A Conversation with Author Jan Drexler

Giveaway Ends 7/27

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

When I was a child, I was one of those readers who would read the authors’ names on my favorite books and wonder what kind of people they were. To me, their names were magical: Beverly Cleary, Marguerite Henry, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Maud Hart Lovelace… the list is extensive!


When I published my first book, I suddenly realized that those names were people just like me. People who have given their imaginations a voice and have invited their readers into the depths of their hearts. 

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

In the Sign of the Calico Quartz, Emma Blackwood has just moved to the Black Hills of South Dakota to work in her aunt’s bed and breakfast, the Sweetbrier Inn. She is expecting a quiet summer until she finds a body in her room and is the deputy’s number one suspect.

What inspired the idea for your book?

A few years ago, my husband and I wanted to move out of the city and into the Black Hills. We toyed with the idea of opening a bed and breakfast to finance our dream until we realized that we are not cut out to be innkeepers. But the romance of the idea remained and became the Sweetbrier Inn.

Tell us about a favorite character from the book.

I like all the characters, but I have a soft spot for Thatcher, the tri-color corgi. Thatcher was our real-life dog who tragically died a few years ago. Giving him a role in this series of books is a bittersweet way to keep him in my life.

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

Naming characters is always fun. For the main characters in the series, I wanted old fashioned feminine names (Emma and Rose,) but I also wanted to bring in a tinge of sinister foreshadowing with their last name: Blackwood. Like a forest of dark pine trees, there is more than meets the eye with these two. 

Can you share a day in the life of an author?

I start my day early and I’m at my computer by 6:00. I spend about an hour working on my current project with the goal of writing at least one thousand words. I take a break for breakfast, household chores, and walking our border collie and corgi, then I’m back at my computer. During this block of time, I work on blog posts, research, preparing for the next morning’s writing, or getting more words in. After lunch I put in another couple hours. By 3:00 I’m finishing up my day.

What made you say to yourself, “Today, I am going to publish.”?

I had a lot of false starts, but in 2010 my husband accepted a new job in another city. We had moved often during our years of marriage, but this time it took six months to sell our house and finish moving our family to South Dakota. I had a lot of time on my hands, so I seized the opportunity to pursue the dream I had been putting off for years.

How do you avoid or defeat writer’s block?

I can avoid writer’s block by keeping to my writing schedule. That discipline is key for me. But sometimes a scene just isn’t working – most often because the scene I’ve planned doesn’t fit. Instead of writing my characters into a dead end, I stop what I’m doing and take a break. Sometimes it’s a few minutes outside, sometimes I have to sleep on the problem. But somewhere along the way I figure out what’s wrong and fix it in my next writing session.

How do you define success as an author?

I think an author’s success is defined by how readers respond to their work. If a story touches a reader’s heart or life, then it’s a success.

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

Write every day (five or six days a week) to keep your mind invested in your story. If you don’t feel like it’s any good, you’re probably right – no one’s first draft is any good. Keep working on it until the end, and then make it pretty during revisions.

What are you working on in the near future?

I’ve been working on the second book in the Sweetbrier Inn Mysteries, The Case of the Artist’s Mistake. In the background, I’m planning the third book in the series. At the same time, I’m gathering ideas for another series – a time-jumping historical mystery that takes place in a lighthouse in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

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

A good story has a logical progression from the beginning, through the middle and all the way to the end. The characters need to be three-dimensional, not cardboard cut-outs, and they need to change and grow through the story. It also helps if the setting is part of the story background, establishing the mood and reflecting the characters’ interactions with each other.

What is your all-time favorite author? 

My all-time favorite author is JRR Tolkien. He was a master at storytelling, especially with the depth of his characters’ backgrounds. And his descriptions…Wow! Sometimes I just stop and read a paragraph through several times to try to understand how he can paint such fabulous word pictures.

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

They grow at the same time. The plot starts first, then the characters start filling in. As I develop them, their personalities take over and move the plot along.

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

The stories I read must have a positive ending. The hero or heroine has to win and evil must be conquered.

What is the first book that you remember reading?

The PD Eastman Beginning Reader book “Go, Dog. Go.” I don’t remember the first chapter book I read – from the time I learned to put letters together into words and words together into stories, I was always reading.

What are you reading now?

Right now I’m in the middle of two series. One is from Guideposts, called the Mysteries of Lancaster County. The other series is Nancy Drew. (Would you believe I missed reading Nancy Drew when I was a child?)

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

I’m addicted to cross stitch. Any kind of needlework relaxes me. I also love hiking with my husband, gardening, and playing the piano.

What would your dream library look like?

Ladders. Definitely ladders on wheels. Without them, how would you reach the third level of bookcases? A comfy chair or two, a tea station where the water is always hot, and doors that open onto a terrace for reading al fresco. And, of course, all of my favorite books. Finally, a desk facing a window for writing.

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

“The Secret Garden.” And I would love a secret room!

If you went on a road trip with any author, who would it be, and where would you go?

Mary O’Hara, author of the “My Friend Flicka” books. We would go to the Goose Bar Ranch in Wyoming, and we’d ride high into the mountains, exploring the wild peaks and meadows she describes in her books.

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

I would homestead in Alaska. I’ve had that dream for more than fifty years. Just think of all the writing I could do during the winter!

https://amzn.to/3zr93Sx

About The Book

The Sign of the Calico Quartz (The Sweetbrier Inn Mysteries Book 1)

Emma Blackwood’s favorite pastime is solving literary murder mysteries…until the body in her living room makes everything a little too real.

When Emma comes to the Black Hills to work at her Aunt Rose’s B&B, the Sweetbrier Inn, she is hoping for a quiet break from the corporate treadmill. But she hadn’t expected murder and intrigue to mar this peaceful setting.

As she wades through too many clues to identify the murderer, she soon finds that the culprit isn’t stopping at only one homicide and may even have placed Emma herself on the list of targets. With the help of her friend Becky, and a deputy sheriff who grudgingly lets them join in on the investigation, Emma tracks down the killer. But will it be in time to save the next victim?

Purchase Link – Amazon 
Available in Kindle Unlimited

About the Author

Jan Drexler lives in the Black Hills of South Dakota with her husband, where she enjoys hiking and spending time with her expanding family. She is the author of several historical romance novels, including the award-winning Mattie’s Pledge, and is pleased to be starting a new adventure with a cozy mystery series, The Sweetbrier Inn Mysteries. You can find out more about Jan on her website: www.JanDrexler.com.

Author Links 

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July 18 – Literary Gold – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

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About the Author

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1 Comment

  1. I enjoyed this interview. I have read The Amish of Weaver’s Creek series by Jan, and I enjoyed it. I do love a good cozy mystery, so will check this one out. Great post Shellelp.

    Like

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