Jeanne Matthews interview with David Alan Binder

Post date: Jun 26, 2016 2:41:12 PM

Jeanne Matthews interview with David Alan Binder

Very short bio from her website: She graduated from the University of Georgia with a degree in Journalism and has worked as a copywriter, a high school English and Drama teacher, and a paralegal.

Additional from Amazon: JEANNE MATTHEWS is the author of the Dinah Pelerin international mysteries published by Poisoned Pen Press, including BONES OF CONTENTION (set in the Northern Territory of Australia), BET YOUR BONES (set on the Big Island of Hawaii), BONEREAPERS (set in the Norwegian Arctic at the site of the Doomsday Seed Vault), and HER BOYFRIEND'S BONES, (set on the Greek island of Samos). WHERE THE BONES ARE BURIED, the fifth book in the series, takes place in the historic city of Berlin, Germany. Like her anthropologist sleuth, Jeanne enjoys traveling around the world learning about other cultures and mythologies, which she incorporates into her novels.


1. How do you pronounce your name (only answer if appropriate)?

My first name is the tricky one. In spite of the extra “ne” at the end, it’s pronounced Jean. You’d think I’d have learned from personal experience, but nope. I gave my protagonist an even trickier name – Dinah Pelerin. Dinah is an old-fashioned Southern name straight out of the Bible. It’s pronounced Die-nah. It never occurred to me that it could be read as “Dee-nah.” Because she travels from country to country, I dubbed her Pelerin, which means “pilgrim” in French. Turns out it’s a bit of a tongue twister. In my next series, trust me. The main character will have a simple monosyllabic moniker.

2. Where are you currently living?

Renton, Washington. When I become a New York Times best-selling author, I’ll move to Seattle.

3. What is the most important thing that you have learned in your writing experience, so far?

I’ve learned not to be hamstrung by the advice “Write what you know.” It’s way more interesting for me to write what I want to know. I love to research the settings for my novels and I incorporate fascinating and little known aspects of the local culture into my plots. Wherever Dinah goes, in addition to solving a murder, she learns what it is that matters to the people who live there.

4. What would you say is your most interesting writing, publishing, editing or illustrating quirk?

I don’t know what I think until I see what I say. My stories just evolve on the page by some chimerical magic. My husband has threatened to leave me if I don’t learn how to outline. Complains he gets woken up at ungodly hours with me whining about having painted Dinah into a corner and how in the world is she going to escape. But outlining would only spoil the surprise and surprising myself is part of the joy of writing.

5. Tell us your insights on self-publish or use a publisher?

I am traditionally published and very happy with the arrangement.

a. Who is the name of your publisher and in what city are they?

I’m published by Poisoned Pen Press, located in Scottsdale, Arizona. The Poisoned Pen Bookstore in Scottsdale is a marvelous place and a sort of mecca for mystery writers. It hosts scores of mystery writers from all over the world and livestreams the interviews.

6. Any insights eBooks vs. print books and alternative vs. conventional publishing?

Zero insights. It seems everyone is speculating and quoting statistics and forecasting good times or bad. I imagine a long-ago interview on the prospects of the publishing biz. “So, Mr. Gutenberg. You think this printing contraption of yours has much of a future?”

7. Do you have any secret tips for writers on getting a book published?

There’s no denying that if a writer wants to be traditionally published, there’s an element of luck in finding an agent and/or publisher. But the key is to write the very best book that you can and persevere until you find do find the right person.

8. How did you or would you suggest acquire an agent? Any tips for new writers on getting one?

I found my first agent by sending a query letter and dropping the name of a well-known published writer I had met. Name-dropping is always a tactic. However, that agent was unable to sell my book. I spent a year rewriting it and took the manuscript to a mystery writer’s conference, where I met a marketing exec for Harper Collins. He liked it and suggested I submit to Poisoned Pen. There are now five books in the series, all published by Poisoned Pen.

9. Do you have any suggestions or helps for new writers (please be specific and informational as possible)?

First and foremost, don’t send the manuscript out before it’s as perfect as you can make it. Get feedback from a writers group or a professional editor or someone other than your best friend who thinks it’s perfect as is. Don’t be reluctant to rewrite something. Rewriting almost always makes it better.

10. What was one of the most surprising things you learned your creative process with your books, editing, publishing or illustrating?

Writing is hard work. At least it is for me. It’s hugely time consuming and simultaneously exhilarating and frustrating. The simple feat of finishing my first novel gave me a huge psychological boost. Learning that you can finish what you start turns you into a professional and you get better with every subsequent effort.

11. How many books have you written?

There are five books in the Dinah Pelerin series:

Bones of Contention (set in the Northern Territory of Australia)

Bet Your Bones (set in Hawaii)

Bonereapers (set in the Norwegian Arctic near the Doomsday Seed Vault)

Her Boyfriend’s Bones (set on the Greek island of Samos)

Where the Bones Are Buried (set in Berlin, Germany)

12. Do you have any tricks or tips to help others become a better writer (please be as specific and information as you possibly can)?

Read as much as you can and when you write, try to emulate the writers you most enjoy reading – not imitate, but strive to equal. Every writer’s voice is unique, but the techniques of writing are free for the taking. Try to figure out what it is your favorite writer does that makes him or her so good. The more you write, the more you want to write, and the better you become.

13. Do you have any suggestions for providing twists in a good story?

If I do, I’m keeping them to myself.

14. What makes your or any book stand out from the crowd?

Speaking strictly from the perspective of the mystery genre, readers have such divergent tastes that it’s hard to say what kinds of books appeal to kinds of readers. For this reader, a book stands out if it uses smart language, throws in a generous dollop of humor, and presents characters that don’t pander.

15. What are some ways in which you promote your work?

I do some guest blogs and try to remember to post them on Facebook and my website. (; I do email interviews when I’m invited (BTW, Thank you, David Alan Binder); I do library and bookstore events; and I attend mystery conferences when possible, primarily Left Coast Crime, and talk about my books on various panels.

16. What is the one thing you would do differently now (concerning writing or editing or publishing or illustrating) and why?

I really don’t know what I’d do differently and, since I can’t go back, I focus on what lies ahead. At present, what lies ahead is an historical novel set immediately following the American Civil War, and possibly the start of a brand new series.

17. What saying or mantra do you live by?

For a writer, every day is an adventure. It’s like living a double life – your own, and the imaginary life you create for your characters. If reality gets dull, you can always amp up the excitement in your fiction.

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