Monday, June 13, 2016


Today, I'm visiting Sylvia Ney @Writing in Wonderland and talking about Parallels: Felix Was Here and my story EVER-TON!

But here today please welcome
Nancy Lynn Jarvis,
author of the 

Nancy is here to give us some insight 
into her writing madness
to introduce her latest Regan McHenry Mystery

You can read my review HERE!

1.             Can you tell your readers something about why you chose this particular topic to write about? What appealed to you about it? Why do you think it is different, and your approach is unique?

I recently saw a post on Facebook that read, “I am a writer. Anything you say or do may be used in a story.” That pretty much sums up how I get ideas and how I work. Take A Neighborly Killing, for example. I have a real neighbor who was the model for the dead neighbor in the story. I made some observations about him in real life and wove a story around him based on those observations. The ironic thing is that more and more of my made up story line is looking like it’s true. (Oh, gosh, I hope he doesn’t read this; if he does I’m in trouble.)

It’s not the first time I’ve made up things for use in books only to have them come true, either. I know writers do use what they see and hear that’s quite normal — but having something I made up become a headline in our local newspaper, well. I don’t think that is.

2.             How long does it take to research a topic before you write? And for this book? Did you learn something unusual during your research that you can share here?

It’s surprising how much research goes into something as straightforward as a current-day mystery. I don’t mind, though, because I love doing the research involved and always learn some new fact.  I knew bullets can be tied to a specific weapon, but because of A Neighborly Killing, I learned  that gunpowder residue can be as well.

3.             Do you use professionals to verify your facts, such as the police? Is there a good way to approach them? How valuable is their input? Or do you just wing it?

The real estate facts I use are easy since, after twenty five years as a Realtor, I’m an expert. For the rest of my research, I use a friend who is a private investigator and the internet. I’ve discovered a website where you can ask a question and police will respond, another where doctors will answer questions, and my favorite, a site where military personnel will offer opinions about the fastest and quietest way of dispatching someone while facing them or from behind. And then, there’s always Decomposition for Dummies which is like the whole series of ...for Dummies books but much more graphic.

4.             Does writing provide you a sufficient income to live on? If so, how long did it take before this happened? Is it your goal to be financially successful, or do you write and publish solely for the 'satisfaction of sharing your stories'?

What an interesting question. I could never “live” as in pay the mortgage, feed my family, and keep up with utilities and  gas for my SUV on what I make from selling books, but considering I never expected to make any money selling what I wrote, I’m doing very well! I guess my answer is it depends on my perspective. Let’s say I make enough money from book sales to do some fun things with it.

5.             What's the funniest thing that happened to you on a book tour.

I don’t know if you’ll find it funny as I do or a sad commentary on people. I had a woman pick up one of my books, read the book-back teaser, and pronounce the book as sounding quite interesting. I thought I’d made a sale. Then she asked me what The New York Times Book Review said about the book. 

I remember a funny exchange on the TV show “Castle” where he was asked that same question and said the Book Review of New York loved his book and that he had paid a considerable amount of money for that high praise. I considered answering her similarly, but instead told her that my books flew considerably under The New York Times Book Review section radar. I suggested she should read the book and tell me what she thought of it.

Her response had me rolling on the floor. “I could never decide if I like a book or not from reading it. I depend on The New York Times to tell me if I like it or not,” she said.

6.              What's the next step for you? Television, movies, a new genre? Tell us what the future holds - what can your fans expect?

I’ve started writing a new series called Geezers With Tools about two retired men who start a handyman business. One of them is a recent widower who needs a diversion and the other is a self-styled player who hopes to meet single women thru the business. They’ll solve crimes in the course of doing fix-ups.

I also got a fantastic idea for another Regan McHenry Real Estate Mystery from a friend recently so there will be a book seven.

And, fingers crossed, The Death Contingency, the first in the Regan McHenry Real Estate Mysteries series, has been optioned as has Mags and the AARP Gang, a stand-alone comedy I wrote about octogenarian bank robbers. I’m not holding my breath because optioned to produced to screened is a long and usually not completed journey, but you never know.

Waking up to gunshots and discovering the body of their neighbor just outside their bedroom door is bad enough, but when the Coroner rules the death a suicide, Realtors Regan McHenry and her husband Tom Kiley don’t believe it for a minute. Never mind what the physical evidence says; they heard their dead neighbor arguing with someone in the moments preceding his death.

What really happened has become more than just a mystery they’d like to solve because the circumstances of their dead neighbor’s past keep interfering with their present and putting them in danger.

Nancy Lynn Jarvis finally acknowledged she was having too much fun writing to ever sell another house, so she let her license lapse in May of 2013, after her twenty-fifth anniversary in real estate. After earning a BA in behavioral science from San Jose State University, she worked in the advertising department of the San Jose Mercury News. A move to Santa Cruz meant a new job as a librarian and later a stint as the business manager for Shakespeare/Santa Cruz at UCSC. She invites you to take a peek into the real estate world through the stories that form the backdrop of her Regan McHenry mysteries. Real estate details and ideas come from Nancy's own experiences.

What about you readers, ever use a real person as the 
antagonist or protagonist of your novel?
Would your profession work to create a cozy series?

Do you have a question for Nancy?


  1. Thanks for letting me answer your fun questions today. I see you're asking your readers if they could do a cozy series based on what they do. I can assure them they could!

    1. Hey, Nancy, thanks for sharing your Monday with us. I've often wondered if an accounting firm would make a good setting. All those numbers and helpless business people trying to hide or is that find the funds. I'll have to give it a try. I know they make great writers, (after all it was my profession) but in between those balance sheets can they solve a crime and make us care about the numbers too? :)

    2. That would be an easy one. Accountant called in to close account of recently deceased wealthy man and discovers he had been making regular payment to unnamed person. Who is the person? Blackmailer, out of wedlock child, old war buddy he didn't protect...I could go on for hours, and that's not even getting to motive or means. LOL.

    3. You are the master! All I could see is the world I worked in and the true dullness of it! But it's all in how it's painted. Good job!

  2. Wonderful interview! I enjoy the research part of writing too. Thanks for letting me know those great sites are out there. I've never used a real person as a protagonist or antagonist, but as background characters, I have. :)

  3. I love the idea of using one's own neighborhood for a series. M entire Marienstadt series is based on the little Pennsylvania Dutch town I grew up in and quite a few of the characters are thinly disguised versions of real people. I love when readers from back home write to me and say, "Oh, I recognized so many people!" Most of those characters are departed now so I can get away with it. One of the characters that everyone loves is Ezra Winter, a crusty old woodsman, who is based on my dad.

    Anyway, I enjoyed your interview and, like you, I can't quite live on my writing royalties but it sure adds nice extras to my life.

    @Kathleen01930 Blog

    1. Have you ever had someone tell you they recognize a character and when you tell them the person they have in mind didn't inspire your character have them argue with you and say you are mistaken? I have. I think it's hysterical when that happens.

    2. Yes. And I've also had people say, "I KNOW that character was based on so-and-so--you couldn't miss that." But I don't even know who so-and-so it!!!

      @Kathleen01930 Blog

  4. That's cool there are sites where you can ask real doctors and police officers.
    Hopefully your neighbor never reads your book.
    Congratulations, Nancy!

  5. Using your own neighborhood for a series is brave ... and at least it obeys the dictum: write what you know!

  6. Great interview! Never going to look at my neighborhood the same way again;)

  7. Uh, that lady you needs someone to tell if she likes a book she read is mind-blowing! Congrats on the book.

  8. Wow, never knew there were such sites out there that you would answer your questions by professionals.

    That women is rather ummm sad about the review haha

  9. Love #5 :) I barely read reviews from books, and certainly not from such high authorities as the NY Times. Who knows what criteria these non-experts (in my opinion) use to qualify their opinions. If I like the book blurb, I check out the cover to see if it tells me something about the book, then I flip a few pages to see if I like the writing style. I've bought several Kindle books by getting hooked from the "look inside" feature.

    1. I'm with you. That's the way I decide, too, although I have been known to also open at a random place inside and read a couple of pages there, too.

  10. What a great way to come up with a story idea!!

  11. Congratulations, Nancy. Your book sounds intriguing. Enjoyed the interview.

  12. It sounds like you have great ways to do your research. It's funny (and strange) when something we write comes true. And the NY Times lady--wow! I wonder how she knows to do/like anything without someone telling her.

  13. Great interview - the story about the woman at the book signing proclaiming that she relied on reviews by the New York Times was incredible!
    I take inspiration from real experience in most of my short fiction. I'm not a novelist, I'm currently working on a creative non-fiction book about my years in Fiji.

    Susan at
    Travel, Fiction and Photos

  14. Hi Yolanda and Nancy,

    What an insightful interview with such thoughtful questions. Well done to the both of you. "A Neighborly Killing", most certainly intrigues. Apologies to my spell check which is in "proper" English and was not amused by the spelling of "Neighbourly" :) Ignore me!

    I have a story about the "Tagonist" family with "Ann Tagonist", being the centre, sorry, "center", of attention.

    Seriously, awesome interview and all the best to Nancy.


    1. No worries, Gary. Yolanda's questions came in "proper" English and, since I'm a terrible speller, I initially freaked out that I had a book with a misspelled title. So far, I haven't sold any copies in Britain; perhaps that's why.

  15. That title cracked me up. I love it! (And I hope your neighbor never catches wind of this post as well.)

  16. I think the best stories are the ones that are closest to the truth. The most frightening ones are the ones that come closest to home. Love the book cover illustration.

    Arlee Bird
    Tossing It Out

  17. Cool interview:) The premise does sound intriguing:)


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