Jill: There’s a saying: write what you know. You have a background in travel writing. How has this shaped your mystery writing?
Joan: I like having a travel writer as a sleuth because I can then have the mysteries set wherever I want and I am not stuck with having one city or area as the background. This way, I don't end up killing off half the residents of a place and having the other half being murderers.
Jill: Give me your best one sentence plug for “Whistler’s Murder.”
Joan: Amateur sleuth Elizabeth Oliver, who has tagged along to Whistler with her best friend, Sally Matthews, believes she will have a relaxing holiday at the resort until she hears about the discovery of a body in a newly demolished house.
Jill: What can you tell me about your current work in progress?
Joan: The next novel in my Travelling Detective Series will take place in Disneyland. Elizabeth Oliver, along with her father Phil and twin siblings Terry and Sherry, is attending a family get together that is centered around a younger cousin's dance school’s performance at the happiest place on earth. When another one of Elizabeth's cousins is murdered many secrets about members of her family are revealed.
Jill: How many books do you plan for the Travelling Detective Series?
Joan: I’m really not sure about that. There is a fifth one that I want to write and then I will see after that. I would like to branch out into other types of writing.
Jill: What destination – outside of North America (including the Caribbean) would you like to use as a future Travelling Detective setting?
Joan: I would like to see Elizabeth Oliver go to Scotland and meet some of her relatives there.
Jill: What are your thoughts on the many recent changes – a complete overhaul really – in the world of book publishing? I mean that in the last decade, there have been huge shifts in format – digital books, and nowadays it’s easier than ever to become a self-published author.
Joan: I'm thinking that with speed and price that ebooks can be made available there will certainly be a lot more competition in the number of books for the public to read. But I also think that with the ease of downloading and the purchase prices, more people will be reading. (Comment from Jill: Gawd! I hope that’s true!)
Jill: If you could give one piece of advice to an aspiring mystery author, what would it be?
Joan: Read, read, read, and when you find a passage in a book that really affects your emotions mark it and reread it to see what words are used and how they are used to give you that feeling. (Comment from Jill: I couldn't agree more! Read, read, read!)
Jill: Which is harder for you to write: dialogue or description (setting)?
Joan: Description. I get so wrapped up in setting up the mystery and having the characters going through their lives that I forget to describe the setting.
Jill: If you could import a fictional detective – Miss Marple, Spenser, Sherlock Holmes, etc. – into one of your stories, who would you pick and why?
Joan: I grew up reading Nancy Drew and Trixie Beldon and then graduated to Poirot and Miss Marple. But I have also found so many other sleuths who I like reading about. If I had to chose I guess it would be Joanne Kilbourn. She is a strong woman who could teach Elizabeth Oliver many things.
Jill: What was your biggest challenge in writing Illegally Dead, the first book in the Travelling Detective Series?
Joan: I had written the manuscript and sent it to a publisher. They liked it but thought that I had put too much travel stuff in it, since I had Elizabeth Oliver working on a travel article for a magazine while trying to solve the mystery of a body found in a septic tank. I took some out and sent it back. They still liked it but wanted me to remove more of the travel parts. I said that her main purpose had been to work on her research and that I couldn't have her ignore that. We couldn't reach an agreement. I sent it to another publisher who want to publish it but they felt that I needed to add more of Elizabeth’s travel research to it.
Jill: Last question – and you get to choose it! What answer do you have for a question I have not asked (but you wish I had...)
Joan: Many writers are now combining two or more genres in their writing. I, too, have tried that. In "The Only Shadow In the House" some of the clues were presented through one woman's chapbooks of what I termed as Script Poetry. In "Whistler's Murder" I have combined science fiction/fantasy with my mystery.
You can find Joan's books on Amazon.
You can learn more about Joan and her writing on her blog.