I had the honor of sitting front row center and hearing author, J. A. (Judith Ann) Jance speak as she promoted her new book, “The A List.” Two years older than I, she has published nearly 60 mysteries.
She grew up in Bisbee, where we lived for a while, so her Joanna Brady series about the first woman sheriff of Cochise County was especially captivating. I would walk to the historic library above the post office, check out the next book in her series, walk home, read it, and repeat the process.
For three years, I also attended many of her sessions at the Tucson Festival of Books. Being in her presence, I regressed to an awestruck child, trying to capture her every word.
I once described her as eccentric and entertaining. She is tall and thin, and the first time I saw her, she sported a broad brimmed red hat. Her hair is mostly white, and at times she can have sun and reading glasses pushed on top of her head at the same time. She drops her cell phone in her bra, and doesn’t appear to dote over her hair, shop for high fashion, or wear makeup.
Add authentic to my new description of J.A. Jance.
I’ve tried writing fiction, as she does, and felt unskilled at creating imaginary characters or stories as intriguing as real people or actual events. She motivated me to try again.
She uses the personalities of people she knows for her fictional characters. One is her mother, and another her chronic alcoholic deceased husband. If someone does her wrong, she creates characters in their likeness and has them die (murdered) in her books. She gets even with injustices through her characters. An example is a medical doctor who minimized and dismissed her current husband’s critical health symptoms.
Unknowingly she inspired and permitted me to again attempt writing a novel. I can do what she does; I know hundreds of real-life characters.
J.A. Jance is a rural woman, and an example of how to live, survive, find humor, and keep on giving one’s best to the planet. Most importantly, in my opinion, she is mentally healthy because she is authentic. Her true-person shows up in her writing and public appearances. She doesn’t give herself up to be loved.
I’ve been in line to hear her when she walked by and thanked us for waiting so long to get into the ballroom. Seeing someone she recognized, Jance stopped and visited even though she was scheduled to present.
She is a delightful speaker with a contagious smile, well-timed tone and pauses, and transparent personal stories. I felt grateful for the opportunity to gain wisdom from an authentic person who happens to be a famous creative story writer, J.A. Jance.
What authentic person inspires YOU?
Until the next time: Live while you live.
Jennifer Goble, Ph.D., LPC, is the author of “My Clients…My Teachers,” and the blogger and writer of Rural Women Stories: www.ruralwomenstories.com.
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