JD Daniels writes a mystery series set in Florida. I had the pleasure of interviewing her, Joyce, soon after the series’ debut,Through Pelican Eyes. Find that one here – Miami Interviews #6. The third in the series Mayhem in Matlacha will be available in December, 2016. Joyce is also a poet with various publications under her belt.
How long have you lived in FLA?
I’ve lived off and on in Florida since the late 60s. My first child was born in Key West. My ex-husband studied for a graduate degree at the University of Miami at a later time. About thirteen years ago, I became a winter resident of the west coast. Florida’s fascinating, diverse people, warm winter weather, the sand and the sea have always been a magnet.
Matlacha “The Key West of North Florida”
Where do you write and when?
The majority of my time I write at my desk in the mornings. Other times during the day, when in Florida, I take a notebook and pen to The Perfect Cup or to Bert’s Bar & Grill in Matlacha where I view and smell the sea. Occasionally, journal on board, I take out my kayak, pick up my pen, drape my legs over the sides and float near mangrove.
If I’m in Iowa, I have a similar watering hole fave spot that resembles Bert’s without the surrounding water—Georges.Georges is a bar with a family room atmosphere that welcomes writers-at-work and other creative souls. More often than not you can find me there once a week or so, sitting in a booth, writing away. It’s also where my northern writing group meets.
When do I write? Well, in the past that has caused, well, let’s just say, caused me to get really weird. I have a tendency to be obsessive, so I actually have to make sure I have other activities planned during the day so I don’t write all day. I know. I know. But that’s me. Solitude is a wonderful thing, but you can get too much of it. I used to teach in the classroom at the college level, but ten years ago or so I started teaching online. That eliminated human contact. Not a good idea. At least not for me. I now play tennis, bridge and mahjong to keep me from getting too, well, odd. Not that being odd is bad. It’s just, well, one has to be careful. I’m sure most obsessive people out there understand what I’m saying without quite saying. Smile.
What is your biggest failure and what did it teach you?
Interesting question. Several years ago I had a New York agent very excited to represent a literary novel I had written. Lots of emails, revisions transpired. Energy was high. Then suddenly without an explanation he dropped the project. Just like that. I was stunned and knew I had failed, but why? His assistant did not explain. I vowed to solve the mystery. I contacted an editor and told him what happened. He asked me to send him the synopsis. He saw the problem instantly. My book was written from a different point of view of a literary character in a well-known novel, but it followed the same plot. After rereading the novel, I had been compelled to tell the female side of the story. I labeled my version “Inspired by”, which I thought was legit. What the editor informed me is that a writer cannot do this unless the book was published one-hundred years ago. Copyright issues. Eww. I didn’t know that. Drat. What did I learn from this failure? Don’t live in a publication bubble. Know the copyright laws surrounding publication. What a waste of time and effort went into writing that book. What a waste of the agent’s time. Apparently he was livid when it was discovered. Thus the cold shoulder and the loss of him as an agent. What happened with the book? I rewrote it, changing the setting, the plot, but keeping the same main character, point of view and conflict. However, it remains unpublished. Not sure why.
What is the best writing advice you’ve ever received? Or do you have some personal writing advice to offer?
Write from the heart. Be persistent. Don’t let rejection stop you from writing and learning about your craft. Yes, writers want readers, but the act of writing and the joy of learning about your passion is far more important than publication. To write is to create, to explore, to grow. If these are goals for you and help you follow your heart’s desire, go for it. Put publication second on the list of priorities.
Who is your Dead Dream Date and why? (Literary or otherwise)
Hm, first author who comes to mind is Agatha Christie. I’d love to take her out to lunch and listen to her talk about her craft and her life. Ask her the same questions you ask in this interview and more. Just to sit at the same table with such an accomplished woman author would be a thrill.
Favorite cocktail or N/A drink and at what Florida bar?
I usually curl my fingers around a glass of red wine or a gin and tonic.
As I said before, my favorite bar is Bert’s Bar & Grill in Matlacha. Since discovering it, I’ve spent many hours writing and meeting with a writing group at a picnic table on the back deck. Six years ago when I was fortunate enough to be able to buy a small cottage close by, the writing group changed our meeting place. Unfortunately, maintaining two places in Florida got to be too much. I sold the Matlacha cottage last season. Definitely a sad, but necessary occasion. But my heart still resides in that village and always will.
Believe it or not, when the writing group met at Bert’s the waitress graciously brought us a pitcher of water and four glasses. We were never made to feel that we were taking up a table too long. Considering it’s a popular tourist stopping place, that was, and still is, more than cool.
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