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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    UA alum author writes the desert

    Courtesy+of+J.A.+Jance

    Courtesy of J.A. Jance

    The white tents of the annual Tucson Festival of Books have gone up, and the event’s approach is nigh. Author J.A. Jance, a festival staple, will make her return in the midst of her book tour for “Cold Betrayal.” The tour kicked off on March 7 in Phoenix, and her book officially comes out today. The Daily Wildcat caught up with Jance before the festival, which will take place from Saturday to Sunday.


    Daily Wildcat: Are you excited to return to the book festival this year?

    J.A. Jance: Well, yes. I think the book festival is a remarkable undertaking, and I’m very happy to be a part of it.

    How many times have you been to the festival?

    I’ve been to the festival every time there has been a festival.

    Do you get chances to look around at the festival?

    Yes, I spend all day Saturday and all day Sunday at the festival. I participate in signings and panels, but I get to see other things as well. I think it’s really exciting that this kind of literary event is now here in Tucson. It’s a huge undertaking.

    You taught on the Tohono O’odham reservation a while back. Is that correct?

    I was there for five years, and I also taught at Pueblo [Magnet] High School for two years.

    How has that influenced your writing? Just being in a different cultural environment like that.

    Well, I [have] four books now and a fifth one coming out this summer [that] are based on the reservation with the stories and legends of the desert people woven into the background of each of those books. So, I would say that my reservation experience clearly influenced my writing career.

    Has Arizona influenced your writing in any other way other than your time on the reservation?

    Of course; I have a series set in Sedona, I have a series set in Cochise County, so I have over 50 books in print.

    What do you find most fascinating placing a story in Arizona, in general?

    What I like is being able to bring Arizona alive in the imagination of people who may never have the chance to come here. A lot of people back East figure Arizona is all cactus and sand dunes, and that’s just not the way it is. I like my books to reflect a variety of topography in the state, a variety of people in the state.

    Do you have a favorite place you find yourself writing about more often than others?

    No, I’m pretty much even-handed about my Arizona characters.

    For you, what’s the most enjoyable part of being a writer?

    The most enjoyable part of being a writer is finishing a book, the most difficult part of being a writer is starting a book, and the most exhausting part of being a writer is being out on tour — but being on tour is also the most rewarding part of being a writer.

    What inspired you to write your stories?

    I wanted to write from the time I was in second grade on, and now I get to do [that]. I think the most amazing part is that I get to live my dream, and that is something I’m grateful for every day.

    What would you like people to take away from your writing?

    I like to entertain; I don’t write literature. I write to take people to another place for a while. The ancient charge of the storyteller is to beguile the time, and that’s what my job is.

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    Follow Ivana Goldtooth on Twitter.

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