Myra Jolivet interview with David Alan Binder

posted Apr 11, 2017, 4:18 PM by David Alan Binder

Myra Jolivet interview with David Alan Binder

 Her bio from Amazon:  A career in television news, politics and corporate communications; more writing.

Working with writing coaches and editors, I birthed the first of a planned series of murder mysteries that connect northern California to the colorful Louisiana Creole culture, Pushed Times, Chewing Pepper.

I am a Bay Area native with Louisiana Creole roots. In our quiet Berkeley neighborhood, my parents often hosted gumbo Sundays seasoned with hushed stories of relatives who spoke to the dead and had cast more than a spell or two. Those "secrets" fueled the voice of mystery and humor within me.


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

Myra [Mi-rah] Jolivet [jho-lee-VET] or [jho-lee-vay]

2.  Where are you currently?

I live in northern California. I am a northern California native.


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

I was humbled. I learned that a former television news reporter and anchor may not be prepared to write a murder mystery. I have worked with two coaches to learn the genre. I had the imagination but had to learn the technique and skill of weaving a mystery.  I also have learned that writing is filled with angst and ecstasy. You do bleed, as Hemingway put it, but you also grow with every attempt. And lastly, the writing community is the most generous of any Ive entered. So many successful authors are willing to share and guide those of us trying to build our audience and fine tune our voices.

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

I add the Louisiana Creole patois to my stories. I felt there were two voids in the cozy, paranormal genre; diversity and not enough of the crazy of Louisiana culture. What better culture for humor, mysticism, and mystery. But it only interests me if my world is represented with all races, nationalities and life choices. In many of my favorite books, characters are all one race. I dont even have that in my family! I wanted to see more of my experience and a broader view in the humorous whodunit.

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

I have learned from authors who have left publishers that if you hire the most gifted of coaches, editors and graphic designers, it is worthwhile to begin by building audience. First, see if your stories resonate beyond your walls. I am doing that. Fortunately, I am gaining ground and it is encouraging. I have a day job, but Ive been asked to write faster by a few book clubs and readers because they love the characters and want to know what happens next. Self-publishing is like a fancy internship in the writing world. Its as valuable as you make it by learning, going to fairs, joining supportive organizations and attending workshops. And most of all, by writing your butt off to produce stories to send to market.

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

I initially thought I would only produce e-books. I love them for traveling, but I began to hear from so many readers that they love the feel of a book in their hands. I get that. I believe both expand marketing opportunities.

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

Not yet.  And I may join the ranks of those who choose to remain self-published as a business decision.

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

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

Please, please work with a writing coach who specializes in your preferred genre. Its not difficult to write and produce a book today, but it is difficult to do it well and according to industry standards. Serious readers know when a book hits or misses certain expected notesof a genre. Its better to learn how to bring them the best experience you can create.

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

I learned that no matter how much editing is done, there will be some mistake somewhere. Ive seen it in books by the most famous. Ive also learned that covers have a genre standard. I never knew this before taking this leap. Cozy mysteries, non-fiction, paranormal, all have cover signatures to support the brand and themes.

And as with anything, find the best in their field of editing, cover design or illustration. Each book is your brand and the investment is worth it. I know published authors who use their own specialists in order to achieve the quality they desire. Its worth it.

11. How many books have you written?

I have completed two and the second will be available on Amazon in May. I have started books three and four because a few book clubs have told me I take too long. What a great compliment!

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)?

-Join a writers guild or group. Group learning is invaluable as you information-share and see your work through the eyes of others.

-Work with a coach who specializes in your genre. Whether you are Sci-Fi, memoir, thriller, romance or a mystery writer; it is important to work with an expert. I am accustomed to being edited, harshly. Television news was not a delicate career. I appreciate candid guidance that helps me to elevate my craft. Coaches can do that.

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

-Kill the cliches. If you expect it, the fun is already gone.

-Brainstorm wild extremes and then tame them. You will find unique plot twists.

-Find niche communities to learn about and include as the backdrop to your story. They can add unusual and rich twists. My next murder will happen among the orchid breeders community. They are a world unto themselves and its fascinating.

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

I believe the combination of familiar flow and unique subject matter. Its the elusive goal.

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

I plan to expand my reach with social media. The ability to target audiences according to their preferences is invaluable. I have also found book clubs to be my mainstay. I go to book fairs and have been fortunate to have access provided to me by Sisters in Crime, Inc. a national association of women crime writers. If someone hates fiction, they wont buy my book no matter how strong my pitch. I want to find my audience and Ive found that social, book fairs and other reader-centric events enable me to do that.

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

-I wouldve written 1,000 words a day as I was instructed rather than wait too long and have to binge-write, cramming as I did in college.

-I would spend less time trying to get media coverage and more time investigating the book buying communities.

-I would create stronger character biographies and story outlines. I do some of that, but I would have started out doing it stronger and with more focus because it makes a series less challenging to carry.

17. What saying or mantra do you live by?

F____k it. Roll the dice.


18. Anything else you would like to say?

I spent my childhood mostly embarrassed by my Creole culture. We were deep in Berkeley, California with a French-speaking father and a mother who looked like five different races. I learned that the richness of that culture can be an entertaining and inspiring backdrop to brain-twisting murder mysteries. I want to continue to create them and get damn good at it.