Victoria Landis is a professional writer, editor, and artist. A 16-year member, and former board member, of Mystery Writers of America, she Co-Chaired the SleuthFest Writers Conference from 2015-2018.
She's taught at SleuthFest, the Authors Academy at Murder on the Beach, and the Alvin Sherman Library at Nova Southeastern University.
Tell us about your book, JORDAN! What is it about and what inspired you to write it?
Jordan is the story a young woman who goes missing for three years and returns with the power to heal by touch. She and a small group of friends realize the implications of this and try to plot a strategy to allow her to heal people without causing a crush of humanity running to her. But the current viral social media world makes that impossible, and within days, the world comes invading Boca Raton, Florida, with hopes of being cured.
Healing by touch is something that fascinated me as a small child. I concentrated like crazy, but I could never do it. That was disappointing. I forgot all about it until a few years ago. Not sure what tickled my brain with it again, but it hit me—how would someone like that be received today? How would that go with today’s viral media? And I realized that would make an incredible story.
Tell us about your publishing process. What was it like? Did you go indie or the traditional way?
With Jordan, I went the indie route. It’s not quite the standard thriller. It’s not quite magical realism. It asks you to believe that a woman can heal by touch, then it’s contemporary fiction with a breakneck speed/thriller aspect that kicks in. I had two NYC agents love it, but ultimately turn it down because they said they didn’t know how to sell it—how to categorize it. I did get an editor at one of the big houses to read it. She loved it and wanted it. Then they downsized her. Sigh. So, I indie published it. But that may be a blessing, as it turns out. It’s been very well received, and I control everything about it, which I love.
How did you choose the title for your book? Did it come to you right away, before you started writing it, or did it come later?
I knew I wanted to name it for one of the main characters from the beginning. Jordan Crissman is the healer in the book. I wanted the name to be strong and remind people a little of biblical times.
Tell us about the cover design process. Did you have a basic idea of what your book cover would be like?
Who is your cover designer and how did you find him/her?
I do my own covers. I’m a graphic designer, and I’ve done many, many covers for others, as well as ads, promotional items, etc. I’ve got examples on my website.
How was your experience working with the designer?
Well, since it was me, pretty good. J I passed the first few ideas to my critique group, and their tepid reaction was all I needed to see. I played with the dove and background birds quite a bit before getting it right.
What has been the readers’ response to your cover?
They love it. Taking the time to tweak it was worth it. It conveys the mood of the book very well. There’s impending danger, but the dove symbolizes hope for the future. A few observant folks have even noticed that the circle of bird silhouettes in the background resembles a crown of thorns, which was my intent. It’s fun when someone discovers that.
What tips would you give to authors who are looking for a cover designer?
Take a look at others they’ve done and see if their style works with yours. Try not to impose a pre-conceived image on them. I can say that the worst covers I’ve ever done (which are not on display) are the ones where the author insisted I do certain things a certain way. Sometimes authors have terrible taste in such things. I try to explain that certain aspects are overdone, hokey, and many look ‘homemade.’ But they don’t always listen.
Also—a cover designer spends hours thinking up fresh ideas and searching for photos, as well as making samples for concepts. When a concept is chosen, there are many more hours of tweaking fonts, colors, sizes, photo effects, etc. I believe that everyone deserves to be paid for the work they do. So pay them for that work. Don’t expect them to make minimum wage. Would the author work for that amount in their day job?
Anything else you’d like to say about your book?
An interesting tidbit, perhaps. For thirteen years, my day job was faux painting, murals, and special effects painting. I worked in some of the most exclusive neighborhoods in the country, located in the Boca Raton area. I’d be in there for days to weeks at a time, and I’m very quiet, so they’d forget I was there. I saw and overheard conversations, arguments, etc., and observed a lot. I use that knowledge in my books. On my website, on the Jordan page, there’s a map of the fabulous and fictional Teigh brothers’ estate, where much of the action takes place.
Thank you for having me here. And readers? If you like the book, please post a review on one or more of the sites that book lovers frequent in hopes of finding good reads? Thank you!