J.A. Jance

How did you become a writer?

I became a writer by writing. I wasn’t allowed in a university creative writing class in 1964 because, as the professor told me, “You’re a girl. Girls become teachers or nurses. Boys become writers.” So I lived my life. I taught high school English for two years and served as a school librarian for five. Then I spent ten years in the life insurance business. In my late thirties, in March of 1982, I gave myself permission to try living my dream of being a writer. My first book, which weighed in at 1200 pages, never sold to anyone but it was my on-the-job training for being a writer. That was 36 years and 57 books ago. So I became a writer by writing.

Name your writing influences (writers, books, teachers, etc.).

As soon as I read the Wizard of Oz in second grade I realized that a living, breathing person put the words on those pages, and right then—at age eight—I knew that was what I wanted to do.

When and where do you write? 

I write every day. Usually in a comfy chair in the family room or out on the porch with my laptop on my lap. Right now I’m in a family room with my fingers on the keyboard and with my elbow resting on the back of my long-haired, miniature dachshund, Mary.

What are you working on now?

I'm working on the next Ali Reynolds book, # 14. It’s called The A List.

Have you ever suffered from writer’s block? 

I’ve suffered from writers block often. The only cure for it is actually more writing.

What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever received?

The man who sold me my first computer in 1983 fixed it so that whenever I booted up, these are the words that appeared on the screen: A WRITER IS SOMEONE WHO HAS WRITTEN TODAY! Those were words that sustained me before I became a published writer and they’re a gift I pass along to the new writers I encounter along the way.

What’s your advice to new writers?

See number six above.

Bio: I was born in South Dakota, raised in Arizona and now live with my husband and two dogs, dividing our time between homes in Tucson and Seattle.