Today my guest is author Eve Sandstrom aka Joanna Carl!
JoAnna Carl and Eve K. Sandstrom both write mystery novels which rely on regional settings for atmosphere, background and clues. JoAnna writes about the shores of Lake Michigan and has been reviewed in Michigan newspapers as a “regional writer.”
Talk about your split personalities……
R: Welcome! Tell us a bit about yourself and how you became interested in writing!
When I was six, I became interested in reading. Need I say more? The first “real” book I read – one that didn’t have pictures on every page – was Nancy Drew. My mother kept the house filled with Mary Roberts Rinehart and Agatha Christie. I always loved mysteries and knew I wanted to write them.
R: As JoAnna Carl, you write the Chocoholic mystery series. Tell us how that came about and about your latest release.
The Chocoholic Mysteries were born because my then editor wanted me to try something cozy. What is more cozy than chocolate? The latest, THE CHOCOLATE CLOWN CORPSE, is the fourteenth and will come out in November. In it my detective, Lee McKinney Woodyard, gets involved in the death of a professional clown who’s not all that funny. The previous book, THE CHOCOLATE BOOK BANDIT, will be out in paperback at the same time.
R: Tell us about your other mystery series, written as Eve Sandstrom. Out of all of them do you have a favorite?
My first series, The Down Home books, was a tribute to Tony Hillerman. Highly regional. My favorite among those was THE DOWN HOME HEIFER HEIST, maybe because it won the Oklahoma Book Award. If you’re writing regional, winning a state award is tops! The second series, the Nell and Mike books, was about a young woman news reporter who is covering the crime beat and finds herself far too involved with a very sexy detective. My favorite of those is the first, THE VIOLENCE BEAT. I worked as a newspaper woman for 25 years, and always swore I’d never write fiction with that background. But I loved Nell and Mike. In the news world the “violence beat” is what they call the police-fire-sheriff beat. These books are not cozy, but “harder edged,” which is editor-speak for more sex and violence.
R: Tell us about the “chocolate lore” you feature in each book. Is that fun to research?
It’s always fun to read about chocolate! I just stumble across a lot of the lore in magazines or newspapers. Or people send me information.
R: Do you have an “how I got my agent” story you’d like to share? How did you feel when you got the call your first novel had sold?
My agent story isn’t very dramatic, but may have some significance. I got my first agent when a fellow writer recommended hers and said, “You can use my name.” When that relationship soured, I got my current agent on the recommendation of my editor, who said, “Call this agent, and you can use my name.” The moral here is: It’s all in who you know, and if you don’t know the right people, get out and meet them. Seriously, if you want to sell your writing, get out and meet writers, agents and editors. This isn’t impossible. Go to workshops, join organizations, take classes. That’s how you meet people.
As for how I felt when my first mystery sold, well, I could hardly speak. I kept saying, “A hardback?”
R: What’s a must have for you when you are writing? What aids the creative process?
An Oklahoma writer named Jean Hager once said, “Some people say they can’t write unless they are inspired. The truth is, you can’t get inspired unless you write.” Do I always follow that rule? No, I get distracted by life and let it slide. But the answer is that simple.
R: If you had access to a time machine, which historical moment would you travel to and why?
Sometime in the 18th Century. That era has always appealed to me.
R: What is one thing your readers would be most surprised to know about you?
Nothing I do seems very surprising. I’m the mother of twins? I married a Yankee? I eat a lot of chocolate? So what else is new?
R: What is the craziest thing you've ever done?
I’m not all that crazy. But maybe the most interesting things I ever did were interviewing interesting people. One was Stan Kenton and another the Crown Prince of Luxembourg. Meeting people like that is one of the benefits of a news career.
R: What do you hope readers will most take away from your writing?
Good is better than evil. But I think mystery readers already know that.
R: What are you working on at the moment / next?
I’m now working on THE CHOCOLATE FALCON FRAUD, in which Lee Woodyard gets mixed up in a festival celebrating the Noir film and the most famous movie of that genre, THE MALTESE FALCON.
R: Are you a plotter or a pantser?
A combination. I do a rough outline, but don’t pay a lot of attention to it.
R: Do you have any advice for beginning writers?
I gave it above. Get out and meet other writers, take classes, go to workshops – in other words, network. If you can’t get out, do it on line. Make sure you use common sense about people and their motives; in other words, don’t pay somebody to publish your work. You’re the talent; they pay you.
Live – you have to have an understanding of life and of people, and sometimes that means learning to deal with adversity, sorrow, and joy. The most educational writing experience I ever had was sitting in an ICU waiting room when my father was dying. Life brings experiences like that, even if we’d rather it didn’t, and that’s what gives you understanding of life and makes you a writer.
Just for Fun:
Night or Day? Night. Or maybe day.
Dog or Cat? (answer carefully) This is so humiliating! I like both animals, but I’m allergic to cats, though I love them, and we travel too much to have a dog. We have two ‘grand-dogs,’ a golden retriever and a Yorkie. And our son for a time raised alpacas. They are lovely little animals.
Beach or Pool? Beach (on Lake Michigan)
Steak or salad? Both
Favorite Drink? Diet Coke or iced tea
Favorite Book? TRUE GRIT, by Charles Portis
Favorite TV Series? Too hard to choose
Favorite Movie? SHANE
Favorite Actor: One who fits the role (But Gregory Peck fit any role.)
Favorite Actress: Ditto
Dirty Martini or Pina Colada? Gin and tonic
Hawaii or Alaska? Oklahoma or Michigan
Finish this sentence: If I could meet anyone in the world, past or present, it would be my Choctaw great-great-grandmother.
If I had just one wish, it would be world peace. An end to hunger? That I knew what happens in my next chapter?
If I could trade places with anyone in the world, it would be no one. Someone has to be me, and I got the job.
Find Eve/Joanna at her web site: joannacarl.com or eveksandstrom.com
Eve will give away two books to one lucky commenters! Hardbacks of THE CHOCOLATE CLOWN CORPSE and THE CHOCOLATE BOOK BANDIT. To enter, leave a comment on this blog post with your name and email address (entries without email will be disqualified). For extra entries, you can do any or all of the below:
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* Mention the contest on Facebook (+ 1 point)
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Winner will be chosen at random using random.org. Don’t forget to mention all you’ve done in your comment. Good luck! Open to US residents only - ends 11/15 midnight.