Interview and Giveaway: Jess Lourey

Please welcome Jess Lourey, author of the Murder-by-Month series.

Special note: Jess has graciously offered to give two lucky readers a copy of January Thaw. Just leave a comment below today to enter. Winner will be selected at random and notified via email.

What’s your idea of a perfect day?
I love this question! I’m a big believer in the power of visualization, and I’ve been so busy the last three months that I haven’t stoJanuary Thawpped to look around. So hmmm…a perfect day begins with me getting up before my family and cooking a delicious breakfast for them. Then, they go off to work or school, and I work out, walk the dog, meditate, and then write 3000 words. Every one of them comes easy because this is my perfect day, right? I follow that with a nap, some reading, and crossing busywork off my to-do list before I start making homemade soup and bread for supper. Everyone comes home, they eat my food and know how much I love them, and we talk about our day, laugh lots, and play games together.

Do you have a signature accessory, color, fragrance, phrase, or meal?
I WISH I had a signature fragrance. I continue to look for the perfect scent. I’m 43, so if I don’t figure it out soon, it’s going to default to that dusty powder scent my grandma always had (sigh. I miss her). If anyone has recommendations for something sort of sandalwoody and citrusy, not sweet or alcohol-smelling, let me know! In answer to the rest in order: bracelets (love ‘em!), dark jewel tones, “sher,” and anything so-spicy-it-tastes-like-poison.

Excluding family, name three people who either inspired you or influenced your creativity.
Rex Veeder, my overworked, underpaid creative writing professor who took many, many hours out of his busy life to help me hear the rhythm of a story. My friend Christine Hollermann who makes daily, conscious decisions to live a happy life, and succeeds nearly every day. Neil Gaiman, who writes the story he hears rather than the story people want him to write.

Do you listen to music when you write?
I try to, because it sounds so cool when the author can tell you the soundtrack to her book. Truth is, though, I usually write in silence. There’s so much going on in my head that music usually distracts.

If your latest book were chocolate, what kind would it be and why?
It would be dark chocolate with nuts because that’s my favorite. Wait!!! I take that back. It’d be white chocolate with raisins so that I wouldn’t just sit in a corner and eat it all day.

What made you interested in writing this particular story?
I had a contract to write January Thaw, the ninth in my series. When looking for ideas, my cousin Andrea said, “What about a Zamboni driving across the ice and discovering a corpse frozen in the lake?” These kinds of ideas seem normal when you live in winter six months of the year. I also knew I wanted my protagonist, Mira James, to continue to grow and tackle some of her darker demons. Those two combined ideas resulted in January Thaw.

What themes do you regularly (re)visit in your writing?
Secrets. I always go back to secrets.

Tell us about your main character’s psyche or personality. What led her (or him) to be the person s/he is today?
Mira James is an optimist who is always waiting for the other shoe to drop, a grad-school dropout and the daughter of an alcoholic who died in a car accident when he was driving drunk. Although the series is funny, it’s grounded in her evolution as a person, someone who is trying to do the best she can with what information she has. She is very much three steps forward, two steps back.

Describe your protagonist as a mash-up of three famous people or characters.
Tina Fey, Kinsey Millhone (Sue Grafton’s protagonist), and Sandra Bullock.

If you could host a mystery-author dinner party, who are the six writers (living or otherwise) you’d include?
The beauty of the mystery community is that this dream is usually a reality. Everyone is so friendly! So, this weekend, I’ll be having dinner with Hank Phillippi Ryan, Reed Farrel Coleman, Linda Joffe Hull, Charlaine Harris, and Clare O’Donohue. How cool is that? If Catriona MacPherson could join us, I’d be set.

What’s next for you?
I’m working on February Fever, the 10th in the Murder by Month mysteries. Think Murder on the Orient Express meets Stephanie Plum. Also, I’m completing revisions on two manuscripts for my agent: The Catalain Book of Secrets (magical realism, along the lines of Alice Hoffman’s Practical Magic) and Madmen: The Toadhouse Trilogy, Book One (middle grade fantasy, about two kids who can travel into classic literature). Hopefully, all three will be available spring of 2015. You can find out more at my website,, and by visiting me on Facebook All are welcome!

Thank you for having me! This has been a fun interview.


Jess Lourey is the author of the Lefty-nominated Murder-by-Month mysteries set in Battle Lake, Minnesota, and featuring amateur sleuth, Mira James. Jess has been teaching writing and sociology at the college level since 1998. Publisher’s Weekly says January Thaw, her latest, “successfully combines humor, an intriguing mystery, and quirky smalltown characters!”

When not raising her wonderful kids, teaching, or writing, you can find her gardening, traveling, and navigating the niceties and meanities of small-town life. She is a member of Sisters in Crime and The Loft (Minneapolis), and serves on the national board of Mystery Writers of America. She also teaches creative writing workshops all over the country.


13 thoughts on “Interview and Giveaway: Jess Lourey”

  1. Thank you so much for a great interview! I’m really excited to read your forthcoming books (have enjoyed the Murder-by-Month series very much).

    Also: “Everyone comes home, they eat my food and know how much I love them, and we talk about our day, laugh lots, and play games together.” = LOVE it.

    ps: Laughed out loud when you added raisins to your chocolate so you wouldn’t eat it…


  2. This was so great. Every time I see Jess it is usually total chaos at a book event and I’ve never been able to corner her and grill her on all these great questions. For instance, I must have some of your homemade soup recipes, Jess!
    For those of you who haven’t had the pleasure of meeting Jess in person, add her to your dream mystery writer dinner list, she is everything she seems online — talented, witty, gorgeous, down to earth, and just plain cool — and even more so in person. Jess, I just love your great outlook on life and your writing is fantastic. My dear mysterista sistas, don’t add me to the drawing because I actually have two copies of Jess’s latest book — one for me to read and one I’ve loaned my SIL to read! Yeah, Jess is that good!


  3. Great interview! Since I’m in the middle of a January “deep freeze,” the phrase January Thaw really resonates. Love your perfect day – sounds a lot like mine! And you are right about the mystery community. I remember being panicked at my first Bouchercon and everybody (including Hank Phillippi Ryan) made me feel right at home.


  4. Hi Jess, thanks for hanging out with the Mysteristas! Congrats on being on the 10th book in your series. Has it been tricky to keep it fresh for so many entries in the series, or is visiting Mira in a new book like hanging out with friends?


  5. I thawed out in 1959 when I moved from Ohio to California, but I still remember walking in the snow to school in real leggings and boots. Count me in for the giveaway. Thanks.


  6. I love this series! I’ve always been a sucker for a who-done-it with likeable, quirky characters. And the fact that I was born and raised in MN and it will always be home doesn’t hurt either!


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