Saturday, April 6, 2013

J.J. Cook’s That Old Flame Of Mine On Tour

There’s a new series out this month by a new author (well sort of) and I’m delighted to introduce you to both. Let’s welcome author J.J. Cook here today as part of the Cozy Mystery Book Tour for That Old Flame of Mine, the first installment in the Sweet Pepper Fire Brigade Mysteries.

Author J.J. Cook is really the husband and wife writing team of Jim and Joyce Lavene, who also write as Ellie Grant and as themselves.

The couple writes award-winning, bestselling mystery fiction. They have written and published more than 60 novels for Harlequin, Berkley, Amazon and Gallery Books, along with hundreds of non-fiction articles for national and regional publications. 

They live in rural North Carolina with their family. For more on the couple and their writing, visit them at

Now about That Old Flame of Mine:

    Set in the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee, their thrilling new mystery series features Fire Chief Stella Griffin, who solves crime with the help of her predecessor, who just happens to be a ghost… 
    After knocking the lights out of her boyfriend when she catches him cheating on her, Chicago fire fighter Stella Griffin hops on her Harley and heads for Sweet Pepper, Tennessee, where she ends up becoming the small town’s fire chief. When her dear friend Tory Lambert dies after her gingerbread-style house is set ablaze, Stella suspects arson and foul play.
    As Stella investigates, she gets help from a most unlikely source—the ghost of Eric Gamlyn, Sweet Pepper’s old fire chief. And if that isn’t enough to rattle her, attractive police officer John Trump seems to have taken an interest in her. But Stella’s got to stay focused if she hopes to smoke out a killer before her own life is extinguished.

J.J. has graciously answered some questions for me about the exciting new series.

Mason - In what order do your characters come to life - name, physical description, personality?

It all depends on how the character come to us. Each one is different. In That Old Flame of Mine, the first book in the Sweet Pepper Fire Brigade Mysteries, Fire Chief Stella Griffin came to us as an actress we saw on TV one night. Everything else came later. We zeroed in on what she looked like and how she moved. She took life right there. Sorry, can’t tell what actress!

Mason - Is there any advice you’ve been given that you pass on to writers just beginning?

We met author Janet Dailey when we were first getting started. She told us that you have to make time to develop as a writer. “You covermight have to give up an extra hour of sleep or a TV program you enjoy, but either you do it or you don’t.” And that’s what we did. We hear writers say all the time that they don’t have time to write. Here is your answer. Whether you take it or not is up to you.

Mason - With the book’s release, as you look back what was the biggest surprise that occurred in writing the story?

There are always surprises when you write. You never know for sure which way a book is going to go, no matter how much you plan it. In That Old Flame of Mine, the killer isn’t who we originally chose. We found we liked the killer character too much to let him go. We had to pick someone else!

Mason - As a published author, has your perspective of authors changed?

Yes! We realize now how much the authors we have always loved had to go through to get published and to try to make a living at it. It’s tough work. We value them even more.

Mason - If you couldn’t write, what other career would you have?

Joyce: Photography. Jim: Working on computers.

Mason - Whthatoldflameofmine-widgetat can readers look forward to next from you?

The Sweet Pepper saga continues this December with an e-book short, Hero’s Journey. It’s the tale of how the fire brigade’s Dalmatian got to ride in the engine. And in January 2014, Playing with Fire, Book Two in the series, debuts.

J.J. (Joyce and Jim), thanks so much for joining us today and answering these questions. I find it interesting that even though you plan, the characters still decide which way a book is going to go and what characters will stay or go.

Thanks so much everyone for stopping by today. What are your thoughts on a firefighting protagonist?


  1. Joyce and Jim, thanks again for joining us today. Your new series is most intriguing with the firefighting and ghost theme. Wishing you much success.

  2. Mason - Thanks for hosting Joyce and Jim.

    Joyce and Jim - Thanks for sharing your thoughts on creating this series. I really like the idea of using a firefighter as your sleuth; it's such a natural choice! And I agree with you 100%. If you're going to be a writer, you need to make the time to write. It's not easy; it's really not. But it's worth it.

  3. Hi Margot! It's true about writing not being easy. It LOOKS easy - and that fools a lot of people when they get started. As for Stella and her band, they have been a labor of love. Thanks for stopping by.

  4. Looks like a good series. Thanks for hosting!

  5. This looks so good! I love the idea of a protagonist helped by a ghost.

  6. Thanks for stopping by Rosalee and Renee!


I'd love to hear your thoughts on today's post. Thanks for dropping by.