Welcome to our second Crime Writers’ Interview! Our goal is to bring to you, our readers, some new and interesting authors and books for your reading pleasure.
Because books are not toasters. We don’t just buy one every few years. They are more like clothes. (Or for some of us, food!) We need a sustainable supply.
So please help us welcome Nancy Lynn Jarvis.
Nancy Lynn Jarvis was a Santa Cruz, California, Realtor® for more than twenty years before she fell in love with writing and let her license lapse.
She has worked in the advertising department of a newspaper, as a librarian, and as the business manager for Shakespeare/Santa Cruz at UCSC.
Nancy’s work history reflects her philosophy: people should try something radically different every few years, a philosophy she applies to her writing, as well.
Kass Lamb (on behalf of misterio press): We like to start with a somewhat open-ended, “tell us about yourself” question. What two or three things do you feel people need to know in order to understand who you are?
Nancy: If there was any doubt about it before, there isn’t now: I turn seventy as my new book, “The Two-Faced Triplex” comes out, so I’m officially a geezerette. I was late to the writing party, starting the Regan McHenry Real Estate series at fifty-nine, but I love telling stories on paper so there’s no planned retirement for my writing venture.
My favorite out of the books I’ve written is not a mystery, but a comedy/commentary on the invisibility that comes to older people titled, “Mags and the AARP Gang.” I’ve also edited a cookbook, “Cozy Food: 128 Cozy Mystery Writers Share Their Favorite Recipes.”
I like new adventures, so every few years I try something different. Currently, I’ve started hosting Airbnb (yes, there will be a book about it; look for “The Truth About Hosting Airbnb” in March) and what I really want to do is start having writer retreats at my house where five or so of us writers can come together to work on our mysteries while we share creative synergy and, hopefully, have a great time
Kass: *raising hand* Please put me down for that first retreat. That sounds amazing.
So tell us, why crime fiction? What is the appeal of mysteries for you, rather than say romance or science fiction?
Nancy: I love the logic of it. It’s fun to think about the order of events and clues and it’s an enjoyable challenge revealing everything the reader needs to know to solve the mystery without revealing too much too soon.
I’m a very visual writer―I need to be able to see what I’m writing about―so I don’t think I’d be any good at science fiction, and writing romance novels simply doesn’t appeal to me.
Kass: What type, i.e. subgenre, of mysteries do you write? Why does that subgenre appeal to you as a writer? Do you also prefer it as a reader?
Nancy: My mysteries fall in the cozy genre. Regan McHenry is a Realtor who gets involved in murder because of clients, colleagues, and friends.
I grew up reading Agatha Christie at my grandmother’s house while sitting in a wicker rocking chair that I still have. Miss Marple was my favorite of Dame Agatha’s protagonists and was the perfect cozy amateur sleuth, so that’s the style I chose.
Sadly, since I’ve started writing, I’ve learned how to spot a red herring from miles away and usually I’ve solved the murder by page eighty-six, so I don’t enjoy reading cozies as much now.
Kass: Where are you in your writing career, newly published, have 20 books under your belt, or somewhere in between? Tell us a little about your stories.
Nancy: “The Two-Faced Triplex” is book seven and probably the final chapter of the Regan McHenry Real Estate Mysteries series. I was a Realtor for almost twenty-five years and had many related stories to use for background material and, while I still have more ideas, the technology involved in being a Realtor today has moved beyond my remembrances of working and I worry that if I continue the series, my books will become dated.
I’m currently editing a short story anthology pertaining to Santa Cruz, California (where I live) which will be titled, “Santa Cruz Weird.”
Beyond that, I’ve already begun playing with an idea for a series called “Geezers with Tools” about two single senior men, one widowed and one who thinks he’s a player, who start a handyman business to meet women. I like older characters and want to put more humor in my books. The very title of the series is a double entendre and, in my mind, a great setup to play with. The series will still be in the cozy mystery genre. My protagonists will solve crimes that come up as they work.
Kass: What do you find to be the most difficult part of the writing process—first draft, editing, researching? Why is that?
Nancy: I love writing first drafts and think researching for the mysteries is fun, although it does produce some very odd offers for items for sale in my inbox, so I would have to say editing is the hardest part of writing for me.
I was fortunate enough to have a willing (well almost willing) husband who became a great beta reader and content editor who kept me on track in large part, but he died about a year-and-a-half ago. “The Two-Faced Triplex” was hard to write and especially hard to finish because I didn’t know how I was going to get from finished first draft to something I was willing to send to my editor without his input in the middle.
Kass: Oh my, so sorry about your husband. And I know what you mean about having that one beta reader whose blessing you have to have in order to feel comfortable releasing a book out into the world.
You said you enjoy doing research. What’s the oddest or most interesting thing you’ve ever researched?
Nancy: The most unusual thing I’ve ever researched was the evolution of cat litter. In “Buying Murder,” Regan and her husband buy a house with a permanent resident. He was mostly decomposed, although partially mummified, as he spent time sealed in a wall anomaly filled with cat litter to keep him from leaking body fluids and, well, smelling like death.
He’d been there for sixteen years and, at the start of the mystery, who he was and when he died were unknown facts. I had those questions answered based on the type of cat litter that surrounded him. Cat litter formulations have changed over time, so I had to figure out what the litter components would have been sixteen years prior to the body’s discovery so his approximate death date could be determined.
Kass: That is fascinating! Thanks so much, Nancy, for joining us today.
Before you leave, let me open up the floor to our subscribers and guests, in case any of them have questions for you.
And folks, don’t forget to check out Nancy’s new release, The Two-Faced Triplex:
Regan signs on to play consoler-and-chief after the body of Martha Varner, one of her favorite clients, is found and the woman’s distraught daughter begs Regan to stop escrow from closing on a purchase her mother was about to make.
Martha Varner’s death, at first ruled suicide, is quickly ruled homicide. The dead woman’s best friend thinks she knows who Martha’s killer is. The police have a different suspect. And Regan? Well, she has her own ideas about who killed Martha Varner.
She just can’t imagine how complicated playing amateur sleuth will make her life and how dangerous her investigation will prove to be for her husband, Tom.
Now available on AMAZON.
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