Monday, September 14, 2009

Interview With Sue Ann Jaffarian, Author of the Odelia Grey Mystery Series

Join us as we chat with Sue Ann Jaffarian, author of the Odelia Grey mystery/detective series. and most recently the Ghost of Granny Apple Mystery Series. Find out more about the woman behind one of the most popular plus-size characters to date.

1) Tell us about yourself? Like my character Odelia Grey, I’m a middle-aged, plus size paralegal. I was born in Massachusetts and raised in Southern California. I’m single and currently work as a paralegal in a law firm in Century City. I live in the Palms area of Los Angeles with two cats named B and Raffi. To relax I like to read, watch TV and movies. Most early mornings I can be found pounding the pavement near my home for 2-3 miles while listening to audio books on my iPod Shuffle. After that I’m at the computer for nearly 2 hours writing before going to work.

2) How long have you been writing? Seriously for about 14 years.

3) How long have you been writing books with plus size characters? The first novel I wrote with a plus size main character was about 12 years ago. It was a general fition novel that made the rounds of publishers but never got bought, even though the rejections came with a lot of nice comments.

4) What drove you to pick up that pen for the first time? The question should really be what drove me to pick up the pen for the last time and never put it down. All my life I wanted to be a writer. I had many false starts but never stuck with it. Finally, about 14 years ago, I realized I was half way through my life and had never truly pursued my dream of being a writer. I made the commitment to it and never looked back.

5) Why did you chose to feature plus size heroines in your novels? Specifically what motivated you to create the Odelia Grey Character? It was a matter of writing what I knew. When I set out to write mystery novels, I thought it would be fun to write an amateur sleuth very much like myself – middle-aged, plus-size, a little cranky – who got into a lot of mischief. Sort of a “what would I do if I found a dead body” kind of thing. I also felt it was a character that was very much under-represented in fiction.

6) Outside of the Odelia Grey series, what other books have you written? I have written two general fiction novels, that will probably never be published. They were the first two books I ever wrote. Then came the Odelia Grey series and now the Ghost of Granny Apples mystery series. I’ve also published two short stories that are in anthologies: Love at Large and Carols and Crimes, Gifts and Grifters.

7) Tell us a little about your latest release Ghost A La Mode, A Granny Apples Mystery. The Ghost of Granny Apples mystery series features the sleuthing team of Granny Apples, the ghost of a pioneer woman from the late 1800’s, and her living great-great-great granddaughter, divorced mom Emma Whitecastle.

In Ghost a la Mode Emma meets Granny and sets out to prove that Granny did not kill her husband, Jacob, and was, in fact, murdered herself. The book takes place almost entirely in Julian, CA, a former Southern California gold rush town, that today is a thriving tourist spot.

In future books, Granny and Emma solve long cold murders of other ghosts.
The Ghost of Granny Apples series can be summarized as Cold Case meets Ghost Whisperer meets Topper.

8) When will the next Odelia Grey book be on our shelves? Can you tell those waiting for their next Odelia Grey fix just a little about her next adventure? The fifth Odelia Grey book will be released the beginning of February 2010 and is entitled Corpse on the Cob. In Corpse on the Cob, Odelia discovers the whereabouts of her long-lost mother and sets out to confront her on why she left when Odelia was 16. When she finally comes face to face with her mother, the woman is kneeling over a dead body in a Massachusetts corn maze.

9) How did you get your first publishing deal? My first publishing deal came after self-publishing the first two Odelia Grey novels. I decided that if I were really serious about being a professional author, then I needed to be traditionally published. I found a new agent and she found me a spot at Midnight Ink. Midnight Ink has contracted with me for a total of 12 Odelia Grey novels and 3 Ghost of Granny Apples novels. Hey, guess I’d better get writing!

10) What made you decide to self-publish? I had an agent for my first two novels, the two that were never published. She thought I should try my hand at mysteries. I wrote Too Big To Miss and my then agent hated it and refused to represent it. I was rather demoralized after some of the things she said to me about it and thought I would “test” the waters with self-publishing the book. It sold quite well, but I still wasn’t sure it wasn’t a fluke, so I self-published the second Odelia, The Curse of the Holy Pail. When it sold even better than Too Big To Miss, I knew I had a good thing and had to take it to the next level. I am very thankful to Midnight Ink for wanting to re-release the first two books in the series so they could reach a wider audience.

11) Are there any other plus size heroines in the works? Not at this time. Although I do have a semi-finished novel with one, but right now it’s taking a back seat to other projects. I also do not want to be pigeon-holed as only being able to write about plus size women. I want to be able to write about everyone, and wouldn’t want other books and heroines to sound like Odelia.

12) What are you reading now? Who are your favorite authors? Currently I am reading Palo Verdes Blue by John Shannon and Veil of Lies by Jeri Westerson. My favorite modern authors are Walter Mosely, Lisa Scottoline, Naomi Hirahara, Diana Gabaldon and Terry McMillan.

13) Do you have any public appearances in the near future? MANY! In September and October I will be traveling San Diego to Bakersfield to Thousand Oaks to Las Vegas and all points in between. Folks should check out the Calendar page on my website to see all the details.

Mark Your Calendars:
September 26, 2009 - 3:00-4:00 p.m.
Launch Party for Ghost a la Mode
The Mystery Book Store, 1036-C Broxton, Los Angeles, CA

14) How can readers get in contact with you? Do you have a website? My website is and my blog is http://www.sueannjaffarian.blogspot/.com. I’m also on Twitter and Facebook. And people can write me at I put out an e-mail newsletter called Hot Flashes 4-5 times a year. To subscribe, folks should e-mail me and ask to be added.

15) What is the one thing you would like all of your readers to know about you? That I love to entertain them. It’s a lot of hard work to write novels that continue to be different and fresh from the previous books, but I do it because I love to bring smiles to my readers’ faces.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Interview With Pat Ballard - The Queen of Rubenesque Romance Novels

Join us as we talk with Pat Ballard - The Queen of Rubenesques Romance. Pat writes romance novels for all women letting them know that love and romance is not just for women in a size 3 dress (or even a size 10).

1. Tell us about yourself? I am an avid advocate of being happy with ourselves no matter what size we are. I dieted for 22 years, trying to fit in with how “society” said I should look. When my son was 3 years old I decided to stop starving myself and eat healthily, exercise moderately when I felt like it, and learn to love the body that I was genetically programmed to have.

2. How long have you been writing? From the time I learned to read, I loved reading and “making up” my own stories. So, it seems that I've been writing most of my life. As so many people do, I got busy with living… being married, raising our only son, working, etc. and didn't seriously pursue getting anything published until 2000.

3. How long have you been writing books with plus size characters? I wrote my first two novels with what I call Big Beautiful Heroines while still working full-time, in the late 1990s.

4. Why did you choose to feature plus size heroines in your novels? After I stopped dieting I realized that there were no positive plus-size role models in books, on T.V., in the movies, or anywhere. So I decided to write motivational romance novels with larger heroines. But my books are actually directed to women of all sizes to be happy with yourself and stop trying to look like someone you see in the media. My husband dubbed me "The Queen of Rubenesque Romances."

5. Your most recent book 10 Steps To Loving Your Body (No Matter What Size You Are) is a non-fiction self-help/inspirational book for women of size. What was the motivation behind this book? At the time I stopped dieting, I wasn't aware of anything “out there” to help encourage me to love myself at a larger size. So I wrote the 10 Commandments of Self Love, for myself, so that I could remind myself when I would start thinking about dieting. Later, after writing the romance novels, I decided to turn the “Commandments” into a book and renamed it 10 Steps To Loving Your Body (No Matter What Size You Are.) Do you have similar books planned for the future? I do have plans for two more nonfiction books, but they won’t be exactly like the 10 Steps. But they will encourage women to love themselves.

6. Is there another romance featuring a plus size heroine in the works? There will always be another romance featuring plus size heroines. If so tell us about the book. I’m actually working on two, now. One is a regular “romance novel, and one is a romantic suspense. When will they be released? I’ll have one finished and ready to be released in 2010, but I have a nonfiction that will be out before the next romance novel.

7. Of all the plus size women you have portrayed in your books who is your favorite and Why? I’m torn between several, but I think I’m still partial to Nella in Nobody’s Perfect. She’s gutsy and feisty and has more of me in her than some of the others. Some of my heroines will not be happy with themselves when they come into the book, and some will be. But all of my heroines will be happy with themselves when the book is finished. They all learn to love their big beautiful bodies along the way.

8. Do you plan to write more books featuring plus size characters? Always! I have two started and blurbs for several more. Plus I’m toying with the idea of doing a YA with a plus size teenager girl in it.

9. When will your next book be released? I’m hoping to have my next book released in late 2009. Tell us a little about your next book? The next book is a nonfiction that is more of a “Something To Think About” work. It will have essays about life-lessons that I've learned, poems that I've written, and some essays on weight issues. Will it feature a plus size character? It won’t have a plus size character, per se, but will have a good bit about “Weighty Issues” that I’ll explore.

10. What are you reading now? Who are your favorite authors? I’m reading a lot of Nora Roberts, at this point. And Sandra Brown. You know, they say to read what you write, and I like to use these authors to “study,” since they’ve made such huge names for themselves.

11. How can readers get in contact with you? Do you have a website? Yes, my website is I would love for the readers to sign up for my free newsletter, The Queen’s Proclamation. There is a link on my website that will take readers to the newsletter page where they can read them. The reader can also email me from the website. I would love to hear from everyone!

12. What is the one thing you would like all of your readers to know about you? I would like my readers to know that I am totally happy with myself and it is possible to learn to love your body no matter what size you are. And my main message is that “You are a one of a kind work of art. There never has been, nor will there ever be another you so learn to love the body you have.”

Before we conclude I want to take a minute to thank Pat Ballard for taking the time out of her busy life to be interviewed. We at BBW Reviews appreciate your efforts to let others know there is an alternative to the weight lost obsession.

And readers please feel free to comment on our interview. If you have any questions or just want to let Pat know what you think of her and the interview please leave a comment.