Once again, I stumbled into quite a famous author without realizing it, and this week I am pleased to bring in Joanna Campbell Slan.
Sometimes I ask an author to join us and I have had to scramble to collect enough information to have something for them to expound upon, but in the case of Ms. Slan, we will not be able to scratch the surface of her work and life. In fact, I hardly know where to start, (and will hate to stop).
Publisher’s Weekly called Joanna’s work: “A cut above the usual craft-themed cozies.”
Her books are also described as “clean and realistic”, and Library Journal adds: “topically relevant”;
from what I have read, I concur.
Welcome, Joanna! I had not realized until recently that we have THIRTY Facebook friends in common.
Thank you for inviting and interviewing me. Oh, my gosh. Thirty Facebook friends in common? That’s enough for a terrific party. Or a bus trip. Or a choral group. Amazing!
You describe your female protagonists as “spunky”. Are you “spunky”?
I looked up “spunky” just to make sure that I am. It’s defined as courageous, spirited, determined, and brave. The Oxford Dictionary said it also means “sexually attractive,” which was a new one on me. (I’ll have to check that out with my husband, David.) That last definition aside, yes, I’m spunky. I grew up in a chaotic, alcoholic home. My parents were abusive. We were briefly on welfare. Despite that rocky beginning, I’ve lived a wonderful life. I’ve been happily married for 35 years to a wonderful man. We have a terrific son who recently married a lovely girl. I live in Paradise. Truly, it is. I’ve been blessed with loyal, enthusiastic readers who have stuck with me and often who’ve become my dearest friends. Most of all, I love what I do! Even when my career has hit speedbumps, I have always gotten back on my feet and tried again.
( The you are definitely “Spunky”, Joanna!)
Library Journal also said that your books are “chock-full of side stories”, in fact, your Kiki Lowenstein scrapbooking series of cozies has a spin-off in the Cara Mia Delgatto “Second Chance” series. However, The Jane Eyre Chronicles seem to be a departure. What made you decide to write a historical mystery? Especially one that’s a well-known classic?
Growing up in the way I did, I often turned to books as a way to escape. Jane Eyre was a lifesaver. Jane protests that she is poor, obscure, plain, and little, but she goes on to love and be loved. That gave me hope. I hated to see the book end, so continuing it was a natural next step.
The Jane Eyre Chronicles
Let’s get into the themes of your stories. You have a wide variety of interests and your books are instructive. Let’s let those unfamiliar with your works get an idea:
Scrapbooking/Journaling: “Kiki Lowenstein Mystery Series”, plus “Scrapbook Telling”, “One Minute Journaling”, “Quick and Easy Pages”, “Best of British Scrapbooking and Cardmaking”(to be released in digital format on February 14, 2019) , (Patricia Kiyono, take note!) and several others.
Thriftshop/Repurposing: “Cara Mia Delgatto, Second Chance Series” and her Short Story Series.
Miniatures: “Dollhouse Decor and More Series”
Cooking: “Cooking Up Crime” (A “Happy Homicides” Anthology) and “The Coloring Club Cookbook”, which combines crafting and cooking. [Dear to my heart, as I have another blog “Tonette Joyce: Food, Friends, Family”]
You actually have a “Coloring Club”, can you tell us more about it?
After I posted a picture I’d colored and my readers responded to it, I realized how fun it was to share what I’d labored over. “Joanna’s Coloring Club” was born (https://www.facebook.com/groups/1913215222271455). Two sweet friends of mine—Dee Dee Cooper and Dianna Vosburgh—administrate it for me. They’re terrific. We give away coloring books to encourage participation. The members have formed the most amazing relationships. It’s a creative support group filled with good friends.
How much of these do you still put your hand to with your busy life?
All of it. I can’t imagine a life without creating something or another. I recently learned how to do Japanese Boro Stitching. Rather than throw away a favorite top that had gotten a few drops of bleach on it, I covered the spots with fabric and did my best attempt at Boro Stitching. When I was done, my husband thought I’d bought the top that way! As for dollhouses, I recently won First Prize for my Witches Hutch project. (https://www.pinterest.com/joannaslan/miniatures-by-joanna-campbell-slan/) and right now I’m gearing up to start a new project.
Among your other talents which you share is Public Speaking and Motivational/Inspirational Works. Several of your books are available on the subject: “Using Stories and Humor: To Grab Your Audience”, “Too Blessed to Be Depressed”, and “Bless This Mess”. You’ve also had essays that appear in five of the New York Times Bestselling Chicken Soup for the Soul books.
Yes, I was one of the earliest contributors to the Chicken Soup series. One of my stories was actually picked up by the now-defunct PAX network and turned into a TV program.
Do you still get on the road for lectures?
No. It was so funny. My handouts kept getting bigger and bigger! It became clear that I loved writing more than speaking. Being a speaker is a tough lifestyle that’s physically demanding. That said, I love traveling– I’ve been to Europe, Eastern Europe, Australia, China, Japan, Korea, Canada, Central America, the Caribbean, and Egypt. Our family lived in the UK for a year. I love meeting people, but I also need a lot of alone time because I’m naturally an introvert. By the way, the best part of those trips were all the unexpected discoveries. Like the cab driver in Japan who took me to see a statue of Buddha that was three stories tall, and the Bedouin trader in Egypt who served me hibiscus tea in his tent.
I’d like to talk about your home…on a barrier island off of Florida! How did you come to live in this place, when your husband’s business, is mostly in the Washington, DC area, (where I was born and raised)?
When we first moved to DC ten years ago, the area was hit by a Snow-mageddon, dumping five feet of white stuff on the ground. Unlike the Midwest, where I grew up, people in DC had no idea how to cope with all that snow. The roads weren’t completely cleared for months. I’ve always had a bad case of seasonal blues, and that year I cried for weeks on end. David decided we needed a warm place for our home base. (He has businesses in Missouri, Illinois, Virginia, Maryland, and DC so he was willing to commute.) Since I was born in Florida, and my sisters live here, we began looking for a house on the beach here. We found a deserted cottage that had actually been built as a combination guest house and art studio. I immediately fell in love with the property even though it was in bad shape. The paint was peeling. Rats lived in the attic. Weeds and hibiscus had grown up to cover the windows. Despite all that, we suspected the house had a fabulous view of the ocean—and it does. Everyone who visits falls in love. I truly live in Paradise, here on Jupiter Island.
You husband has Steinway piano galleries in Baltimore, Tysons Corner, Richmond, Bethesda, Springfield (IL), and St. Louis. Although I am sure that he is discreet, are you ever tempted to take inspiration from the stories he must have, given the vast, important locations and nature of his clientele?
I certainly do. Thanks to his many years in the business, I’ve met a lot of fascinating people from all walks of life. Many of them have become our dearest friends. They’ve shared their insights, their knowledge, and their expertise with me. Some of them have even suggested ways to bump people off and places to hide bodies.
I assume the DC connection is how you were involved in a Chesapeake Crimes volume, and you have been part of a number of the “Happy Homicides” anthologies. Do you have a preference for novels, series, short stories or instructive books?
Actually, I just love writing. It’s how I process life. I see something, read something, or encounter something, and I want to organize it in my mind. Writing allows me to do that.
I can’t let you go without mentioning your other works, such as your “Jane Eyre Mysteries” where you continue her story and have her solve crimes in her world, and “The Glassblower’s Wife”, (which is, in fact, a novella). What inspired you to write this one?
My sister, Jane, sent me information about a group of assassins hired to kill glassblowers who had escaped from Venice. The story was intriguing, and my research added all sorts of new wrinkles. My recollections from our family’s visit to Versailles came in handy for that particular book.
You just published a very funny blog post on the joy of audiobooks, which I have just taken a shine to within the last year. How many of your own books are on audio? Have you been happy with the way they were read?
Paper, Scissors, Death: Book #1 in the Kiki Lowenstein Mystery Series is the first of my books to be made into an audiobook. The narrator, Nicole Blessing, did a fabulous job. She has a four octave vocal range, and by golly, I think she used all of it in making the characters so incredibly distinctive. I hope this will be the beginning of many projects that she and I do together.
Thank you so much for taking time out of your busy life to join us, Joanna Campbell Slan!
How can our readers learn more about you and your works?
Second Chance at Faith: Book 3 in the Second Chance Series will be released March 18. If you love history, mystery, and a little bit of love, you’ll enjoy my Second Chance series set on the Treasure Coast of Florida. Cara Mia Delgatto is a spunky entrepreneur who believes whole-heartedly in second chances. She and her crew at The Treasure Chest take unwanted items and turn them into objects of desire by upcycling, recycling, and repurposing them. Along the way, crime happens (naturally!)—and when it does, Cara put all her creative energy into seeing that justice is done.
Thank you so much for having me, Tonette! I’m delighted to share a free book with the readers of this blog. Love, Die, Neighbor is the prequel to the Kiki Lowenstein Mystery Series. You can download your copy here: https://dl.bookfunnel.com/vamihbvtgg
Thank you so much for thebook and for a fantastic interterview, Joanna! We will efinitely be in touch, (you are lucky that I don’t live next door!)
List of Joanna’s Works – http://tinyurl.com/JoannaSlan
Joanna’s Website – http://www.JoannaSlan.com
Facebook – http://www.Facebook.com/JoannaCampbellSlan
Joanna’s Readers Facebook Group – https://www.facebook.com/groups/1602372550058785/?ref=br_rs
Joanna’s Coloring Club – https://www.facebook.com/groups/1913215222271455/
Twitter – http://www.twitter.com/JoannaSlan
LinkedIn – www.LinkedIn.com/in/JoannaSlan
Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/JoannaCampbellSlan
Amazon Author Page – http://tinyurl.com/JoannaSlan
Pinterest – https://www.pinterest.com/joannaslan/