Thursday, November 6, 2014

Featured Author: Joanna Campbell Slan

About the book:

Cara Mia Delgatto’s cup runneth over with worries. Her ex-husband is refusing to pay their son’s college tuition, her evil sister is pulling mean pranks, and her old boyfriend has broken her heart. And that’s just the personal stuff. She’s also concerned about keeping the cash register ringing at The Treasure Chest, her retail store specializing in upcycled, recycled, and repurposed d├ęcor items with a coastal theme. The media event that Cara plans turns nasty when reporter Kathy Simmons threatens to share unsavory details from the shopkeeper’s past. Things get really dicey when Kathy mysteriously disappears. Cara’s other problems seem trivial in comparison to…a murder investigation!

Interview with Joanna Campbell Slan

Joanna, how long have you been writing, and how did you start?
I started as a kid, by stapling sheets of scrap paper together and telling everyone, “This is my book.” Honestly, I can’t remember a time when I didn’t write. I started winning awards in junior high, and I majored in journalism in college.

How did you come up with the title of your book?
Since I write more than one series, I keep collecting title ideas. The Cara Mia Delgatto Mystery Series revolves around a “trash to treasure” type of store. Therefore, I want all the titles to reflect that theme. It’s amazing how many euphemisms we have for stuff we toss away! I also try to match the title to the plot in some unexpected way. In this particular book, the title (Kicked to the Curb) mimics the plight of several characters. They are all “kicked to the curb,” that is, abandoned by our society.

Do you have another job outside of writing?
I’m a wife and mother. I edit articles for my son’s website. Other than that, I write full-time.

How would you describe your book in five words? 
Thought-provoking, timely, mystery, heart-warming, crafty.

How did you create the plot for Kicked to the Curb?
I always start with what’s happening in my character’s lives. Their problems become the wire armature that the plot is built on. I had been following the news about the forensic investigation into the burials at the Dozier School for Boys, and I knew I wanted that to be part of the book. From there, it was like working a puzzle. Getting all the pieces to fix was challenging, but satisfying! At one point, I didn’t know how the mystery was going to be solved. Ugh. That was a bleak moment. Luckily, I came up with a clue...

Tell us a book you’re an evangelist for. 
The Ugly American by Burdick and Lederer.

I think this book should be required reading in high school. After you read it, you’ll have a better understanding of how our country gets into some of the foreign policy messes we’re in. We’re not culturally literate, and that’s a huge problem.

How do you get to know your characters?
I talk to them. I observe them. I think about them. I also fill out little charts and pigeon-hole them into one of four personal styles. When all else fails, I take walks on the beach with them. That’s when they usually open up to me.

Which character did you most enjoy writing?
In this book, probably Honora McAfee. She’s new to this series, but she’s a real asset. Because she’s an older lady, she brings a different world-view to the cast of characters. I like a good mixture of folks in my books. They rub up against each other and then the sparks fly.

What would your main character, Cara Mia Delgatto, say about you?
She would say that I’m too creative and not as business-minded as I should be. She would encourage me to be more diligent about doing profit-and-loss statements. But once she finished scolding me, she’d give me a big hug and feed me biscotti and coffee.

Are you like any of your characters?
I’m a combination of several of my characters. I’m like Skye Blue in that I love turning trash into treasure. When it comes to clothes, I most enjoy wearing things with a bohemian edge to them, like she does. (I think she looks better in them than I do because she’s slimmer, but that’s why I love fiction.) I’m also like Honora McAfee, because I’m an avid miniaturist. I love, love, love making dollhouses and roomboxes.

With what five real people would you most like to be stuck in a bookstore?
Terry Gross of Fresh Air, because she’s met so many of the movers and shakers of our time; Hillary Clinton, because we met once and she impressed me, plus I’d like to know more about how she keeps her emotional balance; Neil Degrasse Tyson, because he’s fascinating and thoughtful and I’d love to ask him questions; Maureen Corrigan of Fresh Air, because she’s reviewed so many delightful books; and Diane Rehm, because she’s overcome such adversity and talked to so many fascinating people.

Do you have a routine for writing?
Yes, I get up, eat breakfast, get dressed, and start writing. Every day, all day. I break for lunch. I stop around five. Often I do my reading for research in the evening.

Where’s home for you?
Jupiter Island, Florida.

Where and when do you prefer to do your writing?
I love it when my house is empty, because I can sink down into my work and know I won’t be disturbed. I adore writing at my house on Jupiter Island, because it’s so quiet here. If I get stuck, I walk the beach. I alternate between sitting on my sofa and working upstairs in my office. I do that because of the strain on my back and arms. Changing locale seems to help.

Tell us one weird thing, one nice thing, and one fact about where you live.
(Weird thing) Celine Dion is my neighbor, and she almost ran over me while taking her son to soccer practice. (Nice thing) This is one of the biggest sea turtle nesting sites in the world. (Fact) Less than four hundred people live on this island year-around.

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?
Right here. In fact, I want my ashes sprinkled over the beach after I die.

What are you working on now?
Doing edits for the next two Kiki Lowenstein books—Handmade, Holiday, Homicide (Dec. 15) and Shotgun, Wedding, Bells (Jan. 15, 2015).

Anything else?
We have a special bonus for readers who join my mailing list—two recipes, two craft tutorials, and an outtake scene from Kicked to the Curb. All readers need to do is send an email to  They’ll automatically receive these free gifts!

From the author: 

I grew up dirt poor in a little town in Indiana. (Actually, we could afford the dirt, but that was about it.) Since I didn’t have the money to buy what I wanted, I learned to be creative with whatever I could find, including trash, junk, and stuff other people kicked to the curb. Consequently, I do my best thinking while I’m puttering around. Most of the time, my mind is a million miles away, and I’m in my own little world, making up stories. You might say that I’ve built my own “happy place” from scratch. You can read more about my adventures in crafting on my Facebook page.

Not surprisingly, I have chosen to write books about women, who are creative, passionate, and spunky. If you like Cara Mia and her friends, you’ll probably like my Kiki Lowenstein Mystery Series. If you like courageous women and history, check out my series featuring Jane Eyre as an amateur sleuth. You’ll find a complete list of my works on my author page.

Connect with Joanna
Website | Blog | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Buy the book:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Other books by Joanna Campbell Slan:

Tear Down and Die (Book #1 in the Cara Mia Delgatto Mystery Series)

Killer, Paper, Cut (Book #9 in the Kiki Lowenstein Mystery Series)

Death of a Dowager (Book #2 in the Jane Eyre Chronicles)