L.J. Sellers writes the bestselling Detective Jackson mystery series—a two-time Readers Favorite Award winner—as well as provocative standalone thrillers. Her novels have been highly praised by reviewers, and her Jackson books are the highest-rated crime fiction on Amazon. L.J. resides in Eugene, Oregon where her novels are set and is an award-winning journalist who earned the Grand Neal. When not plotting murders, she enjoys standup comedy, cycling, social networking, and attending mystery conferences. She’s also been known to jump out of airplanes.
In CRIMES OF MEMORY, the eighth in her Detective Jackson series, Jackson returns to the Eugene, Oregon Police Department after a leave of absence resulting from a personal tragedy. He’s immediately assigned to investigate the homicide of a man who lived in a storage unit. Another homeless man is on the scene, his face covered in blood. Jackson soon learns that the murder victim was involved in an old bank robbery that hasn’t been fully solved. While Jackson is off investigating the crime, his troubled daughter runs away from home.Without a full taskforce, distracted with worry, Jackson must work the homicide around the clock.
Across town, a firebomb explodes at a bottled water factory. Undercover FBI agent Jamie Dallas suspects a violent eco-terrorist group of committing the crime and fears that the group is about to strike again.
In the course of investigating the homicide, Detective Jackson discovers a shocking connection between the murder and the eco-terrorist crimes.
Q: Tell us a little about yourself.
The bio tell you most of it. I love to ride, dance, swim, and keep moving…when I’m not sitting and writing. I also have a big family and lots of people in and out of my house all the time, as well as a zillion friends and promotional to-do lists—so my days are hectic. But I love everything about my life.
Q: Give us an elevator pitch for CRIMES OF MEMORY.
A murdered ex-con, an eco-terrorist group with escalating violence, and a runaway daughter collide into chaos—pushing Jackson to his personal limit.
Q: Would you describe CRIMES OF MEMORY as a thriller, a mystery, or both? What’s the difference?
The story is definitely both, as most of my Jackson stories are. The mystery element is the unexplained death that Jackson must investigate and solve. The thriller element is the escalating eco-terrorist attacks and the tension created by the uncertainty about whether the FBI can stop them. And that’s the basic difference as well.My favorite crime stories combine the genres.
Q: Describe your protagonist, Detective Wade Jackson.
I can tell you what’s he’s not: a hard drinking, pill-popping, bitter burnout who can’t get along with his boss—a popular mode for cops in fiction. I wanted a character that I respected and could get inside his head for months and years at time. So Jackson is a by-the-book family man who works too hard. At home he builds three-wheeled motorcycles for fun and drives a midnight-blue 69 GTO that he restored himself. But he never seems to have enough time for fun.
Q: CRIMES OF MEMORY is the eighth in the Detective Jackson series. How do you manage to keep your character so fresh and interesting?
I just keep giving him the same challenges that I (and everyone else face): money issues, housing issues, health problems, blended-family problems, and a troubled teenager. And based on events really happening in Eugene, his job keeps evolving too: the violent crimes division got hit by budget cuts, and the sheriff’s department is so underfunded they can’t keep anyone in jail. All of these things force him to adapt.
Q: CRIMES OF MEMORY is set in Eugene, Oregon.What role does the city play in your novel?
Eugene plays a role only in that I write stories about issues that are pertinent here and the people that populate it.But I don’t focus on the town unless it’s relevant to the plot. In the real world, most crimes have nothing to do with location and everything to do with motivation.
Q: Throughout the novel, Detective Jackson is torn between obligations to his family and job responsibilities. What interests you about that conflict?
Everything! This is my primary conflict. In fact, since feminism encouraged women to pursue careers, the struggle between work and family has been the major stressor in most women’s lives. But men are becoming more-involved fathers and face that struggle now too. Jackson is a dedicated single-father, but his job is his identity, it’s all he’s ever done. So this conflict is his primary internal struggle too.
Q: Your novel deals with eco-terrorism. Is this based on real-life events?
It is! The Earth Liberation Front, which destroyed millions of dollars of property in the Northwest back in the early 90s, had a cell here in Eugene. The FBI here —a ten-person office—spearheaded the investigation. I interviewed the agent who was in charge, and he gave me great insight and detail. In my story, the new eco-terrorist group patterns themselves after the old ELF.
Q: One of your characters in CRIMES OF MEMORY is undercover FBI Agent Jamie Dallas. Do you have future plans for her?
Agent Dallas and her undercover persona were so much fun to write, I knew she needed her own story, probably her own series. So I just finished writing the first book featuring her as the protagonist. It’s called THE TRIGGER, and she goes undercover to infiltrate a heavily armed prepper group in Northern California. She also gets to travel and that will be fun for me too.
Q: Aside from Detective Jackson, do you have a favorite character in CRIMES OF MEMORY?
I introduced Agent River, another new character, inRULES OF CRIME (Jackson #7), and she comes back in CRIMES OF MEMORY to head the taskforce tracking the eco-terrorists. I love this agent because she’s unique—a transgender, who used to be a man. But more important, I love River’s Zen philosophy and the inner peace she’s finally found by becoming who she needs to be.
Q: Do you identify most with a particular character in the novel?
That’s tough to say. There’s a little bit of me in everybody. Agent Dallas is who I fantasize about being, but Sophie, the reporter, is a lot like me. And in my other books that feature Detective Evans, she represents yet another major factor in my complex personality.
Q: CRIMES OF MEMOERY is written in multiple points of view. Do you decide in advance who your point of view characters will be? More generally, are you a “plotter” or a “planster?”
I usually know in advance who my POV characters will be and have a rough outline of the story. I don’t leave home without a map (or GPS) when I go on a road trip, and I don’t start writing a story unless I know basically how it ends. I prefer not to get lost in the middle.
Q: The clichéd piece of advice for aspiring writers is “write what you know.” Do you agree?
It’s much more fun to explore and research and write about things you want to learn. If you have a background in law, then why not make your character a DA or investigator…with a background in law. For sure, use what you know for background. But write about what interests you.
Q: What’s next for Detective Jackson? For L.J. Sellers?
I’m currently writing Jackson #9, which is going great. In this story, his life has the potential to radically change, and I think readers will love it. As soon as I’m finished with that one, I’ll start the second book in the Agent Dallas series—if the first one is selling well and readers ask for more.