CARLSBAD — “I enjoyed killing people,” chuckled Taffy Cannon, president of the board of trustees of the city of Carlsbad’s Friends of the Library.
Cannon is the author of 13 mystery novels, all of which are available at the Dove Library where she manages the Friend’s bookstore. Four were published under the pseudonym Emily Tolle.
“I’ve enjoyed being part of the mystery community,” she said. “I have fabulous friends all over the world. It’s a very kind, gentle group of people — I think that’s because they get their aggression out on the page.”
Cannon was a child of the 1960s, raised in Chicago before earning a bachelor’s degree in political science from Duke University.
“I always loved to write and was a voracious reader,” she said. “I thought writers were anointed at birth and didn’t realize regular people could do it. I was in my 20s when I realized writers were people who just sat down and wrote.”
She began to write while an inner-city teacher in Chicago.
“I loved the process of sitting down at the typewriter and thinking the plot through and writing and rewriting,” she said. “For me, that’s what it has always been about.”
When she moved to Dallas in the early 1970s with her husband who was a law student, she began selling articles to magazines such as Savvy and Texas Monthly.
In 1976 she was nominated for an Academy Award for a short comedy film titled “Doubletalk” she wrote for a friend with the American Film Institute.
“It was unusual because it made money,” she said. “I made money.”
Cannon had another success with “Convictions: A Novel of the Sixties” published in 1985 by William Morrow.
Afterward she wrote mainstream novels that didn’t get published.
She decided to turn to writing mysteries. Her first was “Pocketful of Karma” published in 1993 about the adventures of Los Angeles attorney and investigator Nan Robinson. She followed that with two other books that were so popular that they went into reprint.
“None of my books have been enormously successful but they have all been well-received,” she said. “I have been able to continue publishing.”
Her advice to budding writers?
“Read everything and write, write, write,” she said. “I write because I can’t not write. The people who feel that way are the ones who can overcome the obstacles. Right now it’s the toughest time to break in because the publishing industry is in freefall.”
Cannon adds that it also helps to be independently wealthy. To underwrite her writing career she works as a professional organizer through her business Blue Skies Clutter Control.
Currently, Cannon is working on a nonfiction book, tentatively titled “He Ain’t Heavy” which deals with providing care to ailing siblings. It was inspired by her experience caring for her brother in Chicago.
“The baby boomers are getting old and a lot of us moved away and didn’t come back,” she said. “When you are sick and all alone, it’s your siblings who take care of you. Distance makes it more complicated. My sister is in Seattle, my brother is in Chicago and I’m in San Diego.”
Cannon is upbeat about her prospects for selling the book since it would be the first of its kind, and her agent is enthusiastic about the project.
“My feeling is that anything that gets published is a success,” she said. “If you’re not paying to publish your book, you are a success.”
For more information, visit taffycannon.com.