I’ve always been fascinated by time travel, so it’s a special treat to welcome author Janet Raye Stevens to my blog today. Below are her responses to my interview questions:
First off, congratulations on the release of the third book in your Beryl Blue, Time Cop series, EVERYTIME WE SAY GOODBYE. Can you share with our readers a bit about the story?
This book is the last in the series (maybe?), so I tie up all the plot threads I wove through the first two books, BERYL BLUE, TIME COP and IT’S BEEN A LONG, LONG TIME. I also answer the key question Beryl’s been asking throughout – why her? Why was a feisty and frequently snarky librarian from 2015 sent back to 1943 and told she was the only person in all of time who could save a WWII soldier from a time-traveling assassin? That soldier, Sgt. Tom ‘Sully’ Sullivan, plays a big role in revealing that secret.
How did your protagonist Beryl Blue go from being a librarian to a time cop? And how has she changed and grown during the course of the series?
Beryl was orphaned at a young age and spent her teen years in foster care. Books and her local library were her escape, so becoming a librarian seemed the most logical career for her. Until she’s sent on a wild ride to the past. Once she gets past her disbelief that she’s actually traveled in time, she still has to deal with the why her question, and the fact that she doesn’t have the skill set to fend off an assassin. Not to mention her growing feelings for Sully, the soldier she’s supposed to protect. Beryl grew up cynical, unable to fully trust anyone, but she learns pretty fast she has to trust Sully – and herself – if she’s going to succeed. She grows more confident throughout the series, and by the third adventure, she’s popping around time, chasing temporal thieves and other miscreants, a job far from the staid, safe library life she’d planned for herself. And she realizes she likes it.
Your series is such an interesting mix of mystery, romance, history, and time travel. What inspired your interest in time travel? And in history, especially World War II?
Blame it on my childhood! As a kid, I loved TV shows like The Twilight Zone and Star Trek, and especially loved the episodes that involved time travel. I also adored the cheesy fun Time Tunnel, which starred my first TV boyfriend James Darren as Tony, one half of a duo of accidental time travelers, who are tossed across the centuries by the time tunnel, and conveniently land at major historical events where everyone speaks English. I also lived in a public housing project growing up, which was populated for the most part by WWII veterans. Practically every dad, and some of the moms, had served in the war in some capacity. I grew up hearing their stories and became steeped in the history of that singular moment in time. When I started writing fiction years later, it made sense my life-long interests would inspire my stories.
You’ve always been a voracious reader. Were there particular authors and books that inspired you as you grew up?
Oh, there were so, so many, but the book I remember most is Julia Sauer’s Fog Magic, a moody fantasy about a lonely girl’s trip through time. I read it dozens of times as a kid and even reference it in EVERY TIME WE SAY GOODBYE.
Writing has always been an interest of yours. What led you to begin writing seriously for publication?
I wrote my first story for a 6th grade assignment, “The Day My Teacher Wore A Miniskirt To School.” I got a C-minus, but I also got a lot of laughs, all the encouragement I needed to keep going. I’ve noodled with words ever since but didn’t buckle down seriously until 2005 when I wrote my first real novel, STRING OF PEARLS, a mystery set (surprisingly) during WWII, featuring a young society reporter who wants to move to her newspaper’s crime beat. When she finds a body in an alley near a society event she’s covering, she gets her chance. I learned a heck of a lot about plot and upping the stakes writing that book and, more important, it also helped me develop my writer’s “voice.”
What is your writing process like?
I’m a cross between a plotter, having a complete plan before I sit down to write, and a “pantser,” writing by the seat of my pants and letting the words take me where they want. I start with a loose plot, a couple of ideas for scenes, a few suspects if I’m putting together a mystery, and an outline for how I want the story to end; whether or not I get there is where the “pantsing” comes in. I mostly let my characters show me the way, and they haven’t failed me yet.
What’s a typical writing day like for you?
I try to write every day, the operative word being try. I use my laptop for social media and email, but for writing, I hide away in my office and use my old-school desktop that keeps threatening to give up the ghost. I can usually write one novel and three or four short stories in a year, but this year threw me a curveball with cancer surgery and follow-up treatments. I’m doing fine now, but it took me a lot longer than I’d planned to finish Beryl and Sully’s story.
What do you wish you’d known before you jumped into the “professional author” waters?
Just about everything, lol!
What’s next for you writing-wise?
I’m stepping out of the WWII era and turning to another seminal time period, the 1970s, with a humorous and occasionally heart wrenching coming of age story set in 1976, MY BICENTENNIAL. Then I’m heading out of this world with KILROY WAS HERE, the first in a sci-fi adventure series about the head of an elite security team on her last mission and the Indiana-Jones-in-space treasure hunter she teams up with to find a precious jewel before the bad guys do.
Anything else you’d like to add or wish I’d asked but I didn’t?
Thanks for letting me visit with you and your readers today!
BIO: Janet Raye Stevens writes smart, stealthily romantic WWII and midcentury-set mysteries, paranormal suspense, and time travel adventures with humor and heart. A Derringer Award and Killer Nashville Silver Falchion Award finalist, and Daphne du Maurier Award winner, Janet lives, writes, and drinks copious amounts of tea at her home in central Massachusetts.
Amazon Beryl Blue series page: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0BD8P6S9L