Friday, December 23, 2011

Jay Mims Interview - The Five Santas

Photo Content from Jay Mims

Jay Mims lives about two miles past nowhere, after you turn off the paved road. When he’s not catching up on episodes ofScarecrow and Mrs. King he writes, mainly to stave off boredom.

In addition to somewhat eclectic tastes in television and movies, Jay reads voraciously. He enjoys compelling stories with strong characters, and will gladly read anything from comic books to Steam Punk, Harlequin romance to Kenneth C. Davis’ fantastic history books.

Jay enjoys long walks through the countryside, laughing with friends, and learning to draw something better than stick figures. His dearest ambition is to personally thank Janet Evanovich for proving that fast talking characters can be charming and goofy simultaneously.

What inspired you to pen your first novel?
Well, strangely enough my first novel wasn’t ‘The Five Santas’. I had the character of Dan Landis in the back of my mind for quite a while, and created all these titles like “Dan Landis Saves The Mole People” and “Dan Landis And The Cult of Koo Kway”. And a friend saw those and said, “Wow, that’s interesting.” And, well I was unemployed at the time, so “Hey, let’s write a novel!”….And it sucked. It was absolutely terrible, but your first novel probably will be. But, after I got that out of the way, I realized I still wanted to tell the adventures of Dan and company. So, I had this idea of ‘Dan Landis: Mall Cop’, even though The Five Santas doesn’t take place in a mall, and he’s Loss Prevention and not a security guard. But, the idea of Dan working at a store over Christmas, and stumbling across a dead body, that was pretty funny to me. Admittedly, I have a bizarre sense of humor.

How would you describe yourself in three words?
Fun. Hyperactive. Loquacious.

Who or what has influenced your writing, and in what way?
I’ve had a ton of influences in my writing. I’ve actually been writing since I was about 5 or 6, and even before that I was always creating wild tales for my friends and family. For some reason, I’ve just always been that daydreaming kid who has a vivid imagination, and just wants to entertain people. I watch a ton of TV and movies, actually I got my MFA in Movies and TV Directing, and I think there are a lot of movies and TV that you could say influenced this book. I love the old Universal TV detective series like Murder, She Wrote and Columbo. Just the idea that there’s this little old lady from Maine who is constantly surrounded by dead bodies. And no one ever suspects she’s a serial killer the whole time.

I also love Moonlighting and the fun chemistry between two romantic leads. I’m not saying that Dan will eventually acquire a secretary who always answers the phone in rhyme, but I haven’t ruled out the possibility.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating The Five Santas?
Probably the most surprising thing I learned was that I could actually enjoy my own material. I read it back recently, and it was surprisingly good. I mean, it’s hard to sometimes take a step back and enjoy your own material, but I really enjoyed reading it. Almost as much as I enjoyed writing it.

Do you have plans for a new book? Is this book part of a series?
Yes, definitely. I really want to continue writing Dan Landis’ adventures. This book is the start of a 4-part mini-series. If it works, I’ll start on the next series of books. The next book, tentatively, will be called “The Cult of Koo Kway” and will continue where “The Five Santas” left off.

Which character was your favorite to write about? What about the hardest to write about?
Dan is probably the easiest character to write for. He’s funny, flirtatious, and when in doubt can throw out an obscure TV or movie reference. There are few things that Dan can say that won’t seem out of character. Probably the hardest characters to write for are Abbey, Dan’s partner in crime, and Doc, Dan’s mentor. They are the two most intelligent characters….Abbey’s an Art History major and Doc’s an Anthropologist. And frankly neither of those things are in anyway something I’m knowledgeable about. So, there’s a lot of research that I have to do there, and I spend a lot of time learning some really interesting knowledge that, I feel, will help me when I eventually become Master of Trivial Pursuit. Though I have to say the absolute hardest part is killing a character. There’s one character who dies, well without spoiling anything it’s a character that became everyone’s favorite, and I found it incredibly hard to kill that person off. The character was just so much fun to write for.

What inspired you to write this particular book? Is there a story about the writing of this novel that begs to be told?
Oh my, I had Dan bouncing around inside my head for so long. And when I realized the first book I wrote wasn’t going to pan out, I wracked my brain trying to think of a good plotline. What I always tell writers is, develop a strong character, and then you can stick those characters into any situation and the story will write itself. I think the idea of Dan working at a mall, hitting on all the girls, annoying his supervisor, and finding a dead body out back was probably the inception of the idea. It wasn’t until I hit on the dead body being Santa, that I said “Screw it” and set the story inside a department store instead of a mall. Because you know what, if you’re going to turn a movie into a murder mystery, why not Miracle on 34th Street. I’ve always said Richard Attenborough looks dangerous, he’s the new Chuck Norris. Fear of spiders is called arachnophobia, fear of tight spaces is claustrophobia, fear of Richard Attenborough is called logic.

What question are you never asked in interviews but wish you were?
Whatever happened to Chuck Cunningham? I mean seriously, dude just disappears and his family never says a word. I think Fonzie knows. Fonzie always knows.

What is the name of your most recent book and if you had to sum it up in 30 or less words, what would you say?
Well the most recent published book is “The Five Santas” and I’d summarize it as: A Christmas themed murder mystery that brings you all the death, intrigue, blackmail, and fun you could possibly ask for.

Favorite places to travel?
I’m a big fan of mountain country. There’s this little place called Cherokee, NC that my folks always took me to. I actually reference Santa Land in the book. I’m also a fan of the beach, on occasion, especially the Pacific. Standing in front of the ocean is always a humbling experience, just feeling dwarfed by the sheer size and scope of it. Of course, I also enjoy amusement parks, county fairs, and Washington, DC. Which really offers you both amusement and price gouging.

Which author would you love to co-author a book with?
My dream would be to co-author with Neil Gaiman, simply because I think he’s one of the best literary minds around. Realistically, my friend Dawn and I will hopefully one day sit down to co-author a sci-fi series we’ve been developing for years. So, fingers crossed on that.

What book are you reading now?
Oh too many to name. I’m working through Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series in order, and also Sue Grafton’s Kinsey Millhone “Alphabet Mysteries”. I’m halfway through “For Whom The Bell Tolls” and Michael Crichton’s last novel is sitting on my shelf, daring me to read it. I actually grew up reading Crichton, because come on Jurassic Park was fundamentally the most awesome experience a 12 year old dinosaur nut could have.

What do you normally eat for breakfast?
Varies. If I have time I’ll make something like toast or eggs. Sometimes I’ll have waffles, pop tarts, or on a rare occasion biscuits. I try to always drink juice or milk, or both if I don’t mind washing two glasses. Today I had a pack of crackers.

What are 4 things you never leave home without?
My keys, wallet, something to read and probably my phone.

List 3 of your all time favorite books?
“Have A Nice Day” by Mick Foley, “Night Watch” by Terry Pratchett, and “The Hunt for Red October” by Tom Clancy.

What is a movie or TV show that you watched recently and really enjoyed?
I just Netflixed The Rocketeer and forgot how monumentally fun that movie is. In a perfect world it would have been a smash hit, and a hundred more movies like it would have been made. I’m a TV nut, and just recently got done with the most recent season of Doctor Who, am in love with How I Met Your Mother, and am rediscovering the genius of Cheers, which pretty much defines the “Will They, Won’t They” style of storytelling. Also Magnum, PI is on as I type this. In my mind Tom Selleck will always be the epitome of cool.

Dan Landis is a private investigator used to peeping in windows and taking awkward pictures to make a buck. This winter, to make a few more, he agreed to help out a local department store by taking a job in their Loss Prevention department. Boring right? Wrong.A local jewelry store gets robbed and then the bodies start piling up. Red suited, fur trimmed, white bearded bodies. And Dan's the one who keeps showing up at all the wrong places. It won't be long before Dan is spending the holiday behind bars if he can't figure this one out.Check out this first installment in The Oncoming Storm Series.

The holidays, shopping mall Santas, and murder? Who would have ever thought that those three elements would make for a great murder mystery book? The Five Santas by Jay Mims was a well thought-out story about a private investigator named Mr. Dan Landis, who tries to uncover the mysteries behind the murders of the department store Santas.

Mims’ character development for Mr. Dan Landis was radiant. He is your atypical detective that manages to be at the wrong place at the wrong time. The private investigator has a strange sense of humor that I found myself laughing and smiling throughout the book. Even his investigation process is out of the norm but pulls the reader in to investigate alongside Mr. Dan Landis. The other characters are carefully crafted that readily engages the reader page-by-page.

The conclusion of the story was just the right mixture of satisfaction and anticipation. Mims has provided us a great holiday/murder mystery story that is surely appreciated. Mims’ writing style was easy to follow and had myself guessing who the culprit is until the end. It was a fun and suspenseful story. It was a perfect read during this merry time of the year. I look forward to Mims’ works as The Five Santas made me a fan of his.
You can purchase The Five Santas at these following retailers.

And now, The Giveaway. 
Thank you JAY MIMS for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive Copy of The Five Santas by Jay Mims


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