How many of you knew the delightfully prolific Dean James answers to quite a few monikers? The creative James dons a few caps while churning out sprightly feel good reads with a heavy dollop of humor and a twist of murder and mayhem. As Honor Hartman he penned the Bridge Club Mysteries, jotting as Jimmie Ruth Evans he produced the Trailer Park Mysteries, as himself he conceptualized the Simon Kirby-Jones Mysteries and several stand-alones. Just last year he picked up yet another title, Miranda James, and gifted us with the ambrosial and break out release, Murder Past Due and the follow up, Classified as Murder was a chart topping success. James’ brilliant, charming and kicky Cat in the Stacks series from Berkeley is destined to be his most successful one yet and the name he’ll answer to for many years to come.
The fascinating and genteel James – Dean or Miranda – was kind enough to talk to me from his lush and sultry Mississippi locale.
How would you say you have evolved as a writer over time?
I’ve developed a stronger critical sense, I think, and my critique group has been an enormous help with that. I’ve become much better at rewriting – perhaps the most important part of writing a book – as a result.
Of all the books you have written, do you have a favorite? If so, which one and why?
Each book is special to me in its own way, but I have to say that Best Served Cold, the third book in my trailer park series, is particularly special to me. Also Murder Past Due, the first in the new series, because it took me to the New York Times extended paperback bestseller list!
Do you have plans to write other genres in the future?
I love historical fiction and historical romance; I’d love to dip my toe into those genres. I’m particularly fond of Regency England, thanks to Jane Austen and Georgette Heyer. I also have a background in medieval English history, and I have some ideas about stories set against the backdrop of medieval England that I’d like to write. Research, however, takes time, and my current schedule, between a full-time job and writing, doesn’t leave much time for the kind of in-depth research I’d need to do.
Has your life changed since you’ve become a published author? If so, how?
My life has definitely changed. For one thing, I’ve achieved a goal that I first set for myself when I was about 12 and actually wrote my first book. Also, as a published author, I’ve made new friends and connected with people all over the place, sharing a love of books and storytelling that’s important to me.
Have you ever had an embarrassing moment at a booksigning?
Oh, yes, a couple of times when absolutely no one showed up, and I had to sit there and wait until the signing time was over.
I have found that some authors listen to music while they write.
Do you listen to music or is it something that is distracting to you?
I often listen to music when I write. Love classical, particularly Baroque, but I also listen to opera and pop or rock music.
Do you belong to any writers groups and what do you feel you have gained from the social sites?
MJ: I belong to a critique group and to Mystery Writers of America. FaceBook has helped me connect with a lot of readers, plus with family and friends.