The Widow's Walk League by Nancy Lynn Jarvis

My guest today is Nancy Lynn Jarvis. Nancy has been a Santa Cruz, California, Realtor for twenty years. She owns a real estate company with her husband, Craig. After earning a BA in behavioral science from San Jose State University, she worked in the advertising department of the San Jose Mercury News. A move to Santa Cruz meant a new job as a librarian and later a stint as the business manager of Shakespeare/Santa Cruz.

Nancy's work history reflects her philosophy: people should try something radically different every few years. Writing is her newest adventure.

She invites you to take a peek into the real estate world through the stories that form the backdrop of her Regan McHenry mysteries. Details and ideas come from Nancy's own experiences.

If you're one of her clients or colleagues, read carefully - you may find characters in her books who seem familiar. You may know the people who inspired them - you may even see yourself in print.

Anne – Welcome, Nancy. When did you first realize you were destined to be an author?

Nancy - I didn’t realize I was going to be a writer until I took a timeout from being a real estate agent, got bored, and started killing people. Maybe I better back up a bit. I’d been a Realtor in Santa Cruz, California since 1989 and had seen down markets with all their cruelty before, so when the real estate market tanked in 2008, I hung up my for sale signs and experimented with being retired. I got bored within a couple of weeks and decided, strictly as a game, to try and write a mystery.

I had the beginning and ending in mind and lots of stories I could use as background if I made the protagonist a real estate agent. I set the book in Santa Cruz since I knew the community so well. The protagonist, Regan McHenry, began her life as me, only younger, thinner, and more successful than I was. She didn’t stay me, though. Like a method actor who feels his role, I’m a method writer. Regan had to become her own person about the time she found a body because I couldn’t take being her any longer. I couldn’t keep up with her any longer, either. She’s much more daring than I am and eagerly gets herself into messes I would avoid.

Anne - What one or two lines best sums you up as an author?

Nancy - I’m an author who is having more fun than she’s ever had before and wakes up each morning excited by what the day may bring.

Anne - Tell us about your most recent release. (Title and story blurb.)

Santa Cruz husbands are being murdered. The local news media is buzzing because a dark-clad figure witnesses describe as Death has been seen lurking nearby each time a murder is committed. When new widows start hiring real estate agent Regan McHenry to sell their houses, she discovers all the murdered men have something in common: their wives belong to a walking group called The Widow’s Walk League. No wonder Regan is worried when the group’s leader starts paying special attention to her husband, Tom. 

Anne - How long does it take you to write a book?

Nancy - Writing the book usually takes three to four months including putting together an outline and a timeline, which I have learned is critical for a mystery because it is necessary to keep track of who-knew-what-when. Editing takes as long as writing and involves a lot of groaning, flopping around dramatically, and arguing with my editor. Finally, when I believe the book is completely clean, the copy editor gets it. She’s fast, but I’ve yet to be right about the book being ready when I think it is.

Anne - Of all the characters you’ve created, does one hold a special place in your heart? Why?

Nancy - My favorite character remains Mrs. Rosemont from the first book I wrote. Most of my characters begin as someone I know, but Mrs. Rosemont, who is 86 years old, tiny, and rather unique looking with flaming red hair and a hunched back, sprang completely from my imagination. Considering that, you can imagine how stunned I was to run into her in a grocery store. I was writing her at the time and imagined she had a touch of a British accent acquired from years living abroad with her British military officer husband. I wanted to talk to the live Mrs. Rosemont but was terrified she’d be from New Jersey and her manner of speech would ruin the character’s voice for me. I settled for following her around the store to see how she moved until she became so unnerved she abandoned her cart and hastily left the store.

Anne - Are you a glass half-empty or half-full kind of person? 

Nancy - I’m definitely a glass half-full person. Oh, I sometimes try to be a glass half-empty person, but it doesn’t stick.

Anne – Of all the authors I’ve interviewed, I don’t think anyone has ever said they’re a half empty kind of person. I like that! What makes you cry? Laugh? Lose your temper?

Nancy - American politics. All at the same time.

Anne – Enough said! Quick. Your five favorites – author, actor, movie, song, quote.

Nancy - Author: Amy Tan. Actor: Alan Rickman. Movie: any movie that would appeal to a six year old boy like the original Star Wars movies, Indiana Jones movies, the first three Harry Potter movies, and UP. When I’m feeling more grown up I’ll watch Shakespeare in Love, The Usual Suspects, or Holiday. My favorite song is the Beatles, “In My Life” because my sister-in-law sang it for my husband and me at our wedding. My favorite quote comes from Eleanor Roosevelt: “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”

Anne – I’m excited that you’re giving away a copy of one of your books. How does a reader get in the draw?

Nancy – Leave a comment and your email addy to enter. I have four books in the series. All contain the elements listed below, but please tell me if you prefer mysteries that:

-Are more why-dunnits than who-dunnits. (The Death Contingency)
-Are traditional mysteries with many red herrings and broken alibis. (Backyard Bones)
-Are more likely to put the heroine in harm’s way. (Buying Murder)
-Are more humorous and witty. (The Widow’s Walk League)

The winner will receive a book in the category chosen in print or e-book format, winner’s choice.

Anne – Final question, Nancy. Where can readers reach you online?

Nancy – At my website, at Amazon, on Facebook, and on Goodreads.

Anne - Thanks for dropping by today, Nancy. I wish you every success with The Widow's Walk League, and I know readers will want to comment to enter your giveaway draw. (The winner will be announced on February 3, 2012.)

Readers, to ensure you don’t miss a single post, interview or giveaway, please become a follower. It’s nice to know someone is out there! Thank you, and as always, happy reading.

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  1. Thanks for having me on your blog, Anne. I enjoyed your questions and think our senses of humor would get on famously. Nancy

  2. This was a fun interview. Well, I always enjoy them :-) Nancy seems like a fun and interesting person. I love Santa Cruz. My family took many summer vacations there in the '70s. My grandparents retired there. "The Widows Walk League" sounds like a fun book!

  3. Enjoyed reading your interview and can't wait to read your books. I love new authors and enjoy getting out of my normal rut. Enjoy the writing process and we can't wait for some more great books! Please hurry!

  4. I agree, Nancy. Humor is SO important to me. It gets me through the day, and pokes fun at the nonsense. I especially enjoy a mystery with humor. Widow's Walk in on my TBR list!

  5. Thanks for popping in, Michael Ann. It's always a joy when you visit. As for having a special connection to a story, that just makes it all the more special. Happy reading!

  6. Hi Teachgiftedkids, like you, I enjoy meeting new authors and reading their books. It's exciting to interview them, too!

  7. I enjoyed hearing about how you became an author - certainly more fun than being a realtor these days and would love to win one of your books or ebooks. I'm a big mystery fan and they all look good, but I'd choose the widow's walk league. thank you.
    Penny Tuttle
    pennyt at hotmail dot com

  8. I enjoyed the interview very much. I really appreciate good humor in mysteries.

  9. I adore Alan Rickman. I enjoyed the interview thank you. I've added to my reading list.


  10. It's getting hard to pick which one of you I hope wins, although another Alan Rickman fan may still have the edge.

  11. Great interview. I also love all movies loved by a six year old boy which is fortunate since I have a seven year old one. Your books sound wonderful and any of them would be great. I do love humor though so if you consider the Widow's walk to have the most of that then that would be my preference as well.

  12. although I forgot to add my email. It is

  13. I would love to have a winning opportunity to read one of these books!

    lizzdmc [at] gmx [dot] com

  14. Terrific interview, Nancy! You kept it light and that's what I enjoy. Light and humorous. I love the idea of The Widows Walk League.

    Thanks for brightening my day.

  15. Great interview. Sigh! I miss California. I was interested in the Widow's walk book. I saw a lot of them when I was on a Nantucket tour. There a bit of mystery about them.

    Would love to read any of your books.


  16. Good for you - after numerous cookbooks I'm trying my hand at a murder food mystery series, with sex, recipes that work and loove! The Widow Walk looks so popular and if I don't win (tha) I'll purchase the first anyhoo and enjoy them in order. Just got a new kindle for my travels now in South America!