Welcome to author Denise Jaden who not only writes fun mysteries but is in a dance troupe and acts! I wonder what she does in her spare time?

Describe your current writing spot or space.

Besides writing, I also work as an actor and background performer with various productions within the Vancouver film industry. At the moment, due to restrictions of the pandemic, I’m a part of a small group committed to one show for four months. We have made our holding tent our own, and I have a lawn chair set up with my electric blanket and props bin beside me, where I can rest my mouse pad. that’s where I do most of my writing these days. I really like being surrounded by a group of actors—it feeds my creative energy, and more than once the topic of discussion in our tent has turned to murder methods or weapons..

How long on average does it take you to write a book?

In 2007, I started participating in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), where hundreds of thousands of writers around the world attempt to write a first draft of a novel within the month of November. I found the camaraderie to be motivating, and in fact, came up with the early draft of my first published book (a YA called Losing Faith) during that first year. I’ve been doing NaNo ever since, and even wrote a book about my process (Fast Fiction, New World Library). Now I don’t just stick to the month of November. In fact, I find that when I get into “fast-drafting mode” in my brain, it can be hard to switch to “editing mode”, so I’ll often draft a couple of books in a row, before going back to edit them. Editing times vary–from a month to six months, depending on the extent of work a book needs, but for me, the first draft usually comes quite quickly.

What comes first for you, the plot or characters?

I used to always come up with characters first. For me, it was never about the main character, but more about a main character relationship, and when I was writing mainly YA fiction, that paramount relationship was often a sisterly one. Now that I’m writing cozy mysteries, I find I’ve gravitated more to devising a plot first, and then coming up with the perfect characters to make that plot work. It still feels like a similar process to me, and it all blends together a bit, but this question has made me ponder, and I do think I’ve become more plot focused than I used to be.

Can you hear your characters talking?

I can absolutely hear my characters’ voices, and that’s a big part of what keeps writing interesting for me. In fact, more than once, I’ve heard of authors dictating their books, rather than typing them, and while the idea sounded fun and interesting to me, when I tried it, I couldn’t get past the fact that my voice did not sound like those of my characters.

How much time do you spend on research before starting a book? While writing?

I used to jump in with both feet each November with very little research under my belt. But since starting on cozy mysteries, I’ve found that the details of a death often have such strong effects on the plot that I have to get those details straight ahead of time. I admit, I don’t love researching death and murder weapons, but thankfully some of the people I work with don’t mind it as much, and the conversations we have can certainly be interesting!

As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot?

My mascot would have to be my cat, Indy. She was named after the Indy 500, because she purred as loud as a race car when we got her as a kitten. The cat in my new cozy series, Hunch, is loosely based off of Indy. They both act more like dogs than cats—growling at strangers and sniffing out every new scent in the house. Plus, cats make great, mostly non-distracting company for a writer.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

As I mentioned, I enjoy working regularly on film sets, but I’ve also been part of a Polynesian dance troupe for most of my life, and really enjoy practicing and performing with our small group of dancers. I’ve also been a homeschooling mom for the last twelve years, but I’m a lot less involved in that, now that my son is nearing graduation. All in all, it keeps me pretty busy, but I love the variety in my life.

Denise Jaden is a co-writer for the Rosa Reed Mystery Series by Lee Strauss. The Mallory Beck Cozy Culinary Capers will be releasing throughout the year. Her young adult novels include Never Enough, Foreign Exchange, A Christmas Kerril, Avalanche, and The Living Out Loud Series. Her non-fiction books for writers include Writing with a Heavy Heart, Fast Fiction, and Story Sparks.

In her spare time, she homeschools her son, acts with the Vancouver film industry, and dances with a Polynesian dance troupe. She lives just outside Vancouver, Canada with her husband, son (a budding filmmaker), and one very spoiled cat.

Where to Find Denise Jaden & Her Books:

Website | Amazon | Facebook | BookBub | Instagram | Twitter | Goodreads
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