Joyce and Jim Lavene write bestselling mystery fiction. They have written and published more than 60 novels for Harlequin, Berkley, and Charter Books along with hundreds of non-fiction articles for national and regional publications. They live in rural North Carolina with their family, Quincy, their black cat, and their rescue dog, Rudi. They are here today as Ellie Grant (although sometimes they are J.J. Cook or Elyssa Henry or Joye Adams) because they are on tour with Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours promoting their new book PLUM DEADLY. Be sure to leave a comment below (with email) to be entered in the GIVEAWAY for a copy of Plum Deadly. Welcome Joyce and Jim.
I have two different last names but it is easy to remember – day to day it is Shannon but if I use a credit card it is Thomas, my husband’s last name. But how do you remember who you are on any given day? Do you sort of feel any different when you are writing as a ‘different’ person?
J & J: That’s funny! We frequently joke about not knowing who we are. Actually, we never lose track because we keep lots of notes and have dozens of Excel spread sheets. We know who we are because of what we’re working on each day. We only write one rough draft at a time. To get ‘into’ the characters and feeling for each series, we go over past stories and notes. We also have photos for each series.
How and when did you meet? And at what point did you decide to write together?
J & J: We met in 1971 when we were both protesting the Vietnam War in Washington, DC. After we were arrested, we knew we should be together. We were married two weeks later.
Writing together was different. It took many years to decide to write together. It was another few years before we figured out how to do it.
I’ve interviewed other writing teams but they weren’t married. Once you made that decision to write together, what has it been like to live together AND write together? The good and the bad…
Joyce: We owned an office supply business together for 15 years so we had some practice. It’s a challenge sometimes.
Jim: I just do what she says!
I have only one series I am working on, with one group of characters and I have to keep what I call my ‘Character Bible’ with all their facts and characteristics. Do you ever confuse the characters from different series? Forget who you are writing about and suddenly realize you’ve given someone some personality trait of someone else? What tricks do you use to keep everybody straight?
J & J: Really, confusing the characters would be like confusing our children. You live and work with these people, just like when you work with real people in an office or store. It would be easier to forget that they aren’t real people! We do have huge character fact sheets about what they look like – their opinions on things, what they hope to achieve. Our sleuths also have records on things that happen to them so we don’t keep injuring them in the same way. Broken limbs. Hit in the head. Shot. Etc.
Who or what inspired you to write this book? Is baking a passion for either of you?
Jim: Joyce is the best cook in the world. She makes awesome pie!
Joyce: Actually, our son is the baker in the family. He runs his own pizzeria and makes different kinds of artisan breads, sweet rolls and pies.
Jim: But she taught him.
What author, living or dead, would you invite for dinner and conversation if you could? You can each give an answer. Jim and Joyce that is – no one else LOL.
Joyce: Jules Verne
Jim: I already got to do this because I ate breakfast with Carole Nelson Douglas!
Now three things I ask everybody that have nothing to do with writing (once again, both of you ):
- What is your favorite food? Jim: lasagna – Joyce: baked potatoes
- What is your favorite TV show? Jim: True Blood – Joyce: Castle
- What is your favorite music? Jim: I love all music. Joyce: A Pirate’s Christmas, Tom Mason and the Blue Bucaneers
Thank you so much for being here today, Joyce and Jim, and good luck with the tour and your new book. Before you go, is there anything else you would like to tell your readers or have them know about you?
Jim: Hmmm . . . we both like French toast.
Joyce: And Jim makes us both lattes every morning before we start working
Jim: She makes male characters sound wishy-washy
Joyce: He thinks every female character should wear ‘nighties’.
J & J: And we both LOVE working together! Thanks for having us here today!
My review is below and don’t forget to comment below to win a copy of Plum Deadly!
Unjustly accused of cooking the books, Maggie Grady is forced to retreat from her high-flying New York financial career to the town where she grew up. Her aunt Clara greets her with open arms and a job at the family-owned business that has baked the best pies in the South for over forty years. Unfortunately, while Maggie is determined to return to banking, her reputation there seems permanently in the pits. That is, until her old boss, Lou, visits with news that he’s found the real crook. Before he can reveal the details, though, Maggie finds his body right behind the pie shop.
With only her own word that Lou planned to exonerate her, Maggie is in the spotlight. The police seem to suspect that Aunt Clara’s damson pie may not be just dangerously delectable, but downright deadly. Maggie doesn’t just have her own name to clear; she has to make sure that her aunt’s beloved business isn’t harmed, either. Yummy local reporter Ryan Summerour appears eager to help, and Maggie can’t help hoping that it’s not just the police who find her a person of interest—but Ryan, as well. She’d thought it challenging to make the perfect pie crust that Aunt Clara demands, but that turns out to be nothing compared with finding a murderer. . . .
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I read it so quickly that when I discovered the number of pages, I was amazed. It is just so enjoyable that you breeze right through it. The characters are so likeable – the ones we are supposed to like that is LOL. And I like the little touches – like Maggie and Clara walk everywhere. I don’t know, it just made it comfortable, homey, you want to be friends with these people. Maggie decides to stay with her Aunt Clara instead of going back to New York and there is a budding romance with Ryan and a very good friendship with Frank, the cop… in other words all the ingredients for a wonderful new series. And speaking of ingredients, there are recipes at the back of the book. Yum. ♥♥♥♥♥
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