HB: As a follow-up, can you share a few of your favorite poems and poets, maybe ones you didn’t get to include in the book?
LRJ: I’d have to say my mother. I know that sounds cheesy but reading through a giant book of her poems really offered me insight into her mind.HB: Correct me if I’m wrong, but it looks like this may be one of your first forays into pure thrillers rather than romantic thrillers and similar romantic genre fusions. Was that a large jump to make, and did it change your writing process at all?
LRJ: I really consider myself a thriller writer. I’ve written straight romance but in my core, and in the core of my most successful stories, is mystery and danger. The Lilah Love series is on book six and is not a romance but a criminal procedural. A Perfect Lie is a domestic thriller, it was released early as ebook and audio but the print will be on retail shelves this November. On the other hand, my Inside Out series for instance is classified as an erotic thriller. I used sex in that series because sex equals vulnerability and trusting the wrong person can equal your demise. The man the heroine becomes involved with pushes her in ways no one else has but the readers fear he’s behind the murder of a local girl.As for the differences in writing, I find the pacing and structure of a criminal procedural and a domestic thriller are quite different. A domestic thriller is very character-driven, should keep you guessing, and you generally should be guessing the whole time. A criminal procedural leans heavily toward solving that one crime and usually a match-up of killer to hero/heroine.
HB: There seems to be a thematic throughline regarding women in typically male spaces in The Poet, primarily in how Jazz navigates the Austin Police Department– was that at all based on your background in business in the late ’90s? Were you drawing on personal experience to inform Detective Jazz’s character?
LRJ: I grew up with a single mom and I owned a staffing agency for eleven years, while living in a houseful of men. Certainly I’m a strong female who knows how to navigate that fearlessly and to my advantage. I believe I used that history to develop Detective Jazz. Sam is strong, and I like to think even stronger for being a female in a male-dominated world, because she refuses to see it any other way.
HB: Who/What are some of your personal inspirations in the world of thrillers and serial killers? Do you favor fictional killers or true crime?
LRJ: Well, first and foremost the real heroes who face these monsters daily and manage to go to bed and get up and do it again. I’m fortunate to have some family in law enforcement and to have the opportunity to ask for their perspective when writing. My husband and I watch true crime all the time but we both tend to listen to thrillers of all types and then talk about them. I absolutely love and hate when an author gets me so obsessed they distract me from my deadlines!
HB: Do you have any plans to revisit Samantha Jazz?
LRJ: Book two is out in March of 2022 and it’s a cross between a domestic thriller and a procedural. I’m really in love with this book and can’t wait to share it.
HB: Would you ever consider taking a stab (no pun intended) at more supernatural horror, or are you more passionate about human monsters and the people who hunt them?
LRJ: I’ve written some paranormal projects and have two set aside for a good time in the market. But as for horror, well, my husband would be thrilled. He is always saying “Add a zombie!” One day, if I do, he will celebrate and say: “That’s what I’m talking about!”