Hello Readers and Writers!
Today we would like to introduce you to a journalist turned fiction writer who brings real crime to her crime fiction, mysteries, and suspense titles. And don't forget a splash of love! This author is also an excellent friend of the #writerscommunity, sharing encouragement and the spotlight with her fellow authors. Publishing since 2017, her books smash convention with social commentary on top of dynamic characters.
Introducing J.C. Paulson!
RL: When did you start writing as a career?
JCP: I’ve always been a writer, although not always an author. I started as an ad copywriter more or less out of university, became a journalist and then also a section editor (business and arts). I was also the editor of an agricultural newspaper for three years. Great years.
The authorial adventure began right after that, about five years ago now, I think. My brain at the time was screaming at me, usually all night long; it was a tough time for so many reasons. Finally it presented me with a plot, so I wrote it down. And then I couldn’t stop. So here I am, four novels later and one work in progress.
RL: What's your current work in progress?
JCP: My WIP is a departure from my mystery/romantic suspense series. EEP! It’s a first-person historical fiction with a male main character, entitled Blood and Dust (so far). Yikes, I haven’t tried a first-person voice before. I’m finding it challenging. It is in the same universe as the Adam and Grace series, though. The MC is Grace’s multi-great-grandfather as a young man.
RL: You write Crime Fiction but you also say, "mystery can, perhaps should, also be a love story." What do you mean by that and how does that mentality influence your work?
JCP: I am powerfully influenced by Dorothy L. Sayers, one of the finest mystery writers ever. The relationship between Lord Peter Wimsey, her detective, and Harriet Vane, the love of his life, balanced her works so beautifully. So there’s that.
Secondly, mysteries are known for their inherent good-vs-evil themes; the basic stories of the human condition. I rather see the love story as illustrating and supporting the “good.” I’m not sure if I’m doing this successfully — some folks don’t think so — but I partly use the relationship between Adam and Grace as a foil to the rotten actions of the bad guys. For example, Adam is constantly asking Grace for consent (not just the first time!) while one of my villains is attacking women, in more ways than one.
RL: What motivates your character, Det. Sgt. Adam Davis throughout the series?
JCP: Oh boy. There’s a toughie. There are so many things about Adam’s motivations in my head it’s hard to know where to start.
Adam has PTSD from being shot on the job. As a kid, he also saved his mother from an attacker, which strongly influenced him. He’s intelligent, broken, passionate and pissed off about crime. He’d rather Stop crimes than Solve them. So he’s kind of torturing himself, trying to stay ahead of society’s ills. He also decided he needed to be a superhero for a while, for reasons of self-protection, protection of society and of those he cares about until he finally met Grace. She managed to persuade him that being human was a much better thing. Love had its way.
RL: How do your books rebel against the status quo in your genre?
JCP: I’m afraid I like to mixy-mixy genres. Some peeps don’t like that, and some authors/publishers don’t recommend it, but there it is. I blend love with mystery and always have a social comment in my novels. It’s partly because of my journalism background. So many things make me cranky, I can’t help myself. Discrimination, for example. Adam’s Witness has an LGBTQ theme. Discriminating against people due to gender or sexual orientation makes me furious. What is wrong with people?
RL: Does your life ever influence your writing?
JCP: Vigorously. Three of the four books (while the plots are entirely fictional) all have some basis in reality. The jumping-off points are related to something I covered or commented on at the daily paper, or on things that have happened in my life or the lives of people I love. The anger points then lead me to the weaving of the plots.
RL: Do you have any plans to write outside of your current genre?
JCP: Well, there is the histfic, as mentioned above. I have another idea for a second histfic. I’m also mulling an attempt at straight-ahead romance, to see if I can earn more money (!) but my husband says it isn’t in me. We’ll see. He might be right. But it would be fun.
RL: You worked as a journalist. Was it challenging to transition to fiction writing?
JCP: Yep. It’s taken a while to understand and internalize the basic rules of novel-writing, and I’m not sure I’ve ‘got it’ yet, entirely. Plus, I can be a bit difficult about that genre-mixing thing. I’m told my books do read a bit journalistically, so maybe I haven’t entirely transitioned.
RL: Your first book came out in 2017. How has your writing grown since then?
JCP: I think and hope my characters are a bit more dimensional, for one thing, and that my dialogue is improving, although you’d have to ask the jury. The fourth book is quite different. It still addresses a social issue, but it came from a completely different place in my brain and is significantly more speculative than the first three. I hope that means I’m developing my imagination and point of view!
RL: Which one of your books is your favorite?
JCP: It’s always the last one for authors, I think? But big soft spot for the first. It still sells the best, by miles.
RL: Where do you see your writing career going in the future?
JCP: I fear and mostly accept that I will likely never find a publisher, so I expect to continue to self-publish, for one thing. Publishing houses are pulling back or even closing, so there’s less opportunity there. I hope to start producing at least two works each year, instead of the one I’ve managed so far. And I hope to write a second series once this one peters out.
RL: What are your hobbies?
JCP: I have no real hobbies. Isn’t that sad? I read, write, do crosswords, walk and hang out with my hubs and my friends. Sometimes I bake. I’ve been thinking lately that I should do something about that. Maybe I’ll take up landscape painting.
Or dragon taming. That’s equally likely.
RL: What are you reading now?
JCP: I read a lot of works from other indie authors in a variety of genres, and partly in an effort to support others. Right now, I’m re-reading part of Outlander by Diana Gabaldon to absorb how she manages the first-person voice. I’m a mad fan of Barbara Kingsolver and recently finished her latest novel, Unsheltered. I’m also a few books into the incredible Shetland mystery-crime series by Ann Cleeves. And I’m reading, off and on, Bill Bryson’s non-fic The Body: A Guide for Occupants. (Great title!)
RL: What can readers expect from you in the future?
JCP: Another book or two in the Adam and Grace series, and two or three in the same universe, I think. That will keep me busy for another couple of years, likely.
My great dream is to write a work of real literary fiction, outside the genre expectations. I’m hoping that will also happen someday.