Today we need to get down and dirty and talk about a new cozy mystery-Dust Bunnies and Dead Bodies. Janis Thornton, the author of this new cozy mystery took some time to visit with me and answer some questions about her writing. After reading about all the different projects she’s involved in, she’s a very busy writer. No wonder she has a few dust bunnies. Don’t forget to scroll down and find the prize guy to enter for 4 ecopies of Dust Bunnies and Dead Bodies. If you are in a book club, this would be an excellent win, and if you’re not, what a great way to start one!
Tell us a little about yourself.
I am a writer who enjoys editing and polishing my rough drafts far more than creating them. For me, polishing and editing are where the fun begins—the shading, defining, highlighting, etc— and where the “real” writing gets done. After writing fiction for 25 years, I promised myself that I would find a publisher in 2014 for the cozy mystery that’s been collecting dust on my hard drive. I will be forever grateful to PageSpring Publishing for believing that my novel had potential.
My work experience includes many writing jobs. Now, I’m a self-employed, full-time writer and personal historian, and part-time “vice president of whatever needs doing” for a couple of guys who are producing an awesome, new graphic novel series called “Forgotten City.” My previous publishing credits include two local history books (Images of America: Tipton County and Images of America: Frankfort) for Arcadia Publishing and a contribution to Chicken Soup for the Mother’s Soul 2.
- What inspired the idea behind your book? Were you cleaning under the couch one day and just decided those dust bunnies would be a great plot element?Great question, Teresa. “Dust Bunnies” was inspired by the cleaning lady who regularly supplies the protagonist, newspaper editor Crystal Cropper, with news tips about the criminal element of Elmwood, the book’s fictional setting. I think Dust Bunnies and Dead Bodies is a great title, which was the creation of PageSpring’s brilliant editorial team.
- Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?Mostly the book is a product of my imagination, although some of the events were inspired by real-life events and experiences. For example, around the time I started plotting the story, a high school boy from Indiana passed away due to the heatstroke he suffered during football practice. I researched that and other such events as I developed the Lance Whitfield/Coach Baxter storylines. In addition, several of the characters—Verl, Gertie, Auggie, Mayor Head, and Darcy—were inspired by people I know. And finally, the book’s driving forces—protagonist Crystal Cropper’s news reporting and crime-solving expertise— were drawn from my own experience as a newspaper editor and avid student of forensics.
- Can you explain what a personal historian is and how has that helped you in creating fictional histories of your characters?A personal historian provides her interviewing, writing, editing, graphic design, and publishing skills—all or in part—to clients who wish to publish their life stories as testaments of their lives and/or a family heirloom for future generations. My roles as both personal historian and journalist, who interviews interesting people to draw out their stories, have given me indispensable insights about the way people tell their stories—the words they choose, their intonations, their emotions, their demeanor, etc. My experience as a personal historian has helped me create fictional histories as much as it has helped me realistically present the backstories I create for my characters. In addition, listening to people … really listening to them … is the best lesson I know for writing realistic dialogue.
- Who is your favorite character to create scenes for in the book?It’s difficult to pick a favorite character since I feel like they’re all my children. But … Crystal is the one I feel most connected to. At times, she exemplifies some facet of my actual life experience; other times she portrays attitudes, actions, knowledge, courage, and skills that I’m too shy to exhibit. Following is an excerpt from one of my favorite scenes that shows Crystal’s chutzpah after she gets caught breaking into a suspect’s garage:
“Hey, lady, what do you think you’re doing?” I jumped about two feet off the ground and spun to face an unshaven, unkempt Bobby Markle leering at me with an expression of depraved curiosity. In his hands, he clenched a chainsaw. The sight of him standing inches from me wielding a pernicious power tool indeed made me wonder, too, what the heck did I think I was doing? Because I could think of no good way to answer him and get out of there in one piece, I assumed an I’m-a-certified-self-defense-expert-so-don’t-even-think-about-messing-with-me persona. “Oh, there you are,” I said, steeling my spine as I fixed my eyes on Bobby’s, the way Velcro balls stick to felt. “After I banged on your front door for ten minutes and no one answered, I thought I might find you back here.” Thrusting my right arm forward, I offered him my hand. “Crystal Cropper,” I said. “Pleased to make your acquaintance.”
- How can readers find your books and are there more coming in this series?Dust Bunnies and Dead Bodies is available on amazon.com, barnesandnoble.com and kobo. Because I’m so fond of Crystal Cropper and the other characters who populate Elmwood (the fictional setting for the story), I certainly do envision DB&DB as the first of a series.
My Review 4 STARS
Dust Bunnies and Dead Bodies centers around the adventures of Crystal Cropper, editor of the town newspaper in Elmwood, Indiana. When Crystal finds her BFF Gertie near death, she knows she must use her skills to find her attacker. Throw in a beloved football coach who has a history of winning teams at any cost and all of the Thornton’s small-town characters and you have a cozy mystery at it’s finest! .
Click on the PRIZE GUY to enter a givewaway for 4 free ecopies of Dust Bunnies and Dead Bodies!