Monday, September 19, 2011

Scene of the Crime with Author Joanna Campbell Slan!

This week's featured author stopped by in July to read one of my Scene of the Crime interviews. Emails ensued, and now I'm happy to say that I've read and enjoyed one of Joanna Campbell Slan's mysteries (you'll read the review of it next week), and it's a pleasure to have her here to answer a few of my questions.

This Agatha Award nominee for best first novel writes the Scrap-N-Craft series featuring Kiki Lowenstein, a newly widowed mother of a young daughter, who works in a scrapbooking store in St. Louis, Missouri.

Joanna Campbell Slan
If you'd like to know about Joanna, here are a few links that you can follow:


If you haven't read one of Joanna's Kiki Lowenstein mysteries, I certainly hope you'll give one a try. I'll have information about her latest at the end of the interview. Speaking of interviews, let's get started!

What was the very first book you remember reading and loving? What makes that book so special?

Fun with Dick and Jane
It must have been Dick and Jane, because suddenly I could read! And having words come alive on the page was like riding your bicycle without training wheels for the first time. The wind blows through your hair. The scenery rushes past. Nothing can stop you now. Oh, the places you’ll go!

But the first book that rocked my world was Jane Eyre. Remember, the subtitle? An Autobiography. I was too young to know it was fiction. Because I was plain and insignificant, the book gave me hope.

Outside of your writing and all associated commitments, what do you like to do in your free time?

I walk the beach and then come home to create. Zentangle. Scrapbook and paper arts. Shell mirrors and right now, the cutest shell covered purse. Jewelry. Miniature scenes. Have glue gun, will travel.

If I were to visit your hometown, where would you recommend that I go? (I like seeing and doing things that aren't in all the guide books.)

Blowing Rocks Nature Preserve
I now live on Jupiter Island in Florida, so I’d suggest that you have lunch at Guanabana’s, go shelling at Blowing Rocks Nature Preserve, visit the sea turtles at Hobe Sound Nature Center, climb to the top of Jupiter Lighthouse, wander through the House of Refuge at Gilbert’s Bar, and eat dinner at Shrimper’s on the water. Then you could come to my house. We’d sit on the balcony off my office and watch the sun set over the ocean.

[Wow-- where do I sign up???]

You have total control over casting a movie based on your life. Which actor would you cast as you?

Emma Watson
Emma Watson

I admire the intelligence that burns in her eyes. Our coloring isn’t the same, but we are both smallish and have tiny noses.

Who is your favorite recurring character in crime fiction?

That’s a tough question, and if I told you one of my author friends would probably kill me. Honestly, the more friends I have who are authors, the harder it becomes to point to any one piece of work. I read more than ever, and the mystery community has been incredibly generous to me.

Name one book that you've read that you wish you had written. What is it about that book that made it come to mind?

Lives of the Monster Dogs by Kirsten Bakis. It’s a parable based on Frankenstein, and the book forces you to wonder, “What does it mean to be human?”

What did you do the first time you saw one of your books on a shelf in a bookstore? How did you celebrate when you first heard you were to be published?

Gosh. I didn’t see my first book on the shelves—Using Stories and Humor: Grab Your Audience—for years. It’s a textbook, so very few places stocked it. But my second—Scrapbook Storytelling—was always on the shelves in Michael’s, the craft store. I would notice other shoppers looking at craft books, and one time I suggested my book to the customer. I flipped through it, showing her the features, and then stopped at the author photo and said, “Besides. I think she looks like a nice person, don’t you?” Well, that woman did a double-take. We both started laughing. She bought the book and I signed it.

Honestly, I don’t remember celebrating when I first got published. You see, I was living a very tough existence, it was a rough time in our family, so it sort of slipped past me. I know! Isn’t that sad? Now I tell every newbie—CELEBRATE. But back then, it was almost a disappointment because here I’d worked so hard and then there was just this…this box on my doorstep. So I picked it up, opened it, and recycled the cardboard.

I don't know if you've seen it, but I love Parnell Hall's video about book signings. What is the most unusual experience you've had at a book signing or author event?

I have a wonderful fan, a man who came to one of my classes, oh, fifteen years ago. He came to one of my book events and brought his wife and neighbor. They all bought copies of my books—and he and his wife refused to share with each other! Each wanted a copy of his/her own! Then he took my photo for an hour and a half. I mean, is that devoted or what? He’s just the kindest, sweetest man and I wonder what I could possibly have done that he might care so much.

The way some people talk, the only way to read now or in the future is with some sort of electronic device, like my husband's Nook. What is your opinion of eBooks, and how will they affect you as a published author?

I think they are absolutely FABULOUS. No more TBR (to be read) pile threatening to take over your bedside table. No more searching for reading glasses. No more “out of print” or “out of stock” problems. Instant gratification. The ability to look up words as you read. The ability to carry an entire library in your purse. WOW.

As an author, I am delighted. It’s not about the paper or the ink. It’s the story. Sure, I love traditionally published books. Always have. Always will. I have nine bookshelves in my house. I wish I could add more. But I buy books for both my ereader and for my bookshelves. I buy more books than ever! And with our aging baby boomer population, a group that’s ever more mobile and pressed for time, e-books make sense. Now I can reach more readers than ever, and more economically, too.

Thank you so much, Joanna, for spending this time with us.  May your book sales do nothing but increase!

The latest Kiki Lowenstein mystery!


  1. Your questions were just fabulous. Thanks so much for having me!

  2. I read Scissors, Paper, Death from the library and was really surprised at how much I enjoyed it, as I'm not really into that sort of craft (but I do like a good mystery. I had to google Zentangle to find out what it was, and I think I may be hooked - fun and portable (I travel a lot). Thanks for an interesting interview.

  3. Geranium Cat...I adore Zentangle. And I am definitely hooked. I tangle in the car, while waiting at restaurants, and any time I need to "chill." Hope you give it a whirl. Thanks for giving my books a chance!

  4. Joanna-- The pleasure's all mine!

    GC-- I thought I'd included a link to Zentangle?? Hmmm... I'm glad you enjoyed the interview!

  5. I'm a digital scrapbooker so this sounds like a fun cozy series. Zentangle sounds fascinating!

    Shelleyrae @ Book'd Out

  6. Shelleyrae-- I really enjoyed the information Joanna shared about scrapbooking and running that type of business.

  7. Cathy, funny you'd mention that. I actually have a friend in the s'b'k marketing business who suggests that s'b'k stores read my books for marketing ideas. Since my husband is a retailer, I guess it just seemed natural to me to include those.

  8. Joanna-- I was in retail for a lot fo years, and all that info is good, sound advice!


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