Joanna Brady, sheriff of Cochise County, makes her 13th appearance on July 22 in “Damage Control,” the latest novel by J.A. Jance.
“Every woman in America is obviously not a sheriff, but Joanna Brady is every woman,” according to “Mostly Murder,” a newspaper that reviews murder mysteries.
Jance considers that the ultimate compliment, and I agree: Joanna Brady is every woman to some degree, and so is Jance, an Arizona author.
She is the epitome of what every woman writer wants to be: smart, funny, creative and, most of all, down to earth.
She is one of the few authors who answers her own e-mail and shares her life, without flinching, through her blog (www.jajance.com). That’s especially true of her book of poetry, “After the Fire,” which was written secretly and details her life with an alcoholic husband.
It is a must-read for anyone in a desperate situation.
Judith Ann Jance was born in Watertown, S.D., but raised in Bisbee.
She was was the first in her family to attend a four-year college, receiving bachelor’s degrees in English and secondary education in 1966 and a master’s in library science in 1970.
Yet she was denied admission to the University of Arizona’s creative writing program.
Women should be nurses or teachers, a professor told her. So she taught English at Pueblo High School and was a librarian at Indian Oasis School District in Sells.
She also “Did the next best thing: I married a man who was allowed in the program that was closed to me.”
He vowed there would be only one writer in the family. Thankfully, that writer was J.A. Jance.
After the death of her first husband, and her marriage to Bill, her earnings provided for “fun” things: trips, hot tubs, remodeling, until her books became popular.
Perhaps the reason for their success lies in the fact that her characters (J.P. Beaumont, a Seattle detective who has visited southern Arizona; Joanna Brady; and Ali Reynolds, a Sedona native) are based on her own experiences as the wife of an alcoholic and a single mother who rediscovers life after despair.
There is even a character patterned after the UA professor, but you’ll have to read “Hour of the Hunter” for that.
Like all of us, Jance still experiences love and loss. On Aug. 2, 2006, son-in-law Jon Jance (he adopted the last name in her honor), died of malignant melanoma.
Each year, she participates in the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life. This is especially poignant as Jance was diagnosed with cancer last year. After surgery and treatment, she is doing well.
I attend Jance’s book signings in Tucson. Last year, I was facing surgery.
When it was my turn to have my book autographed, I was prompted to tell her my fears. She immediately hugged me and whispered that she, too, was fearful of her upcoming surgery and asked me to keep her in my prayers. She said she would do the same for me.
Fortunately, we are both survivors.
Her tour for “Damage Control” includes several stops in Tucson. I hope you’ll stop by, say hello and have your book signed by this wonderful woman, author and human being.
Oh, and bring your camera. She’s open to having her picture taken.
Valerie Golembiewski is a Tucson wife, mother, grandmother and a New York transplant. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Southern Arizona stops in J.A. Jance’s book-signing tour for “Damage Control”:
• Aug. 6, 7 p.m., Clues Unlimited, 123 S. Eastbourne
• Aug. 7, 2 p.m., Joyner Green Valley Library, 601 N. La Cañada Drive, Green Valley
• Aug. 7, 7 p.m., Barnes & Noble, Foothills Mall, 7325 N. La Cholla Blvd.
• Aug. 8, 3 p.m., Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, 5405 E. Granite St., Building 2527
• Aug. 8, 3 p.m., Borders Books and Music, 4235 N. Oracle Road
• Aug. 9, 1 p.m., Atalanta Books, 38 Main St., Bisbee
• Aug. 10, noon, Mostly Books, 6208 E. Speedway Blvd.