J.A. Jance is the author of the new suspense novel Field of Bones, the latest in her series about Sheriff Joanna Brady. Jance's many other novels include Until Proven Guilty and Hour of the Hunter. She lives in Seattle, Washington, and Tucson, Arizona.
Q: How do you think your character Joanna Brady has changed over the course of the books you've been writing about her?
A: In the beginning she was a young married woman who is about to be left a 20-something widow, raising a single child. In Field of Bones she has married for the second time and has just given birth to her third child.
In the beginning she was in the insurance business and had no idea that she would go into law enforcement. At the beginning of Field of Bones, she has just won her third four-year term as sheriff.
As she has matured, she’s learned to understand that both her parents were flawed but loving in their own individual ways. And now, in Field of Bones, with both of her parents gone she’s now the grownup in the room.
Q: Did you need to do much research to write Field of Bones, and did you learn anything that particularly surprised you?
A: Having grown up in Cochise County, I was surprised to discover the existence of a volcano in the far eastern corner of the county—Paramore Crater. When I researched it further, it turned out to be a kind of volcano I had never heard of before—a maar volcano. Maars are formed when molten rock (magma) encounters groundwater with explosive results.
Q: How important is setting to you in your writing?
A: I like to think of my settings as characters in the books. My family moved to Arizona from South Dakota when I was four. My first memory is of the day we moved into the house in Bisbee. I remember hanging on the fence, looking up and the clear blue sky and feeling the sun all over my body.
I believe I fell in love with Arizona that day, and 70 years later, I think that very real love of place shines through my work.
Q: Which authors do you particularly admire?
A: I admire J.K Rowling, whose books created a whole new generation of recreational readers. I admire Agatha Christie, whose life and career has always been a beacon for me.
Q: What are you working on now?
A: I’m currently working on the next Ali Reynolds book, The A-List.
Q: Anything else we should know?
A: From the time I was in second grade, I always wanted to be a writer. It’s a wonderful miracle that I’m getting to live my dream.
--Interview with Deborah Kalb