Jane Kelly writes books about amature sleuths, filled with a touch of humor, both in cozy and traditional mysteries. Her books can currently be found on Amazon, in both Kindle and print.
Where is your favorite vacation spot? Beach, Resort or Poolside?
Definitely a beach person. My favorite spot is on a low chair reading while the small waves wash back and forth over my feet. Favorite time of day is after the crowds go home.
Everyone takes a tote back with them when they head out for a day at the beach, what is in yours?
I long for the days when I put on a workshirt with two pockets and took a chapstick, a pack of tissues and my keys in one pocket and sunscreen in the other. I carried my book and towel. As I write this, I am thinking maybe I can get back to those days although I should add a beach chair (low for reading in the shallow water) with a cup holder and a pouch on the back. I don’t want to bring the entire house with me.
What makes your books perfect for a beach read? The setting, the story or the characters?
The books are set in New Jersey Shore towns so that makes them appropriate reading for any beach but, beyond that, they are light and humorous. They are not quite cozy. I call them polite mysteries. No blood. No sex. No violence. At least on screen.
What inspired you to start writing?
Like a lot of writers, I started with a mystery because I wanted to kill someone. In my first Meg Daniels book, her boss gets killed. I also liked the idea of creating a series and getting to know a character. A friend of a friend unknowingly gave me encouragement. I had never met her when we were both at the same lunch. After a bit, she turned to me and asked, “Are you a writer?” When I said, “No,” she said, “You should be.” That comment was inspiring.
If you could tell your younger writing-self anything, what would it be?
Be persistent. Take yourself seriously. Prepare. My first agent told me I had the best rejection letters he ever saw. At that point, I did not persist. I thought I’d had an interesting experience that was over. A mistake. A major editor said he would read anything else I wrote. Did I write something to submit? No. A mistake. Did I attend conferences or take classes to learn more about the market and my craft? No. Another mistake. Persist.
How many plot ideas are just waiting to be written? Can you tell us about one?
I have about a half-dozen, half-written books that I would love to have time to get back to. I recently found two books that I had completed in the 1980s. I was thrilled to discover I did not know “who dun it.” I started updating a mystery where the heroine gets to live a fantasy of mine: being one of the guests assembled in a luxurious drawing room in the middle of a stormy night for the unveiling of a murderer. I got halfway through the revisions when higher priorities called. I hope to go back soon.
How do you select the names of your characters?
I go all out selecting character names. I always look back to the people who named them. Usually, a character’s parents are not in the book, but the name they picked says a lot about them and their expectations for their child. If the character has acquired a nickname that says more about what they actually became. Or, if they named themselves what they want to become. Of course, I always check the Social Security database. One of my favorite ways I ever identified the age of a historical character depended on data from Social Security. “Most women named Edna were at least twenty years ahead of me in life. As were the Mildreds, the Ethels and the Mabels. The Kathys, Susies and Pattys were the ones who on most days poured into the driveway behind my house to play. There were no Madisons, Kaylies, or even Kendras yet. I hailed from the Helen, Betty and Margaret generation although my parents had chosen to give me the rather plain, or as they called it classic, name of Katherine.”
Do you base your characters real people?
Never. A character may be inspired by someone but each character develops into their own person that, in the end, has very little in common with the original individual. I started writing mysteries because I wanted to kill my boss. In the end, I killed a boss, a far more sinister man than my boss ever was. I used to keep a list of quirks I observed thinking I would assign them to characters. I never did. The characters developed their own quirks. They really do take over.
I love the new term Jane has used for her books~polite mysteries! Besure to check out her Pinterest Boards as well as her books!