I’m re-posting parts of an interview I did earlier this year with Ms. J. A. Jance, the author of many bestselling mysteries and thrillers. Please scroll down to enjoy her interview.
1. How does a prolific writer like you keep track of all the characters and all the events in your series, to avoid repeating previous plots?
Each of my characters is different. They have different locales, different families, and different ways of looking at the world. Each story is a separate entity. I don’t know HOW I keep them separate, but I do. It’s my job.
2. Why do you write?
I wanted to be a writer from the time I was in the second grade. And the truth about writers is—they write. I write mysteries because I always read mysteries. But I also write a blog which gives me a chance to comment on the world around me and which gives my fans a window on my world. But the truth is, I have always written. When I went to Europe while I was in college, I traveled with a friend—a Journalism major—who negotiated a deal with her local newspaper to publish her periodic reports. While she was writing her articles, I was writing letters home to my parents. My mother took the letters to the local newspaper, the Bisbee Daily Review, where they were published for FREE. But the truth is, I have always been a writer, regardless of whether I was being paid for what was written. Bottom line? I write because I love to write.
3. A word of advice for new writers?
When I bought my first computer—a dual floppy Eagle with 128 K of memory in 1983, the guy who installed my word processing program, appropriately named SpellBinder, fixed it so that each morning, when I booted up, these were the words that flashed across the screen: A writer is someone who has written today. Those were words I could cling during the time I thought I was a writer but no one else agreed with me. And those are words I still remember today. Answering e-mail doesn’t count as writing.
4. What is your typical writing day?
Get up, have coffee, answer e-mail, read the news, go to work.
5. What are your favorite pastimes?
Reading other people’s books, books where I don’t have to worry about plot or characters or punctuation.