We’re travelling over the Atlantic today to meet American author Jennifer Lewis Williams. She’s chatting about her new detective series featuring Mickey Stanislawsky as well as talking about being an independently published author.
First of all, would you tell my blog readers a little about yourself?
I’m a crime fiction novelist who happens to be a recently retired lawyer. I spent the last two years handing criminal cases for an appellate court while writing my stories on the side. Now I can devote all my time to writing. I’m a twin (to a man), the youngest of five children, and was born and raised in Kansas, although I’ve made Texas my home for over twenty years now. I’ve lost three of my four furry babies in the last few years, so I currently only have my thirteen-year-old Chihuahua, Miss Lily, and a rescued Siamese cat, Mr. Percy. Although I write crime fiction, I like reading science fiction the most. Hopefully, one day, I will write some science fiction stories.
What inspired you to start writing?
I started writing poetry when I was seven years old, and I have continued that throughout my life. I didn’t start writing short stories until I went to college; when my daughter went off to college, so did I. I loved all the writing workshops and even the essay writing classes I took. When I graduated with my Bachelor of Arts degree in English-Creative Writing, I had visions of obtaining an M.F.A. degree and writing literary short stories. But, through some fortunate circumstances, I went to law school instead and began a legal writing career. Then in 2004, I discovered the National Novel Writing Month event. That year, I wrote my first novel-length story and I’ve been writing a first draft of a different novel since then.
Tell me about your journey to publication
Looking back, I’m so glad I chose to be an indie publisher. When I decided to seek and agent or traditional publication, I got the requisite rejections. But, several of the rejections came with constructive criticism and suggestions of where I might pursue next. After receiving a small amount of rejections (I only had ten), I decided that I liked what I write, I didn’t want it changed, and I would learn how to publish my novels myself. I formed my own company, hired a professional editor and cover designed, and hired a professional formatter. I published my first novel, A Murder Among Friends, in 2013. The next year, I published Highland Games Murder. And while several years passed that I did not publish (due to everyday living issues), I’m back to publishing two novels each year.
In a nutshell, what is your latest book about?
My novel Dirty Daniel is book one in my detective series. Newly-promoted detective Meshelle “Mickey” Stanislawsky has been a detective for one hour when she gets her first case. The janitor at the New Birth Free Pentecostal Church has been found dead in the church’s pantry and Mickey tracks down the killer. The remainder of the series will be published in 2020 under the titles Nasty Nathan and Filthy Fillip.
How did you come up with the title for your book?
The original title was Daniel in the Lion’s Den because the victim is found in a church, and the church and its personnel are prominent in the story. However, as I was editing the story, it became quickly apparent that the shorter Dirty Daniel described the story perfectly.
How did you celebrate publication day?
I love red wine, so I had a glass of a favourite wine, Cupcake Red Velvet, while I finished outlining the next two books in the series.
[I love the name of that wine!]
Do you have a work in progress just now?
Yes, I have a few chapters finished of the next book in the series titled Nasty Nathan, and I have a rough outline of the final book in the series titled Filthy Fillip. I also decided to expand a short science fiction story I wrote a few years ago into a series, so I’ll be working on that project as well.
What’s your favourite book you’ve read in the past few months? Or favourite three if you really can’t choose!
I can’t choose just one, but my favourite three, in no particular order, are No Man’s Land by David Baldacci, Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann, and Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler.
What are you reading just now?
I’m listening to the audio book Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman. It is fantastic!
If you were on Desert Island Discs, what one book would you take with you?
I would take Midas World by Frederik Pohl or Crystal Singer by Anne McCaffrey, I can’t pick.
How can people follow you or connect with you on social media?
My website: http://jenniferlewiswilliams.com
My Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/novelistjennifer/
And finally, if you could be a character in any book you have read, who would it be and why?
I would be Anyanwu in Octavia E. Butler’s novel Wild Seed. Anyanwu is an immortal spirit with healing powers and who can transform herself into any human or animal. I am fascinated by the shapeshifter character in most fantasy books, and Anyanwu is the ultimate shapeshifter in my opinion.
Thanks so much for taking part Jennifer. You can find details and buying links for all of Jennifer’s books on her Amazon page: Jennifer Lewis Williams