You cannot capture a dream until you reach for it.

by Karen E. Rigley

Nancy, it’s a delight to have you join our author interviews to celebrate the MMC 10th anniversary.

When and how did you discover the Mystery Most Cozy group?

It’s been so long ago, I can’t remember. I think it was through Jenny or Karen.

How did you know you were meant to write?

I didn’t. I was bored and started writing as a game to see if I could.

What fascinates you about mysteries?

I love the logic and structure of mysteries. Except for “Backyard Bones,” where I wanted the reader to figure out who the murderer was one chapter before my protagonist did and be yelling, “No, no, Regan, he’s the one who did it,” I think anyone paying attention should be able to solve the mystery. The fun and the challenge for me is to see if I can drop clues without giving away the murderer’s identity too soon.

What inspired you to write mysteries?

It’s not a what, but who in my case. I grew up reading Agatha Christie and loved her style and I read all of Tony Hillerman’s books just before I started writing.

What intrigues you about writing a series?

I enjoy watching the relationships between returning characters develop, and in my protagonist Regan McHenry’s case, seeing how she gets better at being an amateur sleuth as she gains experience. She didn’t trust her instincts at the beginning of “The Death Contingency.” By the time she is in “The Widow’s Walk League,” she knows what she’s doing, although she still sometimes jumps to the wrong conclusion for a time.

I’ve always thought she isn’t quite as good at solving mysteries as she thinks she is, and her ego in regard to that is fun to play with in a series, too.

What is the most challenging facet of writing for you?

Even though I’ve written four mysteries and one other book― so I know I can create a book―and have an outline, a psychological profile and a life story for all characters so I know who they are, sitting at the computer staring at a blank screen is a challenge. I have to know in great detail how the book opens, because at that moment, I have no idea how to write.

What do you enjoy reading?

Pretty much everything, but more non-fiction than fiction; history is a favorite.

How much of a story do you have in mind when you begin a new book?

I know the story line and have an outline which varies in detail from chapter to chapter. In “Buying Murder” there was one chapter where all that my outline said was, “Regan knocks on Isabelle’s door.” I sat back and watched what the characters did and said after that and let them write the chapter.

Part of the magic of writing is creating memorable characters. Who are your favorite characters, why, and which of your mysteries feature them?

Dave, the police ombudsman who is Regan’s best friend, is my favorite recurring character because he and Regan are constantly trying to one-up one another and it’s fun to write their bickering.

Mrs. Rosemont from “The Death Contingency” remains my favorite character, however, followed closely by Olive from “The Widow’s Walk League.” Both are older women who look at the world a little differently than most people do; I enjoy that about them. In fact I enjoyed writing those characters so much I took a break from mysteries to write “Mags and the AARP Gang” which is about a group of octogenarians living in an about-to-be-foreclosed mobile home park who decide to rob the bank that holds their mortgage and pay it off with their heisted money.

What advice would you offer a beginning writer?

Do it! You’ll have such a great time and so many adventures as a writer.

What do you enjoy most about being an author & what drives you crazy?

Surprisingly I love to get up in front of an audience and tell them about my books. As Nancy Lynn Jarvis, which is my pen name, I’m told I’m an entertaining speaker. If I try to speak in public as myself, however, I do a terrible job.

Even though I tell myself I shouldn’t let it, what irritates me the most about being an author is reviews given by people who haven’t read the book they are critiquing. It especially astounds me when they begin their review by announcing, “I didn’t read past page four, but…”

Why did you choose cozy rather than thrillers, intrigue or true crime?

Hey, I have to write the books. Thrillers and violence scare me.

Can you read cozies while writing? Or do they influence your own too much? (tone, voice, etc.)

I can’t read any non-fiction when I’m writing which is why I have a growing stack of books I want to read soon.

What are you writing now?

I’m just finishing up a book called “Mags and the AARP Gang” which is a complete departure from the mysteries I’ve written. As a mystery writer, I’m a fly-on-the-wall type who writes in third person because I’m more comfortable observing than being in the midst of things, but Mags is written in first person from the perspective of an eighty-three year old woman. It was a challenge for me to write. I did use the same structure to unfold what happens as I use to unfold a mystery, though, so that helped.

Tell us about your newest mystery:

I’m working on the outline for the next book in the Regan McHenry Real Estate Mysteries series tentatively titled, “The Murder House.” I visualize people I know as I start writing many of the characters in my books. I’ve already told the real Realtor who gets murdered in chapter two that she’s doomed.

Where can we find out more about you and your books?

You can go to my website: or to my Amazon author’s page:

Visit Mystery Most Cozy to find out how to enter the drawing for one of her novels.

Mystery Most Cozy links:

My links:


Comments on: "Mystery Most Cozy Interviews Nancy Lynn Jarvis" (6)

  1. I appreciated your honesty about being bored when you started to write. The same happened to me, and now look at us! We’ll never be bored again! Great interview, Nancy.

    ~Nancy Jill Thames
    Author of the Jillian Bradley Mysteries

  2. You got that right, Nancy! All of what’s associated with writing is so much fun.
    Nancy Lynn Jarvis

  3. I admire those who can write an outline, I just write and see where the characters go.
    Una Tiers

  4. Una, isn’t it wonderful how characters lead the way? When I started writing, I had no idea characters would be contributors, but they are, aren’t they?

  5. Bonnie K. Winn said:

    Great interview, Karen! Learned a lot about and from Nancy! Super!

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