Welcome to author Jessica Thompson who took time from wrangling long-horns to answer a few questions for us.

Describe your favorite writing spot or space.

I have a desk in the corner of our dining room, but I love to write outside on a folding camp chair! It’s not comfortable for more than about an hour, so maybe I like to move around.

Describe your current writing spot or space.

Right now I’m at my desk. The top surface is so cluttered with books, notes, and pens that I have the whole laptop on the little shelf that was made for the keyboard.

What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?

I wish I was better at early mornings, but usually I’m stealing time after i do some school work with my kids, after lunch, while they are both on a computer. Then, more after they go to bed. My favorite is when my husband takes them out for a long Saturday morning. Three or four hours will just fly by!

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

More data is needed. I skip around too much. My first manuscript took three years, my second’s rough draft took three months, and the one I just finished was a disjointed effort spread over the last year or so.

How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

Three. One is too off-brand and an awkward length, so it will never see the light of day. One is the upcoming sequel to my published book, A Caterer’s Guide to Love and Murder, and one is a stand-alone that I hope to query agents with/for.

Do you write under a pseudonym? If not, have you ever considered it?

I don’t, but I thought about it. I only briefly considered it when I was too embarrassed to tell everyone that I was writing, but instead I just waited to tell most people until I had a book deal. I wouldn’t recommend that though. Most people are anxious to help. Anyway, I also couldn’t think of a good pseudonym!

What comes first for you, the plot or characters?

Definitely the plot. An interesting murder plot gets pieced together, then characters slide into the slots where they are needed.

How do you select the names of your characters?

Mostly I have a picture of them in my mind first, then choose based on that. Each character is an altered version of someone I know, or a famous person, or a movie character. Then I also think about what I need out of that name, like a good nickname or what age group or demographic they belong to. Like my upcoming sequel, that will probably be called A Caterer’s Guide to Holidays and Homicide, has a character that looks like Oprah, so her name is Gayle. Get it?

What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?

I still haven’t figured it out!!! This is something I’m working on. Apparently my male characters still sound like women.

Can you hear your characters talking?

Definitely. It helps me if I watch the scene like a movie.

Were you a part-time writer before you became a full-time one? For how long?

I suppose I still am part-time. I’m still a stay-at-home mom first.

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

Luckily I am writing contemporary fiction, so most of my research happens almost as inspiration. As I develop the plot slowly in my mind, I pick up things here and there. As I cook, as I work with plants (I was a horticulture major,) as I help on my parents’ ranch, as I talk to other moms, lots of convoluted dangers and situations come to my mind. I think I know a little bit about poisons as a plant enthusiast and a rancher, and a bit about weapons as a gun enthusiast and a martial artist, but I do usually have to look up details online once I stumble onto something that would work well in my story. So, it’s hard to say how much time I spend researching, because it’s all the time!

What kind of research do you do for a book?

Mostly details. I’ll look up medical things or details about weapons or poisons and I’ll ask my friend who is an experienced nurse. I do like to be correct with my facts. Like, I may know that a certain bush is poisonous and what parts are poisonous, but I have to look up how someone would act after being dosed, how fast they would die, how they would die, make sure I’m getting the terminology and the reactions right, especially if there is a medical professional in the scene. Same if there is a police presence. I ask a former police officer friend about what a police officer would be allowed to do, or what they would be likely to do or say.

As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?

I haven’t given a lot of thought to that. Probably just me. I’m silly enough to be my own mascot.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?

Obsessive outlining. And trying to be too correct with the medical and legal details and logistics. People tell me to relax a bit on those two points … but I don’t want to and they can’t make me!

What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?

Joining my local writing association – Writers’ League of Texas. Their membership pays for itself with classes, office hours, networking, and it makes me sound legit to be a member of the Writers’ League of Texas. It may be the only thing I had in my bio when I started querying.

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

Cooking, gardening, helping on my parents’ ranch. And I like the haphazard, random “research” of reading and watching movies.

Do you ever Google yourself?

Ooh, I should check in. I haven’t done it for a long time. Before being published I did. There were already 2 other authors named Jessica Thompson. Luckily the other fiction writer lives in London, so she won’t be confused with me, and the other American Jessica Thompson writes non-fiction.

What is your favorite childhood book(s)?

I remember really liking Locked in Time by Lois Duncan, but I don’t remember specific books before that.

If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

It’ll work out, just keep going. There is a time and a season for everything.

How do you get over imposter syndrome?

I just try to remember that this is an art form. There really isn’t a right or wrong. We are all imposters just groping in the dark.

Jessica is an avid home chef and food science geek, and has won cooking competitions and been featured in the online Taste of Home recipe collection.  She also tends to be the go-to source about recipes, taste-testing, and food advice among her peers. When she discovered mystery books with recipes, she knew she had found her niche.

She is active in her local writing community and is a member of the Writers’ League of Texas. She received a bachelor’s degree in Horticulture from Brigham Young University but has always enjoyed writing about and reading mysteries.

Originally from California, she has adopted the Austin, Texas lifestyle and loves to smoke barbeque, shoot, ride, and wrangle. She enjoys living in the suburbs with her husband and young children, but also enjoys helping her parents with their nearby longhorn cattle ranch.

Where to Find Jessica Thompson & Her Books:

Website | Amazon | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

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