Welcome to the first post in my new Tuesday blog series, The First Time I Read . . .
I've invited authors to blog about the author who most influenced their own writing.
My guest today is mystery writer, Nancy Jarvis, with whom I have a lot in common: we're avid Agatha Christie and Tony Hillerman fans; we're into cookbooks. She shares recipes in her book, Cozy Food: 128 Cozy Mystery Writers Share Their Favorite Recipes; I read them. And, we're both retired from "real" jobs. One thing we don't have in common (I'm envious) is our height; she's wonderfully tall and I'm not. Read what Nancy has to say about the best-selling novelist of all time—Agatha Christie.
The first time I read Agatha Christie I discovered mysteries
could be much more interesting than any Nancy
Drew book. I’m not sure how old I
was, only that I was a precocious reader who savored my first British mystery
curled into my grandmother’s wicker rocker and that, since I hit six feet at
twelve and couldn’t curl in it since that happened, I couldn’t have been older
than ten or eleven.
bliss it was to be led to the murderer by Miss Marple instead of a school girl.
Christie’s logic and careful structure fascinated me as much as the settings
and characters having tea. I especially liked it that Dame Agatha was honest:
all the clues needed to solve the mystery were there for even a young reader if
she paid attention.
those days when my grandmother slipped me her favorite mysteries and swore me
to secrecy because we knew my
mother wouldn’t approve of me reading them, I’ve discovered you can reread
Christie as many times as you want without ever finding fault with her logic or
conclusions. Like a band that has practiced until they get all the members
playing together just right, her mysteries are tight. That’s the goal I have
for my mysteries, too.
Hillerman needs some credit for my writing, as well. I started writing at age
fifty-nine after reading all twenty-one of his mysteries. I loved seeing the
Big Reservation and being introduced to the Navajo culture by his protagonists
Chee and Leaphorn. I began writing real estate mysteries set in Santa Cruz, a
location I knew as well as Hillerman knew the southwest, and used real estate
as a backdrop because the values and morays of my characters which aren’t
always main-stream worked in that community.
I retired from
real estate after a twenty-five-year career. Before that, after earning a BA in
behavioral science from San Jose State University, I worked in the advertising
department of the San Jose Mercury News,
as a librarian, and later as the business manager of Shakespeare/Santa Cruz. My
work history reflects my philosophy: people should try something radically
different every few years. Writing
is my newest adventure and even there, I’ve mixed things up. Before starting
the fifth book in the Regan McHenry Real Estate Mysteries series, I let an
imaginary eighty-three year old bank robber tell me about her life in Mags and the AARP Gang. The Murder House was followed by Cozy Food: 128 Cozy Mystery Writers Share
Their Favorite Recipes, a true cookbook marvel of food from fellow writer’s
works, their fascinating biographies, and links to find their books. I’m
currently working on book six in the series.
The Murder House:
Every community has a house that
people walk by hurriedly, nervously peeking at it out of the corners of their
eyes. Bonny Doon is no exception. A bloody double homicide occurred in the
Murder House almost twenty years ago and the killer has eluded capture ever
since. Recently the house was inherited and the new owner wants to sell.
The problem is no one wants to
buy a house with a reputation and reports that it’s home to ghosts. The seller
thinks Realtor Regan McHenry would make a perfect listing agent ― after all,
with her penchant for playing amateur sleuth, she’s no stranger to murder.
This is the perfect mystery to
read if you don’t believe in ghosts — and an even better mystery to read if you
To find out more about Nancy and to purchase The Murder House
chick the Goodreads link.
Labels: Agatha Christie, cookbooks, cozies, mysteries, mystery series, Nancy Drew, real estate, recipes, Tony Hillerman