us the timeline for its release and give us a little tease?

Second Watch, Beaumont # 21, is due to be published September 10. In it viewers will see J. P. as he is now and also as he was as a much younger man both before and after he went to work at Seattle P.D. In it, you will also meet as a character a school mate of mine from Bisbee High School, Doug Davis. Doug was a remarkable young man--a top notch student and an outstanding athlete who went from Bisbee High to West Point and who died in Vietnam a few short years later, weeks before his 23rd birthday.

Tell his story and that of the woman who was engaged to marry him at the time of his death is a way of paying tribute to a whole generation of young people, people who, in my opinion, have never been properly thanked for their sacrifice and their service. I regard Second Watch as a literary thank you note to all those folks--the ones who, like Doug, didn't come home as well as the ones who did.

Order Second Watch NOW. See book list below.

Since you started before the social media buzz, what impact has social media relationships had on your current success? How much has it changed your book launch process?

Second Watch is the first time I've been asked to write an e-novella in advance of the publication of the next book. Ring in the Dead went on sale in July. The novella was written after I wrote Second Watch, and the action in Ring takes place after the action in Second Watch even though that book has yet to be published. In other words, Ring in the Dead is a bit of literary time travel. (Is there any other kind?) But I'm happy to report that it has sold over 16,000 copies, and that bodes well for initial sales of Second Watch.

When I first started writing books, first I and later my daughter would "call the list"--essentially all the names in my Rolodex--to tell people that the book was coming and to invite them to the initial signing that used to take place at Seattle's Doghouse restaurant. What was once a telephone number "Doghouse List" has morphed into an e-mail database that includes 10,000 names. Those folks all get a notice from me prior to a book going on sale. And the people who are in my list are people who are there because they wrote to me and asked to be placed on the list or simply wrote to comment on my books. By the way, about those 10,000 people? They have all received at least one and probably more notes from me through the years. I answer ALL my own e-mail. The people who write to me are my customers and they deserve a personal response regardless of what is said in the e-mail. Even cranky letters merit at least ONE polite response, and those response come from ME! I don't have a set of trolls, living under a bridge, and screening my e-mails for the ones that come through. Another piece of the social media platform is my blog which appears both on my website and on my facebook author page. It offers readers a window on my world--sort of like reading my autobiography in weekly installments. I blog once a week, and it's usually posted on Friday mornings.

You do a lot of book signing, interviews, speaking and personal appearances? (Sorry I missed you in Tucson.) When and where is the next place where your readers can see you? Where can they keep up with your personal contacts online?

Second Watch will be my 47th book and the book of poetry that comes out that same day, After the Fire, makes it 48. Over the past 30 years, I've done at least thirty book signings per book. Do the math--that's a lot of signings. Why do I do them? My first ICD book rep, Holly Turner, told me at the very beginning that every personal contact accounts for at least ten sales. In the first years, when I was a new author, I'd go to a book store event, work my head off for two hours, and maybe sell ten books. Since my royalties back then were only a quarter a book, that meant that two hours' of work would only make me $2.50 worth of royalties. At the time, it seemed like I was squandering both time and effort, but it turns out that many of those "early adopters"--the people I met at those initial signings--are still devoted fans of mine.

The other important thing to remember about doing book signings is that's when I get to hear from people and find out about how my books touch their lives. That's a very important part of the psychological income of being an author.

You have great covers. They carry a theme and your brand with them. How does your book cover creation process work? Do you hand over the basic theme or do you have more of a hands-on approach? Do you get your readers involved in its development?

As far as covers are concerned, I am definitely hands off. My job is to write the books. Publishers create the covers. I agree, my publishers have done an excellent job of creating a "name brand" style for my books and it's something I really appreciate.

Have you created a book trailer for any of your books to promote them online? Do you think Youtube book readings will catch on with your readers?

I haven't done any trailers so far, although I did tape something in New York for Deadly Stakes when that came out earlier this year. I don't know if Youtube book readings will catch on. I have done a couple of Skype interviews, but the jury is still out on those as well.

What kinds of writer support groups do you belong too? Do they help with the writing, marketing and the publishing process?

I belong to MWA and to Sisters in Crime. I also support writers conferences wherever it's possible to do so. I was one of the people who had the front door to writing--access to Creative Writing classes--slammed in my face. Writers Conferences offer a back door into the world of writing.

Between your book writing, blogging, marketing, family, dogs and all the other things that can get in your way, how do you manage your time? Do you have a set schedule or do your sort of play it by ear?

I do NOT have a set schedule. Right this minute, I SHOULD be working on Joanna # 16--a book for next summer that so far remains unnamed. Instead, I'm answering interview questions. I tend to work all the time, however--with the exception of a two week vacation during which I indulged myself by only reading other people's books! One of the wonderful things about doing my dream job, however, is that most of the time it doesn't feel like work!

Has the advent of ebooks changed anything in your writing, your marketing and the relationship with your readers and fans?

I think ebooks has made it far easier for new readers to go back to the beginning and read through an entire set of books in order. In the days of dead-tree books only, it was often difficult for new readers to locate copies of backlist books. In fact, just this morning I heard from a new reader who, in the past several months, has been caring for a new baby and reading through ALL the Beaumonts with the exception of the still unpublished Second Watch.

With all the books that you have written, how do you manage your plots, characters and timelines to keep your stories going? Do you use any software to keep track of your books?

I make notes in my name file for each book, but the primary software for keeping my plots and characters straight remains as, Hercule Poirot would say, "my little grey cells."

Can you tell us about Sugarloaf Café and how that got started?

I don't know how it started. I started writing about Ali Reynolds, and as soon as I did, there were her folks running the Sugarloaf. People think I based that restaurant on another Sedona institution, the Coffee Pot, but it turns out I never visited that restaurant until long after I started writing my books.

Author's Book List
Second Watch - A J. P. Beaumont Novel
With Second Watch, New York Times bestselling author J. A. Jance delivers another thought-provoking novel of suspense starring Seattle investigator J. P. Beaumont.

Second Watch shows Beaumont taking some time off to get knee replacement surgery, but instead of taking his mind off work, the operation plunges him into one of the most perplexing mysteries he's ever faced.

His past collides with his present in this complex and thrilling story that explores loss and heartbreak, duty and honor, and, most importantly, the staggering cost of war and the debts we owe those who served in the Vietnam War, and those in uniform today.

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble
Judgment Call - A Brady Novel of Suspense
The New York Times bestselling master of mystery and suspense, J.A. Jance—whom the Chattanooga Times ranks “among the best, if not the best”—brings back her enormously popular series protagonist, Cochise County Sheriff Joanna Brady.

With Judgment Call, Jance achieves a new high in crime fiction, as Brady wrestles with her conflicting roles of law officer and mother when her daughter discovers the murdered body of the local high school principal, and the ensuing investigation reveals secrets no parent wants to hear. At once a breathtaking recreation of the rugged landscape of the American Southwest, a moving story of a mother’s concerns for her endangered child, and thrilling masterwork of brutal crime and expert detection, Judgment Call is prime J.A. Jance, a treat for anyone who loves a good cop story wrapped around a superior family drama.

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble
Deadly Stakes: A Novel - Ali Reynolds
A thrilling mystery from New York Times bestselling author J.A. Jance starring Ali Reynolds, who finds herself working against the police to clear two innocent names…with deadly stakes.

In Deadly Stakes, police academy-trained former reporter Ali Reynolds is contacted to investigate the grisly murder of a gold-digging divorcee on behalf of a woman accused of the crime. Lynn Martinson is dating the dead woman’s ex-husband, and she and her boyfriend Chip Ralston have been charged.

Ali is simultaneously drawn to the case of A.J. Sanders, a frightened teen with secrets of his own. He’s the first to find the body in the Camp Verde desert when he goes to retrieve a mysterious buried box hidden by his absent father—a box that turns out to be filled with hundreds of thousands of dollars in poker chips.

When the body of an ex-con is discovered near the first crime scene, Ali struggles to determine if A.J. and Lynn’s cases are related. Though her friends in the police department grow increasingly irritated by her involvement with the cases, Ali must stop a deadly killer from claiming another victim…before she herself is lost in this game of deadly stakes.

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble
Left for Dead - Ali Reynolds Mysteries
Not even Ali Reynolds is immune to the escalating drug wars just across the border as two ruthless crimes threaten to bring her face-to-face with a cold-blooded killer.

When one of Ali’s former Arizona Police Academy classmates is gunned down and left to die, he is at first assumed to be an innocent victim of the violent drug cartels. But the crime scene investigation reveals there’s much more to the story. Summoned to his hospital bedside, Ali finds it hard to believe he’s mixed up in the drug trade, and she also meets another seriously injured victim—an unidentified young woman, presumed to be an illegal border crosser, who was raped and savagely beaten. Ali is determined to seek justice in both cases. But as she zeroes in on the truth, the real killer is lining her up in the crosshairs. . . .

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble
Paradise Lost - A Brady Novel of Suspense
The desecrated body of a missing Phoenix heiress lies naked, lifeless, and abandoned in the desolate beauty and lonely terror of the high desert night. A hideous crime is inviting death once more into Sheriff Joanna Brady's world. But this time the nightmares of her professional and personal lives are intertwining in ways too awful to contemplate, because one corpse is only the first piece in a twisted and sinister puzzle in which nothing seems to fit. And the next item on a killer's bloody agenda may well be Brady's own beloved daughter.

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble
Exit Wounds - Brady Novels
The intense desert heat has brought horror to a small corner of the Southwest. A body lies lifeless in an airless trailer, surrounded by seventeen others. It is a crime unspeakable in its conception and execution—a nightmare strangely connected to a grisly slaughter in a neighboring state, where the corpses of two women are found tied up, naked, and gruesomely posed on a rancher's land. A day that started out hot has already turned blistering for Joanna Brady, the sheriff of Cochise County, Arizona, for terror has moved into her small town to stay. And the nightmare will not end until she uncovers the roots of a monstrous obsession buried somewhere in the most frightening dark shadows of the past.

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble
Edge of Evil - Alison Reynold
With a divorce from her cheating husband of ten years pending and her high-profile broadcasting career abruptly ended by TV executives who wanted a "younger face," Alison Reynolds feels there's nothing keeping her in LA any longer. Summoned back home to Sedona, Arizona, by the death of a childhood friend, she seeks solace in the comforting rhythms of her parents' diner, the Sugarloaf Café, and launches an on-line blog as therapy for others who have been similarly cut loose.

But when threatening posts begin appearing, Ali finds out that running a blog is far more up-close and personal—and far more dangerous—than sitting behind a news desk. Suddenly something dark and deadly is swirling around her life. And now Ali is a target…and marked for death.

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble
Birds of Prey
The Starfire Breeze steams its way north toward the Gulf of Alaska, buffeted by crisp sea winds blowing down from the Arctic. Those on board are seeking peace, relaxation, adventure, escape. But there is no escape in this place of unspoiled natural majesty. Because terror strolls the decks even in the brilliant light of day . . . and death is a conspicuous, unwelcome passenger. Former Seattle policeman J.P. Beaumont—a damaged homicide detective who has come here to heal from fresh, stinging wounds—will find that the grim ghosts pursuing him were not left behind . . . as a pleasure cruise gone horribly wrong carries him into lethal, ever-darkening waters.

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble
Breach of Duty - A J. P. Beaumont Novel
The end of the old woman's long life came suddenly. She died in her home, torched to death by a fiend with an unknown motive. While Seattle is undergoing unwelcome upscale change, it is strictly on the surface, as the Grim Reaper still lives in the shadows of the city. And it falls to Homicide Detective J.P. Beaumont and his new partner, Sue Danielson, to get to the bottom of his latest handiwork. But the trail will lead to places and events that will leave two police officers and their cases shattered—and nothing will ever be the same again.

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble
Betrayal of Trust - J. P. Beaumont #19
“Murder, teenage bullying, sleazy adults, and good police work add up to another fine entry by Jance.” —The Oklahoman

Betrayal of Trust is the twentieth mystery by New York Times bestseller J.A. Jance to feature Seattle p.i. J. P. Beaumont—and it is another surefire winner from the author the Chattanooga Times calls, “One of the best—if not the best.” When Beau discovers a snuff film recorded on a smart phone—a horrific crime that has a devastating effect on two troubled teens—his investigation unleashes a firestorm that blazes all the way up through the halls of Washington state government. Betrayal of Trust is certain to win this phenomenal crime fiction master (“In the elite company of Sue Grafton and Patricia Cornwell”—Flint Journal) a wealth of new fans while enthralling the army of devoted readers already addicted to the potent Jance magic.

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble
Fatal Error: A Novel
New York Times bestselling author J.A. Jance delivers another pulse-pounding tale of suspense where no one is safe from a . . .FATAL ERROR.

Ali Reynolds begins the summer thinking her most difficult challenge will be surviving a six-week- long course as the lone forty-something female at the Arizona Police Academy—not to mention taking over the 6:00 AM shift at her family’s restaurant while her parents enjoy a long overdue Caribbean cruise. However, when Brenda Riley, a colleague from Ali’s old news broadcasting days in California, shows up in town with an alcohol problem and an unlikely story about a missing fiancé, Ali reluctantly agrees to help.

The man posing as Brenda’s fiancé is revealed to be Richard Lowensdale, a cyber-sociopath who has left a trail of broken hearts in his virtual wake. When he is viciously murdered, the women he once victimized are considered suspects. The police soon focus their investigation on Brenda, who is already known to have broken into Richard’s home and computer before vanishing without a trace. Attempting to clear her friend’s name, Ali is quickly drawn into a web of online intrigue that may lead to a real-world fatal error.

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble
Payment in Kind - A J.P. Beaumont Novel
A riveting novel of dark secrets and murderous rage featuring Seattle detective J.P. Beaumont from the New York Times bestselling author of Betrayal of Trust

In death, they were entwined like lovers—a man and a woman hideously slaughtered, then stuffed into a closet in the Seattle School District building. But what appears a cut-and-dried crime of passion, complete with an ideal prime suspect, goes deeper than investigating detective J.P. Beaumont could ever have imagined. For an accused betrayed husband is keeping something shocking carefully hidden, a terrifying truth that’s hotter and more sordid than extramarital sex. And some secrets are more lethal than murder.

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble
Minor in Possession - A J.P. Beaumont Novel
A gripping story of buried truths, deceit, and sudden, brutal death featuring Seattle detective J.P. Beaumont fromthe New York Times bestselling author of Betrayal of Trust

Minor in Possession

All manner of sinners and sufferers come to the rehab ranch in Arizona when they hit rock bottom. For Seattle detective J.P. Beaumont, there is a deeper level of Hell here: being forced to room with teenage drug dealer Joey Rothman. An all-around punk, Joey deserves neither pity nor tears—until he is murdered by a bullet fired from Beaumont’s gun. Someone has set Beau up brilliantly for a long and terrifying fall, dragging the alcoholic ex-cop into a conspiracy of blood and lies that could cost him his freedom . . . And his life.

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble
Improbable Cause - A J.P. Beaumont Novel
A spellbinding tale of twisted depravity and blood vengeance featuring Seattle detective J.P. Beaumont from the New York Times bestselling author of Betrayal of Trust

Improbable Cause

Perhaps it was fitting justice: a dentist who enjoyed inflicting pain was murdered in his own chair. The question is not who wanted Dr. Frederick Nielsen dead, but rather who of the many finally reached the breaking point. The sordid details of this case, with its shocking revelations of violence, cruelty, and horrific sexual abuse, would be tough for any investigator to stomach. But for Seattle Homicide Detective J.P. Beaumont, the most damning piece of the murderous puzzle will shake him to his very core—because what will be revealed to him is nothing less than the true meaning of unrepentant evil.

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble
Dismissed with Prejudice - J. P. Beaumont Novel
A gripping tale of hatred, lies, and deadly traditionfeaturing Seattle detective J.P. Beaumont from the New York Times bestselling author of Betrayal of Trust

Dismissed with Prejudice

The blood at the scene belies any suggestion of an “honorable death.” Yet, to the eyes of the Seattle police, a successful Japanese software magnate died exactly as he wished—and by his own hand, according to the ancient rite of seppuku. Homicide Detective J.P. Beaumont can’t dismiss what he sees as an elaborate suicide, however, not when something about it makes his flesh crawl. Because small errors in the ritual suggest something darker: a killer who will go to extraordinary lengths to escape detection—a fiend with a less traditional passion . . . For cold-blooded murder.

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble
A More Perfect Union - J. P. Beaumont Novels
A shattering tale of corruption and homicide featuring Seattle detective J.P. Beaumont from the New York Times bestselling author of Betrayal of Trust

More Perfect Union

A shocking photo screamed from the front pages of the tabloids—the last moments of a life captured for all the world to see. The look of sheer terror eternally frozen on the face of the doomed woman indicated that her fatal fall from an upper story of an unfinished Seattle skyscraper was no desperate suicide—and that look will forever haunt Homicide Detective J.P. Beaumont. But his hunt for answers and justice is leading to more death, and to dark and terrible secrets scrupulously guarded by men of steel behind the locked doors of a powerful union that extracts its dues payments in blood.

Order the Book From: Amazon - Barnes and Noble
Author Recommended by: HBSystems Publications
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eBook Author’s Corner and HBS Mystery Reader’s Circle

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