Posted on August 13, 2018 at 8:00 AM by Sadye Scott-Hainchek
Cozy-mystery author Jerusha Jones has truly made the most of the cards she was dealt.
To be clear, she was dealt several good ones — growing up in the scenic Pacific Northwest, yearning to write — but she also knew how to combine them with a few less-than-auspicious ones, like a layoff.
Nearly twenty books later (all set in her home region), Jones counts her blessings each day and was thrilled to answer our questions about her journey to this sweater-wearing, apple-munching, daydreaming-for-a-living point.
(Check out her Amazon author profile to understand some of these references ... )
SADYE: Can you tell us about your “escape” from corporate life, and how you decided you were ready to make it happen?
JERUSHA: I was laid off from an incredibly stressful job. This was at the tail end of the recession, so there just weren’t many prospects for salaried eight-to-five positions in my field at the time.
The layoff wasn’t unexpected, and the idea to try writing fiction had been niggling at the back of my mind for a while.
I already had a children’s story and a truly awful thriller (that will never, ever be published) under my belt.
But suddenly having all the free time that the lack of a “real” job provided meant I could devote full-time hours to writing. It just sort of blossomed from there.
Now, looking back, it really does feel like an escape. No more tedious meetings or PowerPoint presentations for me!
Instead, I get to make stuff up for a living, and my boss is super nice!
SADYE: All of your books are part of a series, so far. Do you start a book knowing or planning on it being the first in a series?
JERUSHA: Yes! Always.
SADYE: Do you write or plan your series sequentially, or do you bounce around from series to series?
JERUSHA: I’ve learned that it takes at least three books to establish a series, as far as sales go, so I usually make sure to have at least those first three books developed in quick succession.
After that, I’ll bounce around and continue building in all my active series.
It’s been a fun journey as the series have grown. Both the Imogene Museum series and the Tin Can series are up to seven books each now, and the Mayfield series is complete at five books.
I’m starting a new series that’s also an extension of the Imogene Museum series—the Sockeye County Mysteries, and I already have the first five covers ready to go.
It’s so inspiring to have several gorgeous covers in the queue that are just waiting for the stories to go with them!
SADYE: Your about-me section on your website focuses heavily on positivity, like having empathy for others and a sense of community. What drives that attitude?
JERUSHA: It’s because I love and trust the Bible, particularly for what it reveals about Jesus.
No one knows us like our creator, who sees us not only as we are in all of our nitty-gritty reality, with all our faults and wounds, but also as who he intends us to be.
He personally provided the means for peace, a true family, and hope — things we all desperately crave.
So it’s a great joy but also a challenge for me to try to show, through the medium of fiction, how we, too, might be able to see the people around us through the same compassionate lens that Jesus uses.
However, I don’t write what could be called “Christian fiction” because these values are too important and too real to stick in a category that’s often considered trite or fluffy or superior.
So my mysteries are just that — mysteries — but I do love how fiction gives us the chance to eavesdrop inside other people’s hearts and heads and learn about different perspectives and motives in a way that we can understand and connect with.
In a way, that lets us practice empathy in our minds in preparation for acting it out in our real lives.
SADYE: Where do you find inspiration?
JERUSHA: Location! I’m so blessed to live in a stunningly beautiful part of the United States.
I grew up in the Pacific Northwest and took the mountains and the ocean and the green valleys in between for granted until I was old enough to travel and recognize just what treasures we have here.
Everyone should get a chance to enjoy them!
So each series has been inspired by a very specific location in Washington or Oregon and incorporates a lot of local history and culture into the plots and characterizations.
It’s easy to extrapolate from the setting to imagine what the people who live in that location deal with — their struggles, their relationships, how they would react to different crimes.
Most of the places referred to in the books are real, and if they’re fudged at all I usually explain the reasons for that in the Notes & Acknowledgments section at the back of each book.
Exploratory research trips in the region are some of my favorite parts of this job, for sure.
A couple from New Zealand emailed to tell me that their vacation planning in Oregon was inspired by my books. That kind of response from readers thrills me to my toes.
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Categories: Author Interview