Author profiles contributed by Chris Bacon, Mason County District Library

 

Judith Ann Jance (JA Jance) was born in South Dakota in 1944 and raised in Bisbee, AZ. As a second-grader Jance was introduced to Frank Baum’s “Wizard of Oz” series and from that moment on she knew she wanted to be a writer. She graduated from Bisbee High School in 1962, and received an academic scholarship that made her the first person in her family to attend a four year college. She graduated in 1966 with a degree in English and Secondary Education from the University of Arizona. While in college she tried to pursue her writing career by taking a creative writing class, but the professor refused her entry into the class due to her gender because women weren't writers, they were “teachers or nurses.” While in college she married an alcoholic and in 1968 he forbade her from writing because there was only room for one writer in the family and that would be him. In the end nothing he ever wrote was published. However, she continued to write poetry in secret, but never seriously perused a writing career until much later in life.

 

In 1970 Jance received her Master’s in Education and in Library Science. She taught high school English at Tucson’s Pueblo High School for two years and was a K-12 librarian at Indian Oasis School District in Sells, Arizona for five years. After 18 years of marriage she divorced her first husband in 1980 and took their two children to Seattle, WA and sold insurance to make a living. Her ex-husband died three years after the divorce from his alcoholism. Jance met her second husband Bill at a widowed retreat sponsored by a group called WICS (Widowed Information Consultation Services) in June of 1985. His wife had died of breast cancer two years earlier. Six months after meeting Bill the couple married. Bill is an engineer and has three adult children from his previous marriage. The couple now lives part of the year in Arizona and part of the year in Seattle.

 

Jance is in involved in various charities. While she is on tour for book signings she asks the bookstores to donate a percentage of their earnings from her appearances to various causes. Through this charity work over the past ten years she has raised over $250,000 for charities. She has also raises money by hosting events where people can bid/donate money to appear in her books.

 

Jance began pursuing a writing career in 1982 when she wrote a fictionalized version about a series of murders that occurred in Tucson, AZ in 1970. The book was 1200 pages long and was never published. Her agent suggested she pursue writing fiction and in 1985 her first novel was published called “Until Proven Guilty.” She used the pen name “JA Jance” because the publisher believed if she used her real name (Judith Ann) nobody would read a book with a woman author writing about a male detective. The book was the first of her very popular Detective Beaumont series. There are twenty-two books in series and they focus on retired Seattle police officer JP Beaumont and his pursuit of justice across the US solving murders. Jance also writes two other series; the Ali Reynolds series set in Sedona, AZ and Joanna Brady books set in southeastern AZ. She has also written four thrillers and a book of poetry.

 

Jance is a muder/mystery novelist. When writing her books she does not use an outline and she works from backwards through the book. She knows who the victim or victims are and then writes to find out who the killer or killers are. She like her readers does not know who the guilty party is until she finishes the book. Her books are filled with twists and turns and full of surprises. They can be dark at times as Jance delves into the minds of the murderers. Her characters in her books are believable and are not immune from devastating personal events happening to them including death of love ones. Many of her characters settings are based on people she knows and places she's been.

 

If you like the authors Margaret Coel, Sara Paretsky, Marcia Muller, RA Robinson, Nevada Barr, Robert Parker, or Dana Stabenow you might also like JA Jance because she too possesses the ability to suck readers in to a suspense filled world where danger and mystery lurk around every corner.