Friday, April 29, 2011

J.A. Jance on Writing and Audiobooks

LOWE: Hi, Judy. You've had two series going for quite a while. The detective Beaumont series and the Sheriff Brady series. Obviously the first is more popular with men, and the second with women. Or am I wrong about that?

JANCE: Actually, J. P Beaumont may be more popular with male truck drivers, but I find the people I talk to–men and women both–pretty much evenly divided when it comes to preferring Beaumont to Brady. And, as long as they read them both, I don't care which one they like better.

LOWE: Gary Challender at Books in Motion, a mutual friend of ours, tells me that truckers are huge fans of Beaumont. Have you had any feedback from truckers or from people listening to the audiobook versions in their cars?

JANCE: Yes, I have heard from truckers. Actually, whenever there's a blizzard on the east coast, I receive fan mail written on Motel 6 stationery from all up and down the eastern seaboard. And, from what I can tell, they like the reader, Gene Engene, almost as much as they like the books themselves. As for me, I think Gene Engene is pretty slick, too. When I heard him read the first few lines of Until Proven Guilty, I was covered with goosebumps because his voice was just so right.

LOWE: I've heard that you like to surprise yourself in writing a mystery, and that you don't outline, and sometimes don't even know who the killer is until the end. Does this make it more fun for you to write, or is there another reason?

JANCE: Not knowing what's going to happen makes the process of writing a book more interesting to me. If I knew everything that was going to happen in a given book, I don't think I'd find energy enough or sufficient curiosity to finish it. And yes, you're right. I do hate outlines. I've hated them from the first time I met them in sixth grade geography. I wonder if there's a nice handy Greek word for someone who suffers from a phobia of Roman Numerals.

LOWE: How about Togaphobia? What do you think of the narrators of your audiobook versions, and do you ever listen to audiobooks yourself on the road?

JANCE: I like my narrators. As far as the listening public is concerned, the readers are the characters. As for listening to audio books, in October of 2001, in the aftermath of September 11, my husband and I had to drive from Seattle to Nashville and back by way of Tucson, Arizona. The news on the radio was still totally focused on the terrible happenings in New York. Finally, about the time we reached Dallas on our trip out, we went into a bookstore and purchased the first unabridged Harry Potter books. Harry and his friends were our constant companions from then on. We'd be in restaurants talking about the latest Quidditch match while the whole rest of the world was talking about Osama and his pals. We finished the last of the four books as we crossed back into Washington State on our way home.

LOWE: You grew up in Bisbee, which I've been to several times, as it's not far from Tucson. What do you most like about the place? And are you now what we call a "snow bird?" Or should I say "Snow Bird of Prey?"

JANCE: Snow Bird of Prey? That's incredibly cute and I think I WILL be one of those. Where can I get a license plate surround like that? I'll put one on the Arena Red Porsche Boxster as I charge around Tucson this winter because yes, I am now an official snowbird. I like Bisbee because it's a place apart. It's not exactly the same place it was as I was growing up there in the fifties and sixties, but it's not all that different. The Mule Mountains kept it out of the mainstream then and they do the same thing today.

Betrayal of Trust

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