Friday, February 22, 2008

Q&A: JANICE A. THOMPSON

This week we check in with Janice A. Thompson, a Christian freelance author of novels, non-fiction books, magazine articles and musical comedies for the stage. A resident of the Houston area, she also works as a freelance editor and a ghostwriter, and enjoys public speaking. She has multiple titles through Heartsong and the brand-new cozy mystery imprint Heartsong Presents -- Mysteries! Find out more about Janice and her (many) books on her Website, JaniceAThompson.com.

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Q: HOW DID YOU GET YOUR BIG BREAK?
My "big break" came in small snatches. I started pounding on doors in the late '90s and finally got an answer in 2000 when Promise Press (Barbour Publishing) purchased my first book, Duty To Die. Since then, I've continued to pound on doors, continued to work on the craft of writing, and continued to seek God about my story ideas. In 2004, the sale of my historical Hurricane (River Oak Publishing), about the Galveston hurricane of 1900) opened many doors along the Gulf Coast for speaking engagements. Perhaps my biggest break, to date, came with the sale of my first mystery (The Wedding Caper) to Barbour in 2005. It opened the doors for more mysteries and opened my eyes to writing in first-person (which I now love).
  
Q: HOW MUCH DO YOU WRITE FOR AN "AUDIENCE" VS. WRITING FOR YOURSELF?
I'd say a 50/50 mix. I write the stories the Lord puts on my heart, so, in that sense, I'm writing for myself. But as I write, I'm conscious of the fact that people are going to read my books and expect certain things from me. I've become known as something of a wedding expert, so most readers expect my books to have some sort of wedding theme. I'm also a dog lover (dachshunds, to be precise) so I try to incorporate dogs into my stories. I don't want to disappoint my readers. But I'm always looking for fresh ideas and, as I cross genre lines, hope the readers can keep up with me!

Q: WHAT FIVE (give or take) CLASSIC AUTHORS/BOOKS DO YOU CONSIDER ESSENTIAL MYSTERY READING? 1. Anything by O'Henry. Might sound odd, but he had a lot of mystery elements in his stories and could get you in the end with a real "grabber." 2. Edgar Allen Poe 3. Agatha Christie 4. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle 5. The Nancy Drew/Hardy Boys mysteries for children I'd like to add a 6th one: The Bible. It's loaded with mystery elements and quite a few who-dunnits!  

Q: WHAT FIVE (give or take) MODERN AUTHORS/BOOKS DO YOU CONSIDER ESSENTIAL MYSTERY READING?
1. Anything by Dorothy Cannell (especially The Thin Woman, one of my personal favorites)
2. Anything from the new Heartsong Presents Mysteries line
3.To learn the craft of mystery writing: Just The Facts, Ma'am: A Writer's Guide to Investigators and Investigation Techniques (Howdunit), by Greg Fallis
4. For technique: Getting Into Character, by Brandilyn Collins
5. Also for technique: Writing The Breakout Novel, by Donald Maas

Q: BEFORE BEING SIGNED, WHAT'S THE BIGGEST MISCONCEPTION YOU HAD ABOUT BEING AN AUTHOR? Like many others, I thought selling my first book would do two things: put lots of cash in my pockets and assure future book sales with that same house (or other interested houses). I have since learned there's not a huge amount of money to be made in the CBA (sorry, folks) and I have to keep "plugging my product" (as it were), no matter how many books I sell. (I've sold over thirty now, with several more projects in the works.)

Thanks to our guest, Janice A. Thompson. Find her online at http://www.janiceathompson.com/ and her blog, Double Booked. Visit her ShoutLife profile at www.ShoutLife.com/JaniceAThompson. Subscribe to Heartsong Presents -- Mysteries!

Related links:
Q&A: SUSAN PAGE DAVIS (Homicide at Blue Heron Lake)
Q&A: LISA HARRIS (Recipe For Murder)
"What is a Cozy Mystery?"
Meet the authors of HPMysteries
MURDER, SHE WROTE still going strong
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