Last night, J. A. Jance, known to friends and family as Judy, talked with a few friends. OK, those friends were about 350 fans in Spokane's Bing Crosby Theater in an author visit sponsored by Auntie's bookstore. I arrived ten minutes early to find Judy seated comfortably on stage, talking about her dogs and answering questions from the audience.
J. A. Jance has a big laugh. She listens and talks directly to the audience, weaving her personal story into how she writes. She asked, "Why don't you read my blog?" and "How many of you receive information about my books?" Ha! A direct call to action -- and helping readers understand how they can connect with her personally.
She hates outlining ("I have a terminal fear of Roman numerals"), said that finding ideas to write about is not like going exploring with a butterfly net, but that her writing is more reflective of her life, the people she's met who resonate with her. Jance also said, "Don't piss off mystery writers" as they can take revenge. "Who was that crazed murderer?"
As an established author with a big fan base, she doesn't shy away from enticing new readers -- to read her books! As she talked, I added three books to my 'must read' list -- Second Watch (a Beaumont book set in the Viet Nam era), her latest, Remains of Innocence (a Joanna Brady book), and After the Fire, a book of poetry and mini-essays, her first book, autobiographical. She recited one poem from memory, simple and direct.
In her one-hour monologue, J.A. Jance held the hearts of her audience. She talked about recovering from an 18-year marriage to an alcoholic, a man who denied her desire to write. She ended with a song, "I'm so glad we had this time." As she left, a Viet Nam vet hugged her, thanking her for writing Second Watch.
How many connections can I trace? Many. I shall write her, thanking her for showing me how any writer can open up about those things we tend to keep secret.
J. A. Jance's BLOG is HERE.