The Mystery Writer Next Door: an Interview with JT Twissel

I decided it would be interesting to interview other authors.  I’m reading a delightful book called FLIPKA by JT Twissel – hot off the presses – and enjoying it so much I asked  JT (Jan) if she would be my first victim. I’m almost to the end of the story and will no doubt stay up late tonight finishing it. This funny mystery twists and turns unexpectedly and the writing reminds me of Edward Abbey –perhaps in part because of the setting-  the state of Nevada is itself portrayed as an eccentric character.


Book Description: The year is 1978 when former psychoanalyst Fiona Butters is sent to a notorious girls’ reformatory in the middle of the Nevada desert by “Mr. Las Vegas”–her powerful  boss–to check on his daughter’s welfare after the disappearance of a counselor.  The reluctant Butters is suddenly thrust into the role of private investigator in a search for answers to questions she doesn’t yet know to ask.  A junk food junkie with a knack for rubbing people the wrong way, Butters encounters evasion by the reformatory Head Mistress, roadblocks by the authorities, and a surly “handler” compliments of Mr. Las Vegas– who would rather spend his time in the local bars.  It isn’t until Butters forms an alliance with a professor and an eccentric WWII veteran with a penchant for alliteration and sexual innuendo that she begins to learn the secrets of the desert.

JT (Jan) Twissel is a lovely lady I knew for several years before we discovered we are both writers. She offered to read the draft of my novel (published in May) offering encouragement as well as helpful suggestions and I had the privilege of reading the early draft of her first chapters last year.  I admire and envy her witty way with words.


JT Twissel

A self described introvert, Jan was born in a village on the East Coast and raised in Nevada (the setting for FLIPKA).

CCM: Where did you go from there?

JT:  I left home at eighteen and traveled all over the states and Europe.  I finally settled near Berkeley California and got a degree in English, focusing on Victorian literature.  For almost twenty years I worked in the computer industry until a reasonable layoff package gave me the freedom to write full-time.

CCM: What was the inspiration behind this story?

JT : Growing up in Reno (in late 60s) we would hear stories about an infamous girl’s reformatory located in the high deserts of eastern Nevada. So whenever a girl with a bad reputation disappeared, rumors would spread like wildfire that she’d been sent to Caliente.    Often she would never return and then the rumors would get bizarre

CCM: Tell us about your main character. Which is your favorite minor character and why?

JT:  I like to call Fi Butters a self-effacing brainiac with a heart of gold but a sharp tongue.  My favorite character is Captain Grayson who is actually modeled after a real person: WWII pilot who lives to fly and shake the sheets with his bride of forty years.

CCM: Were you surprised by the behavior of any of your characters or the direction of your plot at any point while writing?

JT:  Always.

CCM: How did you come up with the title?

JT:  It was the childhood nickname of a dear friend who inspired the Fi Butters character.

CCM: When you first begin writing a new book, is your main focus on the characters or the plot?

JT:  I have to be able to see my characters.  Once I do then I generally let them carry the plot.

CCM: Do you have a process for naming your characters.

JT:  I generally pull the names out of the thin air.  If I don’t have the right name for a character I can not write about him/her.  I just can’t.

CCM: Do you outline first or take an idea and run blindly?

JT:  I don’t believe in outlining your first draft.  I don’t even think about outlining until I’m on a double digit draft and then only to get my timeline correct.

CCM: If you could bring any one of your characters to life, which would you choose and why?

JT:  Fi Butters because her personality is based on someone I knew and loved who has passed away.


I love this new book and will be posting starred reviews on Amazon and Goodreads.  I highly recommend it; if you read it please let us know what you think.  (Contact me by clicking “About” above and scroll down to the contact me  “comments” button.)

See JTTwissels’ Website/ Blog =

Twitter:  @jttwissel

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