Hill novelist Jane Kelly.

Hill novelist Jane Kelly.

by Joseph Persichetti

Some people know exactly what they want to do after college, but that wasn’t the case for local mystery author Jane Kelly. It took her some time after graduation to get started, and she now has multiple books under her belt, including a series.

Kelly lived in West Oak Lane and Chestnut Hill while she was growing up. She attended Mount St. Joseph’s Academy and Chestnut Hill College and continues to live in Chestnut Hill.

“I was a history major and an English minor during those years,” she said. “I was also an avid reader and read hundreds of mysteries. My favorite author was Carole Berry. I liked how she was able to write funny characters while keeping them low-key.”

Although she loved to read, Kelly wasn’t an aspiring writer. Upon graduation, she decided that she wanted to be a librarian and studied library science at Drexel University. When she graduated, she worked for a company that developed software for librarians and taught people how to use it.

A little more than two decades ago, she got the urge to write and began her first book.

“My first book was a mystery novel that took place in New York City.” she said. “That one didn’t get published, but I reached out to a company that was very interested in publishing books about South Jersey. As far as I know there weren’t any mystery novels that were based there, and they said that if I wrote one then they would publish it.”

That novel, “Killing Time in Ocean City” was published in 1997 by Plexus Publishing. Thus began the Meg Daniels Mysteries, the fourth and most recent of which, “Missing You in Atlantic City,” was published in June of 2014. The book follows amateur sleuth Meg Daniels as she attempts to solve a cold case about the mother of a singer who disappeared during the Democratic Convention in 1964.

On May 7 she will be hosting a book signing in Chestnut Hill at Bruno’s. Kelly will be promoting “Missing You” and the other three books in the series.

Because of the local and historical nature of her novels, Kelly said a lot of preparation is needed before she sits down to write.

“I do a lot of research before writing a story,” she said. “My last book used a lot of different character types, and I spent a lot of time in Atlantic City. I [looked] at the Atlantic City Press, talked to people who knew the city back in 1964 and read Google Books that were about the convention and such.”

That process is one she has opened up to her readers, too.

“I usually find out a lot more than I need to know, so I’ve been keeping a Pinterest page that readers and followers can view the information that I’ve found out,” she said.

Asked what the toughest part of the writing process was, Kelly answered, “the first page.”

Sitting down and starting a new book is always a luxurious feeling, but that first page is the most challenging,” she said.

Once started, though, Kelly said the rest is straightforward.

“I’ve never gotten writers’ block while writing fiction,” she said. “When I’m writing marketing materials it happens, but never with my books. I always try to write something down and have something on the page because I know that I can always come back at a later date and change it.”

When asked about how she develops her characters and the story, Kelly replied, “I use experiences from my life and things I observe on the streets as the basis of much of what I put into a story.”

But that’s about as far as she goes with that.

“As I write, and after a certain time, the characters that I’m working on start to grow on their own and become more complex,” she said.

With four books in, Kelly said she plans to continue working on Meg Daniels mysteries.

“My series sort of becomes like a person,” she said. “I never want to just leave them and let them hang out there.”

Jane Kelly’s books can be found online at Amazon and Barnes and Noble, as well as in bookstores.

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