Jane Tesh is a retired media specialist and pianist for the Andy Griffith Playhouse in Mt. Airy, NC, the real Mayberry. She is the author of the Madeline Maclin Series, A Case of Imagination, A Hard Bargain, A Little Learning, and A Bad Reputation, featuring former beauty queen, Madeline “Mac” Maclin and her con man husband, Jerry Fairweather. Stolen Hearts is the first in the Grace Street Mystery Series, featuring PI David Randall, his psychic friend, Camden, Randall’s love interest, Kary Ingram, and Cam’s career-driven girlfriend, Ellin Belton, as well as an ever-changing assortment of Cam’s tenants. Mixed Signals is the second in the series, followed by Now You See It and Just You Wait. Jane’s mysteries are all published by Poisoned Pen Press, located in Scottsdale, Arizona. Butterfly Waltz is her first published fantasy novel from Silver Leaf Books. All of Jane’s books are on the light side with humor and romance.
Book description: Des Fairweather is a struggling young musician who fears he may possess the same destructive magical power that killed his parents. While helping his tabloid reporter friend, Jake Banner, investigate reports of talking flowers, Des meets Kalida, a mysterious and beautiful young woman who says she is being pursued by evil beings from a world called the Caverns. Des will have to put aside his fear and find a way to rescue Kalida.
Why don’t you begin by telling us a little about your writing background?
I have always been a writer. I remember writing poems and plays at a very early age. I decided when I was 18 to see if I could get a book published. This was in 1968, so I didn’t have as many options as writers do today. I typed my novels on a typewriter, found the right size box, and mailed them to New York. This went on for a very long time. When computers arrived, I switched over and emailed my books and queries. Although I had success with children’s plays when I was 34, I didn’t reach my ultimate goal until 2005 when my first book, A Case of Imagination, was published by Poisoned Pen Press.
I was reading by age four, and I wanted to read every book in the library. I read everything, even encyclopedias. My favorite books were fantasy books, such as Rusty’s Space Ship, Star Girl, A Wrinkle in Time, and Have Space Suit, Will Travel.
Tell us a bit about your latest book, and what inspired you to write such a story.
I love music and use it in all of my work. For Butterfly Waltz, I found a lovely waltz by ragtime composer Max Morath called “One For Amelia.” Listening to this piece or playing it on the piano, I could see scenes unfolding. Butterfly Waltz is about a young musician who has lost his creativity and finds inspiration in Kalida, a young woman who says she is magic, the one thing that he fears. Kalida did not have music on her world, so she is entranced by the sound and feels it can help her, if Des will only believe in her.
Agatha Christie got her best ideas while eating green apples in the bathtub. Steven Spielberg says he gets his best ideas while driving on the highway. When do you get your best ideas and why do you think this is?
I get my best ideas when listening to music. I enjoy finding music I haven’t heard, and lately that’s been march music. Sounds odd, but I never knew any other marches except Sousa marches, so this is a new world for me. The unfamiliar marches suggest scenes and sometimes whole stories because they are very grand orchestral pieces. And since I haven’t heard them before, I don’t have any preconceived notions or mental images to go with them.
Do you write nonstop until you have a first draft, or do you edit as you move along?
I write nonstop. My favorite author, Terry Pratchett, says, “The first draft is just you telling yourself the story.” That’s the fun part. If I can’t think of the word I want, I just put in “x” and move along. Everything can be fixed later. This is the creative rush, the imagination taking over, and I’m riding the wave.
Do you have an agent? How was your experience in searching for one?
I did have one for a short while. She said that she could sell my book if I changed my hero to a woman. Now, this would have radically changed all the characters’ relationships in my mystery world. At the time, I had spent over 20 years trying to get a publisher or an agent, and I thought I was making a huge mistake in saying no. But I learned a valuable lesson about myself. How much was I willing to compromise in order to achieve my goal? The answer was: not this much. The agent and I parted ways (nicely) , and I eventually found a publisher who took all my characters with their genders intact.
Do you have a website/blog where readers may learn more about you and your work?
Do you have another book on the works? Would you like to tell readers about your current or future projects?
Since I’ve been working on books since the Sixties, I do have a nice stack of manuscripts in various stages of readiness. My next novel, Madeline Maclin Mystery number 5, Evil Turns, will be out in May, 2016. In Evil Turns, ex-beauty queen Madeline Maclin and her reformed con man husband, Jerry Fairweather, Des Fairweather’s younger brother, investigate the possible re-emergence of the Dark Rose coven in their small town of Celosia, NC. The next fantasy novel, A Small Holiday, is on its way to Silver Leaf Books this month. Belinda Bevin and her brother Jayson find themselves in a strange world where they must take part in an age-long festival in order to get home.
As an author, what is your greatest reward?
To finally be a published author after such a long time is a great relief. I have accomplished a goal that I set for myself when I was a teenager. Now I can relax and enjoy everything about the process. If anyone out there is still struggling and wondering if it will ever happen—don’t give up!
Anything else you’d like to say about yourself or your work?
To think that something I basically picked out of the air is captured in a form for others to read is certainly magical. Thank you for the opportunity to share some of my thoughts.