Jennifer Stanley is smokin’ hot. Smokin’ as a woman. Smokin’ as a storyteller. Smokin’ as a mom. Smokin’ as a wife. Smokin’ as a sister. Smokin’ as an aunt. Smokin’ as a cousin. Smokin’ as a friend. This chica is sizzling. As sizzling as sesame oil in a skillet. Jennifer Stanley is the amazing scribe behind her diverse noms de plume. You may know her as Jennifer Stanley, J.B. Stanley, Jen, Lucy Arlington, or Ellery Adams. I know her as the astonishing Jenny from the Island. As in Long Island.
I grew up on the Island and there is one thing I need to establish about Long Island girls, we are FIERCE. We are as strong as the city chicks, as bold as the ‘Jersey dudettes, and as genteel as the ladies from the south. The difference is we have a mouth and we know how to use it in a way that makes us look like sweethearts (smirky grin) instead of bitches with perpetual attitudes. We know how to do. And we do it well. It is in our DNA. It doesn’t matter if we absorbed it growing up surrounded by water. Nor from inhaling the intoxicating brine. It doesn’t matter. We have it. We can blame our FIERCENESS on the Sound or on some Jack. It is all good. In fact, it is wickedly delish.
I sometimes have to pinch myself whenever I am around the enchanting Adams. I am living a full circle moment with this spectacular woman. I am surrounded by prominence and I privileged. When it comes to writers, I am always aware of the amazement they bring to the page. I honor them for their dedication. To me, writers are lot teachers. They educate, they enhance, and they empower. They are unsung heroes. I said writers. As in storytellers.
Not any old author trying to be published just for the false imagined glory; or for the oohs and aahs of boasting to family, friends… or anyone else who will listen down at the bombastic braggarts saloon; or to see your name on a cover (notice I said cover and not book, folks, ‘cause times have changed. Changed indeed. And everyone and their cousin think they are able to write a book. Seriously? No. And really, don’t.
Even Patterson has to have help. Think of Shades and how it soared on the lists. I can’t speak on taste or lack of it. FYI: Shades of boring is not for me. I don’t need to get my kicks reading about it on page 226. I do it. You know like the Nike ad says). My writing heroes vary from genre to genre. My core indispensable heroes are Mary Higgins Clark, the late Philip R. Craig, Saranna DeWylde, Parris Afton Bonds, Dean James aka Miranda James, Laura Levine, Cleo Coyle, Leslie Meier, Tim Myers, and Jennifer Stanley (and whatever other name she is or may be ensconced in).
As I write this, folks, I am blinking back tears (yes, even the saucy diva has a heart that melts), because once again I am brimming with gratitude. I am honored to interview Ellery Adams (making a face because I want to shout Jennifer Stanley from the top of the Robert Moses Causeway, but I am remaining quiet and still. After all, it is 2013 and there’s a first for everything).
Ready? Here we go. Enjoy!
When you’re deeply connected and immersed in a book, Ellery, have you ever had a dream that you felt was not your dream?
Sometimes I have dreams set near or in the ocean. I think they’re probably my memories of growing up near the water blended with imagery seen through the eyes of Olivia Limoges. These dreams don’t happen often, but when they do, I wake with a sparkling new idea for a Books By the Bay scene.
What do you love most about the cozy genre?
What I love about the cozy genre is the notion that the average Jane or Joe can be a hero. As I move through my day, I imagine things about many of the people I interact with. I will often space out and suddenly picture the gal at the coffee shop sprinkling magic into my latte or envision the bagger at the grocery store chasing some lowlife who’s run off with a lady’s purse. These are the protagonists we encounter in a cozy mystery. They’re funny and flawed and fascinating and just happen to be surrounded by a cast of minor characters that we’d love to meet. Even the villains are colorful. Add this mixture into an isolated village setting and you’ve got the recipe for a perfect read. And in the end, good and justice triumph every time. Isn’t that the kind of world we’d all like to live in?
Ellery, please share the titles of three cozies on your nightstand?
I try not to read cozies when I’m writing (I don’t want any unintentional voice crossover) and since I’m doing research for two of my three series right now, the titles on my nightstand are: Enchantment of the Faerie Realm by Ted Andrews, Falconry and Hawking by Phillip Glasier, and Agatha Christie’s Death on the Nile.
Who are some of your favorite mystery writers?
I love Ellery Queen (that’s why I picked Ellery as a pen name), Agatha Christie, C.S. Harris, Charles Finch, Tana French, Louise Penny, and so many more.
How do you find balance?
I try to enjoy work and play equally. I love to write and it’s what I’ve always wanted to do since I was small. Since I got my greatest wish, I try to put the best of myself into it every day. After reaching my writing quota of 1200 words, I might garden, bake, attend a Tae Kwon Do class, play X-Box with my son, or go shopping.
What is the guilty pleasure you find the most outrageous?
Sugar. In all its forms. I have a terrible sweet tooth so when I’m not stuffing my face with candy, cupcakes, or pies, I’m at the gym working off my bad habits.
What did you learn about yourself while penning Written in Stone?
I learned to trust my instincts. Things happen in Written in Stone that push the boundaries of a typical cozy. Luckily, my editor is really supportive and we both trusted that my readers would be able to handle the darker themes I introduced. As it turns out, I got wonderful feedback from readers on that book and that gave me the confidence to push the envelope even more in Poisoned Prose (due out in October 2013).
What challenges did you endure while penning Peach Pies and Alibis?
Oh, this is a hard one. I was working on this book when my sister-in-law died in childbirth this past June. I didn’t know what to do with all of my emotions, so I poured them into that book and dedicated it to her. I witnessed the awesome power of friendship and family during that time and I hope the book echoes what I saw feeling along with the grief we all felt as well as the joy and wonder of holding her baby girl. Okay, I must stop now or I’ll cry all over the keyboard.
What did you learn about yourself while inking Pies and Prejudice?
I learned that it’s a thrill to test one’s limits. I’ve always wanted to try my hand at fantasy, but was too daunted by the idea to give it a shot until this book. By blending fantasy and mystery themes (along with a dash of culinary writing), I got to have my literary cake and eat it too!
What fears are you facing with the release of Peach Pies and Alibis?
The same thing I fear with every book: that readers won’t like it!
What are you most ambivalent about with the Books by the Bay series?
How much friction to create between Chief Sawyer Rawlings and Olivia Limoges. I want them to be together, but Olivia is inexperienced with long-term relationships so I can’t make things too easy for her. On the other hand, I want to show people how anyone’s heart can be softened by a constant, unrelenting love.
What do you want your readers to walk away with after reading your books?
I want my scenes and characters to stay with them long after they’ve turned the last page. I want them to be impatient to return to my fictional worlds, because I want to keep writing for them. I want to keep providing them with a means of escape, and to keep creating characters who echo their own feelings, wishes, and desires.