I am so delighted to feature this interview with my good friend and cozy mystery author Jenna St James.
Jenna is a ray of sunshine in my life. I’m fortunate enough to class her as a friend and also a colleague since we both wrote a book for the Witch in Time series!
If you’re already familiar with her, you’ll love getting to know her better, and if you’re not, you’re in for a treat!
WHEREABOUTS IN THE WORLD DO YOU CALL HOME? WHAT’S IT LIKE THERE?
Right now I call Missouri home. It’s a beautiful state that sees all four seasons. I live outside Kansas City—go Royals & Chiefs!
WHAT’S YOUR LIFE LIKE AWAY FROM YOUR WRITING? DO YOU HAVE FAMILY, PETS, ETC?
According to James I do not have a life away from writing. LOL. I’m still trying to balance writing full-time. I live with James and Maddy (step-daughter) and we have a dog, Brownie, and a cat, Whiskey, and a couple other critters.
WHEN DID YOU START WRITING?
As a career? I published my first book November of 2015. But I’ve always written. I was a reading/writing teacher for a good many years.
HOW DID YOU FIND YOUR LOVE OF COZY MYSTERIES?
My sister. She told me to read Leighann Dobbs’ Lexy Baker series and Gemma Halliday’s High Heels Murders. I loved them. Then she said, “Jenna, you can write this.” And so I started researching the genre. From there, I wrote my first book in the Ryli Sinclair Mystery series, Picture Perfect Murder.
IF YOU WERE GOING TO BE STRANDED ON A DESERT ISLAND WITH ONLY ONE COZY MYSTERY BOOK, WHICH WOULD YOU CHOOSE?
It’s not a typical cozy, but I love Jana DeLeon’s Miss Fortune series.
HOW DO YOU FIND YOUR IDEAS?
Sometimes I scroll the Internet for weird news, sometimes I eavesdrop on other people’s conversations (I recently overheard a guy refer to an item in the store as a deadly weapon and listened as he described how it could kill), and sometimes they come to me after a bottle of wine (lol).
DO YOU PLAN OUT YOUR BOOKS OR JUST START WRITING AND SEE WHAT HAPPENS?
I plot. I spent too many years developing young writers and instilling in them the importance of graphic organizers to do anything else. That’s not to say it can’t change, but I at least need an outline of what I want to happen.
WHAT DOES A TYPICAL WRITING DAY LOOK LIKE FOR YOU?
It starts on social media. I try and catch up with readers on my Facebook author page, Bookbub, Instagram, then I take Maddy to school and have the morning and afternoon to write. Once I pick her up from school, I start prepping dinner and listen to a book on audio. After dinner, I either go back to writing or catch up on social media. According to James, I spend at least 16 hours a day “writing” in some way. LOL.
WHICH BOOK OF YOURS IS YOUR FAVOURITE? OR IS THAT LIKE ASKING IF YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE CHILD?!
My favorite book would probably be Ryli Sinclair Book 7, Rings, Veils, and Murder. We see a lot more of Aunt Shirley’s background.
WHAT DO YOU HAVE PLANNED WITH YOUR WRITING IN THE NEXT YEAR?
I’m writing a young adult cozy series with my step-daughter, Maddy…I want to write Ryli Sinclair Book 10, I also have two other books I’m writing with other authors (more on that later in the year), PLUS if time allows, Sullivan Sisters Book 5. But I don’t hold to a timeline much. Mainly because after spending countless hours in January of 2018 planning for the year, I watched said timeline literally burn in my house fire. All the plans I had went out the window. I’ve learned I need to be a little more flexible. I have a direction, but if it gets sidelined, it’s okay.
DO YOU LIKE CONNECTING WITH READERS?
Love, love, LOVE it!! A lot of my readers have dedications made to them in my books, some are in my books (if they ask to be), and I’m forever talking with readers I’ve never met via messenger or email. Without readers, I couldn’t make my living writing.
WHERE WOULD BE THE BEST PLACE FOR A READER TO FIND YOU ONLINE?
CAN YOU SHARE ANY SECRETS OR EXCITING PLANS YOU HAVE COMING UP?
I will be at the Sleuthing Women Author Event—Sleuthing and Sipping—in Westfield, IN on March 2nd. If you are in the area, please come out and join me and nine other amazing writers! Also, April 26-28, I will be at the Barbara Vey Reader Appreciation Weekend in Milwaukee, WI!! I’m so excited for this event! My sister (who designs my book covers and makes a lot of my promotionals I give away) will be with me! It’s a great chance for readers to meet sixty authors across all genres!
Thanks so much, Jenna.
As always, it’s been a blast chatting with you today!