A Los Angeles native, Jeri Westerson first dreamed of becoming an actress. However, turned off by the callousness of the audition process, Jeri switched her major to Art and became a graphic artist.
A new mom and in no rush to return to the hectic world of advertising, Jeri decided to turn her longtime hobby of writing novels for fun into doing it for profit.
That was 21 years ago. And now, this writer is one busy lady.
Q: What are some of your current projects?
A: Right now I’m waiting for the release of my sixth medieval mystery featuring knight-turned-detective Crispin Guest, Shadow of the Alchemist. It is available in hardcover, eBook and audio. I’m also finishing up some last minute tweaks to my new urban fantasy series, Booke of the Hidden, to send off to my agent. It’s a feisty female protagonist somewhere between Buffy and Sookie, some well-meaning Wiccans, a sexy demon and an ancient book all causing trouble in a little village in Maine in a mix of paranormal, humor and romance with a slight edge.
And, writing as Haley Walsh, I’m awaiting edits on my latest book in my gay mystery series, the Skyler Foxe Mysteries, Foxe Fire, with high school English teacher and amateur sleuth, Skyler Foxe.
In my down time, I’m working on a young adult series with the apprentice character from the Crispin books Jack Tucker in the more-paranormal-than-mystery Changeling Tithe, the first in the Dark Peace Jack Tucker Tales.
Q: What attracted you to the medieval era?
A: I was raised in a household that embraced medieval English history and it just soaked in by osmosis. All the readily available books on the shelves at home were either historical novels or histories. And it’s enjoyable delving into that bygone era, with gallant and not-so-gallant knights, monarchies, battles, jousts and politics.
Q: How much research goes into each book?
A: Quite a bit. Authors of historicals have this unspoken contract with their readers that all the history and historical details will be as correct as the author can get them. Readers of this genre like to know that it’s real and would feel cheated otherwise. So, though I have a lot of research ready at my fingertips from years of study on the subject, each book comes with its own set of items to research from the real people who walk into the books, to the religious relics and venerated objects that my detective encounters, along with all the mundane things that he must deal with from day to day, including the streets of London.
Q: How do you go about research for your novels?
A: I do my research the old-fashioned way — by spending time in university libraries. I also chat with folks in archives across the pond, consult with scholars, professors, and historians of medieval history and do anything else I can to get the most accurate information into my books.
Q: What has been the response to your work?
A: Positive! Reviews from both industry magazines as well as readers have been overwhelmingly positive and all the books have been nominated for industry awards. But because a medieval mystery is a specialized sub-genre, readership numbers could be higher. As a consequence, we are currently looking for a new publisher to continue the series.
Q: What do you see as the most worrisome trend in publishing and how have you overcome it?
A: The most worrisome trend has been going on a long time; publishing houses don’t promote their mid-list authors and titles. Authors do the lion share of promotion and we just don’t have the reach of a New York publisher. They must do a better job of it. There is no reason for a well-received, multi-nominated series to remain relatively unknown. How have I overcome it? I just keep plugging away, doing appearances at book festivals, bookstore and library presentations, networking with other authors and putting myself out there on Facebook and Twitter.
Look for Jeri’s novels in Indie mystery bookstores, Barnes & Noble and on Amazon.
Or, for the Crispin series book trailer, Crispin’s blog and other interesting things, visit www.JeriWesterson.com.
You can find the Haley Walsh books at www.SkylerFoxeMysteries.com.
Kerri S. Mabee