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Sanibel Library hosts best-selling author J.A. Jance

By Staff | Mar 19, 2009

In J.A. Jance’s mystery novels the bad guy always winds up getting it.

And for most Americans, there tends to be little less satisfying then reading a riveting, hairpin turner of a novel and then seeing the evil doer meets his fate.

“The bad guy doesn’t get away with it,” Jance said during a recent telephone interview.

This recipe seems to work for the successful Jance who is a popular best seller based in Seattle, Wash. and Tuscon, Ariz.

The community will get a chance to meet her on Sanibel next week.

The Sanibel Public Library is holding “An Evening with Jance”. The program will be held at the Library on Thursday, March 26th at 7 p.m. Tickets are available to Sanibel Public Library cardholders in advance of the program.

J.A. Jance is the best-selling author of the J.P. Beaumont series, the Joanna Brady series and three inter-related thrillers. She has written over 30 novels with more than 10 million copies of her books in print.

“I am delighted to becoming there,” she said.

Jance’s pursuit of her life-long dream of becoming a writer was one filled with a myriad of stumbling blocks. As a college student, she was discouraged from writing and told that women “ought to be teachers or nurses,” and not novelists. Her first husband, a chronic alcoholic, followed suit and told her that, despite never having anything published, he would be the only writer in the family. After 13 years of marriage, Jance finally left her first husband to save herself and her children, and escaped to Seattle. With the death of her ex-husband a year and a half later, Jance became the sole provider for her two children and struggled to make ends meet with a full-time job selling life insurance. In 1982 her desire to write became too strong to ignore, and her first three novels were written between the hours of 4 a.m. and 7 a.m., at which time she would wake up her children for school. At the time people told her she was crazy, saying that to start writing at age 39 and to go on to a successful writing career was highly unlikely. She ignored all the naysayer’s.

In 1985, she published the first of 16 novels featuring Seattle homicide detective J.P. Beaumont entitled “Until Proven Guilty”. In addition, she has authored 10 books starring feisty Southwestern Sheriff Joanna Brady, as well as “Partner in Crime” in which Joanna teams with J.P. Beaumont to solve their first mystery together. She also has authored three novels of suspense featuring the Walker family: “Hour of the Hunter”, “Kiss of the Bees” and “Day of the Dead”. In 2000 Jance was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters by the University of Arizona – a moment she found both rewarding and amusing since it was at this very university that she was pushed away from the writing program.

In her latest series, Jance introduces Ali Reynolds, a 45-year-old television anchorwoman who’s just been fired for being too old in “Edge of Evil”. She’s mad as hell and, at the suggestion of her college senior son, starts a blog called cutlooseblog.com. She leaves LA for her hometown of Sedona, Arizona and before she knows it there’s a murderer in her sights. The first Ali Reynolds hardcover, “Web of Evil” was recently published and already a best-seller.

Jance is an avid crusader for many causes including the American Cancer Society, Gilda’s Club, the Humane Society, the YWCA and the Girl Scouts. A lover of animals, Jance has two dogs, Aggie and Daphne, named for Agatha Christie and Daphne du Maurier.

Born in South Dakota and raised in the small Arizona mining town of Bisbee, Jance spent several years teaching and living on the Tohono O’Odham reservation west of Tucson, Arizona, which would later serve as the setting for her three suspense novels. It was also on the reservation that Jance’s life changed forever when she and her husband became the targets of a serial killer. Living in seclusion, seven miles from their nearest neighbor, they were unknowingly the killer’s next victims. A police investigation led to the apprehension of the killer just before he struck.

Jance splits her time between Seattle, Washington and Tucson, Arizona with her husband Bill of 20 years.

She encourages other aspiring writers to just do it and not wait. Jance said she writes something every day.

“If you want to write, what’s stopping you?” she said.

Margaret Mohundro, the director of the Sanibel Library is delighted to have Jance speak at the Author Series. She said the community should enjoy listening to her interesting life experiences.

“She’s sort of the grand finally in the Author Series,” Mohundro said.

“An Evening with J.A. Jance” is sponsored in part through support of the Sanibel Public Library Foundation, Inc. To learn more about the Foundation, please contact the Sanibel Public Library at 472-2483.

(Sanibel Library press reports contributed to this story.)