Joyce T. Strand writes contemporary and historical mysteries set in San Francisco, the Sonoma wine country, or Southern California. Her most recent release, The Reporter’s Story, features a young female reporter in 1912 San Francisco drawn into murder and intrigue as she tries to get the story that will propel her to become a world-class reporter. It is Strand’s seventh published novel. When she’s not writing, she loves to attend live theatre productions, especially Broadway musicals. She lives in Southern California with her cow statuary, two cats, and her muse, the roadrunner
About The Reporter’s Story
A house burglary in 1912 San Francisco that the victim denies happening piques Emma Matheson’s reporter instincts. Why would a not-so-wealthy businessman deny that recovered loot was his and forego collecting his $8,000 worth of stolen jewelry? Why did he fire his maid and butler who originally reported the theft? The more she pursues the burglary that wasn’t a burglary, the more she sees it as a major story, involving murder, intrigue, and smuggling. Can she solve it and write the story that could project her to become the world-famous reporter she so covets? Or will she become one of its victims?
Additional info about Emma: Emma Matheson is a young woman determined to be a star front-page reporter despite the bias against women in her day.Her mother died when she was born. She was reared by her father who runs a newspaper in Sacramento. She grew up learning about the newspaper business. Her father valued education and insisted she attend university before starting her career. She is bright, determined, a great writer — but a bit naive.
One on One with Joyce T. Strand…
So Joyce, what genres and authors do you enjoy reading?
I read mostly mysteries. My favorite authors include John Grisham, who spins a great story while showcasing some real dangers that could occur in our lives. I also enjoy Michael Connelly’s LAPD Detective Hieronymus “Harry” Bosch and criminal defense attorney Mickey Haller; both series are compelling procedurals. And I can get easily engrossed in spy thrillers, such as those written by Tom Clancy (OK, maybe I skip some of the technical description), Robert Ludlum (I once counted 14 shootings in the first two pages), or John le Carré. And Stieg Larsson’s tales of Lisbeth Sanders held me spellbound.
However, my most favorite novel ever is James Clavell’s historical novel about medieval Japan, Shogun. Although a historical novel and not technically a mystery, it had many elements that I enjoy from a mystery – great puzzles along with fascinating characters and big plot.
With so many interests, what genres do you write in? What age groups are your books for?
I write contemporary mysteries along the lines of Mary Higgins Clark and historical mysteries similar to Eric Larson, so I guess that might be two genres, given the amount of history I include in my mysteries set in the past. I target adult women as readers. Although there is little that would offend a younger reader, I write from who I am – an older adult woman. I don’t consider my books particularly edgy or hip..
So tell us a little about your most recent release. Where did you get your inspiration?
All of my mysteries are inspired by either a real crime case for my contemporary mysteries, or a real person, for my historical mysteries. In The Reporter’s Story, I wanted to feature a female reporter in the early 20th century because I believed she would make a compelling amateur sleuth. I discovered Marjorie C. Driscoll, a real reporter who originally worked for William Randolph Hearst and then in 1921 joined the San Francisco Chronicle, a competitive newspaper to Mr. Hearst’s. She eventually moved south to the Los Angeles Times where she became a respected front-page contributor. A graduate of Stanford University in 1913, Driscoll wrote an article in The Stanford Illustrated Review in 1920, titled “In the Newspaper Field” that describes the features of a successful reporter, including the mantra “know a little of everything. My fictional reporter, Emma Matheson, follows the approach and values of the real-life reporter Driscoll as she pursues the mystery of a house burglary that the victim denies happened, leading to some precarious situations..
And what are you working on now?
I am currently drafting the final novel in my Brynn Bancroft mystery trio. Brynn is a spinoff character from my first three contemporary mysteries. She served as a Chief Financial Officer at a small biotech company in Silicon Valley, but departed to manage a winery in Sonoma with her ex-husband. The first two mysteries of the trio, Hilltop Sunset and Landscape for Murder are both standalone as is the one I’m currently writing, but we see familiar characters in all three. It’s fun writing about wine country and the making of wine.
Tell us about your creative process. Do you outline or just write wherever the story takes you? What does your work space look like? Do you have any habits or quirks when you are writing?
Although I don’t outline, I definitely “plot out” my story, and the more plot points I conceive, the faster the writing process. I admit that sometimes my characters get away from me and explore ideas I haven’t considered, but on the whole when I sit down to write I know the opening scene, the puzzle part of the mystery, a sub-pot, and how it will weave together in the end. Red herrings are most likely to pop up as I write. Also, I usually do research prior to writing.
My work space is basically any chair and my lap top. I do EVERYTHING on my lap top (lightweight MacBook Air). When I’m writing a first draft, I set a goal of writing a minimum of 3,000 words a day no matter how good and no matter where they might fall in the story. I always write at least 90,000 words per first draft of a book, aware that I will want to cut. I count on my editors to tell me how much!
What do you find to be the hardest part of writing a novel?
I have two difficulties when writing a novel: the first is knowing what NOT to include. For example, I love history and enjoy finding out how people lived in the past. But as my editor tells me, I need to exclude much of it so that I can get on with the mystery. Second, I also find it difficult to write a compelling conclusion. I sometimes revert to Hercule Poirot’s get-everyone-in-the-drawing-room to make sure the reader knows the mystery’s solution.
What about the easiest? What parts of the writing process just feel natural for you?
Writing itself comes easy most of the time, so long as I know where I’m headed with the story. If I don’t have the plot points, then it can be difficult. But I’ve always found writing therapeutic. It’s fulfilling to type words on a blank page that are meaningful.
Now, your debut novel is making some waves. Can you tell us about it?
I hope you’ve enjoyed learning more about my
contemporary and historical mysteries set in California. I’m excited about my
newest release, The Reporter’s Story, which features a young female reporter in 1912 San Francisco who, in her quest to become a world class reporter, encounters murder and intrigue. And I hope you’ll follow my contemporary protagonist, winemaker Brynn Bancroft, in her final novel coming out in November. She’s sure to encounter a murder or two.
Thank-you Joyce, for taking the time to talk to us.
Joyce is currently on a blog tour.
To find out more, visit these links
- 1st Prize: Kindle Fire 7” WiFi 8GB Black plus ebook or paperback copy of The Reporters Story
- 2nd Prize: $25 Amazon Gift Card and ebook or paperback copy of The Reporters Story
- 3rd Prize: ebook or paperback copy of The Reporters Story
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