Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Interview with Loretta Jackson and Vickie Britton

Today it is my pleasure to introduce Loretta Jackson and Vickie Britton who are not only writing partners, but sisters, too.

1. As sisters, tell us the first thing that pops into your head when I say: Tell us about yourselves? Give us a short biography in your own words.
We love mysteries and an element of mystery is in everything we write. Our mutual love of writing and our sharing many of the same interests is what makes our co-authoring work.
Loretta Jackson
(Loretta) I grew up as an army brat, traveling from state to state. I graduated from the University of Kansas and taught school at the Sioux Indian Reservation in South Dakota and at Mission Valley High near Eskridge, Kansas. After my husband passed on, I quit teaching and returned to the old home place in Junction City, Kansas, where I look after rental units and write.
(Vickie) While Loretta was an army brat, I was born in Junction City. By that time the family had settled down, and I lived there until I got married. My husband worked for the BLM, and we did a lot of moving, making a circuit of the southwestern states from Fredonia, Arizona, to Elko, Nevada, and Needles, California. We ended up in Laramie, Wyoming, where we ran a computer store for fifteen years before moving back to Kansas.
Vickie Britton

2. When did you know you wanted to be a writer? What or who was the biggest influence in making this decision?

My earliest memories are of putting on plays and making up stories to present to anyone who would listen. Dad taught me to recite long poems, and Mom was always reading aloud to us. So, there’s the influence. Even though I’ve held a number of different jobs, in my heart only one was important—being a writer.

(Vickie) Having a sister who was already writing made a big influence. I started my first novel at about fourteen. It was only twenty pages long, and I used my math notebook to write it. In college I became interested in forensics. I have a minor in police science, but rather than pursue a career in law enforcement, I have applied much of what I’d learned to writing mysteries.

3. Tell our readers how you research your books? What’s the most interesting research you’ve come across?

Researching our books for Avalon is great fun. Our most current ones have a western setting. We have traveled to Wyoming, Montana, and Colorado, going through old records in museums, exploring mining towns, and tracing old legends. We also learn a lot from talking to the locals.

Our seven-book Ardis Cole Mystery series is about an archaeologist who travels the world and runs into murder. Each novel takes place in a different country--Scotland, Australia, China, Russia, etc. We have visited each setting, roaming through archeological sites and getting a feel for the country. The most fascinating research we’ve been involved in took place at Queen Hatsheput’s monument in Luxor.

4. As multi-genre authors, tell us about the genres you write and if you find it difficult switching gears from one to the other. We’d also like to know why you write more than one genre as opposed to sticking with one.

We have little trouble changing genres because whether adventure, romantic suspense, or western, the element of mystery is always present. We both love the history of the Old West and enjoy using an old-time setting, which explains our writing westerns.

5. How do you write? Are you plotters or pansters? Who decides if it’s the characters or the plot that influences you the most? Who decides if the book is going to a Western or a Mystery? How do you get your ideas?

We are plotters. First, we decide on what type of book we want, then we make a careful outline of both action and characters. We have a tendency to like different characters or different scenes, so we usually divide the writing with that in mind. As for ideas, they come to us through travel, by meeting an interesting character or situation. A few are inspired directly by theme.

6. As co-authors who live several states apart, tell us about your writing schedule. How do you manage to write an entire book via long distance and make all the parts fit together? Do you meet at a hotel for plotting sessions? Do you spend hours on the telephone, or do all communicating by computer?

For many years we lived states apart, but now we both live in Kansas, each about forty miles from Salina where we often meet. At one time we lived about a thousand miles apart. Then, we had to do more work by phone and e-mail.

7. Why did you choose to co-author rather than write your own individual books?

We both started writing individually, but we were always discussing our work with one another, each doing editing for the other. In time we felt that we wrote so much alike that we might as well join forces. This was great for our writing, for we have leaned much from one another. Co-authoring takes compromise and a good deal of patience, but the joy of sharing and the shaping of material much different than either of us would alone, makes our co-authoring worthwhile.

8. I think sisters who write together is wonderful. However, do you ever disagree about plot issues, keeping/eliminating scenes, or over POV, names for the H/H? If so, how do you resolve the issue?

We both put our book and the finished product first. We do disagree, but settle it by talking things over and sometimes by giving up what we personally want. We sometimes stray from our outlines, but never from the total vision of the novel.

9. Tell us about your latest book. Is it with Avalon or another publisher? What is your most recent or next book with Avalon?

We are thrilled about our new series with Avalon. The first novel, Murder in Black and White, is set in the contemporary west and will soon be released. We planned it as a cross-over from the western to the mystery line. The next two in our High County Mystery Series are The Nimerigar Hoax, and Stealer of Horses. Our three-book Luck of the Draw western series: The Devil’s Game, The Fifth Ace, and The Wild Card, was set in a mining town; this one in Wyoming’s high country. The lead character, Sheriff Jeff McQuede, is a distant relative of the famous lawman who appears in our western series. Jeff McQuede has also appeared in a collection of short stories, A Deal on a Handshake.

Our Ardis Cole Mystery Series, an original audio production from Books in Motion, will also be out this year in print. The first one is entitled The Curse of Senmut.

10. What do you like to do besides write?

Because we share a love of travel and history, we often pick a town from the map and see what it has to offer. We also like hunting for “treasures.” We spend lots of time going to antique shops, flea markets, and garage sales.

11. Where can readers find you besides clicking on the Avalon link on this page?
We have a web page at https://sites.google.com/site/vickiebrittonandlorettajackson and a blog at http://www.vbritton.blogspot.com/ Readers can also contact us personally at loriejack@embarqmail.com or vjb2@cox.net.

Thank you Loretta and Vickie. Enjoy all the adventures you'll share as you travel and research future novels.


I.J. Parnham said...

A fascinating tale. A crime writing sister duo almost sounds like an idea for a story in itself!

Kathye Quick said...

Writing with a partner is very exciting. Writing with a sister even more so I imagine. I would love to travel the world and do research with someone as close as my sister.

Mega sales and great reviews to you both

Beate Boeker said...

What an usual story you have to tell! I think it's also funny that you don't look the least alike and yet are so close in every other respect. Your new series sounds great. I wish you loads of success with it!

Sandy Cody said...

The joy of writing comes through loud and clear in this post. I love that! All too often, we focus on the agony of the creative process rather than the ecstasy. Good luck with Murder in Black and White. It's definitely on my TBR list.

Sandy Cody said...

Forgot to ask - do you belong to Sisters in Crime? Seems you two could be the poster girls.

Sandy Cody said...

I'm posting this for Vickie & Loretta (for some reason blogger seems to keep losing their comment):

Thanks for your nice comments, everyone. We enjoy writing mysteries and it has been fun sharing our story with others. And, Sandy, we recently joined Sisters in Crime. It does seem to be a good fit.

Vickie and Loretta