Q&A with J.A. Jance

REMAINS OF INNOCENCE  has J. A. Jance once again writing a great storyline. Before starting this book readers might want to download the novella, The Old Blue Line that offers a backstory on Joanna Brady’s husband Butch Dixon. Both involve murder mysteries that are very suspenseful. The novella has Butch being a person of interest when his ex-wife is found killed. The book has two storylines going at once, both involving people being murdered.


Elise Cooper: Do you like writing novellas?


J. A. Jance: I have written three now. This one is the second to be published. Someone asked me if I could write about knocking off someone’s ex, so I did it. Writing Novellas are like going on vacation. You don’t have to worry about bringing in a lot of information. It’s writing 15,000 words as opposed to writing 100,000 words.


EC: How do you come up with your character’s names?


Jance: Sometimes I come up with a name because I heard it before and sometimes I just make them up. Occasionally there are connections to my past. There are little pieces of my life that are stitched into the texture in all of my books.


EC: What is in Remains Of Innocence?


Jance: The part about the funeral. When they sing the song “Jesus Loves Me.” Someone I knew for years recently died. He had taught Sunday school at a small church for decades. The music was made up of these old Sunday school songs. That is how I got the idea for the funeral songs.


EC: Can you explain the dedication at the beginning of the book: “In memory of the Hotshots, twenty good men and true, and to Marty Gossenauer, because I felt like it.”


Jance: There are two pieces to it. I dedicated it to the ‘Hotshots,’ because I want people to remember the “19” fire people who died trying to put out the Arizona fires last year. But I changed the number to twenty because I realized there was one who had survived, and I did not want to leave him out. The other name, Marty, is a person who wanted to be a character in my book. He was too poor to make a donation to a charity so I put him in the dedication for free.


EC: It appears that the book has a realistic presentation of what police work is actually like. Agree?


Jance: That is why I wrote about two plots. In real life police don’t follow one case to the very end without anything else impinging. I thought that having Brady handle more than one case at a time is more realistic and more fun for me to write. The idea that these two cases had to cross over would be more coincidence than I could stand to write. I have received feedback from many in law enforcement, such as a retired woman police chief who came up to me and told me ‘thank you for how you portray women in law enforcement.’ That makes me feel good.


EC: Is there really an underground railway for abused women?


Jance: There isn’t but there should be. I was speaking at a luncheon and found out the most dangerous times for women of domestic violence are when they decide to leave the abuser. They cannot go on public transportation because there will be a paper trail and could be found. I thought that creating the Underground Railroad was an inspirational way to get my character out of town without anyone being able to follow her. I based it on the real Underground Railroad of the 1850s, which is why I called it ‘Underground Railroad 2.0.’


EC: Did you want to give a shout out to seniors?


Jance: This country cannot afford to neglect the brainpower of older people. I would say and actually did say there is age discrimination in this country. A lot of seniors read my books. Although my novels appeal to all age demographics I think the seniors like my stories because they don’t have a lot of violence, bad language, sex, and definitely not unprotected sex.


EC: What do you want readers to get out of this book?


Jance: Good entertainment. But I want my readers to learn something. I really believe people read books to learn.


EC: Can you give us a heads up about your next book?


Jance: It will be an Ali Reynolds book out in March. Before it is published there will be a novella, The Last Goodbye. In that Ali and B. Simpson will be married. I did not have the patience to write a wedding into the book so I wrote it as a novella. In addition there will be a fictional version of how we rescued our dachshund, Bella. We call this the ‘Bella Novella.’ The book is entitled, Cold Betrayal. It deals with the polygamist community in North Central Arizona. This strip is essentially lawless and law enforcement has turned a blind eye to not only the little things but the big ones as well regarding what is going on there.