I'm happy today to share an interview with the incredibly busy, very talented, and all-round cool chick, mystery author Jennifer Stanley.
Jill: Which of your three series – if you could pick one – most resembles you in terms of personality?
Jennifer: I was once most like Molly Appleby, the heroine of my now out-of-print antiques and collectibles series, but now I am strange cross between James Henry from the Supper Club series and Olivia Limoges from the Books By the Bay mysteries (I write those under the pen name, Ellery Adams)
Jill: What made you decide to develop a Collectibles series?
Jennifer: I grew up in a house filled with unusual antiques. My grandparents started my doll collection before I could even walk and it just blossomed from there. When I touch a piece of handmade furniture, I sense the history in the piece. Old things have stories to tell and they fascinate me. I like stuff from Pottery Barn as much as the next gal, but none of those objects become precious. The age, the patina, the love and sweat that went into their creation—that makes them precious.
Robert B. Parker had tremendous success with the Spenser series and Parker also wrote a number of books in another series featuring Jesse Stone. In one of Parker’s mysteries, the two sleuths meet up. Do you plan to have any crossover among your characters/series?
What a fun question! In fact, I have fantasized about the Supper Club twins, Francis and Scott Fitzgerald , moving from Virginia to either North Carolina (where they could hang out with my writer’s group) or to Georgia (the setting of my new charmed pie shoppe series. They could run the library in the mountain town of Havenwood). I might have to ask readers who they miss and who they’d like to see get a second lease on life.
I love your titles! How do you come up with them?
Alcohol. Lots of alcohol. Kidding. Actually, I wrestle with them quite seriously and sometimes, they are rejected by the publisher and I have to go back to the drawing board. Sometimes readers send me wonderful titles and I’m going to hold a title contest for the second pie shoppe book because I could use some help!
You were a teacher for several years. Do you ever miss being in the classroom? I understand you taught grade six... What did you learn from your students?
My kids were amazing. The boundless creativity they possessed….no one told them, “The story can’t go that way.” They weren’t hampered by rules and set ideas—they just wrote and some of their narratives were a joy to read, edit, and reread. They gave me the gift of seeing through fresh eyes for eight years and it was a fulfilling experience. But because I gave so much to be the best teacher I could be, there was nothing left at the end of the day for my writing, so eventually I chose to stay at home and write the books I knew I had inside of me.
You have an undergrad degree in English. Who is one of your favourite non-mystery authors and why?
Outside of the mystery genre, I love historical fiction (a la Sharon Kay Penman) and all kinds of young adult books from the Percy Jackson series to the Hunger Games. I am also fond of women’s fiction authors who weave mysticism into their narratives, such as Alice Hoffman. These days, I’ve been steeped in historical mysteries by authors like C.S. Harris, Charles Finch, Alan Bradley, and more.
What was your best score or best find on eBay?
A piece of folk art – a devil’s head carving – that I got for $40. I later sold it for over $400. It was really cool!
Do you ever toy with the idea of writing in a different genre? Literary? Nonfiction?
Indeed, I have. In fact, I’ve been published as a poet and have written children’s books that never saw publication, but there is a YA fantasy I am dying to write. I just need a clone.
You have been to a number of book related events/festivals/conferences. What is the strangest thing a fan has ever said or done to you?
Asked for my agent’s phone number and wanted to use my name when they called her. “Not happening,” I said.
What can you tell me about your current work in progress?
I am working on the 4th Books By the Bay mystery (written as Ellery Adams) and it is tentatively titled The Metaphor Murders. At the same time, I’m working on Book 2 in the Lucy Arlington Literary Agency series that I’m coauthoring with a friend. The first book doesn’t come up until 2/2012.
What is the one thing you wish you had known before becoming a published novelist?
How obsessed I’d become with my Amazon ranking!
Can you tell me what the “B” in JB Stanley stands for?
Sure. It’s Bond, Jennifer Bond. Just kidding. The B is for Briggs, which is my maiden name. I thought I’d keep my gender neutral when I first got published because I wanted male readers and was keeping the romance fairly low-key in those first series. Of course, having my picture in the back of the book kind of ruined that mystery!
Open ended final question: What’s the one thing readers would be surprised to know about you? OR What else would you like readers to know about you?
Let’s go for the surprise. In 1999, I legally changed my name to Obi-Wan Kenobi in order to win a radio contest. The prize was $1000 and I did it because my students dared me to. I had my 15 minutes of fame (media coverage, Extra filmed a segment on it, and Rosie O’Donnell flew me to NY to introduce her show), but it was a fun experience.
For more on Jennifer and her works, check out her website.
Find Jennifer Stanley's books on Amazon.