Judith Ann (J. A.) Jance (born October 27, 1944) is an award-winning American author of mystery and horror novels. She writes at least three series of novels, centering on retired Seattle Police Department officer J. P. Beaumont, Arizona small-town sheriff Joanna Brady, and Ali Reynolds. The Beaumont and Brady series intersect in the novel Partner in Crime, which is both the 16th Beaumount mystery and the 10th Brady mystery.
Jance was born in South Dakota and raised in Bisbee, Arizona (the setting for her Joanna Brady series of novels). She is a graduate of the University of Arizona. Before becoming an author, she worked as a school librarian on a Native American reservation, as a teacher, and selling insurance.
Jance uses her initials for her pen name because a publisher told her that disclosing her gender would be a liability for a book about a male detective.
At signings, Jance asks bookstores to donate a percentage of their earnings from her appearances to various causes. Over the past 10 years, she has raised more than $250,000 for charity. -Utah Library Association, 2000 Conference Program,