Saturday, October 24, 2015



Today my guest is author JJCook AKA the writing team of Joyce and Jim Lavene!

Joyce and Jim Lavene write award-winning, best-selling mystery fiction as themselves, J.J. Cook, and Ellie Grant. They have written and published more than 70 novels for Harlequin, Penguin, Amazon, and Simon and Schuster along with hundreds of non-fiction articles for national and regional publications. They live in rural North Carolina with their family. 

R:  Welcome! Tell us a bit about yourself and how you became interested in writing.

We became interested in writing the old fashioned way – we were readers who wanted to create our own stuff. We both love reading anything, science fiction, fantasy, and mystery are our favorites.

 R: What drew you to the cozy mystery genre?

We liked the personality of it – giving characters quirky names and jobs. It’s fun to write and to read. Plus we aren’t great with too much blood and guts.

R: Tell us about your series, the Sweet Pepper Fire Brigade. What  made you decide on firefighting as a career for your sleuth?  And a ghost who cooks???????

Jim was a volunteer firefighter for a while. Joyce has three generations of firefighters in her family. The ghost is just a fun bonus! We wanted to write a firefighter mystery series because we liked the concept. Stella is from Chicago, a professional firefighter. She comes to Sweet Pepper to set up their volunteer squad, and stays because she loves the place. She and Eric, the ghost of the former fire chief, get in scrapes together.

  R: Tell us about your latest release, IN HOT WATER.

In Hot Water is the third book in the Fire Brigade Mysteries. Stella is trying to keep an overzealous councilman from tearing down Eric’s old cabin and investigating a fire that killed a local representative. There is always Sweet Pepper Festival action too as the town celebrates their hot pepper roots.

 R: Which of (your character) adventures was the most fun for you to write? Were any of them the least amount of fun?

Stella and Eric are always fun to write. The volunteer firefighters have issues too. In this book, they deliver a baby after a wreck. We probably don’t write any characters that aren’t fun to write.

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?

We were very excited when Harlequin called because we’d sold our first book. That’s right. We started as romance writers! It was years after that before we got our first agent. We got our agent because she was just getting started and wanted to represent us. It seemed like a good idea.

R: What’s a must have for you when you are writing? What aids the creative process?

Plenty of coffee! That’s the only must have besides each other and the computers.

 R: If you had access to a time machine, which historical moment would you travel to and why?

Probably the age of castles and knights. We’d like to meet Merlin.

R: What is one thing your readers would be most surprised to know about you?

That we are Doctor Who fanatics?

R: What is the craziest thing you've ever done?

Driving down to the beach (about 4 hours) to watch the sun rise and driving right back.

R: What do you hope readers will most take away from your writing?

That all people are interesting and special.

 R: What are you working on at the moment / next?

Our next Taxi for the Dead Paranormal Mystery, Dead Girl Blues, and the next Retired Witches book, Looking for Mr. Good Witch.

 R: Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Both. There is no absolute for us. You do what you need to do with each book.

 R: What do you do when you’re not writing? Any hobbies or party tricks? :)

We read. Drive. We like to take pictures and go to weird little places most people don’t want to go. Jim likes to take apart computers and put them back together. I’m trying to get back into watercolors.

 R: Do you have any advice for beginning writers?

Write. Write. Write. That’s the most important thing.

 Thanks for a great interview!



  1. Thank you for reposting this. It was fun to read again. I started reading their books when I won a copy of In Hot Water on a blog. I was hooked from the first page, and I have loved all the books of theirs that I've read. I will miss taking with her on FB and in emails, but she will live on through her work.