Ghost Writers and Me (2nd posting)

As I sit on this side of the keyboard, spinning out my tales and blogs, it’s impossible for me to tell how what I create will touch the people reading what I’ve written.

A few weeks ago I heard from a reader who had actively disliked Blessing of the Lost Girls, suggesting that it was so different from my other books that he wondered if I’d collaborated with someone one, employed a ghost writer, or used an AI to write the book.

I have to say I was a bit taken aback because that story came straight from my heart, and that’s how I was able to write a whole book, beginning to end, in two months flat.

I wrote back and told him that I had learned I didn’t work well with committees when my kids were in grade school and I was supposed to participate in PTA. That meant collaboration was out. Nor had I employed either a ghost writer or an AI in the writing process, but that I was sorry he hadn’t enjoyed the book.

Then, this week a woman wrote to me saying that one aspect of Blessing had really touched her. Recently her ninety-something mother needed to go into assisted living, and she told me that when Diana Ladd and her daughter, Lani, were faced with the same situation, the interactions between them really helped both my reader and her mother come to terms with those very same hard decisions.

I wrote that scene, yes, but the wisdom in it didn’t actually come from me. It came from a character named John Wheeler, who was based on a Sioux warrior named James who survived for twenty years after being pushed under a moving train by a serial killer who specialized in committing hate crimes against Native Americans.

If you’ve read Blessing of the Lost Girls, you already know that James was the inspiration for that book when he exhorted me to write another Walker book “because there aren’t enough Indian heroes.”

And that’s when I realized that I was wrong in telling that disgruntled reader that I hadn’t used a ghost writer to create Blessing, because I believe a literal ghost writer—James’s spirit—was walking with me every step of the way.

39 thoughts on “Ghost Writers and Me (2nd posting)

  1. I loved The Blessing of the Lost Girls. I did indeed sense you heartfelt understanding of the women in this story. I have read every book of yours and I am waiting in anticipation of your next one!

  2. I just finished reading Blessing of the Lost Girls and loved it but hated the killer. Gritty but really well done. I have taught on the White Mountain Apache Reservation for 18 years now and really felt the pain of what was happening to those beautiful families. Love Joanna Brady and was a bit surprised there wasn’t as much about her character at all but more about her daughter possibly getting into the field. Great set up for the next book with new characters. Loved Dan and his family issues and it will be fun to get to know them.more in the future! Will you please, please include Arizona Rangers into one of your Brady books???!! They are part of our Arizona History before we were actually a state..we ate part of history!!!

  3. Bleedtngs definitely had a slightly diierent flavor from your other books, just as I’d expect considering its inspiration. But it clearly belongs in the Jance Family of books.

    I had trouble getting into the Walker family books. No idea why. But again clearly one of your books, although the “ voice” was different, as it is (and I feel it should be) for the Beaumont collection.

  4. What a beautiful tribute to an unsung Hero! I have loved and appreciated every single one of your books in each series. Yes, some of them have affected me more than others, but that is true of any favored Author’s work. I always read for enjoyment and enlightenment, so I don’t always expect every single book to spark the same level of emotion or interest, nor would I offer criticism to an established and admired author, because of my own story preferences.

  5. What I love about your books is the information you give us. I didn’t know much about the problem with Native American women until I read this book. I don’t know why people hate another race, but they do. Thank you for writing about it. Maybe more bad guys will be caught and punished.

  6. Beautiful and so touching. Thank you. Have a beautiful weekend J.A.

  7. Thank you, James’ spirit, for guiding Judy to write this story. I believe that behind every J.A. Jance novel is a spirit who inspires her and gives her the freedom to tell such marvelous tales.

  8. Wow you get interesting and varied feedback! I too have found the Walker books a more challenging read perhaps because some of the events are so wrenching but challenging is good,right?


  9. After reading almost all the books in the J. P. Beaumont series I have no doubt of your capabilities to create any situation. I wrote you about a particular scene in one book that hit me right in the heart, asking you how you got it so right. You are an amazing storyteller, in my opinion. I look forward to each night that I spend two hours inside one of your creations. One of the highlights of every day since I discovered your books. Thank you, thank you…don’t ever stop.

  10. I may have to break down and read Blessing out of order. I started with Beaumont and am now into Brady, so it will be awhile before I get to Blessings this way. With all the wonderful things I have heard about it, I really hate to wait. Keep writing, as long as I am breathing, I will keep reading.

  11. When I like an author I search out every single book they’ve written and read it. There have always been ones which have disappointed me, but I figure you can’t please everyone all the time. BUT I can truthfully say that not one of your books, JA, has disappointed me, even though I’ve read every single one. You are an amazing storyteller! <3

  12. Hi, I too am perplexed about someone’s reaction to Blessing of the Lost Girls.and want to add my voice of thanks for a truly wonderful book…which I have reread at least twice and intend to read it again and again. Unlike some of the Walker books, this one was so full of light and passion that I couldn’t put it down. All the characters are so powerful, especially about Jenny’s new interest in criminology. I loved your Native American medicine man, and all of the characters that make Missing and Endangered Native American organization so passionate and needed. It put me in touch with what this great organization is doing.This book for me is stellar. And I think the killer is awful but somehow believable in a sick kind of way. (I still have trouble reading the first Walker Novel..)…also a former Arizona resident for 10 years and still love it…

    • After reading your message I can hardly wait until I get to “Blessing..” I read one book in the J. P. Beaumont series which was with Brady, where a lot of Native American words and such were included. Difficult to pronounce but i wanted to make sure I gave them the respect due even though it interrupts the reading flow. I hope to continue my exposure to those words when I get to this book. I feel so inspired to read more and more. I had a thought about an old “Twilight Zone” episode where the guy was a reader and survived a nuclear event only to find his glasses missing and unable to read. I must get my spare set of glasses fixed soon! Ha!

      • I remember that episode of “Twilight Zone”. I don’t need reading glasses, but I felt so sorry for him. They had such great shows.

  13. People have different things that influence our lives everyday. Everyday we wake up. Something new will happen. When I was an EMT, we never knew what types of calls we would get. Each one had an influence on my life. I have PTSD. yet I get with other former emergency responders and we talk about our experiences. It helps keep going. Does Beau and Joanna have PTSD. Just wondering.

  14. I have loved everyone of your books since I began reading them. You are the real deal from when you begin each book until it is finished. Who needs AI when you write from the heart in each book.
    I absolutely loved Blessing of the Lost Girls. It deeply affected me as I read it and so much learning from in it.
    Keep going and keep writing. I will always read and love your books.
    Thank you.

  15. Haven’t read it but will now!!! I’m a new follower after totally being into the Beaumont books. I hope he lives forever…….

  16. I have not read the book yey and hope to soon.

    As to the disgruntled reader who felt you had assistance in writing your book, I would remind him of what Katherine Hepburn said in the movie “Desk Set”:

    “Moral…never assume…”

  17. The guy who didn’t like Blessings, is probably a control freak who thinks he should have his way about everything. I’m sorry for the people who have to put up with him.
    As for you…you have a talent beyond belief and are a treasure.

  18. We choose whose voice to listen and reflect with gratitude. I think of “A Beautiful Mind”. Everything vibrates even so-called inanimate things. In our old home on the south end of King County I would walk out the back door and pet the hydrangeas who had every possible color of burgundy, pink and blue on the same huge bush. My AF class in nuclear weapons in 1973 included a Hopi Indian. We swapped assignments so he could go to Wurtsmith to be near his people, and I could go to North Dakota to the only base willing to accept the challenge of the first female to go into electronic/mechanics in the Armed service. I wanted women to be able to fly in the services like they ferried the bombers in WWII. I armed missiles all day. I visited every reservation I could. Thank you for being his voice. James is a hero survivor. I have read all your books including the Walker series which haunts me and is the best for me.

  19. You know that I thought Blssings of the lost girls was your finest book yet. I guess it takes all kinds.

  20. Although I get frustrated and disappointed when my writers change something, at the same time I’d be disappointed if they didn’t. I think writers are supposed to grow along with the characters. If that means listening to the heart and going with something new, that’s what they should do. If someone doesn’t like it, they can write their own story.

  21. Sorry that readers feel free to insult writers by claiming they did not write a book. I read the book, noticed a different tempo but not once was I thinking you did not write the book.

  22. Outstanding work in every book!!
    I love everything you have written.

  23. I enjoyed the book so much I passed it on to all my friends and they felt as I did, one of your best books ever.

  24. I’ve read every book in every series, and loved this addition to the Walker family stories.

    As long as you write them, I will continue to enjoy your characters who feel like old friends and family!

    Saw you at a Book Luncheon in Charleston SC about 20 years ago and have been hooked since! Thank you!

  25. Maybe he hasn’t read any of the Walker books yet. My sister didn’t care for it either, but she hasn’t really liked any of the Walker books–too dark.

    I thought it was very well written and thought provoking.

  26. I i
    Enjoyed Blessings the 2nd time, too. I listen to audio, I really like audio and I know my husband does-I don’t have to have a light on “all night”. I enjoyed seeing the Walker family again.

  27. Sometimes when I feel stuck while reading, and find it hard to relate to the story, it turns out that something in the novel has touched a nerve in me-
    The Walker series is likely to do that, as it is the “Darkest” of your writings-
    The killers in the Walker books are the most pathological and sadistic-
    To read of someone in the clutches of such a villain can be terrifying-

  28. Judy, I always appreciate when you tell us little pieces of what inspires you. You share your thoughts with us not just in your books, but in your blog. I don’t always comment here, but I always look forward to the next blog. It’s a special time of meeting more of your dedicated readers and almost like having a chat with them. I picture all of us with our cup of coffee, listening to you speak your blog and then taking turns to respond. I wonder if all these fellow blog readers know I consider them my friends. Well, most of them.

  29. The Walker books are definitely different but I’ve enjoyed being introduced to the traditions and culture, and you do it so well! I thought blessings was very good and love the ghost aspect in your blog , I suspect you’re right on that help!

  30. I am just finishing “Blessing”. I thought it was quintessentially your writing. I enjoyed this book as much as any you have written. Diana’s story is powerfully real. The Indian story telling in your chapter headings is important. I particularly liked the characterization updates you included; it was like catching up with friends you have not seen in a while. Some ghosts, yes, but no ghost writers here!

  31. I love the Walker books and I thought Blessings was excellent. Your reverence and love for Native Americans and their culture, and traditions is evident in every story. I’m looking forward to your continuing the Walker family stories.

  32. One of the things I liked about Blessings is the little dog who didn’t like the bad guy. No one seemed to pay much attention to the man, but the dog didn’t like him. Animals know.

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