Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Novel Research Interview with J.A. Schneider

Interviews with writers for the Novel Research project ("novel" meaning interesting, different, unusual,) focus on a variety of research topics, whether for a book, an essay, blog post, or the gathering of family genealogy records. In April, 2021, I posted 26 short articles about topics researched over the years for mystery novels, poetry, and genealogical records (which culminated in a historical novel.) Eager to learn of wider ranging research experiences, I have invited other writers to participate in the project by sharing information about their "novel" research topics.


Gail: Today's guest, author J.A. Schneider, is a prolific writer with much research under her belt. I have asked Joyce to first share her bio, including one new or previously undisclosed detail about herself.

Joyce: Thanks so much for inviting me! I am honored to participate. I’m a former writer at

Newsweek who grew up with a passion for books and reading. I’ve written 14 books so far: the 6-book EMBRYO medical thriller series, the 4-book police/psychological thrillers featuring NYPD Detective Kerri Blasco, and the standalone thrillers Into the Dark, Girl Watching You, What You’ve Done, and the just-released Cry to Me.

What led me to writing for Newsweek was previous – and sometimes wild – experience studying in Paris at the Sorbonne, then being an exchange student in the Soviet Union where I promptly got arrested for spreading anti-Soviet propaganda - ha! Caught with friends laughing at their pea-green-colored drinking water; that was the offense; four of us arrested. Let go after a day, guess they decided we weren't worth an international incident. Then weeks later I landed in a Soviet hospital because I fell down a ravine during a hike in the Caucasus mountains near Sochi. It wasn't bad. Docs in Sochi were nice, but I think the Soviets were glad to see me leave.

Now things are calmer, if you call writing suspense thrillers calmer. When not writing I’m usually thinking about writing and dreaming up new stories, and can rarely be seen without my trusty laptop. I live with my family in Connecticut, love gardening, and am working on my WIP which will be a departure, still a romantic suspense crime thriller, but a surprise.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Gail: Your early experiences have me wavering between cautious laughter and fright. Knowing that research practices evolve over the years, what is your go-to method now?    

Joyce: I use the Internet a LOT for research, definitely during the first draft. Saves time.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Gail: And what "novel" research topic have you chosen for today?

Joyce: A hurricane! I wrote CRY TO ME ( by battery lamp in a hurricane, about scared people using battery lamps in a hurricane. The raging wind outside - wowza - affected the intensity of the story. Add a bloodied crime scene and a cold case to the howling storm, the fear of trees falling outside, and that beats any “research” I’ve ever done for a novel.

Photo by author

The hurricane was Isaias, which hit Florida in late August of 2020 and plowed its way up to our Connecticut Coast (whole swaths of woods knocked down; roofs plowed in; cars under water, highways washed out. It was something.)

What’s crazy is, I had planned this novel before I knew a hurricane was coming! It was a coincidence. It’s what informed my first draft, anyway. Subsequent drafts were aided by the months-long sound of chain saws fixing destruction all around our town.

That experience beat any research I’ve ever done. Whew, when I think of it!!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

You can visit Joyce at her social media site: 

And check out her books on her Amazon page:


Isaias swept through Connecticut, causing crippling damage as it uprooted trees, severed power lines, and littered roads with water-soaked debris, leaving more than 700,000 residents without power.

What effects of a hurricane have you experienced?

* * * * *


  1. That is a fascinating interview- just Wow!

    1. I agree, Wendy. You've probably experienced at least one close encounter with hurricane weather such as Joyce describes. Writing about it while it's occurring is a whole 'nother level of commitment, though.

  2. Thank you for sharing your interesting topic of research, Joyce, and the scary method of obtaining inside information! I've never had a close encounter with an active hurricane, having moved to Hawaii two weeks after the devastation of Hurricane Iniki in 1992. I can see, however, that the experience would surely add intensity to your writing.

    Mahalo for taking time to participate in the Novel Research project.

  3. I'm so glad I read this interview.

    Joyce's Soviet adventures read like a thriller to me:) Wow! Such rich pickings for a writer.

    And what an inspiration, too. So many books.

    Writing about a hurricane while its raging -- this is priceless.

    I was visiting my sister in NYC when super storm Sandy hit the city. It was a scary night. And to see the aftermath, the next morning, was heart-breaking.

    1. Arti, you're right, Joyce's adventures in the Soviet Union would make a good thriller novel. Thank you for sharing your experience in NYC with the devastating hurricane of 2012 and its aftermath.

  4. Excellent interview. I've added Cry to Me to my TBR list. Can't wait to read it.

  5. Thanks, Cam. Joyce has a way of building tension in her stories that mystery lovers appreciate.


Aloha and thank you for visiting today! Feel free to tweet or share any posts of interest.