Coffee and a muffin with…
Joyce T. Strand
Q: When you looked in the mirror this morning, what was the first thing you thought?
Eeeeek! Quick! No dawdling! You have to finish your interview with Kathryn Hickle so she can tell her blog readers about THE JUDGE’S STORY – new mystery featuring a Judge set in a small town in California in 1939.
Q: What does a work session look like in your world?
My work session basically is my laptop computer. Period. I don’t need anything else—well, I do need internet access. OK – I also love a view of the surrounding hills to look at while I’m contemplating. And access to coffee. Maybe a cat in my lap next to my computer. For THE JUDGE’S STORY, I required a library at the Ventura County Museum to research my judge and his community in 1939—with a year’s worth of a daily newspaper on microfiche. But basically just my computer!
Q: Which comes first for you, the chicken (story) or the egg (character/s)?
I just wrote an article on what comes first when writing a mystery—the plot or the character. Agatha Christie usually started her books with the murder first and then curved her characters, such as, Miss Marple or Hercule Poirot, around it. Michael Connelly claims that readers will remember his books for his characters, Mickey Haller and Harry Bosch. But I remember Mary Higgins Clark or Dick Francis books for their plots—some of which were terrifying, such as Clark’s book about a character buried alive in a coffin; or Francis’ horses getting shot with a “bolt.”
I definitely started THE JUDGE’S STORY with my character—the Judge—who was based on the memoir of a real California Superior Court Judge who lived in Ventura, California in the first half of the 20th century. I then created a fictional crime consistent with others of the times and a fictional group of characters around the Judge. But it was the Judge’s ethics, mores, behavior that guided the actions and reactions of the plot.
For my four current day mysteries, I start with a real criminal case and involve my amateur sleuth characters in it. The mystery or plot drives my characters’ actions.
Regardless, what’s important for the story is that characters get developed and plots get told. But the exercise is different depending on which initiates the story: the chicken or the egg. I like both!
Q: Has anyone ever told you you’d make a great…
Well, yes. Sort of. My late husband. When I complained about not being able to find a job after being laid off, he suggested that I write a book because after all that’s what I did for my 25-year career as a public relations executive—write, write, write. So, he said, I’d make a great author. When I questioned him about what I’d write, he responded, “Mysteries, of course. You read enough of them.”
Quite frankly, though, I think he just wanted to keep me from whining so much about not having a job.
Q: How do you relax and recharge your batteries?
I have several ways to recharge my batteries and they all include leaving my computer behind. My most favorite activity, however, is going to Broadway musicals or almost any live theater. Also I love going out to dinner at a special restaurant. And wine-tasting is fun and definitely helps to re-set my perspective and gain experiences!!! And travel helps – but I usually take my computer with me when I travel, so sometimes it just makes my life more complex.
Q: Fill in the blanks…
Dream date— Hugh Jackman
Place you like to hang—Theater (live)
Television show—NCIS or Castle
Guilty pleasure—Watching Television
Q: Are you working on anything at present you’d like to share with us?
First, I’m busy marketing THE JUDGE’S STORY, which I just released. I had such fun researching and writing it that I plan to do another historical mystery. The next one will feature a female reporter in the early 20th century, ala, Nellie Bly.
And I just finished the first draft of my next current-day mystery starring Brynn Bancroft – Corporate Executive turned winemaker – tentatively titled, PALETTE FOR MURDER, which I plan to release the end of the year. It’s a mystery about the murder of an artist that is set in wine country where the protagonist helps solve a murder while developing a killer Cabernet.
Q: Tell me something about your current title readers won’t/can’t get from the blurb or just reading the first few chapters.
I created THE JUDGE’S STORY based on a memoir of a real California Superior Court Judge, who was the grandfather of a friend. My friend mentioned that his family discovered the 1941 memoir in the attic of his grandfather’s house. He had written it at the recommendation of his law partner in the 1930s—maybe I knew him, Erle Stanley Gardner? Whew. You bet I know the creator of Perry Mason.
When I read the memoir, I was pulled into the life of this “hero judge” who did indeed live an interesting life and fought for many causes in his time. I didn’t need to re-tell his story, but I craved to star him in a mystery. So the character of the Judge is based on a real Judge but I wrote a fictional mystery and characters around him.
I hope that you enjoyed reading this interview with Joyce as I did doing it
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Twitter : @joycetstrand