Writer Wednesday: author J. R. Lesperance

Today, I have the honor to host a new author–and a former student!–J. R. Lesperance, whose debut novel Cardinal Virtue has just been released.

A beloved schoolteacher, her gruesome death, and a series of cryptic symbols left behind by the killer are just the beginning…

Cardinal VirtuePolice legacy Lara Nadeau never thought she would find herself anywhere but her beloved Boston. However, after the death of her father and one too many missteps on the job, she is transferred to Eastfall: a small, charming city near Salem. Wracked with grief and haunted by a hostage situation gone horribly wrong, Lara spirals into a toxic mire of anxiety, depression, and substance abuse. She hoped the slow pace of small town policing might be a calm retreat to help set her back on the straight and narrow. Unfortunately, not long after her arrival to idyllic Eastfall, a brutal, ritualistic murder of a beloved educator sends the community reeling. To make matters worse, the prime suspect is the police chief’s son, Police Sergeant Zachariah Braddock. Charming and handsome, Zach has a few demons of his own, but is he capable of such atrocities?


Lara’s only wish is to return to Boston and prove she is not her past mistakes, but one death was only the beginning. A sequence of peculiar murders of local women, a house with a mind of its own, and the return of an old flame, threatens to derail her. If Lara can’t overcome her own personal demons to help find the killer in time, her chances of clearing her name and saving her own life, will be dead in the water.

Tell us about yourself:

Hi there! I’m J.R. Lesperance, more commonly known as Jenn. I have recently launched my debut novel CARDINAL VIRTUE through Amazon, available in ebook and paperback formats. I live in Hampton Roads, Virginia, and am a proud fur-mom of one dog and one cat! I am also strangely addicted to crossword puzzles.

Tell us about your book:

Probably the best way to describe it is this: a police procedural with paranormal elements. It is the first book in a planned series centered around a fictional city in Massachusetts, somewhere near Salem. Expect witches and other manner of supernatural delights, and perhaps most importantly, badass heroines getting stuff done!

Did you always know you wanted to be a writer?

Writing has always been simply a hobby. I wrote round robin like stories with my friends in middle school, and wrote little stories in my spare time. When I hit high school, I jumped at the chance to take creative writing with the best teacher ever! Thanks, Mrs. Eg– er, Val. That’s so weird to me… anyway, the best teacher that put up with my crap in English class too, when I always asked why Emily Dickinson’s poems HAD to have meaning.

When I got to college, I learned about National Novel Writing Month aka NaNoWriMo. Every November I set out to write 50k words. I won my first year! And have won a few years ever since. But now that I’m a teacher, it’s hard to juggle writing and the duties of the beginning of the school year.

Up until maybe a few years ago, writing still seemed a hobby to me. Then my best friend just decided one day that she wanted to take her hobby to the next level. I saw her happiness and success, and I thought “why not me too?” And here we are!

What is your “day job”?

I am a secondary Social Studies teacher at a high school in Hampton Roads teaching World History and World Geography. I also work part time at a local municipal visitor center, advising people on things to do in the Tidewater area of Virginia.

Are any elements of your book autobiographical or inspired by elements of your life?

The main character of my novel, Lara Nadeau, is of French-Canadian ancestry. There are little tidbits I included throughout the book involving some family traditions. I pulled these from my own family traditions, as I am of 100% French-Canadian ancestry myself. Throughout the book as well, Lara struggles with the unexpected passing of her father, who had been the only parent she’d grown up with. When I was a freshman in college, I lost my father unexpectedly too. I harnessed some of those visceral feelings of my own and thrust them on Lara.

A lot of characters are a mish-mash of people in my life! But I think that’s a pretty common thing for writers to do.

What book or author has been most inspirational for you, and why?

Oddly enough, I think a lot of inspiration comes from J.R. Ward, the author of the Black Dagger Brotherhood series. I’ve been reading these books since junior year of high school (I actually might have started reading them in the middle of class at times, sorry Val), and she still puts out one new book a year. They’re truly gotten me through some tough times. Not only did she put a totally different spin on vampire lore, but her writing style was something that I’ve always vibed with. I got the chance to meet her last summer at the Romance Writers of America national conference in NYC, got a picture with her and everything, and I FREAKED the whole time. Not only is she a great writer, but she’s SUCH a nice person in real life. I aspire to be like her, if I’m honest. And maybe, possibly, I subconsciously chose my pen name to include J.R. as an ode to her, however, they are the first initials of my first and middle name so… it works regardless.

Are you working on any other projects at the moment?

Yes! I am currently in the works on Book 2, featuring a character you meet briefly in Book 1. It has a whole new vibe than the first: a generous helping of history, a dash of romance, and another female character realizing her worth.

Finally, where can we find you?

Pretty much everywhere!

Website: jrlesperance.com

Facebook: facebook.com/jrlwriter13

Twitter: twitter.com/jrlesperance13

Instagram: instagram.com/jrlesperance

Goodreads: goodreads.com/jrlesperance

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