Friday, March 4, 2016

It Takes A Village … of Books

A couple of years ago I stole Sue Ann Jaffarian’s spot here on Criminal Minds. Okay, she asked me to take her place when she left, but since this is a crime writing blog doesn’t the first way sound better? Anyway, she’s baaaaaaack, guest blogging for me today.

Sue Ann’s a great writer and a great person and I consider her a good friend. She writes the popular and very funny Odelia Grey and Ghost of Granny Apples mystery series, as well as the Madison Rose vampire mysteries and now, under the pen name Meg Chambers, the Winnie Wilde erotic romance novellas. She’s very prolific—I envy her output.

Her latest books are A Body to Spare (Odelia Grey series), The Ghost of Mistletoe Mary (Ghost of Granny Apples series) and Wilde Women (Winnie Wilde series).

And if you’re voting for the Anthony Awards, please consider Ghost in the Guacamole, A Body to Spare and The Ghost of Mistletoe Mary when filling out your ballot.

Thanks Sue Ann! Good to have you back.



“If you had to name a single book that inspired you to be a writer, what would it be?”

by Sue Ann Jaffarian

When I first received this topic, I thought easy peasy, and one book came instantly to mind: Murder Runs in the Family by the late Anne George.

But truth be told, that book didn’t inspire me to be a writer, it inspired me to be a writer of humorous mysteries. Early in that book, as I was laughing out loud (I mean really laughing out loud, not the ubiquitous LOL), I realized that I wanted to entertain readers and give them a belly laugh or two or three or an entire barrel.

And here I am, 23 or so books later in my career, and I think I’ve accomplished that with both my Ghost of Granny Apples series and my Odelia Grey series. And recently Amazon, of its own accord, tagged my most recent series, the Winnie Wilde romance series written under the pen name of Meg Chambers, as erotic humor.

Guess I’m stuck in a rut, but it’s a good rut and one of my own making.

Okay, blog question answered. See, easy peasy.
However, that really didn’t answer the question of what book inspired me to be a writer, did it?  So back to the drawing board, or in this case the old memory bank.

In spite of giving this question considerable thought, I must say there was no book that inspired me to be a writer. There were bushels and bushels of them!

I remember pouring, as soon as I could read, over Golden Books and fairy tales, reading the stories over and over and over and over, as kids tend to do. When I entered elementary school, a bookmobile paid regular visits to the school and I never missed it. In addition, I owned batches of Bobbsey Twins and Trixie Belden books, and later many volumes of the Cherry Ames series.

When we moved from Massachusetts to California when I was 8, I was delighted to discover the Scholastic program that distributed catalogs to classrooms from which students could purchase books. My mother gave me a monthly book allowance and I’d study the catalogue carefully, making sure I spent my money well.  It was the birth of a book buyer!

I was also a library rat. I spent a lot of Saturdays at the library doing homework and reading. When I was a preteen, it was free child care if my parents had to both work that day. I’d have a sack lunch and would spend the day until my dad would pick me up. Of course, this would come with strict orders not to talk to strangers or leave the building. Later, I would spend Saturdays there just because it was my favorite place. It was at the library I was introduced to How Green Was My Valley,  The Yearling, The Member of the Wedding, A Tree Grows In Brooklyn, A Patch of Blue, Treasure Island, Robinson Crusoe, and To Kill a Mockingbird, as well as many others classics, long before they hit my school curriculum. 

It was there, at the public library, where I became inspired to become a writer. I really wanted to see my name on a book on a shelf in the library. To me, that was being somebody. It meant you were immortal.

On some of those long Saturdays I would write my name on scraps of paper, using one of those stubby pencils the library provided to jot notes, and insert it into the card catalogue where I JUST KNEW one day my name would be. I often went into the stacks and spread the novels apart to make room for the books I JUST KNEW I would write one day.

When my first published novel Too Big To Miss first showed up in my local library, I stared at it a long time as it sat on the shelf, and I cried.

The big wooden card catalogues are long gone, but my books remain, in the Js, right where I JUST KNEW they would be.


And now for the usual BSP: Anthony voters please consider my short story, "My Enemies Have Sweet Voices", from Down & Out Books’ anthology Coast to Coast: Murder from Sea to Shining Sea, for Best Short Story.

And please consider Coast to Coast: Murder from Sea to Shining Sea for Best Anthology.

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Meredith Cole said...

So great to see you here on the blog again, Sue Ann! Love your story about putting a note with your name in the card catalogue where you knew it would be one day... Congrats on all the new books!

Sue Ann Jaffarian said...

Thanks, Meredith, and thanks for having me back. Always fun to hang with old pals.

Susan C Shea said...

You mentioned Scholastic Books and it brought a flood of memories. I too pored over the catalogs and remember the feeling of pleasure when the books were delivered. Thanks for the happy memory and so good to see you on Minds!

Alan Orloff said...

Nice to have you back on the blog! Good post (you haven't lost the knack!)!