It’s time for another fun cozy mystery author interview. I’m featuring J.L. Collins today. She’s the author of several series including the Witch Hazel Lane Mysteries, the Spell Maven Mysteries, and the Ice Witch Mysteries. Right now, you can grab the first books in several of her series for only 99c so be sure to check out Grits in the Graveyard, A Cold Case in Spell, and Spell Maven from Spell Haven.
I loved her answers to my questions, especially the part about saving cookies from Cookie Monster’s delicious destruction! Grab a beverage, a snack (maybe some cookies that Cookie Monster didn’t eat), and have read below to find out what J.L. has to say about writing, penguins, and cookies.
Interview with J.L. Collins
1 – What inspired you to write your books?
A love for murder at the tender age of nine. Actually, that’s not exactly far off—I’ve loved mysteries my whole life. I was and still am a very curious person so when someone gives me something to solve, I’m in heaven!
Writing a book can sometimes feel like an exercise in futility, but I’ve only ever known passion for it. There are, at any given time, ten or so plots spinning around my brain. Any time I go anywhere, see something new, hear about something funny, all of it gets categorized into ‘I’ve gotta write about this’ boxes. So I guess the short answer is everything!
2 – What’s your favorite thing about cozy mysteries?
They’re so much fun. It’s a delicate line to balance lightheartedness and murder, but when you see it being pulled off it can put a smile on your face even in the midst of the worst day.
3 – Do you have any writing rituals?
I wouldn’t say I have rituals per se, more like weird tics.
I always have my headphones on listening to some kind of music and when the music hits the scene just right, I’m bobbing my head like a pigeon. No, seriously! My kids and husband have called me out on it several times. There’s video evidence that won’t see the light of day.
I also get cold hands pretty quickly while typing, so when I’m really on a roll with the words I always rub my hands together really fast like I’m standing in front of a bonfire. Why? I have no idea but it’s a surefire sign that you should approach me cautiously.
4 – What’s more important – character or plot?
Ooh, that’s a good question! I’m personally a sucker for characters. My books are all character-driven because that’s what I like to read. To me, plot-driven books are great but they can feel distant, if that makes sense? And I like to be pulled into a book via a character right away. The classics are an exclusion, but newer works? I’m all about characters.
5 – What do you like best about being an author? What do you like the least?
Best… I love working for myself doing the thing I always told myself I would do one day. In the middle of this business it can feel like you’re treading water sometimes, throwing books that you love out into the void, but I can still say it’s my job. How many people can say they’re living their dream job?
Least… The mechanics and back-end stuff. It’s so boring I won’t even go into detail but I know fellow authors are nodding their heads, mumbling to themselves.
6 – What’s your favorite cookie? If you don’t like cookies, what’s wrong with you? Oops, sorry, scratch that. My follow-up question was meant to be far more polite – “Why don’t you like cookies?”
Favorite cookie? Can’t I pick more than one?
All right fine, you drive a hard bargain. If I was in a room with Cookie Monster and I could only save one type of cookie from his delicious destruction, I would pick the chocolate cookies with peanut butter chips. Chocolate & PB are the yin and yang flavors in the world and I would be doing everyone a disservice by allowing their demise.
7 – A penguin walks through your front door wearing a sombrero. What does he say and why did he come visit you?
First, I would spray him down with Lysol and request him to stand at least the standard six feet away. There would be scouring involved most likely. Then I would remind him that the show doesn’t start until nine pm, but since he’s already here, I’ll save him a seat down in front. The curtains open, the spotlight goes on, and the piano man is playing a sad tune. Pierre the penguin downing his second bottle of tequila already, stumbles to centerstage and starts woefully singing along in French. Yes, French. What, French penguins can’t wear sombreros?
What happens next is a mystery. See? Characters > Plot.
8 – What else would you like us to know about you?
My books are cozy but they’re more than ‘just cozies.’ There’s a mystery in every book, but an engaging plot that carries out through each series, too.
The first books in my last three series are all only 99c—perfect for a fun read. And I have a new series coming in May, all about a woman getting trapped in a town hidden in a cursed eternal winter. There’s a talking owl, need I say more?
I also have a newsletter where I routinely show off sneak peeks, deleted scenes, and hold a monthly giveaway. Last month my giveaway winner got their prize and also got to pick which non-profit I sent an additional amount to, to help fight the current COVID-19 pandemic.
Your readers should check it out! ❤
About J.L. Collins
J. L. (Jerri) lives in the Lowcountry of South Carolina, with her family and feisty canine. She loves delicious southern food, dogs, Carolina sunrises on the beach, shopping on King Street, and curling up with about twenty different books on the weekends. When she gets the rare chance, she also likes to go exploring and learning more about Charleston’s rich history!
Editor’s Note: Thanks so much for the interview, J.L.! You cracked me up with your comment about having the penguin observe social distancing. 🙂