Sunday, July 12, 2009


Bestselling authors and award-winning photojournalists, Joyce and Jim Lavene, are a husband and wife team who started out writing novels in 1999 and have had more than 40 books published. They also wrote a book about writing (THE EVERYTHING GUIDE TO WRITING A NOVEL) as well as hundreds of newspaper and magazine articles. Somewhere along the way, they decided to write mysteries and since then, they have been hooked on that genre.
Each of you has a background as writer and photojournalist. What prompted you to collaborate?

We didn’t have a background as writers. We started writing together about 12 years ago when our kids were in high school. We owned an office supply company at the time. The only thing we’d ever published was when Joyce’s mom published a poem of hers when she was nine. We began writing together because we wanted to do something else as a joint venture.

Tell us about the FOUR different series you write. What prompted the subject matter and characters in each?

In our first series, Sharyn Howard Mysteries, we saw a woman who was the first woman elected as sheriff in North Carolina and thought it would be interesting to write about what that would be like.

Our second series, Peggy Lee Garden Mysteries, we wrote because we are Master Gardeners and have a love of all things botanical. This led us to botanical poisons. What better way to kill someone without getting caught? Only forensic botanists, like Peggy, can come through in a pinch.

Our third series, the NASCAR Mysteries came about because we like NASCAR and wanted to see something written about the true fans in the RVs, camping at races and eating donuts with the drivers at 2 am. Not much is written about NASCAR that is true-to-life.

And our new series is about a Renaissance Faire in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina because we love the place and the theme. Our protagonist, Jessie Morton, finds whoever did the deed whether they are part of Robin Hood’s Merry Men, William Shakespeare, or Little Miss Muffet. If you’ve been to a Renaissance Faire, you know what we mean.

Who are your favorite authors and why do you like their work?

Joyce – Loretta Chase. She writes historical romance. I like her work because she’s good at coming up with surprise situations and she knows her history!

Jim – Probably Charlaine Harris, right now. I enjoy Sookie Stackhouse and Charlaine’s hard work to keep her so real in an unreal world.

What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced as writers—individually and as a team?

Our biggest challenge, every series writer’s biggest challenge, is keeping it fresh and alive for the readers. Characters have to stay alive and vibrant. That’s no easy job for anyone!

What is the title of your most recently published book? Briefly tell us what it’s about and let us know where we can buy it.

Our most recent is A CORPSE FOR YEW. It is the fifth book in the Peggy Lee Garden Mysteries. Peggy is faced with a drought in North Carolina that is ruining her business at her garden shop. Her parents have moved to Charlotte to be close to her, and she finds a dead body in a dry lake where there were only supposed to be 100-year-old bones. You can buy it at any bookstore or online.

What are you working on now and when/where do you expect it to be available?

We are working on our next series, DEATH WATCH. It will be the first in the Missing Pieces Mysteries set in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Our protagonist is the Mayor of Duck and she is a psychic finder of lost things. I t will be available in May of 2010.

Writers, especially new writers, are always looking for tips and helpful information. What is the single most important “tip” you can give to a new writer?

Write every day, even if it is only for a few minutes. You only get better when you write every day!

What writers’ organizations claim you as a member? Has membership helped you along the road to success?

We belonged to Romance Writers of America when we wrote romances. We now belong to Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime. We started a group for mystery authors, the Carolina Conspiracy. We go to libraries and bookstores together. We also mentor a group for beginning writers in our hometown. Membership in groups is always great fun!

Do you have any upcoming book signings or appearances? If so, give us all the details.

We will be at bookstores and libraries all over the southeast promoting our new Renaissance Mystery, GHASTLY GLASS, starting in September.

Here’s your opportunity to tell us anything else you care to share.

Writing is hard work! People look at it and it looks easy, but it’s only the passion for it that keeps writers going. Also, most writers have more stories than they can write in their lifetimes. Even if your story is very good, expect them not to want to write it for you.

Thanks for the interview time, Linda!

What are the addresses of your website(s) and blog(s):


  1. Another excellent interview, Linda! I was not familiar with the Levene's books, but I will be soon. And the To Be Read list grows longer.

  2. Lynette Hall Hampton7/14/2009 7:19 PM

    Great interview, Joyce and Jim. We need to let CC know.