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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    UA alum author writes the desert


    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.


    Follow Ivana Goldtooth on Twitter.

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