This interview originally appeared in the Fall 2006 issue of Spinetingler Magazine.
Jess Lourey has written a dark comedy about a woman who seems to attract dead bodies like a magnet.
After meeting her at Bouchercon, I should have known I was in for a whirlwind of an interview. If you don’t take the reins quickly, Jess will blow you away with her witty banter, quick comebacks and sharp insights, and you’ll find yourself feeling as though she’s grilling you.
Jess: How’s it going in Canada? Caught up on your sleep from Bouchercon yet?
Sandra: Not quite. How about you?
Jess: I’ve been in bed by 8:30 every night since I got back, except last night I got a little crazy and stayed up until 9.
Sandra: Ooooh, up until 9. You rebel!
Jess: I know. I watched Lost for the first time. I was a Lost virgin.
Sandra: I still am a lost virgin.
Jess: (Laughs) I’m just lost.
Sandra: Well, there are plenty of people who go door to door who’d like to help you with that.
Jess: Not in Minnesota. We just have Lutherans.
Sandra: I love Minnesota!
Jess: Me too.
Sandra: You grew up there, right?
Jess: I did. I grew up the aptly named town of Paynesville.
Sandra: And I can imagine the jokes about that.
Jess: People in Paynesville are mostly humorless, actually. Population 2100–keg parties in fields, big hair, working at the dairy queen.
Sandra: Fun fun. Was this your first Bouchercon? Who impressed you most?
Jess: This was my first B’con. I also met Denise Mina AND heard her present and was really impressed. Those Scots, Brits, and Irish have such a better-tuned sense of humor than most Americans, I think. Or maybe it’s just the accent.
Sandra: No, I tend to agree. I’ve been to Harrogate the past two years. If you get the chance to hear Mark Billingham on a panel with Denise Mina, Ian Rankin and Val McDermid – as I did in July – don’t miss it. Priceless.
Jess: I did hear all of those people, though on separate panels, and they were amazing. I was laughing out loud and wanted their moderators, in a couple instances, to just shut it so I could hear them talk more.
I mostly hung out with Midnight Ink people, though, because I am a horrible mingler and would rather be home reading a book nine days out of ten.
Sandra: So, you would describe yourself as an introvert? I didn’t get that from you.
Jess: Hmm. I wouldn’t describe myself as an introvert, but I prefer to observe rather than interact. Plus, I’m a worrier, so I spend a good day after most conversations worrying that I said something wrong, offended someone, didn’t ask the questions I was supposed to. It’s much safer and more efficient to watch.
Sandra: I worry about conversations too. I understand that completely!
Jess: See, I wouldn’t have pegged you for a conversation worrier, either. You seem so confident.
Sandra: Appearances can be deceiving!
Jess: Then can. Speaking of appearances, you have fabulous hair. Are you one of those horrible people who hates how wonderfully curly her hair is?
Sandra: Yes. My sister’s hair is straight. I always envied her.
Jess: Ach. I knew it.
Sandra: Hey, I’m supposed to be interviewing you here! You describe your book as part soft- boiled mystery, part chick lit, but I have to tell you that I was eating when I was reading the first chapter and it produced a physical response from me…
Jess: Um, from your upper half or lower half?
Sandra: I threw up in my mouth a bit. And then you turn around and put something in that makes me want to laugh. So by the end of chapter one I’m choking and snorting beverages out of my nose… Don’t you think there should be a “Don’t Drink and Read” warning on the front?
Jess: Oh no!!! I’m so sorry. (Laughs.) I love that warning suggestion. And you know, I wonder about the term chick lit. I wouldn’t have initially used it to describe my book, but that is how it’s being marketed. I think of chick lit as more about shopping and boys, and I prefer kick-ass chicks to shopping chicks.
Sandra: Now, that’s interesting. Because I’m not really a big “chick lit” person, and your book isn’t in the typical vein I read, but I’m loving it. Absolutely engaging. How did the labels come about?
Jess: Thank you for the nice words! My understanding of how the marketing works is that the marketing department decides what is selling, they suggest to the art department that they gear the cover art toward that (I do have a chick lit cover, for sure), and they send it out with some sort of label so critics and sellers have something to latch onto.
People like to have labels. And, “geriatric sex meets murder meets deer pie” wasn’t gonna sell.
Sandra: Oh, but that’s so catchy!
Jess: See? We think alike. Too bad there’s only two of us or we could rule the world. Speaking of thinking alike, I heart Trixie Belden, and I know you read some when you were younger. True: I collect hardcover Trixie Belden and Nancy Drew mysteries.
Sandra: Wow, I loved Trixie. It’s been ages. And I read Nancy Drew as well. How do you know this? Have you been stalking me?
Jess: I read Julia’s blog. And I stalk you.
Sandra: I will have to look over my shoulder more often. Getting back to labels, tell me how you sold this. You have a 12 book deal? How did that happen?
Jess: I don’t have a 12 book deal, though I do intend to write 12 murder by month mysteries. I have a book by book deal with my publisher, Midnight Ink, and the understanding (plus a little contractual language) that I will sell them all the murder by month mysteries.
I think it serves us both to go book by book. Them, because if the books don’t sell, they’re not stuck in a contract. Me, because if the books sell like crazy cakes, I’m not stuck in a contract. My plan is to finish August Moon, the fourth in the series, by December. Then, I have a hard- boiled series in mind that I’m going to begin and shop around.
Sandra: Do you write fast?
Jess: I do write fast. I do everything fast. I’m going to be old one day, for sure, and think that I
ran through life. But I’ll fix that when I have time.
Sandra: Great philosophy. Okay, so take me through a typical day for you. You have two children, you’re a teacher as well, correct? How do you manage it all?
Jess: Typical day: I get up at 7:00, get the 8 year old and 4 year old and 36 year old (me) ready for the day. I drop one off at school, one at daycare, and then go to work at the two-year college where I teach. I answer emails (my favorite from a student, received yesterday, said, “I know that there is no connection between the war in Iraq and the 9/11 attacks and that I probably shouldn’t have connected them in my debate, but I was writing as if it were 2001 and we didn’t know that yet. Can you grade my debate as if it were 2001?”). And then I teach and do some more email checking and grading. I leave at 4:00, get my kids, and give them all my attention until 8:00. They go to bed, and I go to write.
Sandra: And you go to bed at 8:30?
Jess: Ha! You’re gonna make detective yet. I go to bed at 8:30 when I’m tired from crazy conferences or life, but I really do try to write every night except weekends. I try to write for two hours, though I set a word limit instead of time limit, or I get distracted too easily. So I let myself quit after I come up with seven pages.
Only, I’ve been too busy with my blog and life for the last two months to write, so I killed my blog yesterday. Tonight, I write.
Sandra: Wow. You killed your blog? Why not just cut back a bit?
Jess: I’m an all or nothing person. If I can’t do it as well as I know it could be done, I’d rather not do it at all. Help me. I need therapy, don’t I?
Sandra: Help you? You’re the Minnesota funny version of me! Except I’m not funny. Your book is funny.
Jess: I’m glad you think I’m funny. You’re the Canadian Kick-ass Hair version of me. And I do like humor, for sure. I liked the idea of mystery infused with humor. Have you read Evanovich? I loved her first seven Stephanie Plum books.
Sandra: I haven’t read Evanovich. Likely the only person on the planet. I actually read dark – Rankin, McDermid, Billingham etc. I find it hard to do humour well in crime fiction, but you excel at it and use it brilliantly. How much of that reflects how you cope in your own life? How much of Mira is you?
Jess: Humor is absolutely my coping mechanism, and Mira is the person I want to be–she’s nicer to people than I am, she’s got bigger balls than I do, and at the end of the day, things fall into place for her.
I think that’s what draws me to mysteries, and to mystery writing, that idea of entering a world where there are clues and meaning in small things and answers at the end.
Sandra: I heard about a t-shirt “If I had balls they’d be bigger than yours.”
Jess: I love that t-shirt! It’s almost as good as my new favorite, “Guns don’t kill people. People with mustaches kill people.”
Sandra: And beards. Ugh.
Jess: Yeah. Facial hair. It’s hunting season in Minnesota, so that’s sprouting up everywhere.
Sandra: I’m surprised. You’d think the men would want to distinguish themselves from the furry things being shot at.
Jess: To distinguish yourself from furry things would require empathy, and synapses able to fire above the, “It’s really uncomfortable to sit in the cold for days and hold a gun and stare at trees. What changes could I possibly make in my life so that I don’t keep doing this again and again? I know! I’ll grow facial hair. Then it won’t be so cold.”
Sandra: I know why you have bigger balls than most men. Theirs froze and fell off. Do I sense a bit of an anti-hunting philosophy?
Jess: You know, I really do believe that if you’re going to eat meat, you should shoot it yourself. It’s not so much an anti-hunting philosophy as a pro-variety philosophy. EVERYONE around here hunts, watches TV, and votes Republican. My humor is a coping mechanism. Just don’t eat and read.
Sandra: I like variety. You sound like a bit of a rebel.
Jess: I’m only a rebel in west central Minnesota. If I lived anywhere else, I’d be part of the herd. It’s location, location, location.
Sandra: I live in a village. In Alberta. Surrounded by farmers with shotguns. You’d be a rebel here too. I’m the badass of the town.
Jess: Sweet. Is your husband Mr. Badass?
Sandra: Actually, he’s totally well behaved and respectable. His act of rebellion was marrying me.
Jess: Well done, Mr.. Ruttan. Or do you two have different last names? Rebels.
Sandra: Yes, we do. Ruttan is my maiden name.
Sandra: See? Doesn’t mix with the fundamentalist Christian mindset of the right that dominates this area. And I hang out with gay people too. Real rebel.
Jess: Isn’t that funny how just being a humanist can make you a rebel in some parts of the world?
Sandra: People are infuriating over issues like that. More energy on the starving masses in Africa, less on who your neighbour is sleeping with please!
Jess: Or not sleeping with, in my case. Slim pickings, sister. We’ve got a shallow dating pool here.
Sandra: Damn. So it’s the full facial hair, the spotty facial hair, short, long or dripping with gravy?
Jess: Gawd. Dripping with gravy. We’re even on the making each other throw up a little now. Sandra: So tell me about the hard-boiled series you’re planning. No more killing them with your sharp wit?
Jess: Bloody humor. Good stuff. The hard-boiled series is in the rough stage (re: my head), but what I’m thinking is that it’ll be based in Duluth, and the protagonist will be a female P.I. My murder by month series has an amateur sleuth protagonist, which means I have to really stretch to get her access to the information she needs to solve a crime.
With a P.I., you don’t have to do that so much. Anyhow, the first book in the series will revolve around a serial killer replicating the famous murders in Duluth. The lynching in the early 1900s, the Congdon murders, etc.
Part of it will be regional, obviously, because I love regional fiction. I love reading about real places, traveling with fiction. I’m not usually inspired by real crime because I like to avoid reality as much as possible. There’s too much bad shit going on.
Aren’t most of us fiction writers avoiders of reality? I get enough of that at work.
Sandra: Not me, so much. I’m right into the ‘realism’ stuff. For me, it’s therapy. See, you could get it for free, just reading and writing…
Jess: That is another side of the coin, that fictionalizing the real stuff and the painful stuff is a way to work through it and give it a place where it fits in your world and is manageable. Hmmm. That sounds much healthier than what I do.
I teach writing and sociology, and I do have to deal with a lot of the ugly real stuff with sociology.
Sandra: It’s whatever works for you. Escapism is a nice thing sometimes. I’m fascinated with sociology.
That must come in handy with your writing, actually.
Jess: Genocide, racism, heterosexism, etc. I like to escape all that when reading and writing. I think all us authors must have a fascination with sociology, and why people do what they do.
It does come in very handy when writing, almost more than psychology, I think.
Sociology is the study of how we work in groups, and how social forces mold our actions and the people we are. That stuff is fascinating to me, and I explore some of it with the murder by month series. Like you, I’m drawn to the rebel figure in society.
Sandra: I would agree. It’s like you said, you like to watch rather than interact. I like to watch as well. Not so much at a convention like Bouchercon, I guess, but more in day to day life. To see the way people interact and speculate on what makes them do what they do, how they’re influenced.
Jess: Exactly. And good for you for realizing that Bouchercon was the place to turn that off and interact. I’m learning
Sandra: Tell me more about your impressions from Bouchercon.
Jess: My overall impression was that it was crazy disorganized. My second overall impression was that there was so much amazing writing talent there, yet so many approachable, friendly people. I mostly watched all this, of course, but the mystery community is such a welcoming, non-heirarchical place.
Sandra: I would agree with that. It is really a bit of a zoo. I’d mentally braced myself for the worst so that it seemed better than what I’d thought going in. That helps me cope.
And we’re all treated well, no matter where we are in the food chain, I think.
Jess: Exactly. It makes sense, of course, that the Laura Lippman’s and Val McDermid’s are just regular people who happen to be very good at writing, and so they are approachable and not haughty. Still, though, it is surprising just how regular people nice they are.
I do spend some time at these conferences (I’ve been to two now–one B’Con and one Love Is Murder) feeling like I’m back in high school and never gonna be good enough to really fit in.
Sandra: I know what you mean. I’m still surprised – and unnerved – when people know who I am. One of my highlights was you telling me my blog was banned by the conference hotel computer because I referenced spanking. What was your highlight?
Jess: Telling you your blog was banned by the conference. And my second highlight was the presentation but Lippman, Billingham, and what were the other three on that panel? It was hilarious.
Sandra: I was on a panel across the hall then, so I missed it.
Jess: Oh, that’s too bad you missed it!!! I was laughing so hard I was crying.
Sandra: Mark Billingham is a highlight in his own right. I’ve known him for quite a while. We’re actually getting together for a beer next week.
Jess: Seriously? See, that is so surprising how these people do regular things, like have beer with other people. It’s like seeing your grammar school teacher in the bathroom for the first time. Who knew they peed, too?
Sandra: HA! Yes, they pee. They drink. And Mark does have some facial hair. Need to talk to him about that.
Jess: You do. Doesn’t he live in the UK?
Sandra: Yes, but he’s touring Canada. He’ll be in Calgary, the city I live near, for three whole days, but he’s only doing festival events on two of those days. We’re working something out to get together. He’s a good friend. A great guy. One of those icons that’s been absolutely fantastic to me.
Jess: He’s nice and cute? Where’s the justice? And I’d down here with gravy in his beard, gun in his hand.
Sandra: Yeah, poor you. I’m married with no facial hair and I get Mark Billingham for a weekend. Uh, that doesn’t sound quite right.
Jess: Ha! That sounds perfect. If I had a blog still, I’d quote you. “I’m married with no facial hair and I get Mark Billingham for a weekend.” Are you going to interview him for Spinetingler?
Sandra: We were supposed to do that. We keep talking about it, but it’s scheduling, you know? It took me a year to work it out with Simon Kernick. In a way, it’s harder when you’re friends, because they can put you on hold and know you’ll forgive them.
Jess: Sure. That makes sense. Maybe you could pick a fight with him so he’d feel obligated to meet with you?
Sandra: I could try. Wonder if that would work with Ian Rankin? Maybe I should give him a call… Okay, other highlights?
Jess: My third highlight was actually my panel, which was the last of the last on Sunday. We had about 40 people in the room and had a great time.
It wasn’t a bad turnout for a Sunday, and I normally abhor giving presentations and get nervous sheep-lady voice, which is ironic as I am a teacher. But this one was a good time.
Have you seen the cover art for your book yet? Sandra: No.
Jess: I was surprised at how little say new authors have in their cover art. I asked for no faces and no skinny chicks, and I got half that.
Sandra: Well, actually, they’re using a photograph I took, and tinted, for my background. I wanted my cover will be atmospheric. No people.
Jess: I am partial to no people. As a reader, I like to fill faces in with my imagination. Plus, I just don’t like people.
Sandra: Me either.
Jess: That’s a lie. I like people. Yum.
Sandra: Well, you should only eat what you shoot, right?
Jess: You are a quick and clever woman, aren’t you Sandra Ruttan? No wonder all these incredible people want to drink with you. Speaking of, did you get JA Konrath drunk?
Sandra: No, I didn’t have that much time with Satan. You?
Jess: No. My white light keeps Satan away. He probably is the hardest working man in the writing business, though. He’s the James Brown of mystery writing!
Sandra: How do you feel – as someone who likes to watch – about the pressure to self promote?
Jess: I have, as of Monday, completely re-defined my plan for self-promotion. Before May Day came out last March, I had read all the books on self–promotion, read all the websites, joined Murder Must Advertise, written and received a grant to buy $1200 of promotional material, hounded my publicist, set up signings and media interviews.
And started a blog. Phew. Then, when May Day came out, I was busy every single weekend promoting, and during the week I was sending out review copies and trying to set up more interviews. I found myself stretched really thin, and my kids and my writing were paying the price. Plus, I wasn’t enjoying myself anymore.
I would love to be a writer who can make a living off her words someday, but that’s not why I got into writing. I got into writing because when I’m doing it, I feel like I’m in the right place at the right time. As simple as that. And I lost that whoring myself.
Sandra: Good for you.
Jess: Plus, there were other people who were much better at promotion than me, and that was always going to be the case. So, I’ve been scaling back. I killed my blog. I realized I don’t like book signings but love presentations, so I’m setting up more of the latter and less of the former. And, more importantly, I’m writing more, and I’m back to feeling like it is a good thing instead of a business venture.
So now I’m looking for and nearing a balance, where I realize I need to get myself out there, but I don’t have to make myself omnipresent. If it feels uncomfortable, I don’t do it.
Sandra: One of my pet peeves is the pre publication promotion pressure now. I think the writing is suffering and that we aren’t going to see the same level of quality in the books, except with masters like Lippman, Rankin, McDermid etc. who can afford to lay off the promotion. I also think it’s more important to build a body of work than run around begging people to buy your stuff.
Jess: Absolutely. I couldn’t agree more. I had to come by that knowledge the hard way, though. Why aren’t there more people out there saying, “Don’t go crazy. If the writing is strong and you aren’t a hermit, you’ll find an audience?”
The writing I read, I didn’t come to it by way of meeting the author at a book signing, or picking up one of their bookmarks at the front counter. I came by it because it was recommended to me by someone else who liked it, or because I liked the cover.
So, the key I think is to focus on the writing, and in the reasonable time left over, promote, and not the other way around.
Sandra: I completely agree with you. I’ll tell you, I was wearing a Lifeless pin at B’con and when I saw Mark I showed it to him, and his reaction was basically, “What are you wearing that for?” Of course, I was wearing half a dozen pins, including the FUCK button at that point. But that’s the Brit way. Don’t run around with 10,000 bookmarks and promotional items. Nobody comes to a panel to hear you beg to pick up their bookmark. Unless the bookmark can perform oral sex, it isn’t that special.
Jess: Oh. A bookmark that can perform oral sex. There’d be a lot more readers then, no?
Sandra: Possibly! But B’con is an eye-opener in that respect. I’ve only been to conventions in the UK before, and nobody – not even the newbies – run around with the pens, pins, bookmarks etc.
Jess: Seriously? That’s good to hear. Less pressure. Did you see those tables laden with promo stuff that no one was reading?
My one promotional item that I love and will use again is the mood pen. It changes colors on the outside when you hold it, and I love the irony of a “moody” pen for a monthly mystery series. That’s just me, maybe.
Sandra: I like the mood pen, though. That’s not overdoing it. And yes, I did. And I saw the garbage bins filled with stuff that had been dumped.
Is the promotion the hardest part for you as a new writer? What’s been the biggest challenge?
Jess: I only met one in your face author at B’con, and she was all about using every interaction with another human being to get them to talk about her book and buy it. She was insulted that I wasn’t doing the same. I think you can turn off as many people by promoting as you can engage.
Sandra: I agree with that.
Jess: Definitely the promotion for me was the hardest part EXCEPT for this one moment, about a week after my book came out, when I felt absolutely naked. I was at home with my kids, and I think we were reading an Olivia the Pig book, and I all of a sudden though, ohmygod, my book is out there. People are reading it. They know what the inside of my head looks like.
And then that passed. It was weird, but momentary. Otherwise, finding the balance between being a writer and being a promoter has definitely been the most difficult part, and I bet I’ll still struggle with that for a while because I dearly want to succeed, but I’m getting better.
.And do you know I read my first Lippman book a month before B’con? I didn’t know she was going to be there, or really even who she was, but I liked the cover and bought the book. Lucky me!
Sandra: Which one?
Jess: very first one in the series. I can tell you the plot, but I can’t for the life of me remember the title. It’s about this story that was leaked into the paper dealing with the dirty background of a man about to buy a basketball team for the city.
He apparently commits suicide, and Tess is brought in as a PI to find out who leaked the story.
Sandra: Will you be reading more Lippman?
Jess: I will. I bought and had her sign the latest, but I need to read the ones in between before I get to that one. There’s just an example of how it’s not about promotion, though. It’s about writing a good book.
Sandra: Absolutely. Which authors have inspired you most, other than Evanovich?
Jess: Tony Hillerman was the first mystery book I picked up as an adult (Trixie Belden and Nancy Drew as a kid, of course. Voraciously). I have a Master’s in English and so never read mysteries as an adult, and honestly, sort of looked down on them. I’m a huge reader, though, so when I was at my aunt’s one summer about seven years ago and she had nothing but mysteries.
I picked up Hillerman. It had everything I had been trained to look for in literature–a plot tied to larger themes, character development, setting, insight into the human condition. It was FABULOUS!
So then I was hooked. I’ve pretty much only read mysteries for about seven years now, and because of my denial streak, I prefer to stay away from the darker, more graphic stuff, but everything else is fair game. I love William Kent Krueger, earlier Sue Grafton, Christie, Evanovich, now Lippman…
So now my goal is to revamp lit courses so they include mysteries. Come on! They’re legit. I can’t believe my educational life denied me all this great fiction for so long.
Sandra: Here here! Who would you be most nervous to hear had read your words?
Jess: Oooh! Great question! Hmm. You know what? I’m sort of immune to rejection at this point. Honestly. I have a big ‘ol scabby ego. Do you know May Day was rejected over 300 times before it found a home with Midnight Ink? I would love to have the world read May Day, and I would want those writers I most admire to read it, but I don’t think I’d be scared. There’s something about being an English teacher at a technical school that makes you better able to withstand criticism.
Sandra: Can you bottle that and sell it?
Jess: Scabby egos? Actually, it is just denial. Pure denial.
Sandra: Back to your need for therapy.
Jess: I’ve decided. Therapy would only make me normal, which around here means I’d have to grow facial hair, pick up a gun, and vote Republican. Who wants that?
Do you guys trick or treat up there?
Sandra: Yep, we do. But I still won’t dress as a Republican, although it’s quite frightening to think of. You should be worried. All those bearded shotgun boys will be knocking at your door! Dripping gravy on your front step.
Jess: That gravy reference makes my stomach turn each time you use it. It never loses its zest. You must incorporate it into a book.
Sandra: No, it’s all you. Get it in there and make me die laughing!
Jess: Can I? I’m stealing it.
Sandra: It’s all yours!
Jess: Thank you. My new character is going to be a guy who writes publish on demand books about women’s place being in the home and which bullets work best when hunting moose, and he’s going to have gravy perennially dripping from his beard, even when he’s not eating.
Sandra: Oh. My. God. A bestseller in the works! And that’s the hard-boiled one. What he does to the wimmen who get unruly?
Jess: Can you taste it? Salty chicken fat with a nice, shredded-wheat-hair base.
Sandra: I just threw up in my mouth a bit. Again.
Jess: Yup. We’re together on that.
Sandra: Too funny. This has been a riot. Now, to properly wrap up, maybe you want to tell people a bit about June Bug? Or maybe you don’t want to promote it, so we’ll talk about someone else’s book?
Jess: Ha ha! No, I’m not above a little whoring now and again.
Jess: I’m actually really proud of June Bug. I’m proud of May Day, too, but it has that bumpy, new-author feel in spots. June Bug is smooth, and it’s based on a real mystery. Back in the 1920s, this wealthy family from out east (you’re a slut!) built a gorgeous house in Battle Lake the town where the series is set. So, I based the mystery on that a la Nancy Drew, only made it a little more modern and edgy. August Moon is set at a Bible Camp that has a creationism science fair.
Sandra: That sounds like a great premise.
Jess: I do like the premise. I had to add a murder of course, as it’s the murder by month series, but it’s a fun read. I’ll see that you get a copy. So you can barf and laugh.
Sandra: I look forward to it. You should market it for weight loss. Buy this book for your bulimic friend.
Jess: Ha ha! People must be wondering why I have been laughing at my computer in my office alone for nearly two hours now.
Sandra: I laugh all the time here. I read blogs that make me nearly pee my pants. Love the humor. It really is hard to do well.
Jess: Thank you!
Sandra: And I end up with blackmail material out of these things!
Jess: Ach! Blackmail material. Or at least, something to send to me if I ever marry a gravy- dripper.
Sandra: Oh lord, no no no – not a gravy-dripper! Go for Lettuce between the teeth first.
Jess: Um, they don’t eat vegetables up here.
Sandra: Okay. Rabbit’s foot?
Jess: Groady toad! Um. Toad. Crunchy.
Sandra: But if you shoot it, there isn’t much left to eat.
Jess: An interviewer who can bring it full circle! Well done. I do appreciate your time,
Sandra: I feel like I’m chatting with an old friend here. Not that you’re old.
Jess: And I’m going to cultivate a British accent for next time we meet.
Sandra: Oh, cool. Then I’ll be in love with you though. Give me a Brit with a dreamy accent and dark brown eyes and I’m all lovesick puppy!
Jess: And likewise! I mean, likewise that you’re not old, but feel like a friend.
Sandra: You feel your friends? Kinky.
Jess: We’re soul mates. And I only feel them when they let me.
Note to self. Remember the six inch rule around Jess Lourey at the next Bouchercon.