SJ: So, I just read the first book in your Tayt Waters Mystery series, Subversion. Are you a big fan of mysteries?
JPC: Absolutely. I’ve loved them since childhood.
SJ: Where did you get the idea for Subversion?
SJ: I love Tayt or Tatum, the female protagonist and sometime-sleuth. She’s got a big gun, she’s well versed in martial arts, and she doesn’t mind pushing bad guys around a bit. But she also has another side that’s tender and scared and full of self-doubt. Did you write a bit of yourself into her?
JPC: Thanks, first of all. I like Tayt, too! I think that parts of me show up in many of my characters. I also really enjoy reading characters who aren’t “perfect.” I like those that are flawed and struggle and let the reader see that.
SJ: I really like the “Sunflower Specials,” Tayt’s code name for special pro-bono cases where she helps women in need… and she doesn’t particularly care if some abusive boyfriend gets a few cuts and bruises in the process. Is that a cause you as the author are passionate about?
JPC: I worked in human services for several years before leaving it to write on a full-time basis. I heard some really horrible stories during that time, but honestly? It’s everywhere. I would be that nearly every woman has a story about being taken advantage of in some way by a man, whether it’s a cheating partner or being sexually assaulted, etc.
I’m also really passionate about the fundraising I do for an organization which works to end sex trafficking around the globe. In fact, 10 percent of all book proceeds go to the organization, the International Justice Mission.
JPC: Sure, thanks for asking. In this second adventure, Tayt is recovering from an injury while simultaneously trying to track down the disappeared love interest of a local debutant, helping a would-be bride exact revenge on her wandering fiancé, and dealing with a stalker. Needless to say, she is juggling a lot and gets herself into some pretty crazy circumstances!
SJ: Now, I’m a copy editor and was a proofreader for many years, so I’m very critical when it comes to writing. Frankly, in the last couple of years, I’ve seen all kinds of self-published books—from absolutely horrifying, to okay, to absolutely brilliant. Yours are definitely in the “brilliant” category, and they could easily be traditionally published. What made you decide to self-publish?
JPC: Wow, thank you! That’s so nice to hear. I chose self-publishing because I was sick of waiting to be “approved” by a stranger and see my books in print. I published my first book, Epidemic, in 2013 and followed that with a second stand-alone in 2014. If I’d waited to find an agent, I don’t know that I would have four books under my belt at this point.
I’m not opposed to traditional publishing, nor do I try to persuade my students to choose indie publishing. It’s awesome that it is an option, though. The goal of most writers is to share their stories with the world. However one can do that most effectively, I say go for it.
SJ: Do you have any writing tips for someone who wants to write a mystery novel, specifically?
JPC: Gosh, I feel unqualified to answer this. I think Stephen King’s advice is probably best, which is just to read, read, read great books. Also, try and notice what the author does to set scenes, to pull you in, to keep your heart pounding.
SJ: Thank you so much for this interview.
JPC: Thank you, Shannara. It was my pleasure.