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Adam Interviews...Jessica Thompson!


It's Monday - again - and I've got another author interview for you!

That's right. I have the awesome Jessica Thompson with me for an interview. She's a chef and mystery writer, and...

Wait.

Doesn't it seem this just happened?


Seriously, though, we HAVE had Jessica here before, but that's okay. I love having guests come back, because it means they have something new for you to dive into!


But enough about time going wibbly-wobbly. Let's refresh your memory about Jessica.


When Jessica discovered mystery novels with recipes, she knew she had found her niche.


Now Jessica Thompson is the author of the Amazon best-selling mystery novels “A Caterer’s Guide to Holidays and Homicide” and “A Caterer’s Guide to Love and Murder" which was a finalist in the Wishing Shelf Awards. She also curated and featured her own short stories in a family-friendly anthology of campfire stories, "Beyond the Woods: A Supernatural Anthology." Active in her local writing community, she volunteers as the Assistant Communications Chair for the Storymakers Guild.


As an avid home chef and food science geek, Jessica has won cooking competitions and been featured in the online Taste of Home recipe collection. She also tends to be the go-to source for recipes, taste-testing, and food advice among her peers.

Jessica lives in the suburbs of Austin, Texas with her husband and two children. When not writing, she’s getting her boots dirty at her parents' nearby longhorn cattle ranch. Whether ranching, cooking, or gardening, she sees it all as plot-inspiring material for her next mystery.



Star Trek or Star Wars?

Star Wars. I like both, but I like the complex timeline, the Wild West tone, and the continuity. Like, do people even notice that the technology advances as the timeline goes on, but that things get more worn down? Amazing.



DCU or MCU?

MCU. Does anyone actually answer DC? I like Wonder Woman, and Batman is deliciously complex, but those MCU characters are real and live in my head rent-free.


A book that pleasantly surprised you?

“Starship Troopers” and “I,Robot,” but I’ll talk more about those later.


How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?

This book that’s about to come out, Shoot Shovel and Shut Up, is definitely my favorite. I’m not just saying it to promote it. I really think this one is my best work. Hopefully that means I’m getting to be a better writer. The characters are real, the setting is heavily inspired by my parents’ ranch, the plot is exciting, and it’s clean but not cute. Everything I want in a book! This is my third full-length novel to be published, so I’m obligated to say that I love them all, but *sigh* I love this one!


What do you think makes a good story?

I’m all about the plot. It has to be pretty fast-paced and not just be emotional. If it’s only got one thing going on, or nothing, I’m that reader that gets bored and leaves.




What is your writing Kryptonite?

EDITING! Ugh, gouge my eyes out. I think I gain 5 pounds from eating my feelings every time I edit one of my books.


Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?

Hm, neither? I try to deliver what I want, then I just hope that there are readers out there that will like it.


Who shot first, Han or Greedo?

Han. Obviously. Like, I don’t even know why it’s an issue because it’s so obvious. And it’s essential to his character development! We know what to expect from Han because he shot first.


How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?

It sped it up! Now I had a road paved for future books, some good feedback, a pattern, and a publisher who believed in me. I was motivated! Before I published, there was guilt about the time I should have spent doing other things, the doubt that anyone would like my work, imposter syndrome, etc. The following books don’t get easier to write or edit, but they do get easier to publish.


What authors did you dislike at first but grew into?

Robert Heinlein and Isaac Asimov. I think I just dismissed their books as too nerdy when I was a teenager, but then I married a nerd and they are his favorite books. Once I finally gave them a chance, I realized they are so good! Fascinating! Even though they are fiction, they are so real, you know?



What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?

I really loved Locked in Time by Lois Duncan as a kid, but no one ever talks about it! It’s still being published and still gets a new cover every few years, but when I mention it no one knows what I’m talking about! I guess it would be considered YA, but it’s also a mystery. I highly recommend it. You know, I think I’ll follow my own advice and go reread it.


Do you write novels, novellas, short stories, episodic fiction, poems, screenplays, or something else? What is your preferred format?

I write novels, novellas, and short stories. I have posted on Vella, but I haven’t really nailed the format of episodic fiction. It was really just chapters of a novel, not true episodic stuff. And I am definitely not poetic. I don’t wax lyrical. I’m here for the plot, dude. That’s why novels are my favorite, but short stories are a close second. I write short stories to put into anthologies as marketing for my novels, as a win when I need a little something good, and as exercises.


Are you traditionally or self published? Or both? Do you feel there are advantages to one over the other?

I’m lucky enough to be a hybrid author. I just recently parted ways with my small publishing house, Darkstroke Books. They were great to work with and perfect for beginners, but now I don’t think I need anyone to hold my hand. Now I want the freedom and flexibility of being indie published, even though it’s kinda scary. I like having someone to help tell me what to do! There are definitely advantages to both. I guess it depends on your personality and where you are in your author journey. I’m very glad I had a publisher in the beginning. Someone to hold my hand, help me make decisions, take on the risk, and take some of the things off my plate while I slowly learned to do them myself.



How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

Hm, one novella that will never see the light of day because it’s way off-brand, two that I’m working on for the future, one that I abandoned for other projects and can never go back to because I already scrapped its good ideas for parts … I think that’s it. So, 4.


What does literary success look like to you?

I guess I have already attained a degree of it, but I think my benchmark of success will be when I can actually make a living at writing. But with the way this business is going, it may never happen! Ugh.


What’s the best way to market your books?

I like Instagram. It’s the social media with the fewest people yelling at each other. It also seems to be where my readers are. There and on Facebook. Since I write clean books and most of them are cozy (except this next one, Shoot Shovel and Shut Up) that’s always going to be the FB and IG crowds.



What do you have coming next?

On August 29th, 2023, my modern Western mystery, Shoot Shovel and Shut Up, hits Amazon. I also have two new cozy mystery anthologies, Riddles Resolutions and Revenge and A Beach of a Crime. Those have short stories that tie into my published Caterer’s Guide to Crime culinary cozy mystery series. The third book in that series, A Caterer’s Guide to Valentines and Violence, comes out in January 2024.


EXCERPT!


Bria’s shoulders relaxed to finally be alone, despite being crowded and poked by clinging hollow branches. She crept through the brush, crackling and snapping with each step. She gripped her open pump 12 gauge at her hip with both hands. Gunshot blasts tapped the distant air all around her with an emptiness. Unlike yesterday, the wide-open field offered no echoes and the dogs barked freely as they ran back and forth. With her eyes on the sky, watching for her prey, her mind was free to daydream.

She grunted as she broke free of one of the more persistent branches and let her gun wave around in one hand as she struggled to push her sunglasses up the bridge of her nose and push Kenneth out of her mind.

Now her thoughts wandered to the things she could be stepping on. Pictures of the tiny biting mites called chiggers and the deadly rattlesnakes that lived here made her brain itch as the barking of the dogs grew closer and closer. Five doves sprang into the air and appeared in the window of sky available to Bria’s view. She pumped the shotgun’s action forward and raised it to barely hook the top of her shoulder. Nestling her cheekbone on the stock, Bria was about to take her shot when a strange cry and a nearby blast split the air.

Bria froze. Was that a dove? Or a dog? Doves around here gave the oddest gurgling crows, but it had not sounded like that.

When the sound came again, she took off running toward it. The same sound cracked in a desperate, gagging wail. It was nearby and somewhere in the direction of the fence that Bria knew was to the right of her. Luckily her father and brothers kept the fence lines mowed because when Bria reached the long, abrupt clearing and set her gun down, she was able to see the fence stile that she had used to cross this fence many times as a teenager and the crumpled body that lay on the other side of it.

Red. Two flowing red pools. The more orange of the two was a perfectly splayed wave of hair, and the other was a thick and exquisitely crimson fluid that looked like a red scarf draped on the ground.

Bria had no time to react before being struck from behind.

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