Today we welcome cozy mystery writer, Josalyn McAllister to Novels Alive! Thank you so much for joining us today and for taking the time to answer our questions.
Thanks for having me! I’m excited to be here. I love how eclectic your blog is. I also like to read lots of different genres! 😊
What drives your story forward in your books the most, the characters or the plot, or do you feel they are intertwined?
It’s mostly character driven. It’s about a woman with a big heart and the people who need her help. It intertwines with the plot as that woman has this ability to see what people are feeling and that puts her on a path with a lot of twists and turns.
If you were a character in one of your books, which would you be? The hero/heroine, mentor, villain, love interest, etc.?
I generally pop up in a side character somewhere. A little bit of who I am goes into each one of the characters, but I usually identify most with a sidekick.
Do people you know end up as characters in your book? Be honest…
No, real people are too uncooperative for me. 😊 I do put in anecdotes people have told me. I just take them and give them to my characters. It’s straight up stealing. I wonder if someone could prosecute me for that? lol
If you could meet a literary character, who would you most like to meet?
Oooh, such a hard question! A lot of characters are so interesting to read about but might not be very fun to meet in real life. Maybe Jane Eyre. She could use a good friend and I think she and I would get along.
Was there something in your first edit that didn’t make it in the final copy?
I tend to add to drafts as opposed to taking things out. I start out with a skeleton. I did take out this terrible scene where the main character and her husband are at lunch trying to figure out what to do next. It was terribly boring. Definitely a good cut. There was another one where her book club weighs in on the murder. It was a little cluttery. Had to go.
What do you do to prepare your mind to write? To get into the mind of your characters?
I’ve found if I wait until I’m in the right mindset I will never start writing. I like to start by reading what I’ve previously written, that helps a bit. When the weather is colder I’ll make a cup of tea. I like to listen to smooth jazz on YouTube, although that’s not because a specific character likes it or anything. It just helps me focus.
What book as a child/adolescent most influenced you as a writer?
Oh, definitely all of LM Montgomery’s books. Anne of Green Gables is great but the Emily of New Moon series is my favorite. My dad spent time living in Prince Edward Island so he gave me all her books when I was really young. I was so enamored by her vivid descriptions, especially since I grew up in a really different biome than her. I used try to write just like her when I was a kid. Mostly these really saccharine character descriptions.
How much research went into your last book?
I kind of research as I go. I tend to find everything in the world fascinating, so research is a big rabbit hole for me. I once spent three hours following links on a Wikipedia page about the top 100 most unusual recorded deaths. I have to turn off my wifi when I really need to get some words written.
For this book, I also did some hiking in the mountains, which was lovely.
What’s one of the most important things you’d like your readers to know about you? What defines you most as an author?
I love twists and I love to write really relatable characters. They feel like people you know.
What is one thing about you that may surprise your readers.
I find everything fascinating. In college I drove my roommates crazy because I was always starting sentences with “Did you know…” One of my husband’s favorite anecdotes about me is when I discovered that our outlets in the basement weren’t grounded. So, I spent the rest of the day rewiring the outlets. Or the time my friend was running a half marathon so I figured I would too. I’ve never been afraid of trying new things.
Can you tell us what prompted you to write your latest release?
When I moved to Georgia three years ago I was taken with the beauty of the Appalachian mountains. I grew up out west where the mountains pierce the sky with big pointy daggers of stone. The Appalachians are older and softer somehow. Like the Rockies are some young upstart and the Appalachians are the old guy with nothing to prove. I just love them. I knew immediately that I would be using them as a setting. The small towns scattered throughout them are so charming. The people are so hospitable. And yet the history here is so complex and messy. It’s endlessly fascinating to me.
What’s next for you? What are you working on now?
There’s another book in this series coming but right now I’m working on a kind of prequel novella about how the main character met her husband. It’s really fun to explore what their characters would have been like twenty years previously.
Thanks so much for stopping by our site today, Josalyn! Your answer to our questions have been fun and gave us a little insight to you as a writer.
A Hazel Dean Mystery: Book 1
Publication Date: May 6, 2021
Hazel Dean can see other’s emotions in color.
She mostly uses it to help people find the perfect book in her shop, Books and Chocolate. But, when one of her customers is murdered, the police point to an old feud. Only Hazel can tell that the accused is innocent. She must navigate around her district attorney husband, and her surrogate uncle, the police captain, to find out what really happened.
Hazel drives, hikes and snoops all over her small Appalachian town in an attempt to bring peace to the victim’s family and prevent her community from being torn apart by old grudges.
Josalyn McAllister is a cozy fiction author whose most recent works include Love Over Easy and Guilt is Midnight Blue. Josalyn started writing character descriptions at the tender age of seven, inspired by the works of LM Montgomery. In her teenage years she moved on to Newsies fan fiction. Inspired by National Novel Writing Month, she wrote her first novel about a child she mentored in college. She has never stopped writing. Josalyn taught middle school history before deciding she would rather spend time with her own children than other peoples. A restless soul, she has moved all over the country and collected an eclectic array of hobbies. Her writing has a relatable quality that will charm and entertain you.
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