The rain has finally disappeared here in Northern California, at least for now, and summer weather has arrived. Wildflowers are blooming, and I’m so happy to see the sun and dollops of color all over the place. I love color!

If you love Mendocino, California—or dogs—you’ll want to check out my interview this week with Janet Finsilver, author of the Kelly Jackson mystery series including her latest book, Murder in the Wine Country. Enjoy the interview!

About the Author

Janet Finsilver is the USA TODAY best-selling author of the Kelly Jackson mystery series. She worked in education for many years as a teacher, a program administrator, and a workshop presenter. Janet majored in English and earned a Master’s Degree in Education. She loves animals and has two dogs—Kylie and Ellie.

The series currently consists of Murder at Redwood Cove, Murder at the Mansion, Murder at the Fortune Teller’s Table, Murder at the Mushroom Festival, Murder at the Marina, and Murder in the Wine Country.


Who or what inspires you to write?

I inspired myself. I’ve been an avid reader all my life. I got into mysteries in high school. I’ve read all of Agatha Christie, Rex Stout, and Dorothy Sayers, to name a few. I wondered if I could write a mystery. I’ve now written six and made it on the USA TODAY Best-Selling Books list.

Congratulations on making it into the USA TODAY Best-Selling Books list! What an incredible achievement. What is the best thing that has happened because of your writing?

I wanted to find subjects unique to Mendocino, California, which is the place my fictitious town of Redwood Cove is based on. That led me on some interesting journeys discovering more about a variety of topics. I also wanted each book to have dogs that contributed to society with their skills. This again took me to many intriguing places.

It sounds like the research you conducted for your books has been very interesting and rewarding. What is the most difficult thing you have experienced about writing or publishing?

Creating the time for writing. There are so many things in daily life that call to be done.

Boy, can I ever relate to that one! I’m sure many writers can. It’s hard to make time to write when there are so many other things we need or would like to do. It’s difficult to find time to read too. Was there anything you didn’t do during your writing or publishing journey you wish you had?

Update my website on a regular basis.

That’s an important task, but not usually considered an enjoyable activity. However, getting published is fun. Do you have a publisher and/or agent, or are you an indie (self-published) or hybrid author?

I have a publisher, Kensington Corporation, that is very supportive.

How did you find your agent?

I heard about a writing conference that was going to have numerous agents and editors attending, and they would be available for appointments for a small fee to those at the conference who wanted a chance to pitch their writing. They were listed on the website for the event. I signed up for the conference and joined Publishers Marketplace and began researching which ones had recent books in my genre. I booked meetings with all the ones I felt would be a good match. A number of them asked for my manuscript. I sent it to an agent I was particularly interested in, she offered me a contract, and I accepted.

Finding an agent and publisher for multiple books is another great achievement and a goal for many aspiring authors in all genres. Which genre(s) do you like to write in, and why?

I write in the cozy genre. However, I like to call them safe whodunits. There is no graphic violence and the main characters return each time.

That’s an even better term, “safe whodunits.” Do you outline your books before you write them?

I didn’t in the beginning. For the second book, my Kensington editor wanted a synopsis that was as long as I was comfortable with. I sent thirteen pages. I was concerned it would inhibit my creativity. It didn’t do that. My publisher knows the book changes as you write. I now do an outline. It gives me a plan.

It’s great to know someone who has moved from being a “pantser” to being a “plotter.” That’s my goal for more efficient and successful writing. How do you define success as a writer?

Feeling good about what I wrote. It also helps to get feedback from readers who have enjoyed a journey through my books.

It’s so rewarding for authors to hear from satisfied readers. If you could have lunch with any author, who would it be?

Agatha Christie. She created a number of interesting characters and wrote amazing books.

Agatha Christie was a master of the mystery. She wrote an amazing collection of detective adventures. Tell us about a great adventure you’ve had.

I touched whales in San Ignacio Lagoon. I’ve gone several times with a group called Baja Discovery. They all have been amazing journeys.

Meeting whales in Baja is definitely a memorable adventure. Janet, thank you for spending some time with us this week!

Readers, you can find out more about Janet and her books at her website,

Kelly Jackson, manager of the Redwood Cove Bed and Breakfast, is excited to participate in an event to raise awareness for the plight of struggling veterans in their Northern California coastal community. Local wineries are sponsoring tastings, and to prepare for a culinary competition, professional chefs will forage for wild edible greens. Kelly plans to go along, despite a warning to beware of poachers, who have been stealing the highly-valued succulent Dudleya farinosa.

When a consultant for the sale of a local winery is murdered, the poachers are suspected—but so is a wine merchant, Kelly’s friend Phil. As Kelly and the Silver Sentinels attempt to root out the real killer, what she digs up might just put her permanently underground.

Readers, have you ever been to Mendocino? If so, let us know in the comments!

4 thoughts on “Author Interview—Janet Finsilver

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