Wednesday, July 29, 2015
An Interview with Gin Jones
A QUILTING MYSTERY INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR:GIN JONES:
By Pamela James
MM2: Gin, give us the backstory on when, how and why you became an author?
I've always been a writer (legal documents), but never thought I could do fiction until about twenty years ago when I was between jobs and took a writing class with romance author Jo Ann Ferguson. Then it took a while to figure out the right genre, which turned out not to be romance like my instructor. I enjoy reading romance but can't write it.
MM2: Where is your favorite place to write?
I write almost exclusively in my home office. I'm too easily distracted to write elsewhere, and I try to keep my office free of clutter and other distractions (other than my cats).
MM2: Take us thru a typical writing day for you and your characters?
I wish I could say I do something wild and crazy, but, really, it's just a matter of trying to keep my brain focused on the current manuscript instead of chasing off after some new and shiny idea. I just keep dragging myself back to the story until I meet the day's quota of words. Which sounds kinda' dreary, but it feels so great when I actually make some progress with the story.
MM2: What advice do you have for those writers who want to write a hobby mystery?
I didn't really set out to write a hobby mystery. It just sort of happened, as part of the "write what you know" maxim. Plus, something I learned from Jenny Crusie's blog is that it can help the author to bond with a character if the author and character share one trait. You don't want the character to be a Mary Sue (an idealized version of yourself, with ALL of the author's traits), but if you can give each character one little bit of yourself, it can be useful. For example, Keely Fairchild knows a lot about quilts (and so do I), and she's got a background as a lawyer (and so do I), but she doesn't actually make quilts (which I do), she worked as a different kind of lawyer than I did, and she's a lot more confrontational than I am. She's also a lot taller than I am!
MM2: Do you reread your favorite books?
Oh, yes. I reread Terry Pratchett's Hogfather every Christmas, and I've read most of the other Discworld books multiple times. I recently found that I particularly enjoy rereading by way of audiobooks, after I read a paper/digital book initially. I think I could listen to James Marsters narrate the Harry Dresden series or Kobna Holdbrook-Smith narrate the Peter Grant series an infinite number of times.
MM2: What comes first, the plot, the characters or the setting?
It's the main character that comes to me first, and then I build the plot around her by asking what's the worst thing that could happen to her. Keely Fairchild needs calm and quiet because of her tendency to faint when stressed, but she also has the common lawyer trait of needing to fix situations, so the worst thing for her is to put her in a stressful situation where she can't simply sit back and let someone else fix things.
MM2: Do you have favorite quilts that you would like to discuss with us?
It's a little like choosing a favorite child or a favorite character; I love them all! Plus, I'm more of a "process" person (enjoying the making of the quilt) than a "product" person (more focused on the end result). Once the quilt is done, I'm not all that interested in it, other than as a useful object.
MM2: Okay for some fun questions: Where is your favorite place to vacation, favorite meal, your favorite dessert, favorite song and favorite movie?
I'm not really a traveler, so my vacations tend to be staycations, usually spent playing with fabric. Favorite meal is pizza, favorite dessert is carrot cake. I'm not all that musically inclined, so I don't have a favorite song. I'm not a big fan of movies (although I love the old Hepburn-Tracy classics), and in recent years, I think some of the best visual storytelling has been happening on television instead of in theatres, with shows like Orphan Black and Justified.
MM2: Let's talk about where you live and why you love living there?
I'm a New Englander. I love the seasonal changes and the access to both mountains and the ocean.
MM2: Is there something you would like to say to your readers?
Thank you for reading my books (and books generally)!
MM2: When was the moment you realized that it's true you are an author?
I believe that anyone who writes a story, no matter how long or short, polished or not and published or not, is a writer/author. Still, it took a while to really apply that to myself. Beginning writers can have incredible resistance to taking their work seriously. A writers group I belonged to had a warm-up/introduction exercise where everyone would take turns saying "My name is ...., and I am a writer." For a lot of us, it took practice to be able to say that without either laughing dismissively or speaking in a whisper.
MM2: What are your future writing projects?
Oh, so many. I've got another Danger Cove Quilting Mystery lined up for November release, and another one percolating in the back of my brain for next summer. I'm also working on a spin-off series, set in Danger Cove, but against the backdrop of the farmers' market. A short story introducing that main character is in the collection Killer Beach Reads (available July 16). Plus, the fourth Helen Binney mystery is in the works. And then there are all the ideas and partial manuscripts I've got in a folder on my hard drive.
If I start naming friends and family I'm grateful to, I'll never stop. How about if I just thank my three cats, Emma, Jazz and Todd, who never judge me for walking around the house talking to myself while I'm trying to work my way out of a plot hole.
MM2: Leave with some words of wisdom that your character would say about you?
Keely would say, "Gin never lets me have any fun. I just want to enjoy my new life in the quaint little town of Danger Cove, appraising quilts and perhaps getting to know the local arts reporter a little better, but Gin keeps sending dead bodies my way. And she thinks it's funny! She really has a warped sense of humor."
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