Monday, August 5, 2013

Sue Ann Jaffarian

Sue Ann Jaffarian is the author of three critically acclaimed and best-selling mystery series: The Odelia Grey series, the Ghost of Granny Apples series, and the Madison Rose Vampire Mystery series. In addition to mysteries, Sue Ann also writes general fiction and short stories, and is a motivational speaker and full-time paralegal in Los Angeles.

I've read the Odelia Grey series and the Apples series. I can attest that Sue Ann is a talented writer.
Welcome to the blog, Sue Ann.

Thanks, Susan!

How has living in L.A. affected your writing?

Both my Odelia Grey series and Ghost of Granny Apples series are based in Southern California. When writing, I try to give the reader a sense of the congestion and awful traffic, as well as the diversity of the residents. I think if there is one influence on my books, it would be the diversity of Southern California, which is fun to weave in and out of the stories and characters.

How many books have you written?

To date, I have written 15 novels, 1 novella, and 6 short stories. You can bump the novels up to 17 if you count the first  two that were never published.  By the end of the year I will have finished another novel and novella.

Give a short synop of your next book, Secondhand Stiff.

Coming out in December is Secondhand Stiff, my 8th Odelia Grey novel. Odelia’s mother, Grace Littlejohn, is visiting from New Hampshire for Thanksgiving and she and Odelia tag along with Ina, Greg’s cousin, to a storage auction where a dead body of Ina’s philandering husband is displayed in one of the storage units up for sale.

In March, Berkley released my 1st novella, The Silent Ghost, which features Kelly Whitecastle, the daughter of the series’ protagonist Emma Whitecastle, who has recently discovered her own talents for communicating with ghosts.  In The Silent Ghost, Kelly and the ghost of Granny Apples come to the aid of a young journalist. The second novella, Dummy of a Ghost, will be out this coming March and will also feature Kelly.

In April, Berkley will release Ghost of a Gamble, the 4th full-length Ghost of Granny Apples novel, in which Emma Whitecastle and Granny head to Las Vegas to help out Emma’s mentor, psychic Milo Ravenscroft, with a personal problem that leads to a kidnapping.

Do your characters take on a life of their own? If so, which is your favorite?

Oh yes! It’s as if they live all crowded together in my apartment,  jostling for my attention along with my two cats. They never seem to leave me alone when I’m home, like the place is haunted with their spirits, as if they are just waiting to jump onto the page using me as the channel.  I don’t know if I have a favorite.  Odelia Grey, being my first born, is definitely a fav, but I love writing Mike Steele, her boss. When the two of them are in a scene, they come alive right in front of me like a couple of sparring siblings.

What challenges did you face while writing this book?

Time is always a challenge. It is for any writer, but especially those of us juggling a couple of series and a day job.  It’s not enough to balance writing more than one book, but also wedging in reviewing and editing comments from the publisher while working on something else.

Do you travel to do research or for inspiration? Can you share some special places with us?

I often travel for my Ghost of Granny Apples series. It’s a paranormal series about solving the crimes and/or deaths of ghosts and often involves historical background. For that series I have traveled to Catalina Island, Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania, Las Vegas and Julian, California.  They have all been a lot of fun, but one of the most interesting trip was Jim Thorpe, where I was given a private tour of the Old Jail, supposedly haunted by the ghosts of several Molly McGuires who were executed there.

What do you think is the greatest lesson you’ve learned about writing so far? What advice can you give new writers?

Patience. Patience with your work. Patience with your publisher. Patience with your own tired brain. A book can’t be “good enough.”  It has to be the best you can produce, even if you are on a tight deadline.

Where do you store ideas for later use: in your head, in a notebook, or on a spreadsheet?

I store them on my computer, which is always backed up. Often, as soon as an idea hits me, I will write a very brief synopsis, as well as the first few pages of the book, to get me started.  Then I file it away until it’s time to work on it. That could be a few months or a few years, but I’m not starting with a blank page. The story line for the 9th Odelia Grey novel, which I’m writing now, came to me about eight years ago and was stored away until the time was right in the series to introduce it. It’s a good thing the series has lasted so long!

Right now, while I’m writing the 9th Odelia Grey book, I also have the 10th one started because a few months ago an idea struck me while I was at the car wash. As soon as I returned home, I pounded out the entire first chapter, almost without hesitation. That often happens. I have several other partially started books awaiting my attention for when the time is right. The documents section of my computer is filled with files labeled with the names of novels that may or may not ever see daylight, but they are there when I’m ready for them. When I come across interesting information or themes  that I think will work in a novel, I’ll save it and store it in a hard file to refer back to at a later time.

Can you tell us your future writing goals/projects?

As I mentioned, I’m currently working on the 9th Odelia Grey novel. It’s working title is Murder Ball. When a friend of Greg and Odelia’s is suspected of killing another quadriplegic athlete, they are hot on the trail to prove him innocent.

Also, I’m working on Dummy of a Ghost, the novella mentioned earlier, and on my 5th Ghost of Granny Apples novel, still unnamed.

Where can folks learn more about your books and events?  And they can follow me on Facebook and Twitter.  I am very active on both, and there is a Sue Ann Jaffarian Fan Club on Facebook in which we discuss all kinds of books and hold contests.

Are your books available in print and ebook formats?   

All of my novels are available in print and e-book formats. My novellas are available for e-readers only.  I am also working on bringing the Odelia Grey novels to audio books.  For a full list of books and buying information, you can check out my profile on Amazon.

 Thanks for dropping by, Sue Ann, and continued success!

I appreciate the interview, Susan.