by Karen E. Rigley
Nancy Jill, it’s such a pleasure to interview you for the MMC celebration. This is a treat for me as well as your other fans.
Mystery Most Cozy is celebrating their tenth anniversary. What is your favorite thing about the group: reader interaction, fan support, being able to connect with fellow authors or what and why?
First of all, thank you for the interview and Happy Birthday to Mystery Most Cozy! I love interacting with readers and authors alike. Everyone has been so gracious and supportive. Being able to connect with fellow authors is important since most of us work at home. The camaraderie is wonderful.
When and how did you discover the Mystery Most Cozy group?
About six months ago (April 2012), I was surfing cozy mystery topics on Facebook and came across Mystery Most Cozy. I felt right at home and joined immediately.
How did you know you were meant to write?
I’ve always been a storyteller with an overactive imagination. After toying with a blog posting one chapter at a time for a book I’d started, a journalist contacted me about my work. I think that’s when I felt like a writer for the first time.
What fascinates you about mysteries?
Unsolved problems draw me like a magnet. Trying to guess “whodunit” is what I find fascinating.
What inspired you to write mysteries?
I have always been a voracious reader, leaning towards historical romance and mystery. After reading every Agatha Christie novel in print, I felt compelled to create stories of my own, patterned after her.
Family members discouraged my writing, but once I started, I couldn’t stop!
What intrigues you about writing a series?
If I like the subject matter, a series provides an easy pathway to enjoy more of the same without having to start over with a new author.
What is the most challenging facet of writing for you?
Showing the reader what is happening instead of telling. I find dialogue much easier to write than narrative.
What do you enjoy reading?
Sampling best sellers is always fun. I also read as many free cozies as I can along with books my writers guild publishes. When I like a book, I’ll read it more than once, simply because I enjoy the style of a particular author.
Which authors have influenced you?
Agatha Christie, my favorite, Dorothy Sayers, who influenced Agatha Christie, Barbara Taylor Bradford, Victoria Holt and my “wanabelike,” Janet Evanovich. I would love to write with more humor.
How much of a story do you have in mind when you begin a new book?
Somehow, I know the whole story before I begin. In the Jillian Bradley Mystery Series, I planned three books at a time. With five published and one to launch in November, I know the basic plots/characters of the last two books. The only thing for the last book I don’t have yet is the title.
Part of the magic of writing is creating memorable characters. Who are your favorite characters, why, and which of your mysteries feature them?
Aside from Teddy, Jillian’s Yorkie who helps her solve homicides, I really enjoyed creating Daisy Larsen. She is introduced in my fourth book “The Mark of Eden” as the Plant Lady who discovers the first murder victim, and reappears in my new book “Waiting for Santa.” I loosely based her on a dear friend of mine, but added touches of part-sleuth, part-nurse, and part-gardener. She marries Jillian’s personal assistant’s father because I like happy endings.
What would you like to say to your readers & fans?
Above everything else, I want readers & fans to join Jillian and her Yorkie on their sleuthing adventures and have fun. I want them to enjoy the luxurious settings, fabulous food, collecting art and Jillian’s lovely lifestyle. Hopefully, when readers & fans finish a book, they’ll take a few moments and write reviews so others will read the series. If readers & fans enjoy the reads, I’ll have done my job.
What advice would you offer a beginning writer?
Write the best book you can and then invest in a great editor. Know where you want your writing to take you, and focus on your goals every day.
What do you enjoy most about being an author & what drives you crazy?
Having books published has given me validation as a contributor to society. When people buy my books or read them for free, I’ve entertained them. Trying to keep up with details for six books on several platforms can be daunting. I’ve learned to take one book at a time and do my best to make sure its information is current.
Do you like a touch of romance woven into your mysteries? Do you add it into your own stories?
Funny you should ask. Normally, I can take or leave romance. I enjoy mystery and adventure more. In my second book “The Ghost Orchid Murder,” I added a touch of romance for both Jillian and Teddy. Later, in the fourth book “The Mark of Eden,” Jillian gets involved with another character. In “Pacific Beach,” book five, reference is made to both amours as she dallies with still another character. Her romances continue on a much larger scale in book six “Waiting for Santa.”
What are your favorite “writing” clothes?
I write better fully dressed with street clothes and makeup. Perhaps I feel more professional that way.
As an author, you create magic offering readers an escape into your story. As you write how deeply do you submerge into your own characters, setting and plot? Do you dream any of your scenes?
My protagonist is totally based on myself. When I began writing, I had no formal training in creative writing – only in music. I wrote from personal experience and then learned to add characters from people I met and saw in everyday life. As a Christian author, I incorporate my faith whenever the situation presents itself. For instance, in “The Ghost Orchid Murder,” people deal with death and funerals – perfect situations to discuss faith and the afterlife.
Over the years, traveling with my husband to fabulous resorts and restaurants has greatly influenced my settings as well.
Why did you choose cozy rather than thrillers, intrigue or true crime?
I love beauty and stay away from horror, in my personal life and in my writing.
Can you read cozies while writing? Or do they influence your own too much?
I do read cozies while writing. Good writing style helps my own style in regards to sentence structure and narrative.
Do you feel you must write your cozies in a series? If so, why?
I’ve never had to answer this question before, but since I’ve written six of eight in the series, my answer would be “yes.” I was influenced by Agatha Christie’s sleuths, Hercules Poirot and Jane Marple, along with others like Nancy Drew and Lord Peter Death Whimsy – once you met them, you wanted to be with them again and again.
What are you writing now?
I’m in the final days of launching “Waiting for Santa” which will be published by this interview.
Tell us about your newest mystery:
Everyone has gathered at Jillian’s house in Clover Hills to celebrate Christmas, but Jillian’s plans for a lovely Christmas Eve are rudely interrupted by a power failure. And a homicide. Not only does Aunt Jillian find herself with a house full of company to entertain in the dark, but she also receives a call from Walter Montoya, who finds himself in the dark, trying to solve the bizarre murder of a worker found dead in a maintenance shed at the power station. With Teddy at her side, Jillian is determined to solve the mystery.
Where can we find out more about you and your books?
I am on Author Central on Amazon.com, write three blogs and have a website connecting all links. Please feel free to follow the blogs and enjoy tea with celebrity authors on “Queen of Afternoon Tea” Celebrity Author Interviews, find out more about my books on Cozy Mystery Author, Nancy Jill Thames, and have some fun on COZY MYSTERY MAGAZINE –collaborating with other Christian Cozy Mystery Authors. I’m also on twitter as @mystriterdva and have my Facebook Page, Author, Nancy Jill Thames.
Thanks again for letting me help celebrate Mystery Most Cozy’s 10th Birthday!
Visit Mystery Most Cozy to find out how to enter the drawing for one of her mysteries.
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