Monday, April 6, 2015

This week' s guest...NYT Bestselling author Jenn McKinlay!

Meow! My guest today is author Jenn McKinlay!

            Jenn McKinlay dreamed of being Kathleen Turner in an apartment in New York – instead she’s Jessica Fletcher in a house in Arizona.  Jenn started out writing romances and then graduated to mysteries.  Several of her books have been on the New York Times bestseller lists!  Jenn writes the Library Lovers mysteries, cupcake mysteries, and London Hat shop mysteries under her own name, and two other series under pseudonyms.  She makes her home in sunny Arizona, surrounded by kids, pets and her husband’s guitars.

R:  Welcome, Jenn! Tell us a little about your background

Thanks ROCCO!  I grew up in libraries, worked in several over the years before finally deciding to commit to being a writer.  It was a scary leap but it’s also been a lot of fun.

R: Tell us a bit about your Cupcake Bakery series. Where did the idea come from?

The cupcake bakery came from a surge of cupcakes in my life – a friend had them as her wedding cake, my agent seeks out cupcake bakeries when she travels, and another friend dragged me to a newly opened Sprinkles where they sold shots of frosting.  Cupcakes and murder just seemed a natural fit.

R: Tell us about your new release, Dark Chocolate Demise.

Dark Chocolate Demise is the seventh cupcake bakery mystery.  They cupcake bakery gang is working a zombie walk in Old Town Scottsdale when a corpse is found in the casket they are using as a prop.  Because it looks to be a professional hit intended for one of them, they are compelled to find the killer before he strikes again.

R: You also write the Hat Shop Mysteries. Are you a fan of hats?

I don’t wear them much, but I am fascinated by them as a fashion accessory and as a part of the culture in the United Kingdom.  I wish Americans wore more hats, but it’s just not our thing.  Pity.

R: How do you “get to know” your characters before and while you’re writing the books?

I write a very basic outline.  I get to know my characters as the novel unfolds so do their quirks and foibles and idiosyncrasies.  It keeps it interesting!

R: How do you construct your plots? Do you outline or do you write “by the seat of your pants”?

Oh, I am definitely a plotter.  I can’t get anywhere without a map.

R: Which do you consider more important, plot or character?

I’m more character driven than plot driven but I can’t stand a weak plot either, so I think both are required for the foundation of the story.

R: What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a writer and what inspires you and keeps you motivated?

Every single book is a challenge all the way up to typing THE END.  My characters usually inspire me to keep going, to figure out what has happened to them, to resolve their lives, to get them to a tidy end.

R: Do you have an “How I got my agent” story you want to share?

My agent was one of about forty queries.  She was one of two who actually wanted to read the book and the only one who offered to represent it.  Natural selection at work.

R: What are you working on now and what are your future writing plans?

Right now I am working on the fourth London Hat Shop mystery COPY CAP MURDER and up next is the eighth Cupcake Bakery mystery.

R: What is a typical workday for you and how many hours a day (or week) do you devote to writing?

I wish I had a schedule but I feel as if every time I clear a chunk of time to write, a million pesky things crop up and ruin it, so I’ve learned to work in bursts around all of the chaos. 

R: If you could take only three books with your for a year-long writing retreat in a gorgeous setting with no library, which three would you take?

I’d pack a complete works of Shakespeare, a collection of Sherlock Holmes tales, and an unabridged dictionary, but that is right now, another day I may have a different answer.

R: What advice do you have to offer to an aspiring author?

Write. Write. Write.  If it takes 10,000 hours to master a skill, you’d best get cracking!

R: What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done?

Drove to New York City with a friend in the middle of the night to wander the streets and feel alive.  Darn lucky we didn’t end up dead, but it was a gloriously great time.

R: What’s one thing your readers would be surprised to find out about you?

I’m six feet tall.  A reader upon meeting me was shocked and actually said, “You write short.”  I did not know this was possible.

R: What question do you wish interviewers would ask? (And what’s the answer?)

Q: Where do you see your career ending?  A: With a very old version of me slumped over on my keyboard having just typed THE END.

R:  Where can we learn more about you and your books?

Just for Fun:

Night or Day?  Night

Dog or Cat? (answer carefully)  Both – I have two of each and one fish

Beach or Pool?   Beach, although I have a pool

Steak or salad?  Salad

Favorite Drink?  Bulletproof Coffee

Favorite Book?  At the moment, anything by John D. MacDonald (I’m currently on a bender)

Favorite TV Series?  Currently, Grantchester (another binge)

Favorite Movie?  Always changing – can’t really pick one.

Favorite Actor: None

Favorite Actress: None

Dirty Martini or Pina Colada? Dirty Martini

Hawaii or Alaska? Hawaii

Finish this sentence:  If I could meet anyone in the world, past or present, it would be __Agatha Christie_____

If I had just one wish, it would be__long healthy happy lives for my sons_______________________________________

If I could trade places with anyone in the world, it would be __no one.  I am very lucky and love my life.____

Thanks for a great interview, Jenn!

Jenn will give away a copy of DARK CHOCOLATE DEMISE to one lucky commenter!

To enter, leave a comment on this blog post with your name and email address (entries without email will be disqualified). For extra entries, you can do any or all of the below:

* Follow my blog (+ 1 point)
* Follow me on Twitter (+ 1 point) (Link:
* Tweet about the contest (+ 1 point)
* Friend me on Facebook (+ 1 point) (Link:!/

* Mention the contest on Facebook (+ 1 point)
* Mention the contest on your blog (+ 1 point)

Winner will be chosen at random using  Don’t forget to mention all you’ve done in your comment. Contest closes midnight, April 10.  Good luck!


  1. I'll have to look into the Hat series,. My sister never let me where hats when I was little, even if they were part of the outfit. I delved into a few when I was older, but , as you say, it's just not an American thing anymore.
    You had me with cupcakes; I had a bakery at one time. I wish you the best of success, Jenn...and you don't look like little old Jessica Fletcher at all...(maybe I do a bit!)
    Rocco, I am a Friend, I follow the blog and on Twitter
    I tweeted, I shared on FB

  2. Ah, Rocco. Another superlative interview.
    I love the cover of the book.
    We are FB friends
    I linked this to FB
    I visit the blog regularly
    I don't tweet or have my own blog
    libbydodd at comcast dot net

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. Love this series. I follow the blog and we're Facebook friends.

  5. I just love that cute cover---I want to eat those little ghosties. Thanks for the contest.
    I follow your blog via email, follow you on twitter, and on facebook.

  6. One of my favorite series. I love CUPCAKES and because I am local I know where the locations in the book are. She even has the stories revolve around local events. Just tooooo cool! I follow your blog, Facebook, Twitter, email. My GOLDILOCKS cat is in love with Rocco! She is a CHARACTER!!!!! Sandy Hemsher

  7. Thanks Rocco for the interview about Jennifer McKinlay's book Dark Chocolate Demise. I love your reviews and would love to own a copy of this book.

  8. Thanks Rocco ! Jennifer McKinlay is an amazing writer and I lover all of her cozy mysteries. Cindy Dunphy-

  9. Thanks for a chance. One of my favorite series. Teri Fish -

  10. Fun interview!

  11. Love this series
    Sarah2323 at gmail dot com

  12. Love your stuff, Jenn! Won my first book from her through a giveaway (the Hat series), just finished inhaling the Cupcake series and would LOVE to get the latest installment! Lacie Harris -

  13. Thanks for the chance! I really love the covers of all your books!

  14. What a lovely interview! Thank you for the giveaway. dmskrug3 at hotmail dot com

  15. Nice interview! I love this series and the Library Lover's Series.

  16. Great interview! I was fortunate to be able to meet and talk with Jenn in Scottsdale at the Poison Pen this winter. She is so fun!
    Elaine Klingbeil ElaineE246(at)msn(dot)com
    I'm following your blog
    I friended you on Facebook
    I shared the contest on Facebook
    I don't Tweet (I hate Twitter!)
    I don't have a blog

  17. What a fun interview. I remember seeing one of your books at the library and picking up like huh wonder if it's any good and when I started reading it I immediately fell in love with the baking series!

  18. Great interview!

  19. I love learning new things about authors-I never knew Jenn was 6 feet tall-and the night drive to NYC sounds like a grand adventure. I wear hats!

    cozyupwithkathy @ gmail dot com

  20. Just realized I'd fallen behind in this series, so after much searching of my TBR shelves, I was able to find Going, Going, Ganache

  21. Looks like great cozy mystery.
    Follow by email
    Follow on Facebook

  22. Thanks for the interview!

  23. Can't wait to read this one!
    Followed by email
    Followed twitter
    Tweeted about the contest
    Liked/followed your facebook page

    Thanks for the chance!

  24. One of my fav authors. Great interview!

  25. Great interview! Jenn is a new author to me. I would love to win her book. Thanks for the giveaway.
    ceciliayoung @

  26. Fun interview! I fell in love with the cupcake bakery mysteries after picking up the first on because of the cover art. :)

  27. Great to find out more about the authors.

  28. I love all of Jenn's series. Excited for the new release. Would love to win. I follow your blog & we're friends on facebook.
    Scouts579 (at) aol (dot) com

  29. Jessica Fletcher isn't a bad thing. Already liked your Facebook page. Shared contest

  30. Looking forward to this book.

  31. I subscribed to the blog, liked you on Facebook, and am following you on Twitter. This was a great interview. I discovered Jenn through her Library Lovers mysteries, which I love. Sue Keefer.

  32. Love reading this series! No calories & no sugar :)

  33. I follow on FB and liked your page.
    I tweeted and follow on Twitter.
    I love all 3 of your series. They are all fabulous cozies. The hat series is a delight.

    Friends and following all ways
    Tweeted and G+ 's and shared on Facebook.
    Did all except mention on my blog. (sorry, ran out of time)
    wismomworks @gmail .com
    And yes, I would threaten bodily harm if someone tried to grab the last copy of this book at the store before I had mine

  35. I'm really looking forward to reading this book!! :D

    cb (at) carolbee (dot) com

  36. Am John,am here to let you know that the the so called vampires are real,i have taste form it and know the kind of powers that i felt,i can be very proud now that what i have been seeking for years have finally landed on my hands.I can't hold it within me alone which is why am using this medium to appreciate The Great Vampirescreed for who the truly are,and also testify of them.Maybe you are out there and you are needing to be one just contact this email address ( for your help.