Today, Bookpleasures.com is pleased to have as our guests Joyce and Jim Lavene, award-winning, bestselling fiction authors as themselves, J.J. Cook, and Ellie Grant.

They have written and published more than 60 novels for Harlequin, Berkley, Amazon and Gallery Books along with hundreds of non-fiction articles for national and regional publications. They live in rural North Carolina with their family.

Good day Joyce and Jim and thanks for participating in our interview.

Norm:

How did you get started in writing? What keeps you going and did you always write together as a team? 

Joyce:

I started writing poetry when I was about nine years old and graduated to novels and short stories when I was fourteen. I loved to read and I think that spurred me to want to write. What has always kept me going, even before I ever thought about being published, was the writing.

Jim:

I never considered myself a writer until I met my wife. I have always had a love of reading and of words, but was hesitant about writing. I had only written a few poems before we started writing together. I can’t imagine my life without writing now and that’s what keeps me going.

Norm:

Are you a plot or character writers? 

Joyce:

I’m definitely a plotter. I love the way the pieces of the story fit together.

Jim:

I like the intricacy of characters with their faults and strengths. 

Norm:

What helps you focus when you write? 

Joyce:

The story.

Jim:

Keeping my eye on the goal. 

Norm:

What do you want your work to do? Amuse people? Provoke thinking?

 

Joyce:

I want people to have a good time reading our work. We don’t write anything serious enough to be called thought provoking. That’s what I love about it.

Jim:

We write fun books. People read to escape. We try to help provide that escape. 

Norm:



What do you believe makes a good story?
 

Joyce:

A feeling of realism, even when it’s completely impossible.

Jim:

Characters who are moving through life, facing obstacles and becoming new people. 

Norm: 

In fiction as well as in non-fiction, writers very often take liberties with their material to tell a good story or make a point. But how much is too much?

Joyce:

There isn’t too much in fiction. 

Jim:

I think everything, even the craziest material, should be based in fact. 

Norm:

How has your environment/upbringing colored your writing?

 

Joyce:

My upbringing was very vanilla. I would never want to write that way. 

Jim:

I was raised in very poor areas of Chicago that were very rich in diversity. I can’t imagine a book that doesn’t include all people of all races, including aliens!

Norm: 

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing? 

Joyce:

Sometimes, Jim. Mostly, leaving the computer! 

Jim:

My challenge is setting guidelines for our work so we get up from it every so often, and then getting Joyce to go along with them. 

Norm:

Where do you get your information or ideas for your books? 

Joyce:

Everywhere! 

Jim:

Newspapers. Magazines. Walks through the park. Rides through the country. Carnivals. Fairs. Weddings. Beaches. You get the idea. I just didn’t want to say the same thing she said.

Norm: 

What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?

Joyce:

That two writers could work together. I had always thought of writing as a solitary occupation. 

Jim:

How much fun it is! 

Norm:

What would you like to say to writers who are reading this interview and wondering if they can keep creating, if they are good enough, if their voices and visions matter enough to share? 

Joyce:

Every voice, every vision, is good enough to share. Maybe it doesn’t fit into the accepted guidelines for what publishers or society wants to see, but that doesn’t make it unimportant. 

Jim:

We are all storytellers. We should tell our stories. 

Norm:

Where can our readers find out more about you and your books?

Joyce & Jim:

Our WEBSITE 

Norm:

Are you working on any books/projects that you would like to share with us? (We would love to hear all about them!) 

Joyce & Jim:

We have a new series starting this fall, Pie Shop Mysteries. The first book is Plum Deadly, under our pseudonym, Ellie Grant. These stories are set near the campus of Duke University in Durham, NC.

In October, our fifth Missing Pieces Mystery, A Finder’s Fee, is out. These mysteries are about the mayor of Duck, NC, a coastal town. She has a gift for finding lost things and people.

We are continuing our Renaissance Faire Mysteries in November with book six, Murderous Matrimony.

This series is set at a modern-day Renaissance Faire in Myrtle Beach, SC. We have two new mystery series beginning next year. In April 2014, we begin the Biscuit Bowl Food Truck Mysteries with Murder on Eat Street, set in Mobile, Alabama – Jim’s hometown.

And in December 2014, the first Retired Witch’s Spellbook Mystery, set in Wilmington, NC, will be out with Which Witch?

We are also writing a series about a volunteer firefighting group in Tennessee, the Sweet Pepper Fire Brigade Mysteries. The first book came out in April this year, That Old Flame of Mine.

Norm: 

As this interview draws to a close, what one question would you have liked me to ask you? Please share your answer.

Joyce & Jim: Why did you start writing together?

As our three children were growing up, we ran a small office supply business in Charlotte, NC. We were looking for something more exciting, more amazing than selling toilet paper and thumbtacks. Jim suggested we should write together and try to get published. I didn’t know if we could make any money at that. Last year, fourteen years after our first book was published, we quit our day jobs to write full-time. Anything is possible!

Norm: 

Thanks once again and good luck with all of your future endeavors

 
Thanks, Norm, for having us here today!

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