J. A. Jance was not allowed to study creative writing at the UA. JERRY BAUER

Mystery author J.A. Jance kicks off the "Women Writing Mystery" lecture series next Sunday offered by Special Collections at the University of Arizona Libraries as part of the Tucson Festival of Books.

The lecture series is linked with the Women Mystery Writers Collection, one of a few such research collections in the country that includes works from American women mystery writers, with an emphasis on those from the Southwest.

Women mystery authors use the popularity of the mystery genre as a vehicle for raising social problems and issues, according to UA press materials.

"The genre provides us with strong women protagonists who effectively use 'womanly' skills of intelligence, empathy, and consensus-building to achieve this resolution rather than violence or force," said Christine Acevedo-Medina, owner of the Tucson-area mystery bookstore Clues Unlimited, in press materials.

The "Women Writing Mystery" presentation will also emphasize why "J.A. Jance is truly a Tucson Treasure," noted Acevedo-Medina.

Jance, a 1962 Bisbee High School graduate who was not allowed to enroll in creative writing at the UA because she was a woman, "has overcome prejudice against women and personal tragedy to become a best-selling novelist. … I want people to know the woman behind the best-selling novelist," Acevedo-Medina said.

The UA's 1,400-volume collection holds mystery novels published from the 1950s to present written by female authors who primarily portray female protagonists. It also has the papers and manuscripts of Southwestern female mystery authors.

The collection was established at the UA in 2001 by John P. Schaefer, former University of Arizona president, and Carla Stoffle, dean of the University Libraries.

The Special Collections staff hopes female mystery authors will deposit their materials in the collection and that festival attendees will use the collection for research.

If you go

J.A. Jance - "Women Writing Mystery" lecture at 2:30 p.m. next Sunday in the Student Union, Grand Ballroom. Genre Wars 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Student Union, South Ballroom