I first “met” Jess Lourey on Facebook and instantly liked her based on her interests and posts. She was not only a talented writer, but damn funny to boot. Then when I met her in person a few weeks ago at her Once Upon A Crime book signing, I knew my instincts were right. She stood up and gave me a hug and was as warm and friendly as could be. I’m reading November Hunt right now and love it. It’s laugh-out-loud funny without being the least bit cheesy. It is that perfect blend of humor and mystery that is so hard to achieve. You can buy it here. Here is Jess in her own words:
1. Describe your writing routine and/or schedule?
I wish I had one. I’m the mother of a 13-year-old and a 10-year-old, and I’m also a full-time college instructor. Time is at a premium. When I’m working on a book–and I write 2-3 a year–I demand 2000 words a day, 5 days a week from myself. Somehow, I do it, and I turn out a first draft in two months. Here’s what I tell my students: the trick isn’t finding time to write. The trick is making writing important to you, and we all make time for what is important.
2. What do you do if you get writer’s block?
Don’t believe in it. I also don’t believe in teacher’s block, accountant’s block, doctor’s block…some days are easier/better/happier than others, but writing is a job that you gotta do even when you don’t feel like it.
3. Who do you read, or recommend other writer’s read, in regards to craft?
William Kent Krueger is a fabulous fiction author who always blows me away with his ability to craft characters and write dialogue. I love Isabel Allende’s prose. As far as the craft of fiction, Vogler’s The Writer’s Journey, Knight’s Creating Short Fiction, LaMott’s Bird by Bird, and King’s On Writing are all excellent.
4. Who do you read for fun?
Suzanne Collins, Kristin Cashore, any fantasy writer who can turn out a good trilogy with strong female characters.
5. When did you first know you wanted to be a writer? Tell us about it.
I grew up in a family that valued reading, and valuing writing was a natural extension of that. Plus, I’ve got a busy brain, and writing quiets it.
6. What advice would you give an aspiring writer?
Read, read, read, but read as a writer rather than as a reader. Just like a chef has to consume a new meal differently than a layperson, a writer has to read with different awareness than someone reading purely for pleasure. Francine Prose’s Reading Like a Writer offers insight into how to do that.
7. What do you think is the most important skill to have to succeed as a writer?
Hmm. I don’t know if I believe there is a single most important skill. How about a trio of qualities: perseverance, self-awareness, and love of the written word.
8. What is your favorite food and/or drink?
Red wine and dark chocolate. Unless there is a strong ale and some salty potato chips lying around. Sigh. I’m hungry.
9. Do you have a favorite book or movie?
Here’s a dirty secret about me: I am a fan of SyFy Channel original movies. Think really bad creature features where you can see the zipper down the monster’s back in some frames. LOVE IT! And because of my love for this “genre,” I am working on a screenplay called Hog! (The exclamation point is part of the title. Of course.)
10. Is there anything I didn’t ask you that you’d like to share?
I’ll be teaching an online Intro to Creative Writing course through St. Cloud Technical and Community College this fall. Registration opens next week, the course cam be taken from anywhere with Internet access for 3 college credits, and we’ll cover poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, screenwriting, and publishing.
Thanks for having me!
Editor’s note: Here is a terribly blurry picture of me and Jess at Once Upon A Crime. I figured I’d pick the blurry picture over the one with eyes closed.
Jess Lourey is the author of the Lefty-nominated Murder-by-Month mysteries set in Battle Lake, Minnesota, and featuring amateur sleuth, Mira James. Jess has been teaching writing and sociology at the college level since 1998. November Hunt is the sixth book in the series, and Booklist gave it a starred review, saying, “It’s not easy to make people laugh while they’re on the edge of their seats, but Lourey pulls it off!”
When not raising her wonderful kids, teaching, or writing, you can find her gardening, traveling, and navigating the niceties and meanities of small-town life. She is a member of Sisters in Crime, The Loft, and Lake Superior Writers, and serves on the national board of Mystery Writers of America.