Today, I’m delighted to welcome along cozy mystery author, Gilian Baker, creator of The Jade Blackwell Series.
Thanks so much for sparing the time for a quick chat, Gilian. I’m going to start off by asking you the ubiquitous interview question…
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I’m an eccentric Aquarian and proud of it. I’ve always been about reading and writing. For most of my adult life, I was an English professor. When our daughter started college, I gave into the itch to do something new, so I started a blog for college writers. That led to ghostwriting among other things. But I’ve never been happier than when I can sit in my “writing chair” and plot murder! I love the plotting, brainstorming, writing and editing. In other words, I’m a born writer.
I’m happily married, and we have a brilliant daughter, who is also a reading and writing geek. We spend many happy hours discussing literary theory and the classics. I love to grow my own food and knit. If I could do anything, I’d write cozy mysteries.
Was there a certain time in your life you knew you wanted to write?
I remember writing a book in the 6th grade. It seemed like a noble profession and was my sole focus for a while. I dreamt of how marvelous it must be to sit and think and write all day long—and I was right, it’s heaven! I’ve spent a great deal of my life as a writer in one form or another. But I must say, writing fiction is the best!
What are you currently working on?
I’m working on the next book in the Jade Blackwell series–Book 3. I’m not releasing the title yet, but the plot is coming along nicely, and I’m having great fun writing it. It will be released in December.
I’m also exploring the idea of writing some short stories featuring the fine citizens of Aspen Falls, which I’m excited about.
Of the books you’ve written, which one is your favorite and why?
I believe it’s customary for authors to say their last book—the one they just finished is their favorite. And I guess I could say that too. One reason it’s my favorite is that I was able to kill off characters using a method I’d thought of many years ago…long before I knew I’d actually become an author. Another reason is because I’ve gotten to know my characters even better writing the 2nd book in the series. And, because I got the chance to implement writing techniques I’ve been learning about.
What books have most influenced you as a writer?
For fiction, I’d have to say all the Sue Grafton and Joan Hess books have influenced me most. I’ve been reading them since I was in my 20’s. I’ve laughed with their characters and thought many times, “Wow, I wish I would have come up with that turn or phrase or plot point.” They are inspirations in writing well and in developing characters and plots. I guess you could say they’re my heroes.
I read a lot of non-fiction books on writing as a craft too. Right now I’m devouring everything written by James Scott Bell. He has a way of cutting through the unnecessary crap and laying out what’s really important to good, solid writing that makes readers keep coming back for more.
What do you find to be the most challenging part of writing? And the most rewarding?
The most challenging is definitely the first draft, specifically the “soggy middle” of the first draft. I know how I want to start out and how I want it all to end, but I have to figure out how to get where I’m going. It’s hard work. It’s the time when I can find lots of other things to do other than write. I’ve even been known to do housework that “must be done immediately” rather than slog through writing the middle section of a book.
The most rewarding is coming up with a new book idea, and then growing it. Even when I come to a place where I hit a wall and am not sure where to go next, I love that brainstorming time of coming up with plausible plot twists or red herrings. I also love the content editing—taking that first draft and solidifying the plot, deepening the characters and discovering holes that I didn’t notice the first time around.
What book(s) are you currently reading?
I’ve got several going right now. In the non-fiction category, I’m reading Wired for Story: The Writer’s Guide to Using Brain Science to Hook Readers from the Very First Sentence by Lisa Cron and Writing Fiction for All You’re Worth by James Scott Bell.
In the fiction category, I’m enjoying The Mystery of Schroon Lake Inn by K.B. Owen and Murder by the Seaside by Julie Anne Lindsey—both cozy mysteries, of course.
What can we look forward to seeing from you in the future?
Lots more Jade Blackwell Mysteries. I’ve got lots of ideas for murders, and I’m really enjoying developing these characters and their world in Aspen Falls, Wyoming. I keep a running list of plots, murder weapons, and characters who come to mind so I can go back and develop them when I’m ready.
I’ve also come up with an idea for another series, well, the protagonist and the setting. But I’ve got work to do on the Jade Blackwell series first. I do see myself branching out into new directions in the future though. I love the idea of a setting in the past when there was less technology and forensic science to rely on for solving murders.
Is there anything you’d like to share with your readers? (e.g.,; forthcoming books, special offers, discounts, etc.)
As I mentioned before, my next book will be released in December 2017, and I’m hard at work on that.
And, today is the last day to get my first book, Blogging is Murder, for free in celebration of the release of my second book, A Time to Kiln. Your readers can find out about all future releases and special offers by going here to sign up for my email list http://gilianbaker.com/blogging-murder-first-chapter/
I hope you’ve enjoyed getting to know Gilian, and that her books will become firm favourites. Before you go, don’t forget to check out her new book, A Time to Kiln, and the first in the series, Blogging is Murder, if you haven’t already!
Disenchanted with life after solving her first real case, Jade Blackwell, successful blogger and amateur sleuth, throws herself into a new hobby…until murder rears its ugly head.
But when Jade attempts to ferret out the killer of local pottery teacher, Paula Hexby, she comes up short and suspicion begins to descend on her daughter’s former boyfriend. Evidence and bodies are stacking up, as Jade finds herself caught between an untrustworthy client and her beloved community.
Now at a personal and professional crossroads, Jade must once again jump into the breech, along with partner Gabrielle Langdon, to uncover the truth behind this string of horrific murders. Is she really cut out for this life of sleuthing and danger? Has Jade been defending the real murderer all along? Or is there something much more sinister afoot?
She currently uses her geeky superpowers only for good to entertain murder mystery readers the world over. When she’s not plotting murder for her Jade Blackwell cozy mystery series, you can find her puttering in her vegetable garden, knitting in front of the fire, snuggling with her husband watching British TV or discussing literary theory with her daughter.
Gilian lives in Flagstaff, Arizona with her family and their three pampered felines. In her next life, she fervently hopes to come back as a cat, though she understands that would be going down the karmic ladder. She’s the author of Blogging is Murder, and A Time to Kiln.
If you’d like to get in touch with Gilian, you can contact her on her website or on Facebook or Twitter.
Facebook author page: https://www.facebook.com/GilianBakerAuthor/