I'd like to introduce Janice Peacock to the blog today. Janice writes the Glass Bead Mystery series. High Strung, A Glass Bead Mystery ebook will be 99 cents from Dec 5 to Dec 9. A Bead in the Hand, book two in the Glass Bead Mystery Series, is now available. Both can be found in paperback and ebook editions on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iTunes.
JP: I do! I’ve loved beads since I was a girl in the 1970s living in Newport Beach, California. My friend and I often went to a groovy bead store (back when bead stores and many other things were “groovy”) and would play with beads for hours. As an adult I have continued to enjoy making jewelry and collecting beads. In 1992 I learned to make glass beads using a torch. By melting glass, layering colors, and sculpting it with various tools, I can create complex designs and styles. I’ve discovered I’m a pyromaniac! I enjoy working with a torch, while it’s intense working with a 2000 degree flame, it’s also relaxing to watch the flame dancing and the glass becoming liquid and flowing.
Kathy: What is your favorite type of piece to make? How would you describe your style?
JP: Most of my beads look ancient—like they’ve been washed up on shore or have been uncovered from an archeological dig. My signature beads look like small masks. I never get tired of making them, and I enjoy creating different expressions on the faces. The jewelry pieces I make are often quite large, chunky, and colorful. It’s fun to make a piece of jewelry to match a new outfit. While I love to make jewelry, I often find it is difficult to make time for it, especially with all the writing I’ve been doing.
Kathy: Setting is so important, especially in a cozy mystery. Why is Seattle the perfect location for the Glass Bead Mystery series?
JP: Seattle is a mecca for glass art, coming in second only to Venice, Italy. The famous glass artist Dale Chihuly is from Seattle, there’s also the Tacoma Museum of Glass nearby (where my work is in their permanent collection), the world-renowned Pilchuck Glass School is located just north of Seattle, and there are many glass blowing studios in the city as well. So, when I first decided to write a novel about a glass bead maker, I decided that Seattle would be a great location. It’s one of my favorite cities and I’ve spent a lot of time there, so I thought I’d use it as the setting for my books—that it might even give me a reason to visit now and then.
Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?
JP: I’ve always liked mysteries and enjoy the craft orientation in many of the books in the cozy mystery genre. While I’m not a prude, I don’t really like to read graphic sex scenes in novels. I’m definitely squeamish and a total scaredy-cat, so I don’t like to read about gore or graphic violence. I wanted to write books that I would enjoy, so I decided that a cozy mystery series was the best way to go. Since I must read and re-read my own book dozens of times as it moves toward completion, it’s a good thing I like reading them.
Cozy mysteries speak to the things that are important to me: friendships and family, solving problems creatively (usually not finding murderers!), justice, crafts, and yes, cats.
Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?
JP: High Strung is my first book, and while I intend to keep writing more books in the Glass Bead Mystery Series, I do have another cozy mystery series that has been knocking around in my head demanding to be written. It’s a little too early to reveal what that one is about, but I’m excited to get to work on it. I also write haiku poems. I spent a year writing one every day. I hope to collect them into a book and publish them someday, but for now, I’m focused on the Glass Bead Mysteries.
Kathy: Tell us about your series.
JP: The Glass Bead Mystery series features a glass beadmaker named Jax O’Connell. She inherits a house in Seattle, and leaves her not-so-terrific life in Miami behind to follow her dreams. As Jax says, she wants to “shake up that old Etch A Sketch called life, and start with a clean slate.” Jax moves in next door to her quirky neighbor Val and reconnects with her old friend Tessa, a feisty Italian mother of three. And then there’s Gumdrop—Jax’s adorable grey cat who could use a serious attitude adjustment—who has, of course, travelled across the country with her to start her new life.
In High Strung: When a murder occurs during a bead shop's grand opening festivities, Jax must string together the clues to clear Tessa's name—and do it before the killer strikes again.
In A Bead in the Hand: A bead bazaar turns bizarre when Jax finds the body of a famous bead designer beneath her sales table and must find the killer to prove her innocence.
Kathy: Do you have a favorite character? If so, who and why?
JP: I like all the characters, but Val is definitely one of my favorites. She’s six feet tall, is a former beauty queen, has fluffy red hair, loves anything sparkly, and is obsessed with makeovers and science fiction. It's fun coming up with wacky things that Val says and does. She’s great comic relief, but actually does help Jax solve mysteries, and likes to take care of Jax a little too. In A Bead in the Hand, which has just been released, Val is convinced that her perfume, Chanel Number 6 (according to Val, better than Chanel Number 5), is a ghost repellant and spends most of the book spraying it liberally around the old hotel where they are staying. She’s also determined to find out all sorts of things using Mr. Spock’s Vulcan Mind Meld from the Star Trek TV series. Many readers have told me that Val is their favorite character, as well. Readers also adore Gumdrop, Jax’s fluffy (and grumpy) gray cat, and I admit I love Gumdrop too—he reminds me of a couple of kitties I’ve had in my life.
Kathy: Did you have a specific inspiration for your series?
JP: Several years ago I took at class at the Corning Studio in upstate New York. You may recognize the name Corning—they are the manufacturers of Pyrex glass baking dishes and measuring cups. While working in the studio, I had an epiphany—the perfect way to kill someone! And while I didn’t have plans to murder anyone in particular, I decided that I wanted to write a murder mystery. As happens in life, it took me a few years before I sat down to write High Strung, but finally I did. It has been an amazing experience bringing my first book and its sequel to readers.
Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?
JP: I had so much fun writing it, I wanted others to enjoy it too!
Kathy: If you could have a dinner party and invite 4 authors, living or dead, in any genre, who would you invite?
JP: I think I'd invite Janet Evanovich because she would have a lot to say about writing a series and keeping it fun, fresh, and humorous. I’d invite Agatha Christie because she is the Grand Dame of cozy mysteries. I’d be interested to hear what she had to say about the world of writing today and to get her advice about crafting the perfect crime. I’d invite JK Rowling because she was such a huge success and I think her books helped instill a love of books in a generation of young people, including my own daughter. And, I’d invite Glen David Gold, who is the author of one of my favorite books, Carter Beats the Devil. I missed an opportunity to meet him a few years ago, and it would be fantastic to have the chance to sit down and talk with him.
Kathy: What are you currently reading?
JP:I’m currently reading Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert, the author of Eat, Pray, Love. I find that I read a lot of nonfiction while I am actively writing fiction. I don’t like too many plot lines running through my head at the same time. Big Magic is about overcoming fear and learning to be the creative person you were meant to be. I recommend it highly to anyone who has creative passions, especially writers.
Kathy: Will you share any of your hobbies or interests with us?
JP: I love making beads and jewelry (of course!), but I also knit (but not very well), and quilt (I’m pretty good, but things are never perfectly lined up), and I also have made dollhouses and miniatures. My daughter and I, over the course of several years, created the Weasleys house from the Harry Potter books in miniature. I also like to make wine with my husband. We’ve become pretty decent winemakers and now have a closet full of wine bottles after doing it for several years.
Kathy: Name 4 items you always have in your fridge or pantry.
JP: Champagne—you never know when you’ll need to celebrate something.
Chocolate chips—my husband makes cookies whenever I’m feeling blue.
Trader Joe’s Yellow Curry Sauce—when I have random veggies, I like to steam them up, make rice and throw the whole thing together with curry sauce. Voila! Instant excellent dinner.
Nutella—The best thing about it is that it’s chocolate, but I’m not tempted to sit down and eat it all in one afternoon, like I might be with a box of chocolates.
Kathy: Do you have plans for future books either in your current series or a new series?
JP: I do have plans for another book in the Glass Bead Mystery series. A Bead in the Hand, book two in the series, has just been released. Jax and her friends will be back in the third book in the series tentatively titled Killer Beads, which will be released mid-2016.
Kathy: What's your favorite thing about being an author?
JP: I like creating worlds and having adventures with my characters. They’re fictional, of course, but sometimes they feel real to me. After I’ve neglected them for a while, it is nice to meet up with them, see what they’ve been up to, and write down their adventures. It’s wonderful to hear from a reader who has had a laugh out loud moment while reading one of my books. I love the idea that people can escape for a little while into a world I’ve created, that they are entertained by what I’ve written, and maybe even learned a little along the way.
Here are the links to my books:
High Strung (99 cents from Dec 5 to Dec 9)
Barnes and Noble:
A Bead in the Hand, Released on Dec 5 and available on all major retailers
Connect with Janice Peacock
Twitter and Instagram: @JanPeac
If you'd like a chance to win an e-book copy of High Strung. Simply leave a comment on this post telling us if you'd ever beaded or made jewelry along with your e-mail and format needed no later than 11:59 pm EST Tuesday, December 8, 2015.