J.A. Jance was introduced to Frank Baum’s Wizard of Oz series in the second grade. She read the first one and was hooked and knew, from that moment on, that she wanted to be a writer.
The first book Jance wrote, a slightly fictionalized version of a series of murders that happened in Tucson in 1970, was never published. For one thing, it was twelve hundred pages long. Since she was never allowed in the creative writing classes, no one had ever told her there were some things she needed to leave out. For another, the editors who turned it down said that the parts that were real were totally unbelievable, and the parts that were fiction were fine. Her agent finally sat her down and told her that she thought Jance was a better writer of fiction than non-fiction.
The result of that conversation was the first Detective Beaumont book, Until Proven Guilty. Since 1985 when that was published, there have been 21 more Beau books. Jance’s work also includes 14 Joanna Brady books set in southeastern Arizona where she grew up, and seven Ali Reynolds books, set in Sedona, AZ. In addition there are four thrillers, starting with Hour of the Hunter and Kiss of the Bees, that reflect what she learned during the years when she was teaching on the Tohono O’Odham reservation west of Tucson, Arizona.
Jance says “One of the wonderful things about being a writer is that everything–even the bad stuff–is usable. The eighteen years I spent while married to an alcoholic have helped shape the experience and character of Detective J. P. Beaumont. My experiences as a single parent have gone into the background for Joanna Brady–including her first tentative steps toward a new life after the devastation of losing her husband in Desert Heat. And then there’s the evil creative writing professor in Hour of the Hunter and Kiss of the Bees, but that’s another story.”