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: https://twitter.com/RoccoBlogger)
* Tweet about the contest (+ 1 point)
* Friend me on Facebook (+ 1 point) (Link: https://www.facebook.com/ToniLotempio)#!/
* Mention the contest on Facebook (+ 1 point)
* Mention the contest on your blog (+ 1 point)
* Mention the contest on your blog (+ 1 point)
Winner will be chosen at random using random.org. Don’t forget to mention all you’ve done in your comment. Contest closes midnight, April 10. Good luck!