BookEnds Talks to J. B. Stanley
- By: Jessica Faust | Date: May 11 2007
J. B. Stanley is a former middle school teacher. An eBay junkie and food lover, Stanley lives in Richmond, Virginia, with her husband, two young children, and three cats. She is the author of the Supper Club mystery series and an Antiques & Collectibles Mysteries. Stanley is also a contributing writer for Richmond Magazine.
Author Web site: www.jbstanley.com
BookEnds: Describe your book in 50 words or less.
J. B.: James Henry and his dieting group, the Flab Five, are feeling motivationally challenged. A new ice cream shop has come to town, but so has the Witness to Fitness weight-loss center, run by the fanatical Veronica Levitt. Maybe Veronica’s “take-no-prisoners” approach is just what the group needs. But when they poke around in an arson case that turns into a murder investigation, the Flab Five discover that they may have bitten off more than they can chew.
BookEnds: What do you think distinguishes your work from that of other authors of this genre?
J. B.: Most culinary mysteries focus on delicious foods. Mine center around the ups and downs of “having your cake and eating it too.” For example, have you ever removed a ponytail holder or completely dried your body of excess water before stepping on the scale? Have you avoided that instrument of torture completely the morning after a large Mexican feast? I love food. I love to eat it, read about it, and write about it. But I also deal with the repercussions of my ever-slowing metabolism. My characters share my love of food and hatred of diet and exercise. In Fit to Die, the Flab Five suffer through aerobics workouts and lite frozen entrees, but I do let them cheat on their diets. After all, I do!
BookEnds: What is your favorite thing about this book?
J. B.: I like that James Henry, my librarian protagonist, has finally decided to pursue a romantic relationship with Lucy Hanover. Their tension relieves some of the villainy ensuing throughout the rest of the book. James and his father, Jackson, are also drawing closer in this book and I enjoy the brief glimpses of Jackson’s softer side. I also love the fair scene in which pig races and a Ladies Literary Hat Contest are two of the main attractions. The frozen custard descriptions will leave you hungry, too, so read this book on a full stomach.
BookEnds: What advice would you give aspiring writers?
J. B.: Edit, edit, edit. Find folks to read your manuscript who have a keen grasp of the English language. Find the friends that will give you honest feedback. If they tell you those jeans that make your butt look huge are flattering, then don’t ask them to critique your manuscript. Ask a voracious reader, a librarian, or a teacher and then give them the freedom to be critical. After your manuscript is polished, show half a dozen people your agent query letter. It is the most important piece of writing you will ever craft. Make it get you and your work noticed!
BookEnds: What has surprised you most about the business of publishing?
J. B.: One word: promotion. I had no idea that I would be responsible for my book’s success. Having no business background whatsoever, I was pretty anxious about promotion. Truth be told, I still am. Many mid-list authors struggle over the value of signings, newspaper ads, hiring publicists, etc. I wish I had a foolproof formula to offer, but I am in the learning phase myself. Joining MWA and Sisters in Crime has been helpful, and all aspiring writers should become members of a writer’s association in order to glean nuggets of wisdom from those authors who are more experienced in the field.
BookEnds: What one thing do your readers not know about you?
J. B.: I legally changed my name to Obi-Wan Kenobi to win a $1,000 cash prize in a radio contest. I even have the driver’s license to prove it.
Feel free to ask J. B. questions in the comments section. She’ll pop in during the day to answer them.
To learn more about J. B. Stanley, see Our Books at www.BookEnds-Inc.com.