I can’t think of a more fitting and deserving author to start a new year’s worth of monthly interviews off with than JT Twissel. She’s quirky and fun, plus she possesses some pretty serious writing chops. Her writing voice always draws readers in and she excels in capturing a sense of place.
Official Bio: My roots are in a small town in Massachusetts although I was raised in Reno, Nevada. Before becoming a full-time writer, I put in my time as a wife and mother, newsletter editor, secretary, process analyst, project manager, and technical documentation manager. I have a degree in English from UC Berkeley, which is really a degree in Literature so don’t ask me to debate a sticky point of grammar! My husband and I have two exes with spouses and five children between the two of us. And a cat, Pretty Kitty.
1. Please provide a brief synopsis of your book.
Willful Avoidance is the story of a woman who from the outside has it all – a successful husband, a home in a desirable neighborhood, and two healthy children. But it’s all smoke and mirrors. When the curtain falls, she is left with a conniving ex, a string of temp jobs from hell, and a tax debt she couldn’t pay off in a million years. Enter a no-nonsense tax attorney who’d rather be rescuing horses. Sparks fly between the two from the beginning. Fourteen years of tax cases have left him with a hard and cynical shell while she is ready to do battle, confident that they will win. The title is from a section of the tax code designed to provide relief for women who were duped and mislead by an ex-spouse. Although it sounds like a grim read, readers have reported many laugh-out-loud moments.
2. Tell us a little bit about what motivates or inspires your writing.
Truth be told, I write to amuse myself. I am fortunate to have met and gotten to know many unique people, many of whom are now gone. They haunt me. When I write about them, they’re here with me. You could say, I’m addicted to that feeling. I also write to make sense of things that perplex me, right wrongs and atone for my many lapses in judgement. If someone is entertained or amused by something I write, that fulfills me.
3. Writing aside, what passions drive your life?
My passions are art, music, remodeling, working with at-risk children, and visiting my adult children who for reasons I don’t understand, want to live as far from me as possible!
4. It’s hard to pick just one, but what do you consider your favorite novel and why?
Pride and Prejudice. It has all the elements I try to incorporate in a story: witty prose, unforgettable characters, and an original storyline. I’m also influenced by Dickens’ ability to tie seemingly unrelated story lines together. I believe in serendipity.
5. What is the name of your blog and what can readers expect to find there?
My blog is simply JT Twissel. It doesn’t have a set theme. Sometimes I feel silly; sometimes serious. Readers can find a great deal of background for all three of my books: odd facts about Nevada (Flipka); true tales from my travels in Europe (The Graduation Present) and satirical stabs at tax law (Willful Avoidance.)
Often I will showcase other writers. The best way (unless you’re already an established writer) to gain more followers is to be active in the blogging community. Once I figured that out, I started following every blog I came upon, which was, how shall I put it, interesting. Gradually I’ve limited myself to actively following a group of about twenty-five equally supportive bloggers. I also participate in the following hashtag events: #MondayBlogs, #ArchiveDay #ThursdayDoors and my favorite for obvious reasons, #WordlessWednesday. There are many many others but I just can’t keep up!
6. What does your drafting and/or editing process entail?
I’ve been writing for about thirty years so generally I’ll take snippet begun when my hair was really blonde and work it into something. It’s amazing (and often daunting) how many snippets I have. They’ll probably keep me going until I die. I have an early reader who also advices me on problems with the storyline however I find critique groups exhausting. I’ve never hired a professional to critique what I’ve written. I know writers who have and then given up writing.
7. Are you traditionally published or self-published?
I’m published by Booktrope, a hybrid publisher. By that I mean, they adhere to the team concept which works for some writers and not for others. The editors, cover designers, book managers, and proofreaders basically volunteer to work with a writer for a percentage of the book sales. However, the authors are expected to work their fannies off to make the effort worthwhile to their teams. Some authors seem offended by that requirement. But I’m a team player and so far it works for me. I know many writers who are self-published. They’ve done all the work but they’ve also gotten to keep all the money! It’s just a matter of how you like to work and what you’re willing to give up.
8. Can you offer one or two helpful tips for fellow writers when it comes to marketing and publicity?
I’ve had the most success marketing on Wattpad, the free reading site, and with giveaways on Goodreads. The best advice I’ve received is to keep on writing and not become discouraged by low book sales. I must admit, when it comes to marketing and publicity I’m the last person you want to get advice from. I’m much too shy to approach book reviewers and bloggers.
9. What future projects can we look forward to?
I’m currently working on the sequel to FLIPKA, my first novel. I wasn’t planning on writing a sequel but the ending of the first book was too ambiguous for some readers who wanted more. Never leave the ending of a book too ambiguous or you’ll end up having to write a sequel! Still I guess I should be happy people are looking forward to more Flipka, right? And she is a character I really enjoy spending time with.
10. Is there anything else you want your potential readers to know?
Oh golly, I’ve had people say the most peculiar things about me. One friend said “You’ll like my girlfriend. She’s a lot like you only she isn’t crazy.” Another said, “You’re neurotic but you’re a lovable neurotic!” At least two of my main characters (Fi Butters in Flipka and Riley O’Tannen in The Graduation Present) could be described as lovable neurotics. To an extent Maya Bethany as well although her situation in WA would make anyone neurotic. I’ve always said “yes” to new experiences which has lead to many a wacky adventure. Somehow I manage to fit them into my stories.
You can connect with Jan and her social media sites via her website.
Is there anything else you would like to know about JT Twissel?
Permission must be granted by JT Twissel to use the author image and cat image in this post.
Thank you for another great interview. I’ve never read Ms Twissel’s work but I will definitely be looking her up. As a former UK lawyer I’m sure I’ll enjoy a peep into how they do it in the US
Hi Cheryl – this is Jan inserting myself rudely in Jeri’s space! I’d be interested in hearing if there’s an Innocent Spouse clause in British tax law! Thanks Jan!
Hi Jeri and JT
This interview is so refreshing and enticing! There is something, which holds you till the end. Thanks for making it so readable. I like your style JT…honest and candid! No wonder you have such interesting nicknames.
I have never heard of ‘hybrid publishers’!! I am sure your stories much be as good as this one. Thanks Jeri, for introducing us to such a vivacious writer.
Hello Balroop! Jeri is a great interviewer and one of my favorite bloggers. Thanks for your comment – I’m too old not to be honest! Take care, Jan
Another great interview. I am not familiar with JT Twissel, but if the books have any of the voice that comes through in the interview, they will be a delight to read. I also liked the motivation and inspiration.- people and things that haunt>
Hey Donna, Nice to meet you! Writing is such a solitary profession that it’s best to spend it with people you love, even if they’re only with you in spirit. Take care, Jan
Thanks so much Jeri!
And thank you for being here Jan 🙂
Great interview with one of my favorite writers. Also, I love the way Jan describes Booktrope. A very honest and accurate assessment.
Aw, Mary – such a sweet comment coming from one of my favorite writer/bloggers!
Who wouldn’t be drawn into a novel about a tax attorney? Haha. Bizarrely it sounds pretty funny to me. Of course, I just read a novel about a dentist that I thought was hilarious.
Hey Ken – exactly. What a dreary subject. But wherever humans are involved, there is room for satire and humor! I have to see a dentist tomorrow – send me the link to the humorous dentist novel cause I’m not feeling it tonight! Take care, Jan.
I was not familiar with JT Twizzel until now.
Her eccentricity is obvious in this interview. She is not afraid of doing things her way.
Your interview questions are so spot on.
Thank you Phoenicia – what a beautiful name that is! Nice to meet you! Jan
I have to tell you that the first paragraph describing the book made my eye twitch – the conniving ex, the financial woes (courtesy of the ex), and so on, all too familiar! Sounds like a great read, and I’m not at all surprised there are moments of laughter because under those circumstances humor is a life saver! Enjoyable interview.
Tax law – in particular Innocent Spouse Relief – is so absurd in so many ways that it’s impossible not poke fun at it! Take care, Jan
Thanks for the intro! And interesting information about Booktrope, too. The premoise of the book sounds right up my alley. Have to look it up!
Thanks Jacqueline! Booktrope is a fun company to work with! It might not be for all writers but works for me.
I enjoyed the interview — fun and interesting too. I am a proud follower of Jan’s blog, and you did a great job here of highlighting her quirky and humorous spirit. Thank you.
This was a great interview, Jeri and JT. My question for JT would be when writing your books do you create characters that are more like you or characters that are different than your personalty? Which one do you think is easier to write?
Jeri, looking forward to your interviews, they inspire me to take the risk and write a book. Thanks always.
Two of my protagonists are modeled on who I was years ago – a misguided romantic and a woman on the verge of a breakdown but the third is definitely not me. It’s difficult modeling characters on yourself. It requires what they call “blood on the pages” if you’re honest. I much prefer to write characters I wish I’d been – like Fi Butters of Flipka! Definitely take a risk at writing! Take care, Jan
Hi Jeri and Jan – great interview. I liked getting to know you through this interview Jan – I shared the lovable neurotic tweet – can easily identify. I’ll have to look up your books – starting with Willful Avoidance and moving to The Graduation Present.
Hope much success comes both your ways.
Thanks so much for the tweet and for the kind wishes! I hope you enjoy the books! I look forward to checking out your frugal deals! Take care, Jan
How great to learn more about you and your process Jan. And of course I was particularly interested in your hybrid publisher Booktope. Sounds like an interesting diversion from the norm. Thanks Jeri too for the interview.
Thanks Kathy! I’ve learned a lot about publishing and marketing from Booktrope – a lot of amazing people work there. Overall it’s been a great experience. Take care, Jan
Interesting and fun interview, Jeri. I’m a big fan of Jan’s writing and look forward to her WIP, more adventures of the zany brainy Flipka!
Thanks KC Gal!
JT, You sound like you’re so much fun and easy-going. I’ve always heard of Wattpad, but worried about putting my stuff online for free for others to take as their own. I might have to look into it now. Plus, I’m going to stop on by your blog. It’s diverse, the way I like it. 😀
Thanks for introducing us to JT, Jeri.
Hey Denise – stories posted on Wattpad cannot be copied and pasted out of their system except by the writer. There are a lot of very supportive writers on WP and, as they say, it gets your name out there. Nice to meet you! Jan
I was hooked on this post right from the beginning. Terrific interview Jeri and Jan. I think Willful Avoidance will be a great read.
Thank you Jeannette! Nice to meet you!
JT Twissel sounds like an author I’d love to read. It is so fun to feel that I almost “know” an author before starting a book. I’ll check out her books. The one you talked about sounds most interesting. I’ll start with that one. Thanks.
Thank you Beth! I’m looking forward to getting to know you as well! Jan
Hi Jeri and Jan –
I sure know you through this interview. You are refreshing,quirky and fun just as Jeri described you.
I will go to bookstore to find some of your books to read.
Have a nice day!
– Stella Chiu
Nice to meet you Stella! One of the downsides of a hybrid publisher is they only sell books online – Amazon, Barnes & Noble. Have a great weekend! Jan
Thank you for this fun interview. I couldn’t put Willful Avoidance down. Cheers —
Thanks Julia! I’m glad you enjoyed it!
Great interview. Good to get to know the person behind the characters.
JT is not a writer I have heard of and I will certainly be looking this book up.
Thank you Rosalind! I checked out your website. Wow! Such beautiful gardens – I really wish you were in Northern California! Jan