Today, Hartford Books Examiner welcomes Jane Cleland.
The author of the IMBA bestselling Josie Prescott Antiques Mystery series, Cleland is also a multiple award nominee for her novels and short stories. Her books have been called an Antiques Roadshow for mystery fans, and Consigned to Death was recently selected by Library Journal as one of only twenty-two “core” titles for librarians looking to build a cozy collection. Jane is a current board member (and past president) of the Mystery Writers of America/New York Chapter and also chairs the Wolfe Pack’s literary awards.
Her latest, Silent Auction (St. Martin’s Minotaur, $24.99), was released in April. Another story of crimes and collectibles, it explores the esoteric art of scrimshaw. Publishers Weekly said, “Cleland once again smoothly blends antique lore and a plausible whodunit in her delightful fifth mystery… Series fans will enjoy getting reacquainted with familiar characters and meeting new ones…”
From the publisher:
The autumn foliage is in full fiery glory on a beautiful day in the little coastal town of Rocky Point, New Hampshire. Josie Prescott arrives at the town’s renovated lighthouse to conduct an antiques appraisal and is horrified to discover the bludgeoned body of her neighbor Zoë’s beloved nephew, Frankie. The owners of the lighthouse are avid antiques collectors, and Josie soon begins to suspect that a scrimshaw tooth from their collection may be the key to solving the crime that has shaken Rocky Point, and broken her dear friend’s heart.
Now, Jane reveals a few pages from the book of her life…
1) As a child, did you wear your literary lust loud and proud or were you a closet bibliophile?
I was an out-in-the open bibliophile, reared in an environment where if you weren’t, you were weird.
2) What book(s) were you likely to be caught keeping company with under the covers?
Whatever Nancy Drew book I happened to be reading that day. Except I never had to read under the covers. I was always encouraged to read whatever caught my fancy at all hours of the day and night.
3) What are you reading currently & what is your initial impression?
I’m rereading a favorite book—Georgette Heyer’s The Foundling. Every time I read this book I discover new layers of complexity in the plotting, themes, and word choices.
4) What one book do you always recommend when asked?
Any one of several Nero Wolfe mysteries. The author, Rex Stout, is one of my favorites—I especially love Some Buried Caesar, Murder by the Book, Plot it Yourself, The Silent Speaker… okay, I confess, there are too many favorites to list them all. If readers aren’t familiar with the series, I encourage them to jump in to the books in the middle—most of us prefer the titles written in the fifties and sixties rather than the earlier books. For more information, readers can visit the literary society devoted to celebrating all things Nero Wolfe—the Wolfe Pack—at www.nerowolfe.org. Truth in advertising: I’m the chair of the literary awards for the Wolfe Pack. We’re the folks who award the Nero award for Best Mystery, one of the mystery world’s premier awards. We also award the Black Orchid Novella Award in partnership with Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine.
5) Which of your own books would you suggest to readers & why?
I like them all! The most recent book, Silent Auction, is the story of scrimshaw and ambition. The one before it, Killer Keepsakes, is the story of Asian pottery and revenge. As an aside, I integrate all sorts of Wolfean trivia into my novels for my pals at the Wolfe Pack, so if you enjoy the Nero Wolfe stories, a treat awaits you!
6) Is there a book or author that readers would be surprised to know you’ve read and liked?
Hmmm… probably not… I’m pretty consistent in my tastes. I don’t like explicit violence and I admire precision in language.
7) Who is the one author that would, or did, make you weak in the knees upon meeting?
Ed McBain. (Evan Hunter) When I met him about six months before he died, I cried the whole time. I was completely overwhelmed. He was a genius at storytelling. Did you know he wrote the script for Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds?
8) Has there been an “I’ve made it” moment in your career?
No, but there have been some lovely moments—learning that one of my books or short stories has been nominated for an award, getting a new contract for the Josie Prescott Antiques Mysteries, and having the books named as “core titles” by the Library Journal for librarians building a cozy collection, are among my favorite stand-out moments.
9) What is your greatest literary ambition?
I have many, and they all involve either doing what I’ve been doing, except better, or taking on new writing or teaching challenges.
10) Fill in the blank: Hartford Books Examiner is _____.
An important source of thought-provoking and insightful articles on books and writing…
With gratitude to Jane Cleland, who has been a good friend to Hartford Books Examiner…
Jane would like to remind readers that the 2nd Annual Rex Stout Banquet will be held at Bouchercon on Friday, October 15 at 7 PM. New York Times bestselling author Gayle Lynds will be the keynote speaker. The event will be held at the magnificent Payne Mansion, and celebrated chef Michael Goldstein will cook the French menu from Rex Stout’s Too Many Cooks. More information can be found here.
Related articles from Hartford Books Examiner:
An interrogation of Jane Cleland, author of Killer Keepsakes
Wolfe Pack announces 2010 Nero Award Nominees
Other entries in the “Between the Lines” series:
Between the lines with Tess Gerritsen (A Q&A)
Between the lines with Karin Slaughter (A Q&A)