It’s that time again in the Jackverse where some rouser of rabble winds up on the hot seat hoping the temperature doesn’t get turned up so much their panties get singed.
And then… there’s Emma Jameson. She’s the writer of cozy mysteries that’ll have you curled up under many a blanket, your cat purring loudly on your lap, and a cuppa something nearby. Ah, isn’t like idyllic?
JW: You’re a nerd! And a cat woman! Of course, I can say those things because I am as well. What I find truly fascinating is that most of the really hard-core nerd writers I know, tend to lean toward fantasy or horror. You, on the other hand, are well in bed with the cozy mystery world. It’s really great when writers do that because they have the ability to bring a fresh perspective to a genre. That’s one of the reasons why I keep my other non horror series around. Yes, I get criticized for the Fringe Killer series not adhering strictly to the police procedural rules – but that’s not the purpose of those books. Those books are about celebrating the fringes of society and dealing with people and relationships many authors won’t deal with. Plus, I try to bridge the voice of horror with the voice of crime thriller together. I fully believe readers are enjoying the melding of genres. I know I am. I like a good meld. Mmmmm!
EJ: First, I am very much a nerd. I have watched all the LotR documentaries multiple times. I can quote to you from the Claremont/Byrne issues of X-Men and argue whether the conviction of Joe Chill was bad for Batman’s raison d’etre. If you have no idea what I am talking about – congrats, you’re probably not a nerd! And yes, I have three cats. Salem, the elder statescat, rules the house with an iron paw. Zahara, the purebred, a great beauty, and Howard, a tubby orange tabby. I figure I am two more felines away from being an official Crazy Cat Lady.
I actually started out trying to write fantasy, light sci-fi and horror. However, nothing I wrote in my mid-thirties ever quite clicked. At the same time, I became very interested in mysteries, especially cozies, which emphasize characters over blood, gore and procedure. Wasn’t it Lawrence Block who said in Telling Lies for Fun & Profit that after reading dozens of lesbian pulp novels, he suddenly felt the urge to write one of his own? And a stint writing those books helped establish his career. For me, it was the same with cozies—after reading so many, one night I dreamt about a Scotland Yard superintendent who falls in love with a much younger subordinate. When I woke, I wrote the first chapter of Ice Blue, the book that changed my life.
JW: So I’m speaking with a Level 12 Nerd with mythrill armor and a +10 Bastard Sword of the Heavens! Awesome!
I have been a Crazy Cat Lady for a while now. Oni, Bigen, Bazo, Micco, Skrilla, and Wookie. Those are my lil’ furkids and I wouldn’t trade ’em for nothin’. NOTHIN’ I SAY! And it’s amazing how each of them have such diverse personalities. My favorite? Probably Wookie. She actually looks like an Ewok, but the name ‘Ewok’ didn’t work. So… Wookie. She’s actually one of the rarest of animals from the magical Pannokie species.
I like being mad as a Hatter. I’m never bored.
That is a great story on how you came to live in your writer’s skin. I love how we evolve into our ‘brand’. Those stories are the stuff of legend. The first thing I ever wrote was a one-act play in undergrad. I really thought I was going to be a playwright… but then I realized how restrictive the form was and gave up. I did try, at first, to make the Fringe Killer series straight-up crime thrillers; but every time I came up with a solid story arc it all fell into the darker side of the psyche. That series is about to undergo another metamorphosis – but the main characters (Jamie and Skip) will remain true to themselves. For me, it’s all about following my personal truth. If that truth wants to evolve a series, I would be remiss to not allow it to happen.
EJ: A playwright, eh? That is a difficult medium. What about screenwriting? Have you ever tried to turn one of your books into a movie or TV show treatment?
JW: I have thought about it. In fact, I tend to write my books with film in mind. Okay, more truthfully, the way I write is by picturing scenes appearing in my mind and playing them out. So from the beginning they are already formulated for film. I’ve had a couple of filmmakers interested. But ultimately I am holding out for one particular filmmaker and I’m going to be extremely stubborn about it. My work is precious and I’ve seen how Hollywood can so easily ruin an author’s babies.
Of course we all have those dreams – our books made real on the silver screen or in a TV series. From my perspective it would be the ultimate compliment to a piece of work – that it was good enough to bring to live for the masses.
EJ: I hear you. I would love to see my Lord & Lady Hetheridge series made into a television series. At the same time, it’s terrifying. What if the producers made Hetheridge six feet tall and twenty years younger? What if the episodes didn’t represent the books in a positive light.
Of course, that’s all pie-in-the-sky. At present, I am just grateful for the indie revolution that has allowed me to present my books in the open marketplace. For years, it seemed like there were so few opportunities, and the window of opportunity was always shrinking. I was warned that even if I “succeeded,” my first few books wouldn’t make any money, certainly not enough for a living wage, and loads of artistic pitfalls awaited. A marketing department would have final say over whether or not my books got published; an art department would give me a cover without asking my input. Finally, my books would have six weeks to succeed or fail in mammoth bookstores that specialize in gourmet coffee, greeting cards, board games, candy, toys, T-shirts … and oh, books. I can’t lie, it all sounded terrifying.\
Then along comes Amazon KDP, Smashwords, Pubit, All Romance Ebooks, Kobo and many more. Ways to publish my books and offer them to readers without signing away my soul—make that my rights—to a corporation who would probably always see my books as far less important than the latest diet fad book or celebrity tell-all.
JW: You’re right – it is a fantastic time to be both a writer and a reader. Not only are there new writers coming out of the woodwork every day, but genres are being melded, defined, re defined, and evolved. I am happy as a lark to not have to deal with the old guard – the lack of artistic control, the slow boat to publication, and so much more. Besides, at the end of the day I feel such a sense of accomplishment for what I’ve managed to accomplish on my own.
Emma Jameson is the author of the Lord & Lady Hetheridge cozy mystery series. Book one is Ice Blue. Book two, Blue Murder, was released in July 2012, and book three, Something Blue, will arrive in February 2013.