Learning to read at the age of 4, Janet “Jan” McCanless has been reading and writing all her life, having been inspired early on by her father, who was a publisher. He would frequently bring home advanced readers’ copies of books from work to review, and Ms. McCanless decided that she was going to teach herself how to read them. Not initially starting her career as a writer, she earned an Associate of Science in medical technology from Catawba College and worked in the medical field and as a schoolteacher while raising her three children. Once her children were grown, and she had retired from the field of education, Ms. McCanless returned to writing, publishing her first book in 2005.
With 20 books to her name thus far, Ms. McCanless brings her love of solving puzzles to the “Beryl’s Cove Mystery” series. Character-driven and full of humor, her books have been compared to a cross between Agatha Christie’s “Murder She Wrote” and the 1960s sitcom “Mayberry R.F.D.” Other reviews have called her books “addictive” with “loveable and quirky” characters. Her goal is to inspire a love of reading in others and create family-friendly mysteries that are enjoyable for everyone. In addition to the “Beryl’s Cove” series, Ms. McCanless has authored a variety of other books, including a writing how-to book, “The In$ and Out$ to Writing for Money,” and several humor books, such as “Bizarre Brain Drippings from a Noted Sagittarian.”
Her most recent books include “Murder at the Stateline Motel,” “Murder on the Rocks” and “Laugh Out Loud Funny Stuff! Brain Drippings, Book Two” in 2021 and “The Mysterious Beryl’s Cove” in 2022. In 2019, she released “The Opera House Murders,” which combined the “Beryl’s Cove” series with the new “Brother Jerome Mystery” series. Earlier books of hers include “Gold, Frankincense and Murrrder” in 2017; “Murder for Profit,” “All Aboard… for Murder,” “Murder in Midair” in 2016; and “Who Killed the Weatherman” in 2015.
In 2013, Ms. McCanless was presented with the Mother Vine Short Story Award in the “Best Essay” category from Barnhill Books for her humorous short story/essay collection, “Wyatt Earp, G.A.P Pickle and Thoughts of Home.” She cites this achievement as the absolute highlight of her career. As she looks toward the future, she intends to keep writing for as long as it brings her joy, though she notes that her many dedicated fans never want her to stop. In addition to her work as a bestselling author, Ms. McCanless has served as a freelance columnist for the Salisbury Post and been a contributor to such publications as Senior Savvy, The Saturday Evening Post, Sophie Woman’s Magazine, and more.
Well-known for her involvement in her local community, Ms. McCanless has been very active with a local organization that focuses on child abuse and domestic violence, writing position papers and spending time as president. She also notably helped to found the Family Crisis Council of Rowan County, an accomplishment which saw her nominated for International Woman of the Year by Traditional Home Magazine in 2005. Early on, she was recognized for her civic achievements when she was named Woman of the Year by Prevent Child Abuse Rowan in 1978. In addition, Ms. McCanless has been commissioned as a lay minister in her local church.
Happily married to her husband, Bob, for nearly six decades, Ms. McCanless is the proud mother of three children and grandmother to nine grandchildren. Her family also includes her brother, Gregg Powell, an author in his own right who published the children’s book “Goobadabers” in 2011. Above everything, Ms. McCanless hopes to cultivate a legacy as someone who was happy with what she did, in her family life, in her writing career, and in her faith. She wants to be remembered as someone who did what she wanted and did it well.