Monday, June 20, 2011

Scene of the Crime With Author Jessica Speart

I was familiar with Jessica Speart's series featuring U.S. Fish and Wildlife agent Rachel Porter (which begins with Gator Aide), but it was her latest book, Winged Obsession, that held me down and wouldn't let me come up for air.

Jessica was born and raised a Jersey girl, and her passion for animals began during a trip to Africa. Her writing career began when she started writing articles about wildlife law enforcement, endangered species issues, and the environment and sold them to magazines. The books came when she realized the characters in her articles were stranger than fiction.

Jessica Speart
If you'd like to know more about this author, let's start with a list of her Rachel Porter mysteries and follow it with these other sites:

Now, let's get started with that interview!

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

I read so many good books while growing up.  However, one that made a memorable impression was Misty of Chincoteague by Marguerite Henry.  What’s not to love about ponies running around on “the isle of wild things?”  It was adventure and nature all rolled into a marvelous story.

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

Writing takes up most of my time, but spare moments are spent reading, traveling and seeing friends.  I also try to take advantage of living near NYC and all that it has to offer.

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.)

I’m afraid my hometown is a pretty quiet place with just a post office, general store and a small restaurant serving breakfast and lunch.  But it’s also a magical town with land preserves, streams and plenty of wildlife.  There’s even a secret spot where I can go and pick blueberries to my heart’s content. [Sounds like a wonderful place to me!]

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

You’ve stumped me on this one.  I hope to be pleasantly surprised one day.

You and I are both wildlife lovers. I grew up in farm country in central Illinois. I idolized my grandfather, and I'd always go out hunting with him and our dogs. I never liked it when he shot anything, and I wouldn't eat meals with my grandparents when they ate what he shot. One fall morning, I remember tromping through a spent cornfield, and as Grampa took a shot at a quail, I thought, Grampa's not the only person around here who goes hunting. Are there enough quail or pheasants or rabbits to go around? That's when I started reading about conservation and endangered species.  Was there any particular "A-ha Moment" for you? 

My "A-ha Moment?"  It was when my mother became furious with a cat for killing a bird.  Then she realized we basically do the same thing by eating meat.  We both became vegetarian as a result.  At least for many years.  I still rarely eat red meat.

Who is your favorite recurring character in crime fiction?

Okay, I admit to having a soft spot for Jack Reacher in the Lee Child series.  But then, don’t most women who read one of his books?

Before your very first published mystery, what else had you written (short stories, articles, unpublished manuscripts)?

I worked as a freelance writer for magazines before my Rachel Porter mystery series was published.  I specialized in wildlife law enforcement and endangered species issues.  That continues to be the focus of my books.

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?

What did I do the first time I saw one of my books on a bookstore shelf?  That’s easy.  I turned it face out.  My celebration was to buy a nice bottle of wine.

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? 

Everyone has horror stories about bookstores signings.  Parnell Hall was clever enough to sum it up in a song.  I think the worst signing I ever had was in Michigan where my audience consisted of just two senior citizens.  Both were hard of hearing.  I not only had to shout the entire time, but they didn’t even buy a book.

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 don’t see eBooks as a ghastly threat to the future of print books.  They’re here and are not going away.  I like to think of it as an alternative.  I just hope people continue to read. [That is the important thing!]

Thank you so much for spending this time with us, Jessica, and for giving us such a wonderful book as Winged Obsession!


  1. That Misty of Chincoteague cover comes in handy, doesn't it?

    Nice interview. I'll have to look for her books.

  2. This sounds like just the kind of mystery series I like, being both a Nevada Barr fan and interested in the concept of wildlife law. Interesting interview--thanks to both of you, I have a new series to look forward to!

  3. I realized just how many girls loved Misty of Chincoteague when Dave and I went there years ago. Nearly every woman I met was there because of that book. I already have this series on my wish list and I'm happy to know more about the author.

  4. Pepper-- You should've heard me laugh when I saw her answer! If I were interviewing myself, I think I'd choose King of the Wind. LOL!

    JaneGS-- Fantastic!

    Barbara-- Glad we could be of help!


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