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Writing Fiction, with Jan Evan Whitford

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With Jan Evan Whitford, author of Mystic Island

A PISSED-OFF LOBSTERMAN probably wouldn’t actually shoot anyone, right? At least, not in my experience. But a rumor was circulating that a crazy lobsterman named Manny Faria was waving a rifle around and making threats so, even though it was my day off, I figured I’d better check it out. That’s because I’m an environmental police officer. Most times, fishermen jokingly call me a “clam cop”, and I’m never sure whether they’re trivializing my job, or making a sexist remark aimed at a certain part of my female anatomy.

Thin tendrils of early morning fog dissipated with the rising sun as I headed my Honda CR-V across Mystic Island to the Seabreeze RV Resort and Campground. I knew that the lobsterman in question worked out of the Seabreeze and that the campground was also a hotbed of illegal shell fishing. At the gatehouse, I eased my vehicle up behind an ancient, urine-colored pickup while a talk show host pontificated on my car radio about Paula Jones, Kenneth Starr, and how President Clinton was looking good for re-election next November.

–From Mystic Island, by Jan Evan Whitford



Jan Whitford’s Mystic Island, a comic, romantic tale with historical overtones, unfolds from the perspective of a strong female lead. The author, who’s a guy, says that the book even inches toward “chick lit.” How did he write such a convincing woman protagonist? With a little help from his friends, as you will hear.

Jan Evan Whitford originally hails from Albuquerque, New Mexico. After active duty in the Marine Corps Reserve, he got his B.A. at the University of New Mexico and moved to St. Louis, Missouri where he worked as a cartographer for the Defense Mapping Agency. It was there that he and his wife, Barbara, raised their five sons.

Now semi-retired, Jan writes novels and pitches them as equal parts mystery, romance, and humor. Some of his short humor pieces have been published in magazines and newspapers. Mystic Fear, the second in Jan’s Nikki O’Connor mystery series, follows on the heels of Mystic Island, which was released by Hilliard & Harris Publishing in June of 2005.

Jan and his wife split their time between New England and the Florida panhandle, where he’s a member of the Emerald Coast Writers.

Join Jan and Writing Show host Paula B. as we explore:

  • Why he alternates between third- and first-person points of view
  • Why he decided to make his main character a woman
  • How he manages to get inside a woman character’s head so convincingly
  • How he choreographed his hurricane
  • How he was able to make every detail of the hurricane so realistic
  • How he dealt with the issue of putting words in a historical figure’s mouth (or pen)
  • How he managed to surprise the reader at the end without contrivance
  • What “snake hands” are and why you should care.

Interviewee: Jan Evan Whitford
Host: Paula B.
Date: May 28, 2007
Running time: 01:03:04
File size: 38 megabytes
Rating: PG Some sex and language
Jan’s Web site:

Purchase Jan’s book at