I’m really excited to welcome the founder of Henery Press and author of Board Stiff today to Literary, etc! Her debut novel, Board Stiff, is such a fun read and is currently available in both paperback and in e-book format. I reviewed it here. If you haven’t tried any of the Henery Press titles, I highly recommend doing so! I have yet to read one I didn’t like.
Q. Tell me something about Kendel Lynn other than the standard bio on your website.
I’m an organizer and a list maker. I love making lists, then crossing them off, such a sense of accomplishment. I’m the same with writing. I keep a spreadsheet so I can track my daily word totals and progress. It’s exciting to meet my goals, seeing the numbers rise as I get closer to my end goal.
Q. Why did you decide to write a mystery? What was it about the genre that appealed to you?
Mystery is my favorite genre, since the 2nd grade. Of course, back then, my mysteries involved secret hideouts and green ghosts and hidden codes. There’s something so satisfying about figuring out the puzzle, grabbing each clue as the author doles it out and weighing the possibilities.
Q. What’s the process you follow when writing a mystery? Do you know the answer (who done it) and work backwards, or do you let the characters lead to you the answer?
I’m an outliner, so I know the killer going in. I start with an idea and/ a character. Who is this person, who wants them dead, and why? Then I build from there. This helps me stay organized (surprise!), but also keeps me from hitting dead ends in the middle. I keep adding details and questions until I feel like every chapter has momentum – each needs an event to drive the mystery forward, get Elliott in trouble, and keep the reader guessing.
Q. Board Stiff is your debut novel. What was your journey like from reader to aspiring author to published writer?
Such a long and twisty journey! I never thought I’d be a writer when I was a kid, yet I always thought I’d write a book. If that makes sense. I so loved reading, but it was never a driving force to take it on myself. Until I’d read a book that made me stop reading, and I’d think, I can do better than this! So one day I tried. Side note: once you start writing, you never read the same. It can be quite difficult to turn off the internal editor.
Q. Is there a specific reason why you chose Sea Pine Island as the location of your Elliott Lisbon mystery series?
I lived on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, and thought it was the perfect small town, yet not the typical small town. I fictionalized it to suit my needs: gave it a nice beachfront restaurant, a billionaire’s mansion slash foundation headquarters, a medical examiner (not a coroner). It’s a contained setting filled with wealthy eccentrics, yet close enough for me to incorporate trips to Savannah and Charleston.
Q. Elliott is a foundation director. Why did you choose this profession, and how did you prepare to write about it?
When hatching an amateur sleuth mystery, her job plays the most important role. I needed an environment where she’d encounter lots of mayhem from lots of characters, to keep the series interesting and moving forward for future books. I’ve served on dozens of committees over the years, and those are ripe with fodder, and nearly the same thing. Dealing with opinions, planning, deadlines, all while juggling a dozen duties and personalities.
Q. What is your favorite line from Board Stiff?
I love them all! But this one comes to mind:
“Elliott, you have a nine gallon barrel of hand-sanitizer on your desk. You aren’t ready to get this dirty.”
Q. Without spoilers, let’s talk for a moment Nick and Matty. Both men vie for Elliott’s attention even if Nick keeps a distance. I have a favorite between the two, Nick. Do you have a favorite? Are you surprised with reader reaction regarding Nick and Matty?
I think readers tire of the love triangle, yet it’s so compelling, especially as a writer. I like that they are so different from one another, so they tug on different emotions for Elliott. She’s surprised Matty’s even interested, since they’ve been close friends for so long, and also surprised to see Nick after all these years. It keeps her unbalanced, which makes her impulsive, which I think strengthens her character.
Q. Do you have an interesting fun fact about Board Stiff?
It’s not the only mystery to be released this month with the title BOARD STIFF! Elaine Viets just released the 12th in her Dead End Jobs Series with the same title. OY! Elaine is truly one of the nicest people out there, btw, and I hope folks enjoy both of them. But truly, it’s such a fun play on words (like nearly every murder mystery title), it’s wonder there are a dozen Board Stiffs out there.
Q. As the founder of Henery Press, has the experience changed the way you read for pleasure?
Absolutely. Like I said above, reading changes forever. It’s so difficult to turn off the internal editor, and even more so reading manuscripts. Plus, now time I used to spend reading for fun is almost all spent on reading manuscripts. I think it’s like everything else, we have to make time for the things we enjoy, or we’ll simply never do them.
Q. Finally, a lot of self published (indie) authors are signing book deals for books that have sold pretty much via word of mouth. It seems some publishers are looking directly at profit (granted they are in the business for profit and in this electronic age are losing money). What are your overall thoughts regarding this and perhaps your thoughts on the use of pull to publish fan fiction as a basis of a novel?
This one’s complicated. I think there is a path for everyone, you just have to research your options. Self-publishing is a strong option, as are small and mid-size presses. But self-publishing goes hand-in-hand with self-awareness: knowing strengths and limitations, realistic goals and outcomes. Profits keep the doors open, in any business, and we need the doors open to bring in new authors, to give them their chance to shine.
An author must be prepared to sell their book themselves: social media, word of mouth, signings, blogs, conferences, panels, whatever. And that’s with a big time NY house or doing it yourself. No one will care about sales the way you do, or should. And no one will know who you are unless you tell them, get that ball rolling. A good publishing house will stand behind you and do the same for you. But until you have a half-dozen titles out there (to start), it’s going to take time, hard work, and focus to build your readership. It’s nice to have a community behind you, if you can find one!
01. Favorite type of cupcake?
Chocolate with vanilla cream frosting
02. Late night or early morning?
Late night. I’m no early bird.
03. Favorite city?
04. Favorite Old Hollywood film?
Gone with the Wind
05. E-book or print book?
06. Tea or coffee?
07. Favorite TV show?
Fringe (why did it have to end!)
Kendel Lynn is a Southern California native who now parks her flip-flops in Dallas, Texas. She read her first Alfred Hitchcock and the Three Investigators at age seven and has loved mysteries ever since. Her debut novel, Board Stiff, won several literary competitions, including the Zola Award for Mystery. Along with writing, she spends her days editing, designing, and figuring out ways to avoid the gym but still eat cupcakes for dinner.