How did you become a writer?
I was always the kid who could draw and I majored in studio art in college. Truth is I was never a big reader and never wrote as a kid but I always had an outrageous imagination. I was a master at living in fantasyland. Halfway through college I developed a rash from the pigment in paint and that was the end of Janet the Artist. I started writing in my twenties but wasn’t published until I was in my forties. I was a slow learner.
Name your writing influences (writers, books, teachers, etc.).
Carl Barks (Uncle Scrooge comics), Robert B. Parker (Spenser), Nora Roberts (love her early romances), I Love Lucy, Moonlighting television show are some that immediately come to mind.
When and where do you write?
I write seven days a week in my upstairs office with my dog, Ollie, who sits patiently on the sofa waiting for me to take him for a walk.
What are you working on now?
I’m working on Plum 26. Can’t believe I’ve written this many Plums. It seems like yesterday that I created Stephanie.
Have you ever suffered from writer’s block?
I'm happy to say that I have never had that problem. I suffer from writer’s snacking.
What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever received?
Don’t save anything for the next book. Put all the good stuff in the one you’re writing.
What’s your advice to new writers?
Try to write every day. Get over chapter one and move on. If every agent in New York tells you your work sucks, it probably does. That doesn’t mean your next one will suck. Have a glass of wine and some birthday cake and start over.
Bio: [From my website]: When I was a kid I spent a lot of time in LaLa Land. LaLa Land is like an out-of-body experience -- while your mouth is eating lunch your mind is conversing with Captain Kirk. Sometimes I'd pretend to sing opera. My mother would send me to the grocery store down the street, and off I'd go, caterwauling at the top of my lungs. Before the opera thing I went through a horse stage where I galloped everywhere and made holes in my Aunt Lena's lawn with my hooves. Aunt Lena was a good egg. She understood that the realities of daily existence were lost in the shadows of my looney imagination. After graduation from South River High School, I spent four years in the Douglass College art department, honing my ability to wear torn Levis, learning to transfer cerebral excitement to primed canvas. Painting beat the heck out of digging holes in lawns, but it never felt exactly right. It was frustrating at best, excruciating at worst. My audience was too small. Communication was too obscure. I developed a rash from pigment.
Somewhere down the line I started writing stories. The first story was about the pornographic adventures of a fairy who lived in a second rate fairy forest in Pennsylvania. The second story was about...well never mind, you get the picture.
I sent my weird stories out to editors and agents and collected rejection letters in a big cardboard box. When the box was full I burned the whole damn thing, crammed myself into pantyhose and went to work for a temp agency.
Four months into my less than stellar secretarial career, I got a call from an editor offering to buy my last mailed (and heretofore forgotten) manuscript. It was a romance written for the now defunct Second Chance at Love line, and I was paid a staggering $2,000.
With my head reeling from all this money, I plunged into writing romance novels full time, saying good-by, good riddance to pantyhose and office politics. I wrote series romance for the next five years, mostly for Bantam Loveswept. It was a rewarding experience, but after twelve romance novels I ran out of sexual positions and decided to move into the mystery genre.
I spent two years retooling -- drinking beer with law enforcement types, learning to shoot, practicing cussing. At the end of those years I created Stephanie Plum. I wouldn't go so far as to say Stephanie is an autobiographical character, but I will admit to knowing where she lives.
It turns out I'm a really boring workaholic with no hobbies or special interests. My favorite exercise is shopping and my drug of choice is Cheeze Doodles.
I read comic books and I only watch happy movies. I motivate myself to write by spending my money before I make it. And when I grow up I want to be just like Grandma Mazur.