Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Featured Author: Joanna Campbell Slan

Why Once in a Blue Moon Is Often Enough for Me

Written exclusively for A Blue Million Books Blog

By Joanna Campbell Slan,

Author of Death of a Schoolgirl

“So you’re a writer? Well, I have a bunch of great ideas for you,” said a woman at a neighborhood gathering. “Really. You need to call me. Oh, the stories I can tell you.”

While I appreciate her offer, the truth is that I only run short of ideas once in a blue moon. The last “blue moon” happened a month ago when Rafferty, my three-legged rescue pup came down with a horrible urinary tract infection. At first, he seemed unusually restless. Then he started panting and needing to go outside every half hour. Things went downhill fast, culminating with a midnight run to an emergency vet clinic in a nearby city. We didn’t get home until five in the morning. The next day, I was a zombie. I couldn’t think at all! My mind was empty when it came to ideas.

But as I said, that was a month ago. I rarely suffer from a lack of stories. Hardly ever. My mind bubbles over with themes, settings, characters, and situations I want to tackle. My biggest challenge is sifting through my ideas and choosing just one.

For that I rely on the goosebump test. If an idea raises the hairs on my arm, it’s definitely worth pursuing. For example, I was sitting on a panel at a conference a few years ago when a moderator asked, “What’s your favorite mystery of all time?”

Jane Eyre,” I said. Looking out at the audience, I noticed that many conference attendees nodded in agreement. The skin on my arms began to pimple. Uh-oh. Fantastic idea alert!

Jane Eyre is not a mystery,” said another panelist.

“You’ve got a tortured man who regrets his past and keeps it secret,” I said. “There’s somebody bumping around in the attic and setting fires. When a visitor shows up, he gets stabbed, and is whisked away under the cover of night. Gee, it sure sounds like a mystery to me.”

So it happened that one of my finer ideas was to refashion Jane Eyre into an amateur sleuth. Since Jane is naturally observant, curious, brave, and intelligent, she’s good in her new role. Once I began noodling this around, I saw another advantage to casting Jane as a detective. Because she went to a charity school but is married a country squire, Jane can move between the upper and lower classes. And since she’s notable for being small and insignificant, she can snoop around without arousing suspicion.

Death of a Schoolgirl, the first title in my new series, The Jane Eyre Chronicles, recently received the Daphne du Maurier Award of Excellence. Winning such a prestigious honor is definitely the thrill of a lifetime. In fact, it’s the kind of pat-on-the-back that only comes once in a blue moon.

About the author:

Award-winning and National Bestselling author Joanna Campbell Slan is the creator of three mystery series, including the Kiki Lowenstein Mysteries (an Agatha Award Finalist) and a new series featuring Cara Mia Delgatto, young woman who runs a recycling/repurposing shop. The first book in Joanna’s historical romance mystery series, The Jane Eyre Chronicles, is Death of a Schoolgirl, winner of the 2013 Daphne du Maurier Award for Literary Excellence. In her past life, Joanna was a television talk show host, an adjunct professor of public relations, a sought-after motivational speaker, and a corporate speechwriter. Visit Joanna’s website at See all her books at Follow her on Pinterest ( Join the conversation at Or communicate directly with her at

About Death of a Schoolgirl:

In her classic tale, Charlotte Brontë introduced readers to the strong-willed and intelligent Jane Eyre. Picking up where Brontë left off, Jane’s life has settled into a comfortable pattern: She and her beloved Edward Rochester are married and have an infant son. But Jane soon finds herself in the midst of new challenges and threats to those she loves…

Jane can’t help but fret when a letter arrives from Adèle Varens—Rochester’s ward, currently at boarding school—warning that the girl’s life is in jeopardy. Although it means leaving her young son and invalid husband, and despite never having been to a city of any size, Jane feels strongly compelled to go to London to ensure Adèle’s safety.

But almost from the beginning, Jane’s travels don’t go as planned—she is knocked about and robbed, and no one believes that the plain, unassuming Jane could indeed be the wife of a gentleman; even the school superintendent takes her for an errant new teacher. But most shocking to Jane is the discovery that Adèle’s schoolmate has recently passed away under very suspicious circumstances, yet no one appears overly concerned. Taking advantage of the situation, Jane decides to pose as the missing instructor—and soon uncovers several unsavory secrets, which may very well make her the killer’s next target…

Connect with Joanna:
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Buy the book:

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Enter to win cool stuff:
A Lowood Institution Lacrosse sweatshirt, a “Being yourself is the key” pencil case, a Jane Eyre mug, and a small Jane Eyre quotations journal a Rafflecopter giveaway