I had the privilege to sit down with Minnesota Author, T. J. Jones, to talk with him about his journey as a writer, and his wonderful Slater Mystery Series. I have read T. J.’s entire mystery series, and recommend this series as a must read, if you enjoy intriguing mysteries.
What inspired you to write?
I learned to read at an early age. Our family lived on a farm several miles from town and we had one channel on the television. Books became my obsession, and naturally I wanted to emulate the people who wrote them. The stories of far-off lands, gunslingers, and a man raised in the jungle by apes fascinated me. I was surprised to learn that people managed to make a living just by putting words to page, and decided early on that it was something I wanted to do. Would do. It’s taken a long time, but I’m finally giving it a shot.
What comes first plot or characters?
I’m not sure why, but all my fiction starts with characters. I do my best to be sure that the people in my books always react consistently and stay in character. Not to say that they can’t evolve, but there needs to be a reason for it. After I know who my character is, I start throwing them into situations that will challenge them, or change them somehow, hopefully for the better. I think the basis for all fiction, written or otherwise, is conflict and resolution. Sometimes the conflict takes place in the world around the character, and sometimes it comes from within. I never outline, but I sometimes jump several chapters ahead and write a scene, then work toward that point. I rewrite a lot, which is fine. Sometimes I find things, whole chapters, even whole new people that I hadn’t considered the first time around.
How much fun was it to develop Slater’s character, and how many books are now published in the series?
I wanted Eric Slater to be extraordinary, but not too much so. He’ll never take on a room full of bikers or hang from the side of a 747; but he does have certain talents, a good sense of humor, and an honest affection for the people around him. His relationship with Maggie wrote itself, and their bond will continue to grow throughout the series. In each of the books he learns something about himself, and the reader learns something about his strengths and his faults.
There are currently four Slater Mysteries, with one more in the works. Depending upon inspiration, the Corona virus, and the vagaries of fate, there may be many more. We’ll see.
What advice would you give a new writer before starting out?
Since you asked, Kacie, I will volunteer what I have learned not to do as a new writer. When I started my first book, Callie’s Secret, a second cousin who is in the publishing business gave me some advice. She told me to do my best work, rewrite until I was happy, then put it away for three months. Then, if I wasn’t happy, rewrite it again until I was satisfied.
Did I listen? No. Do I wish I would have? I’m really not sure. Getting that first book out as fast as I could was incredibly satisfying, and thanks to the wonders of self-publishing, I was able to do my rewriting after the fact. But my advice to others? Listen to my second cousin and take your time.
Tell us about your new release coming out.
The next Slater Mystery will be titled “Slater’s Game” and will probably drop around Thanksgiving. Happy reading everyone. T.J. Jones
You can find T. J. Jones amazing Slater Mystery Series on Amazon. https://www.amazon.com/Sisters-Detective-Slater-Mystery-Book-ebook/dp/B07KVQS669/ref=sr_1_3?dchild=1&keywords=tj+jones&qid=1598611368&sr=8-3