–Tell us about your latest book.
I should be more excited telling you about the five books I’ve written as part of the Regan McHenry Real Estate Mysteries series or Mags and the AARP Gang, a feel-good novel about renegade octogenarian bank robbers, but the truth is, my latest project Cozy Food: 128 Cozy Mystery Writers Share Their Favorite Recipes is so much fun, it knocks my socks off. The title pretty much says it all. A BUNCH of us did a cookbook and it turned out great!
When you’re writing, who’s in control, you or the characters?
With the exception of Mags who told me what to write, while I listen to my characters, I’m in charge. Was that the case with Cozy Food? Not really. Oh, I did have to explain why one author couldn’t have a 4000 word biography when everyone else was sticking to 300 words more or less as requested, but for the most part I just looked at what the contributors had to say, licked my lips frequently as I read their recipes, and laughed at the witty way they introduced their recipes and told readers about themselves.
–Who are your favorite authors, the ones you read when you should be doing something else? Why do they appeal to you?
I now have 127 favorite writers. Seriously, doing Cozy Food introduced me to many authors I didn’t know and my “to read” list has grown exponentially. The other thing I learned after editing the book is that cozy mystery writers are simply some of the nicest people out there.
–Promotion is a big—and usually the most hated—part of being a writer. Can you share a little bit about how you promote?
Cozy Food is my idea of a great and painless way to promote. I pitched to writers that being in the book would be akin to having a blog post with legs because people would keep a cookbook and read new parts of it as they used it to cook. I’ve been getting email from people who say that’s exactly what they are doing and reviewers have indicated they are enjoying reading what authors have to say as much as the recipes. So we all get our names in front of readers—hopefully in front of some readers who haven’t yet heard of us—and have an opportunity to meet them with our bios and recipes. The cookbook also lets readers connect with writer author pages and websites so they can easily find our books, too.
–How long have you been writing?
I started writing in 2008 with The Death Contingency and have hopefully gotten better at it with later books.
–What do you consider the single most satisfying aspect of being a writer?
I’ve had people come up to me and say, “I’ve read your books; I really enjoyed them.” It doesn’t get better than that. I must add a second aspect though, because it took me a minute to decide which was the most satisfying, and if I had to ponder that long, that’s a close call. I have “met” people from all over the world as a result of writing. I absolutely cherish those new friends.
–How many hours a day do you write, where, any specific circumstances help or hurt your process?
Editing Cozy Food was a wildly different process than writing novels. I’m a lazy writer who writes whenever I want to. For Cozy Food, I worked ten hour days seven days a week for the first three weeks. That was an extremely tense time because, when I think about the authors I emailed about being in the cookbook, the project really shouldn’t have succeeded. By rights, authors should have frowned and hit their delete button when they read my spammy invitation letter. Since I had told many people about my idea, I knew how foolish I’d look if the project failed for lack of participation and that real possibility kept me up nights. Why didn’t they hit delete? See last sentence of favorite authors question.
Once the project was a go, I worked eight hour days on it six days a week and my husband, who did the formatting, pagination, and linking to make the book work put in as many hours as I did per day until it was published.
–What are your thoughts on the standard writing advice, “write what you know”?
Cozy Food is the epitome of write what you know. My book covers and titles may not be typical cozy style, but my books are cozies. I know what a cozy is and understand the connection between cozies and food so a cookbook seemed like a natural next step. Even having a few pet treat recipes fit with cozy mysteries.
–How do you classify yourself as a writer? Fiction or non-fiction? Specific genre such as mystery, short story, paranormal or more general such as women’s fiction, Appalachian, etc.
I’m primarily a cozy mystery writer having done five books with a sixth in the series planned. I also want to do a new cozy series featuring two older men—one long divorced and one recently widowed—who meet at a retirement community or condo where they have moved to downsize. Both were hand and they miss home improvement, so they are going to form a business called “Geezers with Tools” and get involved in mystery solving in the course of doing home repair.
I don’t know where to put Mags and the AARP Gang: comedy, feel-good, coming of age (except the characters are in their eighties), or women’s fiction, and I have a first chapter written for a historical fiction book as well, and now I’m a non-fiction editor.
–Where do you get your ideas?
Cozy Food started when I found the front cover graphic and thought it would make a perfect cozy mystery cookbook cover. That’s not unusual for me. I usually have an idea for a book cover before I get very far into the writing process. Somehow looking at a book cover design helps me focus.
–Have you bought an e-reader? What is your overall impression of electronic publishing?
I have an antique Kindle which I bought only after being told by some readers that the Kindle version of Backyard Bones was a mess. (The Kindle people kept reassuring me the readers were mistaken, Ha!) I still prefer paper books…unless it’s 10:00p.m. and I’m looking for a good book. I admit to loving Cozy Food in e-format, though, because you can zip all over the book and link to the internet for more info about an author. It is in a word, slick!
– Why do you write?
Because I haven’t found anything else to do that’s so much fun.
Link to Amazon author page with all the books mentioned is http://www.amazon.com/Nancy-Lynn-Jarvis/e/B002CWX7IQ/ref=sr_tc_2_0?qid=1402416328&sr=1-2-ent
My website is http://www.goodreadmysteries.com and facebook is https://www.facebook.com/ReganMcHenryRealEstateMysteries?ref=ts