PaperBackSwap Blog

Interview With Author Jess Lourey

Jess Lourey is the author of the Lefty-nominated Murder-by-Month series set in Battle Lake, Minnesota.

Thank you for letting me interview you, Jess Lourey.

PBS: Your Murder-by-the-Month Mystery series is set in a small town, Battle Lake Minnesota. What lead you to setting this series there? Do you hail from a small town yourself?

JL: I grew up in Paynesville, Minnesota, a small town not unlike Battle Lake. Battle Lake is also a real town, and I was living there when I wrote May Day, the first in the series. They say write what you know, and I’ve always been fascinated by the small town sociology.

PBS: Your main character, Mira James is a bit bawdy, but at the same time has her own moral code that she will not break. Can you tell us about her and how she came to be the heroine of your series?

JL: I loosely based her appearance and hometown on mine so that I wouldn’t have to remember those details, and she grew out of that, this brave, wounded, neurotic, curious, self-deprecating amateur sleuth.

PBS: My favorite Mira James line in May Day is, “Plus there’s not much to do with a four-year degree in English, short of opening a English store.” What are your favorite Mira lines?

JL: Ha! That’s actually one of my favorite lines, too. I have another line, in August Moon, that I really like. Mira is falling for a nerdy woodtick museum curator, and they “bat their eyes at each other like two geeks comparing pocket protectors.”

Here’s my new favorite paragraph, from the upcoming November Hunt (March 2012):

The thermostat on my car was out, or so I figured as I used the tender meat of my hand to scrape a peephole on the inside of my windshield. Thirty years in Minnesota teaches you these handy bits: mosquitoes are attracted to white clothing and pretty much anything else you’d like to wear, a three-party government with a former professional wrestler at the helm isn’t the laugh riot you’d think it’d be, and if your car runs great except for the heater, it’s probably your thermostat.

PBS: Do you already have a plot for your books before you begin writing a new book, or does the plot develop as you write?

JL: When it comes to writing mysteries, I’m a plotter, not a pantser (as in “seat of your pants”). I like to have a rough outline with all the major plot points and the ending sketched out. The story evolves as I write, which is a lot of fun, but I need that road map or I feel like a cornered animal.

PBS: Can you tell us a bit about your newest book, October Fest? And was it fun to write?

JL: I always think they were fun to write when I’m all done with them. 😉 October Fest was inspired by our current political climate in the U.S., where it seems like being mean and vague are more valued than being kind and clear. In the book, two politicians come to Battle Lake, both of them running for a House seat. Here’s the official description:

What do you get when you cross beer, a conservative politician who keeps planting her foot in her mouth, and polka music? Octoberfest in Battle Lake, Minnesota, that’s what. Sarah Glokkmann, hot on the campaign trail, faces off with Arnold Swydecker in a debate held at the cusp of Battle Lake’s premier fall festival. When a too-curious reporter covering the event winds up on the no-breathing list, all fingers point at Glokkmann. But is she being framed? Mira James couldn’t care less. That is, until her best friend ends up in intensive care and Mira must solve the murder to save her friend.

Kirkus Reviews call the book “…funny, ribald, and brimming with small-town eccentrics.” If I manage to make people laugh when they read and guess up until the end, I’ll have done my job.

PBS: What can your readers expect from you in the future? Do you have any plans for books outside of this series?

JL: Thank you for asking! I’ve written a historical novel that is fully-drafted but not yet complete. The novel takes place on an Indian boarding school in 1893 South Dakota. I also have begun work on a young adult series with an edge, and have about 60 pages fleshed out on a magical realism novel that looks at three generations of gifted women.

The Murder-by-Month series are my first babies, though. Last week, I sent November Hunt, the seventh in the series, off to my publisher. I’m thrilled with how that one turned out. It’s my favorite in the series so far. I’m under contract for Death Loves December and plan to have that hammered out before next March. By the way, the title is temporary, so if any of your readers have December title suggestions, send them my way! (www.jesslourey.com)

Comment on the Interview! Five lucky winners will get a signed copy of one of Jess Lourey’s books! The winners will be chosen at random from the comments and we will announce the winners on Tuesday, March 15, 2011.

Thank you everyone, for your comments! We will announce the winners of the signed copies of Jess Lourey’s books right here in  tomorrow’s Blog!

Thank you Jess for your interview, comments and for sending us 5 books for our members to enjoy! You Rock!


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48 Responses to “Interview With Author Jess Lourey”

  1. Stephanie G. (thestephanieloves) says:

    Jess is a new author for me so I haven’t read any of her books…but they look really good! 🙂

  2. Wow – I think I’m going to have to go shopping for some new books! Thanks for bringing Jess to my attention, PBS.

  3. Jess Lourey says:

    Or maybe go “swapping” for new books, Tracy. 😉

  4. Bernie says:

    I have been a fan of Jess’ since her first book. She has always been gracious and funny. I hosted a Round Robin swap for PBS once and she sent us a bunch of goodies to share with everyone in the Round Robin.

    -Don’t add me to the entries. I already have all of her books signed. I don’t want to deprive someone else of the chance to discover her. 🙂

    Very nice interview!!

  5. Kathy B. (Boldreader) says:

    I am intrigued! Can’t wait to start reading her Murder of the month series. Thanks to the interview in the blog, I now have a new series tp start enjoying.

  6. Steph-Anne says:

    Oh now I need to request Jess’s books on here! LOL

  7. Chris D. (Mommyrosie) says:

    This is a series that I hadn’t heard about–I’m glad to know about it, and will have to start reading the books.

  8. Jess Lourey says:

    You’re a queen, Bernie!

    Thanks to PBS for having me. This has been a lot of fun. 🙂

  9. R. E. (re) says:

    Great blog, and super sounding books to read.

    I found this while surfing:


    December Superstitions
    “Marry on December third
    For all the grief you ever heard ”

    Am I superstitious. No. However I really get a kick out of reading abt.them, when I come across them!
    I had NEVER EVER heard of read of December 3rd NOT being an okay date for a wedding! sigh**!

    ps: like bree without the b.

  10. Karen B. (queenreader) says:

    Great interview. It’s always fun finding out more about a series and author that you are enjoying. I have totally loved the few in the series that I have managed to get my mitts on and am eagerly anticipating the rest.

  11. Lucas S. (lucasspatuzza) says:

    Nice, What an interview that was. I really like her way of thinking, haha.

  12. Jade W. says:

    Thanks so much for bring Jess to my attention. I love when some recommends a book, I jump at the chance to read them. I’m so excited to start.

  13. Jean L. (MeanJean) says:

    Thanks for drawing my attention to this author. I am always glad to be introduced to a new source of mystery/murder series.

  14. HeatherLeah W. (HeatherLeah) , says:

    I’ve never heard of Jess Lourey but I’m a sucker for good series books that have mystery and comedy. This one is DEFINITELY going on my list of stuff to read!

  15. Andrea G. (beachdre) says:

    Thanks for bringing another author to my attention. I love books set in small towns. I think you learn more about the location that way.

  16. Pamela says:

    Her books sound like fun. I need to get some to try. I am always looking for new authors. Thanks for bringing her to my attention.

  17. Jess Lourey says:

    Re, thank you for doing the research. At first, I liked “Marry on December 3rd” as a potential title, but you know what’s been growing on me since I read your post: “December Superstitions.” Isn’t that a great title? Thanks for the spark!

  18. re says:

    Dear Jess**,

    Oh! I really like that…that is even better ! ha hah! “December Superstitions”. GREAT! YES!

    The superstition itself was too limiting. I like where you jump-quested with it! smiles** Ü

  19. Meghan (redwingsgal) says:

    It looks like a great book. I’ve actually been looking for it locally since before Christmas, but our bookstore doesn’t stock it yet. Their loss! It’s definitely on the list for my next Amazon order.

  20. Kaila K. (mamakaila) , says:

    i liked the interview. i’ve never heard of her so i will have to look into her books. thanks pbs 🙂

  21. Erin C. (erincarney20) says:

    I love Jess Lourey’s books! I checked them all out from the library and read them straight through in less than a week 🙂 I’ve been living in Minnesota now for 3 years – it’s so fun to read a book in a place where you live!

  22. Lisha C. says:

    I have never heard of her but I am excited to start reading her books!! They sound really good.

  23. Nicole E. (avemedea) says:

    I love the description of October Fest! The lines from November Hunt are pretty funny too. It’s cool to see a murder mystery series that seems like it doesn’t take itself too seriously – that makes it much more fun for the reader. I hadn’t heard of Jess Lourey before today, but now I look forward to reading her books!

  24. Kelsey G. says:

    I havent read any of her books yet but they sound amazing and i will definitely check them out soon!!

  25. Tisha G. (anothertag) says:

    I love the cozy mystery genre…this was an interesting interview. Definitely have to put Jess Lourey and the Murder by Month series on my list to read.

  26. Darcey says:

    I haven’t read any of her books yet, but my Fiance is from a small-town in Minnesota and since I have started visiting his hometown with him I have fallen in love with the area and the people. I look forward to checking out this series of books so that I can have a little bit of small town Minnesota with me (other than my Fiance, lol) even when we are at home in Detroit!

  27. Rachel O. says:

    Thanks for the glimpse behind the scenes it was fun to see a little of how your books come together.

  28. Jess Lourey says:

    Eep, Darcey, you’ll have to let me know which town AND cut him some slack. I fictionalize a lot of it. 🙂 We’re not as bad as all that. Congrats on the upcoming wedding!

  29. Eileen S. (ebs427) says:

    Thanks for the inside peak into your writing. Will have to add this to my “vacation read list” for Spring Vacation! Thanks for visiting with us.

  30. Melinda S. says:

    Interesting…looking forward to reading something by this author.

  31. Darcey says:

    @ Jess, LOL, It’s all good, like I said I really do like it there. I have stayed in other small towns before in both my home state and others, and have never felt so welcome as I did in the close-knit community of Two Harbors, Mn! I can already tell from your interview and comments that you are witty and seem to have a great sense of humor and I am sure that those traits spill over into your writing….Really looking forward to reading these books (and I also happen to love reading historical anything so looking forward to that as well)… maybe I can even get my fiance to read them, although I would have to tear him away from his preferred reading material of anything and everything WWII related…quite a task for me, lol.
    Thanks for the congrats and good luck (good writing?) on the new YA series!

  32. keli says:

    I love cozy mystery; thanks for the inerview. I’ll check for her books

  33. Teri M. (ter-bear) says:

    I am interested in this series now. Must find it here. Thanks for the interview!!

  34. Charles W. (chukandcher) says:

    This husband and wife team exchange books with each other. And love it especially when it comes to small town Murder Mysteries. This ‘new’ series will sure to be a hit with us. Give us plenty to talk about. It will be fun to see who gets to read it first. ;p Thanks for opening up another ‘town’ for us to ‘visit’! 🙂

  35. Jess Lourey says:

    Charles, I LOVE when couples read books together. What an awesome way to stay connected!

  36. Erin N. (everybodysdarling) says:

    I’ve never read any of her books, but now I’m intrigued. Looks like I have a new series to look for!

  37. Michelle F. (Micky) says:

    I have May Day, which I got from PaperBackSwap a while ago. I haven’t read it yet, but I love mysteries, especially cozies. I would love to win a book!

    Thank you, Jess, for donating the books to PaperBackSwap. Some authors really don’t like swapping sites because it cuts into their sales.

  38. Jess Lourey says:

    I think you’re right, Micky, that some authors think it cuts into sales. I look at it like a library service, though, where we’re making more books available to people who otherwise might never hear of them or have a chance to read them.

    Thanks for grabbing May Day! It’s a little rough, I’m afraid, but stick with me. I get better.

    I hope.

  39. Sara U. (fiadara) says:

    Nice interview! I’ve never heard of Jess’s books, but I’m really interested in finding some now. I love how I find new authors on PBS!

  40. I would “love” to read one of Jess Lourey’s mystreries!! I was not aware of her until this interview! I hope I win so I get to try one out!!
    Thanks for offering this!
    Laurie C.

  41. John L. (pater47) says:

    Is it true the leap year edition of February will have bonus pages?

  42. Kathleen B. (compkatthewriter) says:

    I know this is going to sound corny, but I also liked Mira James’ line in May Day, “Plus there’s not much to do with a four-year degree in English, short of opening a English store.” And being I’m an English Lit major, that was a real hoot and woot for me. Hah! I came across Ms. Lourey on Amazon when I bought my Kindle last year, and I downloaded her book to it. Her new book October Fest will be released there on Amazon also, and I have already put in a request for it to be available on Kindle.

    If you take a look at her website you will find her other reads there also, you can find it at my bookmark, http://www.jesslourey.com/author.html, and you can also RSS her blog, I do alot of RSS’ing my favorite authors, so i can stay in the know.

    So there you have it you can read her books, her blogs, her websites and her interviews and never be out of the know.

    Too bad Jess is in Minnesota and I’m in Florida. Jess, did you make it to our Florida Chapter of MWA Convention here in Florida? I didn’t, but heard it was good, going to try for next year, and I’m not even a writer. Yet anyway.

  43. Pat L. (Patoct) says:

    I havent heard of Jess either, but would love to try her books.

  44. Jess Lourey says:

    You ARE in the know, Kathleen! Thank you so much for the boost. I’m afraid I didn’t make it to the Florida chapter of the MWA convention, BUT, I am one of the instructors in MWA-U, a low-cost writing workshop that we bring around the country. If it’s something you think you and your chapter would be interested in, you should pass the idea on up to your president. I’d love an excuse to visit. 😉

    Good luck with the writing!

  45. Jess Lourey says:

    John , I think we share a sense of humor. I have declared it so–February’s book will have one extra page.

  46. Debbie D. (debsbooks) says:

    What a great interview. I would love a chance to read your book.

  47. OlieAnn S. (olieann) says:

    I guess my comment will be to late, but here goes, The novels sound great, I would love to try one….

  48. Laura T. (moscow2) Bristol, RI says:

    Sounds like an author I need to read.

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