C.J. Archer: Mysteries - Cozy, Suspenseful, Heartwarming… Magical!

Obviously I love to read and will read almost anything I get my hands on.  Admittedly, however, mysteries weren’t at the top of my list… Until I read a C.J. Archer book.  And then I was hooked!  Every story has such warm and wonderful, often quirky, characters who get in all kinds of sticky situations as they try to live and love their lives. Whether it is cozy, suspenseful, or fantastical, each book carries that little bit of magic that makes reading an absolute delight!
That’s why I was so excited to get to speak with the genius behind all the fun. CJ is an Aussie, born and raised, with a soft-spoken but very kind and enjoyable manner that lends itself to the wonderful characters she creates.  She’s fanciful yet pragmatic, logical yet optimistic, and she is all kinds of fun when chatting about stories, and mysteries, books, and life!

InD: Isn’t it amazing the ways readers find authors? I discovered your work and fell in love with it because of your After The Rift series, but it is one of your lesser known works. What is your biggest seller?
The Glass and Steele series, which begins with “The Watchmaker’s Daughter”, has been my biggest selling series ever since its launch in 2016. The spin off, The Glass Library series, which begins with “The Librarian of Crooked Lane”, has done very well so far too. I’m thrilled with the reader response to it.
InD: Were you born and raised in Australia?
: Yes, I was born in Darwin in the Northern Territory, then moved to a small town in north-west Queensland where it’s hot and dry. I’ve lived in Melbourne, Victoria, for a long time now, however.
InD: What was it like growing up in Queensland?
It was great. We played outside all day and returned home at dinner time. I lived in a small town where everyone knew everybody, and as kids, you could go on your bicycles and ride around town and feel safe. We would always find something to do, like finding tadpoles, playing in the creek, or going to the town pool.
I think part of the reason why I’m a writer is because we lived so far from everything. To get anywhere, it would take hours in the car. I would get car sick, so I couldn't read for long periods of time, so I’d close my eyes and dream up stories. I think the ability to let my mind wander for hours, making up stories, carried into my adult life.
InD: For some Americans (myself included), when we talk about anywhere in Australia, other than the big cities, or if an Australian says “out in the bush”, the first thing that we think of are all of scary things, like all the poisonous snakes, spiders, and the crocodiles. Is that true?
There are plenty of scary creatures here, yes.
InD: So as a child growing up there, do they teach you how to stay alive?
[laughing] We were taught what spiders to stay away from. For instance, with the redbacks, we knew to look for a small black spider with a red stripe on its back. You don't go anywhere near those. And we were taught to stay away from all snakes. You learn to avoid them when you're growing up in the bush. But we have snakes here in suburban Melbourne, too. A few years ago, we had a brown snake in our backyard. Brown snakes are one of the deadliest snakes in the world.
InD: What did you do?
Snakes usually won’t hurt you unless you bother them, so if you stay away, it's not going to come up and attack you. When we saw the one in our backyard, we actually called a snake catcher because our kids were little and often played out there, and we’re surrounded by other houses with little kids. If you’re out in the bush, though, you would just let it go if it’s not endangering anyone.
InD: Do you see a lot of poisonous things?
I wouldn't say a lot. It’s not an everyday occurrence here in Melbourne. Maybe in the bush it is. I’m more worried about crocodiles than snakes when I’m up north, though. Crocodiles will live through an apocalypse. [both laughing]
InD: Did you have any brothers and sisters growing up?
I have an older brother and we’re pretty close in age. He is just 19 months older, and we got along really well growing up. He’s easy-going, nothing fazes him. My parents divorced when I was 10, so he was also very protective of me.
InD: What were you like as a child?
I was very shy. I was fine around people I knew, an growing up in a small town, I knew almost everyone, so I don't think I realized how shy I was until we moved. We went from a small town to a big city when I was about 12 years old. I didn’t know anyone in my new school, and it was then I realized how extremely shy I was. I still have that shyness, but you learn to hide it much better as an adult. I learned to be more chatty, but people don't have any idea what's going on inside.
InD: That is so true. I have started to joke the last few years that I am a very high functioning introvert. I am really very friendly and I love people, but they don't understand how much energy it takes to talk to someone I don’t know.
Exactly! It takes energy and it can be tiring. I am the sort of person that, if I have two functions in a day, I am exhausted, so I try to avoid over-committing socially.
InD: I completely understand! did you read a lot as a child?
Oh yes. I was that cliché kid. I was reading with the torch under the bedcovers. I loved the Trixie Belden series when I was little. I was reading those as soon as they released them. I think I lost my way a little bit as a teenager because, when I look back at high school, I was just reading the books on the school curriculum.

Read the entire interview in the March 2023 issue of InD'Tale magazine.

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