A Conversation with Author Nancy Lynn Jarvis

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

NLJ- It was a hard designation for me to accept. I consider myself a story teller or a writer, but after a dozen novels, two edited books, and a little book of short stories, I guess I am an author, scary as that seems.

  IR- Can you tell us a bit about the story and its main characters?  

NLJ- This is the third book in the PIP Inc. Mysteries series. It begins with protagonist Pat Pirard, a recently downsized law librarian, taking on her third case. Pat is still wearing a wrist cast after breaking her arm in a confrontation with a killer in the second book, The Funeral Murder, so when she’s hired by the City of Watsonville to unearth the identity of an older woman who died in her bed, she’s delighted that her next job promises to be a simple computer-based research project. 

Why is it that things are never as simple as she thinks they will be? Pat soon discovers nothing is as it seems, beginning with a corpse who had secret identities, murder, and a post-death ritual thought to have last been performed decades ago.

  IR- What inspired the idea for your book? 

NLJ- I thought it would be interesting to have Pat work a case where nothing is as it seems. I’ve always been fascinated by sin eaters, typically poor people in England who, for a fee, would perform a ritual eating of the dead’s sins so they could get to heaven quickly and decided to work them into the story.

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

That sin eaters are still around today, although now they style themselves as self-sacrificing community do-gooders who try to right wrongs rather than eating sins.

IR- Tell us about a favorite character from the book. 

NLJ- Pat’s BFF Syda Gonzalez is my favorite character. She’s an artist in search of her muse who has tried painting, working with glass, writing (really cheesy noir books), and has now taken up jewelry making. She’s an over the top character who likes to dress up in disguises and is always there for Pat. Unfortunately, she’s also always ready to interfere in Pat’s love life.

IR- Where did you come up with the names in the story? 

NLJ- Pat Pirard is based on a friend of mine, a real life former law librarian who is now a private investigator. Her first name is Pat and her last name begins with a P. I kept her first name and the P in her last name but changed the rest of her last name. I saw Syda’s name on a campaign lawn sign for a woman running for judge. I had never come across that name before and liked it, so I stole it.

Most of the other prominent characters in this book have alliterated names: Margaret Meeks, Michael Meeks, Betty Biggs, and Evelyn Evergood. I didn’t set out to do that, but once I realized what I was doing, I had fun with it.

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

NLJ- We would definitely drink coffee and eat chocolate together and we would share pets. Pat’s Dalmatian, Dot, and her ginger cat, Lord Peter Wimsey, are modeled on long passed pets of mine.

IR- How do you define success as an author?  

NLJ- Having fun creating books and getting feedback that readers enjoy what you’ve written.

IR- What difference do you see between a writer and an author? 

NLJ- A writer writes. An author finishes and puts her work out for others to read, a terrifying process.

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

NLJ- I started writing as a game because I was bored. I finished The Death Contingency, the first book in the Regan McHenry Real Estate Mysteries series, but never intended to publish it. That changed when a friend told me she was dying and, though she was always an aspiring author, she never finished a book or saw her name in print. I published my book hurriedly with a dedication to her in it so she could see her name in print before she died.

IR- How do you avoid or defeat writer’s block? 

NLJ- I’m very undisciplined when I write. If I get stuck, like I did with The Corpse’s Secret Life because I was displaced for many months after the CZU fire in California severely damaged my house, I just put the book aside until I feel ready to write.

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

NLJ- Realize you will never write a perfect book, but finish what you are writing. My first book wasn’t my best, but I’ve gained skills over time. You will, too. 

IR- What are you working on in the near future? 

 The Corpse’s Secret Life is barely out, but I’m already outlining the fourth book in the series. Pat gets engaged at the end of The Corpse’s Secret Life…unconventionally…so there will be a wedding in the next book, but since it’s a cozy, the wedding will be unconventional, too.

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

NLJ- At the start of a series, the characters come first. Once I have my recurring characters, it’s all about putting them in the story so the plot comes first.

IR- Who is your audience?

NLJ-  Me. I write for a primarily female audience of a certain age who enjoy the challenge of trying to solve the crime before the protagonist does, enjoy laughing along the way, and expect to swim past several red herrings along the way.

IR- What has been your favorite reader feedback?  

NLJ- The most memorable feedback I ever received was from a woman who said she read one of my books to a dying friend who held on until the book was finished because she was so involved that she had to know how the book ended before she died.

IR- What would your dream library look like?

NLJ-  It would be massive and the walls would be high enough that I could have a rolling library ladder.

IR- If your book were made into a movie, which actors would play your

NLJ- Eddie Redmayne would be Tim, Emma Stone would be Pat, Drew Barrymore would be Syda, and Mrs. Evergood would be played by British actress Una Stubbs if she were still alive and could do a Canadian accent.

IR- If you had a secret room that opened by pulling a book on a shelf, what book would you choose? 

A Harry Potter book, of course.

IR- If you knew you could not fail, what would you do? 

NLJ- Hock everything, I owned, convince family and friends to do the same so we would have exploration money, and then find the wreck of a fabulously treasure-laden sunken ship and salvage it. I’d probably write my first nonfiction book about the adventure after we were all fabulously wealthy with the proceed from the treasure salvage.

All I needed to know about Pat, I learned in the first few pages of book 1 in this series. I am glad to see that not much has changed. She still uses her superpower deductive skills, and she still carries the leopard print briefcase, though, for a few moments in this installment of the series, I almost mourned the iconic fashion statement.

In The Corpse’s Secret Life, Pat, who is still recovering from her injury from her last case has been tasked with finding out the identity of a jane doe so that the coroner can put her case to rest. It doesn’t take Pat long to realize she has more on her hands than a simple death. The woman was most likely murdered and Pat seems to have stumbled on to the murderer in the course of her investigation.The story is more a clean international mystery than Cozy, but it is a great read with wonderfully layered characters, plenty of suspense, and a classic whodunnit ending. Needless to say, I will be back for more PIP investigations.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

I received an advance review copy for free through Great Escapes Virtual Book Tours, and I am leaving this review voluntarily

About The Book

The Corpse’s Secret Life (A PIP Inc Mystery)

Pat’s fledgling private investigation company, PIP Inc., has a promising new case.

Pat is still wearing a wrist cast after breaking her arm in a confrontation with a killer, so when she’s hired by the City of Watsonville to unearth the identity of an older woman who died in her bed, she’s delighted that her next job promises to be a simple computer-based research project.

Why is it that things are never as simple as she thinks they will be? Pat soon discovers nothing is as it seems, beginning with a corpse who had secret identities, murder, and a post-death ritual thought to have last been performed decades ago.

Purchase Link – Amazon 

About the Author

Nancy Lynn Jarvis left the real estate profession after she started having so much fun writing the Regan McHenry Real Estate Mysteries series that she let her license lapse. She’s enjoyed writing about Regan and her husband, Tom, but decided it was time to do a new series.

PIP Inc. introduces protagonist downsized law librarian and not-quite-licensed Private Investigator Pat Pirard. “The Funeral Murder” is the second book in the series.

After earning a BA in behavioral science from San Jose State University, Nancy worked in the advertising department of the San Jose Mercury News. A move to Santa Cruz meant a new job as a librarian and later a stint as the business manager for Shakespeare/Santa Cruz at UCSC.

Currently, she’s enjoying being a member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and Santa Cruz Women of Mystery.

Author Links

Website https://www.nancylynnjarvis.com/
Facebook https://www.facebook.com/SantaCruzBooksforyou
Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/2918242.Nancy_Lynn_Jarvis



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1 Comment

  1. Thank you for having me on your blog and for the great definition of what the book is. I’m going to use “international mystery” to describe it going forward.


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