Interview with Nancy Jill Thames

Published 2019-04-19.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Yes. An explanation was needed to justify taking our pet rat, Sandy, to the pound due to my husband's allergies. Since the children were young I believed a story would help them understand. I wrote a fairy tale and used our names spelled backward to disquise the real characters in our sad situation.
What is your writing process?
Since I write murder mysteries I use a loose-leaf binder to jot down answers the story must address such as who gets murdered, why they were murdered, who the murderer was, and how the victim was killed. Then I create the cast of characters and write a backstory on each.

I create a random list of elements I want to include and a list of events, then I divide the elements into groups of ideas that seem to fall together. Once I have about a hundred elements, I create twenty chapters and give them titles best suited to the five elements I place in each.
How do you approach cover design?
Since I write a series I selected a format that would be recognizable for each volume. In my case the title goes first followed by a suitable photo or image. Beneath the photo is the sub-title of A Jillian Bradley Mystery. I place the book number beneath it, then my name on the bottom. I choose colors to go with the theme. Recently, however, I hired a cover designer to add my protagonist and her Yorkie to the setting. I'm very pleased with the outcome.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
I've read many books in my life but the ones I love and re-read are "Snow Falling on Cedars" (I love the imagery), and all the Agatha Christie mysteries (I love trying to solve the who-dunits).
What do you read for pleasure?
Best sellers if the subject matter has a redeeming quality like "The Hunger Games" trilogies. I love the Harry Potter series and anything by Agatha Christie, Dorothy Sayers or Donald Bain.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
Offering the first book "Murder in Half Moon Bay" free on all platforms gives readers a sample of my writing. If they like the first story, they usually purchase the rest of the series.
Describe your desk
I gave it away. My phone is my office.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up mostly in the bay area of California. Most of the stories I write take place there except for the ones where my protagonist is traveling.
When did you first start writing?
I really never wrote a story until the pet rat incident. Once I did, I progressed to writing down stories my grandmother handed down. In 2001, I embarked on writing a murder mystery to see if I could.
What's the story behind your latest book?
In 1983 my husband and I took a trip to Great Britian and France. I kept a diary and wanted to capture the memories so I wrote "The Ruby of Siam" which takes place in London. The sequel, "The Long Trip Home," tells the story of the aftermath. In Book 9 "Murder at Mirror Lake," Jillian picks up the pieces of her life with the help of her garden club friends who suggest taking a fall color tour in New England. After Book 9, I wanted to take Jillian and Teddy to a beautiful garden setting so for Book 10, I chose Victoria on Vancouver Island. Jillian gets to visit the Buchart Gardens and stay at the Empress Hotel while trying to solve the murder of a young attorney involved in a bitter legal and political conflict over fishing rights. "Murder at the Empress Hotel" launched in 2015. Since my husband and I always wanted to visit NY and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, we took a trip and based “Museums Can Be Murder” in Manhattan. As a dual objective I had Jillian and Teddy stay with her brother’s family in New Jersey because I wanted to honor my sister-in-law’s life. She died of cancer in 2016.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
Indie sounded like the least path of resistance.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
If it hadn't been for Smashwords I wouldn't have been able to sell my book for free on all platforms. I never realized the vast reach it has with so many channels until I started getting the quarterly sales profits.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
I’ve created a world where I'd like to live and hope that others will join me as they read my stories.
Who are your favorite authors?
Agatha Christie, Dorothy Sayers, Donald Bain, Susan Wittig Albert, and Beatrix Potter.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
I look forward to making meals and serving afternoon tea for my husband and I using the beautiful things I’ve collected. Beauty brings me joy!
What do your fans mean to you?
What are you working on next?
In the summer of 2015 I worked on three short stories -- one for a thirteen author anthology, one for a writing group challenge, and one for our Cozy Mystery Magazine's third anthology "A Cup of Cozy 3." In 2016, I wrote three new stories for the Happy Homicides anthology series. In addition, I published The Jillian Bradley Short Story Collection. Book 11 "Museums Can Be Murder," a mystery set at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, launched in 2017.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I enjoy watching mysteries, traveling with my husband, visiting my family and grandchildren in California, Texas, and Georgia, and playing the piano.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
Apple iTunes is a great resource. I can read a sample of a book and know immediately whether I want to download it or not. The site is very convenient to use.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
Aside from mandantory reading in school, I remember reading "Leave Her to Heaven" when I was a young teen. I loved the way the story evolved, shrouded in mystery, and the setting of the lakehouse. I wanted to live in a place like that for a long time.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author or publisher.

Latest books by This Author

Museums Can Be Murder Book 11 (Jillian Bradley Mysteries Series Book 11)
Series: A Jillian Bradley Mystery, Book 11. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 39,810. Language: English. Published: August 31, 2017 . Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Amateur sleuth, Fiction » Mystery & detective » Cozy
The Christmas holidays get a morbid start when Jillian Bradley's niece Kaitlin Romero discovers the body of her boss at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. An envelope containing rare Charles Dickens illustrations is missing, and Detective Mickey Wells must reluctantly rely on Jillian's help to solve the crime. The case goes international when the vendor of the illustrations is murdered.
The Jillian Bradley Short Story Collection (Jillian Bradley Mysteries Series Short Stories)
Series: A Jillian Bradley Mystery, Book 12. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 75,610. Language: English. Published: November 22, 2016 . Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Cozy, Fiction » Mystery & detective » Short Stories
Here are more stories about the dynamic investigating duo of Jillian Bradley and her Yorkie companion Teddy. Enjoy stories centered on the holidays - Christmas, Valentine's Day, Summer and Fall. "Lawrence Buys a Gift" "Final Performance" "Teddy Saves Christmas" "Sweets, Treats and Murder" "Birthday Bash" "Raven House"
Murder at the Empress Hotel Book 10 (Jillian Bradley Mysteries Series Book 10)
Series: A Jillian Bradley Mystery, Book 10. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 41,020. Language: English. Published: June 30, 2015 . Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Cozy, Fiction » Christian » Mystery & detective
Set in the beautiful city of Victoria on Vancouver Island, a bitter conflict over fishing rights and the love of one woman turns deadly with the murder of a young attorney, drawing Jillian and Teddy into yet another intriguing adventure.
Murder at Mirror Lake Book 9 (Jillian Bradley Mysteries Series Book 9)
Series: A Jillian Bradley Mystery, Book 9. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 46,050. Language: English. Published: November 15, 2014 . Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Women Sleuths, Fiction » Christian » Mystery & detective
When Jillian and her garden club friends decide to take a fall color tour in New England, they have no idea the resort they choose as home base will soon be a setting for murder. And more than one.
The Long Trip Home Book 8 (Jillian Bradley Mysteries Series Book 8)
Series: A Jillian Bradley Mystery, Book 8. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 40,110. Language: English. Published: May 31, 2014 . Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Women Sleuths, Fiction » Christian » Mystery & detective
As Jillian Bradley prepares to embark on her honeymoon, a terrible tragedy strikes. Now she must help exonerate Richard Zhou of murder. But when Jillian's health fails, a dear friend back home is called upon to help and joins Jillian to solve the case. Even with Teddy at her side, will Jillian have the strength to find the real killer? "The Long Trip Home" is an ordeal no one should have to face.
The Ruby of Siam Book 7 (Jillian Bradley Mysteries Series Book 7)
Series: A Jillian Bradley Mystery, Book 7. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 61,880. Language: English. Published: August 28, 2013 . Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Women Sleuths, Fiction » Christian » Mystery & detective
When Jillian and Teddy arrive with her wedding attendants in London, they become embroiled in a jewel heist with a man left stabbed to death. Can they solve the crimes in the midst of Jillian's wedding plans? An old acquaintance from San Diego comes to their aid, but will his help be enough? Perhaps the jewel has a curse.
Waiting for Santa Book 6 (Jillian Bradley Mysteries Series Book 6)
Series: A Jillian Bradley Mystery, Book 6. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 56,160. Language: English. Published: February 21, 2013 . Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Women Sleuths, Fiction » Christian » Mystery & detective
The family has gathered to celebrate Christmas at Jillian’s house in Clover Hills, but Jillian’s plans for a lovely Christmas Eve are rudely interrupted by a power failure. And a homicide.
Pacific Beach Book 5 (Jillian Bradley Mysteries Series Book 5)
Series: A Jillian Bradley Mystery, Book 5. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 62,000. Language: English. Published: February 21, 2013 . Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Women Sleuths, Fiction » Christian » Mystery & detective
The quaint surfing town of Pacific Beach becomes a destination for murder when a young starlet and her mother are found brutally murdered at the Pacific Terrace hotel where Jillian’s family reunion is taking place. The reunion takes a terrifying turn when Jillian's nephew is arrested as the prime suspect. Jillian must move quickly to find the real killer and prove her nephew's innocence.
The Mark of Eden Book 4 (Jillian Bradley Mysteries Series Book 4)
Series: A Jillian Bradley Mystery, Book 4. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 68,480. Language: English. Published: February 21, 2013 . Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Women Sleuths, Fiction » Christian » Mystery & detective
After a frantic call from a couple on their honeymoon, Jillian returns to Half Moon Bay to help. Two elderly men have been found dead in their recliners, and now another man is missing. This time it's the distraught father of the new bride - Jillian's personal assistant. Jillian and the newlyweds uncover clues that lead to a dangerous clinical world. Will Teddy be able to save the day?
From the Clutches of Evil Book 3 (Jillian Bradley Mysteries Series Book 3)
Series: A Jillian Bradley Mystery, Book 3. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 51,220. Language: English. Published: February 21, 2013 . Categories: Fiction » Mystery & detective » Women Sleuths, Fiction » Christian » Mystery & detective
Gardening columnist Jillian Bradley and her faithful Yorkie Teddy attempt to solve the mystery of an amnesia victim, but they get much more than they bargain for. Murders in a remote farming community, a mysterious compound, and family secrets create the ultimate test for Jillian and Teddy's survival.
View their profile to see all of their books