Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Ann Charles Interview - Jackrabbit Jingle Balls

Photo Content from Ann Charles

USA Today Bestselling author, Ann Charles, writes spicy stories full of mystery, comedy, adventure, suspense, romance, and supernatural mayhem. When she's not dabbling in fiction, she's arm wrestling with her two kids, attempting to seduce her husband, and arguing with her sassy cats.


Greatest thing you learned in school.
I learned so much about relationships and life in general. I guess I’d have to say that figuring out what I was capable of both academically and socially was very important. I was able to push through and succeed in tough subjects and even tougher social situations. School was definitely a proving ground, and now I better understand my own strengths.

Who or what has influenced your writing, and in what way?
There were some rough spots in my younger years due to divorce and the repercussions of that split, and then more struggles when I was an adult and experienced divorce myself. I learned at an early age to laugh my way through the pain when life hits you with a frying pan. To find the humor in the world around me. I think this is why I write stories with humor woven throughout the plots. Laughter is a wonderful medicine for pain, anger, stress, sorrow, and whatever else ails you. Now I want to provide some pain relief for readers. As for those who aren’t struggling and just reading for fun, I want to share laughs with them.

Why is storytelling so important for all of us?
I believe that sharing information is necessary to continue to educate and strengthen civilization. Telling stories is a way of sharing information, even if it’s only for entertainment purposes. However, most stories have a theme or purpose behind the scenes, whether it be to spread joy, teach a valuable life lesson, encourage experimentation, etc. I have learned so much through books—nonfiction and fiction.

What was your favorite subject when you were in school and why?
I really enjoyed my Physical Geography class in junior college, which surprised me at the time. I had to take a science elective for transfer credit purposes, and I’ll be honest—I was being a little lazy when trying to decide which class would fulfill that requirement. After looking at the other science credit classes, I thought Physical Geography would be the easiest and take the least amount of out-of-class time (I was balancing a full-time day job along with a full course load.) The irony was that I really loved learning about landforms and soil types and volcanoes and more. My teacher was amazing, too. He worked in the insurance industry during the day and taught at night because he loved sharing his knowledge about Physical Geography and the Earth. I think his fondness for the subject was catching, and I really looked forward to his class. To this day, I study the physical world around me with awe and incorporate snippets about it into some of my books.

Beyond your own work (of course), what is your all-time favorite book?
Oh boy, it’s so hard to choose just one, and there are so many books I haven’t read yet in some of my favorite genres—romance, action-adventure, western, supernatural, and humor. I love too many books to list just one here, but Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson, and Flint by Louis L’Amour are some of my go-to “older” stories.

What are some of your current and future projects that you can share with us?
Right now I’m working on writing the 6th book in my Jackrabbit Junction Mystery series with the plan to release it in spring of 2022. In the next few months, I also plan to finish the 4th book in the Deadwood Undertaker series, which I co-write with my husband, Sam Lucky. After these two stories are off my plate, I plan to write the 3rd book in my Dig Site Mystery series. This 3rd book has been a long time coming, and I can’t wait to return to the Mexican jungle to build another fictional Maya dig site for my characters to explore along with me. At the end of 2022, I hope to be working on the 13th book in my Deadwood Mystery series. Whew! It’s going to be a busy year full of exciting stories.

In your newest book; JACKRABBIT JINGLE BALLS, can you tell my Book Nerd community a little about it.
Sure, this is a Christmas novella set in my Jackrabbit Junction Mystery series and stars many of the characters from that story world, including the Morgan sisters (Claire, Kate, and Ronnie). It’s not your typical warm and fuzzy Christmas tale, but rather a rough and rowdy escapade on the page during which the three women in their mid-30s are dealing with the after effects of their parents’ recent divorce. Their mother has really been struggling with the ending of her three-decade marriage, and their father is coming to town to see his daughters for the first time since the divorce was finalized. There is a mixture of dark humor, frustration, family drama, and love mixed into the holiday tale. The story can be read on its own (without having read the rest of the series), but it’s even better if you are familiar with the characters from the five other books that come before it.

Having experienced divorce both as a kid and as an adult, I wanted to share a story about how crazy a holiday can be after a divorce shakes up a family.

  • 1. This was the first time I wrote a story that had to fit between two previously written books in a series (The Wild Turkey Tango and In Cahoots with the Prickly Pear Posse). Fitting this story in like a puzzle piece made for a fun challenge, since consistency in a series’ story line is very important to me. Plus, I was able to foreshadow things that had already happened on the page in the next book, which was sort of like writing backwards.
  • 2. I came up with the opening scene for the story on my way to pick up my kids from high school one afternoon while stuck in line due to road construction. One of the construction workers made me think of that old band called Village People, which led me to think about strippers dancing on the stage, which led to the opening scene.
  • 3. When I first went online to look up the words “jingle balls” on Google, the images that came up in my search will be forever be burned in my brain ... and not in the “wholesome family fun” section of my gray matter.
  • 4. My brother is the cover artist and illustration (C.S. Kunkle). This is the 30th book in which he and I have collaborated. The mountain in the background on the cover is the same mountain that is behind his house in Arizona.
  • 5. My husband (Sam Lucky) is the graphic artist who took my brother’s art and created covers for the ebook, print, and audio versions of Jackrabbit Jingle Balls. He also formats the ebook and print versions, adding fun “extras” to make the ebook/book more visually entertaining.
  • 6. One of the characters in this book is the villain in the next book in the series, In Cahoots with the Prickly Pear Posse. I planted this villain in the story to see if anyone who has already read the next book will figure out this reveal.
  • 7. I wrote the last scene of this story at 6 a.m. in a renovated historic hotel in a small mining town in the middle of Nevada while driving my kids up to Washington state to visit their grandmother. (My teenagers were sleeping up in the hotel room while I sat in a tiny cafĂ© in the lobby and typed away.)
  • 8. I chewed like a demon through forty-plus packs of gum during the two months I was writing this story.
  • 9. I listened to Christmas music through half of August, all of September, and half of October while writing this story. By November, I was ready to play summer tunes and hit the beach.
  • 10. I adopted two cats during the writing and publishing of this book. I just need seven more to be an official “cat lady.”
What do you hope for readers to be thinking when they read your novel?
I hope they are chuckling at the funny predicaments in which my characters land, along with cringing and groaning when appropriate. Mostly, I just want them to forget what is going on in their everyday life and have fun sinking into the story. My goal in writing and sharing all of my books is to provide an escape that is way cheaper than a vacation to the Bahamas while giving readers something to smile about when they put the story down and return to regular life.

What part of your characters did you enjoy writing the most?
I really enjoyed the relationship dynamics, especially amongst the three sisters. I have two sisters and there are many similarities between what’s on the pages of the story and our lives.

If you could introduce one of your characters to any character from another book, who would it be and why?
I would love to introduce the youngest Morgan sister, Kate, who is in her early 30s and sort of crazy at the moment due to pregnancy hormones, to Cornelius Curion, who is a very eccentric paranormal investigator in my Deadwood Mystery series. I think those two on the page together would be hilarious. Hmm ... maybe I need to make that happen in a future book (all of my series have crossover characters, so this is definitely a possibility).

  • Cheryl Reavis
  • Tessa Dare
  • Amber C. Scott
  • Bill Markley
  • Robyn Peterman
  • Kristy McCaffrey
  • Constance Gillam
  • Joleen James
  • Gerri Russell
  • Tricia O’Malley
Where did you go on your first airplane ride?
Well, it’s not super adventurous—I was a teenager and I flew on a plane to Rapid City, South Dakota, to spend the summer with my mom and stepfather in the Black Hills. They lived just outside of Deadwood, the town that stars in two of the series I write/co-write. I used to spend summers in the Black Hills, exploring back roads, spelunking in old mines, and enjoying the warm weather up in the hills under the pine trees.

What is something you think everyone should do at least once in their lives?
Visit the site of an ancient civilization—Egyptian, Viking, Maya, Incan, Greek, Celtic, etc.

I often feel humbled and awed by the people who came long before my lifetime. The fact that they lived and loved and died grounds me when I stress about modern day trivialities. Their existence reminds me that time is fleeting and precious, and that I shouldn’t allow the little things in my world to weigh me down.

Best date you've ever had?
The Valentine’s Day when my husband and I went to the hospital together early in the morning and my daughter was born a short time later. My husband then brought me a bouquet of candy with some of my favorite chocolate treats and taffy, along with a huge frozen Coke slushie. My son was brought to the hospital midway through the day, and when he held his baby sister for the first time, he petted her head in awe (he was only two at the time). He probably would have been just as awed by a kitten, but still ... it was a precious day.

What event in your life would make a good movie?
The night I toured a haunted hotel, had a malicious spirit show up to cause trouble, and found out that I have a ghost following me around through life.

What is your favorite restaurant in town and why?
I’m more of a favorite drinks person, so I’d say that I’m a fan of most any place with yummy flavored coffees and other fun frozen drinks (like frozen Coke slushies and margaritas).

First Heartbreak?
That would be the loss of Midnight, the German Shepard we had when I was a kid. She allowed me to dress her up in my coat and hat in the winter, helped me do my nightly chores on the farm, and let me snuggle with her adorable puppies as much as I wanted. When she died, my heart broke. I still miss her sloppy kisses.

Favorite things to do alone?
Read, read, read. I love to hide away and escape into a book. Second to books, I love to watch my favorite movies over and over, preferably while eating something in the dessert category.

Holiday Recipe for Madcap Merrymaking in Jackrabbit Junction 
Start with a bawdy night sprinkled with tinsel tassels and jingle balls, toss in a missing pair of underwear, and top it all off with plenty of sugary shenanigans. Serve with a side of naughty and nice. 

Claire Morgan and her sisters are a tad twitchy. Their father is on his way for their first Christmas in Arizona, but the tidings of joy are few and far between. For one thing, their mother is pissed about her ex-husband flying in to play Santa. For another, their mother is just pissed. Period. 

Christmas will never be the same again for the Morgan sisters!

You can purchase Jackrabbit Jingle Balls at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you ANN CHARLES for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive a $10 Amazon Gift Card.