A Conversation with Joanna Campbell Slan Author of Sand Trapped

First they warned Jocelyn Johnson. Then they ticketed Jocelyn Johnson. Then someone murdered Jocelyn Johnson. Sand Trapped by @joannaslan

What inspired the idea for your book?

I have taken a sacred vow to never play golf. However, everyone in my family is a golfer. My best friend is a golfer. Most of the local license plates read: Golf Capital of the World. So, sigh, how could I avoid writing about golf when my series is set here in Florida? I couldn’t. The idea made all kinds of sense.

What was the most surprising thing you learned in writing this book?

I knew there were a lot of golfers near me, but I had no idea how humongous the numbers were. Nor did I realize how many pro golfers (30) and golf courses (160) there were in my area. Totally blew me away.

If you were friends with a character in this book, what kinds of things would you do together?

If Cara Mia and I were friends, we would go to flea markets together and do our own version of Flea Market Flip. I think we’d have an absolute blast!

How do you define success as an author?

Every once in a while, a reader will write and tell me that my books got her through a difficult time in life. One woman had a son who killed himself, and my books kept her going. Another struggled with depression, had a breakdown, and then found my books. She says they’ve been a godsend. Knowing that I’ve touched people’s lives helps me through my own tough times. 

It’s all about making a difference. 

Do you have any quirky writing rituals? 

I have to have something to drink. My current favorite is LaCroix Limoncello Sparkling Water.

What does it mean to you to be called an author? 

I never think about that term. Not really. All I care about is my readers and how they feel about what I do. I work every day to improve my skills and focus on creative work that will have a positive impact on people’s lives. In short, the title “author” doesn’t matter. Not to me, at least. I just want to make a difference in this world with what I love doing. Folks can call me whatever they like.

What comes first for you — the plot or the characters?

That depends on where I am in the process. Once I’ve created a series, the characters always dictate the action. That said, I’m adding new characters to my Kiki Lowenstein Mystery Series, a set of psychically gifted women called the Miss Fits. In that case, I had to think about a logical way they could be integrated into the plot.

As an author what do you think makes a good story?

Humanity. When an author does a deep dive into his/her own feelings, it shows in the characters. I’ve read books that were plotted well, but the characters were flat because they lacked humanity. It’s a hard word to describe, but it springs from a deep commitment on the author’s part to be vulnerable and honest.

What do you look for in a story as a reader?

I try to read the way we should eat. Some veggies, a little meat, and a bit of dessert. So, when I’m reading “veggies,” I look for solid information and research. When I’m reading “meat,” I want a story I can “sink my teeth into,” one with depth, moral quandaries, and erudite writing. For “dessert,” anything goes!

Who is your audience? 

She’s a woman who has put everyone else first in her life. She loves her family and her fur babies. She does all sorts of crafts. She’s happy to learn new things and to have her eyes opened to new ideas. 

What was the defining moment that made you say to yourself, “Today, I am going to write a book that I will publish.”? 

That has never happened to me. I have always written. That’s how I process the world. Along the way, I improved my skills and learned what might appeal to readers. I never sat down and thought, “This is it.” I would just get an idea and work with it to turn it into a story that I found interesting. It’s always been a process of discovery for me.

How do you interact with your readers? 

We have twice monthly parties on Facebook. My author guests are always changing. They and I give things away. I also have a newsletter that goes out bimonthly.

How do you avoid or defeat writer’s block?

I wake up wanting to write. Once in a while, I’ll take a weekend off. When I do, I’m chomping at the bit to get back to work. This isn’t a problem for me.

What is an underrated book, series or author that you think everyone should read at least once? 

The Man Without a Country by Edward Everett Hale. It is the story of American Army lieutenant Philip Nolan, who renounces his country during a trial for treason, and is consequently sentenced to spend the rest of his days at sea without so much as a word of news about the United States. I think it’s a stark reminder not to take our nation for granted.

What is your all-time favorite book or author? Do you think this has influenced your writing? 

Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre. The book literally saved my life, because I read it when I was very young. I grew up in a dysfunctional household with violence and drinking. In Jane’s life, I saw a roadmap to a better life…getting an education. That sustained me even as I put myself through college.

Aside from writing or reading, what are your hobbies or interests?

In the evenings, I sew or crochet, do crafts, or do Zentangle. I take online lessons to improve my art skills.

What advice would you give to a writer working on their first book?

Write it all the way to the end. It’s really easy to get about halfway and think you should quit. But there’s so much to be learned by slogging your way through to those golden words “the end.”

Name three fun facts about you or your work.

When I got the advance for Death of a Schoolgirl: Book #1 in The Jane Eyre Chronicles, I bought Berwick’s History of English Birds, first edition. That’s the book Jane is reading at the start of Jane Eyre.

I’ve written seven “how to” books on scrapbooking.

A book I started 30+ years ago will be published on Amazon’s Vella this summer. It’s set in the 1980s and it’s called The Friday Night Mystery Club. Cragan Collins is a young woman struggling to make ends meet while selling newspaper advertising. Her ex-husband threatens her, trying to make her leave town. Her boss wants to fire her, and her landlord wants to evict her. Then her best friend dies, and things get really bad! But Cragan has a secret weapon: The Friday Night Mystery Club, a group of housemates who’ll put their heads together to help Cragan get out of hot water.

A Cozy Mystery That’s a Real Hit!

First they warned Jocelyn Johnson.
Then they ticketed Jocelyn Johnson.
Then someone murdered Jocelyn Johnson.

And Cara Mia Delgatto was looking for a lost ball when she found Jocelyn “JJ” Johnson face down in a sand trap. Gave a whole new meaning to “take a drop.”

It wasn’t a surprise. The neighbors hated JJ for the reckless way she drove her golf cart. Sure, she lived on the grounds of a swanky golf club, and yes, she had tons of money, but JJ ruined flowerbeds, terrorized grandkids, and made a nuisance of herself.

Except…except…she’s quiet now. Lying there in the dirt at Hole #6. Someone bashed in JJ’s head. (Who would risk ruining an expensive Homna golf club like that?)

Cara doesn’t want to get involved. But when Gerta Hunsickler is named the prime suspect, and Gerta’s husband is so angry at his wife that he’s starting divorce proceedings, Cara can’t sit on her hands. She knows what it’s like to be unfairly accused. So she promises to take a swing at it and see if she can hit a long drive down the fairway of justice!

Meanwhile, back at The Treasure Chest, Cara’s friends are busy creating fabulous and fun Mother’s Day gifts. There are two brides-to-be working for Cara, and their two mothers-in-law-to-be have decided not to play nice. Can you say, “Mama’s boy” ten times really fast? I thought you could.

If you love warm-hearted, clean books, that feature female amateur sleuths, fur babies, family, and friends, you’ll love this charming DIY/recycling/upcycling series set on the Southeast Coast of Florida

Purchase Links – Amazon 

“Our best friend, our next-door neighbor, and ourselves with just a touch of the outrageous.” That’s how RT Book Review describes Joanna’s protagonist, Kiki Lowenstein. The truth is that’s a pretty good description of Joanna Campbell Slan as well.

Joanna is a New York Times Bestselling, USA Today Bestselling, and Amazon Bestselling author as well as a woman prone to frequent bursts of crafting frenzy, leaving her with burns from her hot glue gun and paint on her clothes. And the mess? Let’s not even go there.

Otherwise, Joanna’s a productive author with more than 80 written projects to her credit. Her non-fiction work includes how to books, a college textbook for public speakers, and books of personal essays (think Chicken Soup for the Soul).

Currently, she writes five fiction series: The Kiki Lowenstein Mystery Series (Agatha Award Finalist, contemporary, St. Louis setting, crafting), the Cara Mia Delgatto Mystery Series (contemporary, Florida setting, DIY, and recycling), the Jane Eyre Chronicles (Daphne du Maurier Award Winner, 1830s England, based on Charlotte Brontë’s classic), the Sherlock Holmes Fantasy Thrillers (late 1800s, based on Arthur Conan Doyle’s books), and the Zen Cozy Mystery Series (launch 2021).

A former TV talk show host, college teacher, and public relations specialist, Joanna was one of the early Chicken Soup for the Soul contributors. She won a Silver Anvil for her work on the original FarmAid concert to benefit farmers.

In her ongoing quest never to see snow again, Joanna lives with her husband and their Havanese puppy, Jax, on an island off the coast of Florida. You can email her at jcslan@joannaslan.com or visit her website at https://linktr.ee/jcslan

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