Joy Ann Ribar is the author of the Deep Lakes Cozy Mystery Series. You can find her biography on this site here.
Do you have a closet full of hooks with hats on them? Every hat serves a different purpose, just as most of us serve more than one purpose. We are multi-talented, a descriptor I prefer to the expression, “jack of all trades.” After all, work experiences and other pursuits are the fertilizer that make our life garden grow. Although I cannot say that all of my experiences have been a pleasure, they all have factored into who I am as an author and more.
Nose for News
My passion for journalism was born from family nightly news discussions around the supper table — my parents insisted their children be informed. On the heels of graduating from UW-Madison with a journalism degree, I took a job at a small weekly paper as Assistant Editor. The title simply meant I must know how to do everything a newspaper requires! During my stint, I was a photographer, reporter, advertising agent, layout designer, and editor. Covering sports and local government taught me a lot about power struggles and the tremendous efforts it took to be taken seriously as a female journalist. My main character, Frankie Champagne, is an occasional journalist, diving into crime investigations as they arise in her small Wisconsin town. Her newsie hat is one of many she wears, and she encounters the same power struggles I did in the news business.
It’s no coincidence that before Frankie owned and operated Bubble and Bake, she worked as a paralegal for an area law firm. My own work as a paralegal was an eye-opener every day. I learned the art of legalese, the ins and outs of case law, and of course, how to spin words and phrases to the benefit of the client. Now, I’m putting that knowledge to work in my mysteries.
I’ve been an educator longer than any other career, and I think it’s the most important work I’ve pursued. I count myself lucky to teach literature that fills me with awe and to participate in valuable discussions with students who are in the state of discovering their humanity. I’ve been paid to have fun leading students in creative writing to find their individual voices. Teaching is so much like writing in that it is a give-and-take proposition. I‘ve learned more from students than I’ve taught; I’ve received more from readers and fellow authors than I’ve written.
There are no trivial pursuits
Mahatma Gandhi said “Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” In the spirit of that quote, I have spent a good amount of time dabbling. Whether I am developing a wine palate, baking pastries, adding birds to my life list, gardening, or performing in a show, every pastime somehow finds a home on the written page. Readers comment how busy Frankie is: running a bakery and winery, investigating and writing for a newspaper, striving to be a good mother and a good daughter, and practicing yoga, too! I believe that everything we do matters. Every new experience adds another layer of fertilizer onto the good earth that is life. Why not grab a new hat and wear it with swagger!