Angela Henry was once told that her past life careers included spy, researcher, and investigator. She stuck with what she knew because today she's a mystery writing library reference specialist, who loves to people watch and eavesdrop on conversations. She's the author of four mysteries featuring equally nosy amateur sleuth Kendra Clayton, and the forthcoming romantic suspense/thriller The Paris Secret. She is also the founder of the award-winning MystNoir website, which promotes African-American mystery writers, and was named a "Hot Site" by USA Today.com. When she's not working, writing, or practicing her stealth, she loves to travel, is connoisseur of B horror movies, and an admitted anime addict. She lives in Ohio and is currently hard at work trying to meet her next deadline. Visit her online at:
GED instructor Kendra Clayton's high school days were nothing to brag about. So she's not too thrilled when on top of having to take a class to renew her teaching certificate or be fired, she gets roped into serving on her high school's reunion committee. Spending time with her former classmates is even less fun than having a root canal. Then to make matters worse, Kendra and the other committee members start receiving strange messages and having freak accidents. When one of the accidents results in a death, Kendra is convinced it's murder. Unfortunately, neither the reunion committee nor the police take her seriously. To try and prevent another death-and to keep from worrying about all the time her sweetie, Carl, has been spending with his scheming ex-wife-Kendra digs into the lives of her fellow committee members and uncovers enough secrets, lies, and betrayal to make her head spin. When a second murder occurs, Kendra realizes she needs to watch her back in her search for the truth before a killer turns her into another buried secret.
What draws you to write mysteries?
First and foremost, I love the puzzle aspect of writing mysteries. I really enjoy creating clues and obstacles for my sleuth, Kendra Clayton, to discover or stumble over. Secondly, I love creating back-stories for my characters. For me, writing mysteries isn’t about the murder itself but what drives ordinary people to kill.
The first book of your series -- what came first: the main character of the series or the main situation that arises in the first book?
Definitely the main character. Kendra Clayton sort of sprang fully formed from my imagination and I had to find trouble for her to get into.
Who are some of your favorite mystery/suspense novelists, and why?
Agatha Christie because she’s the queen of the whodunit. I’ve modeled my Kendra Clayton series after the village cozy mysteries she’s famous for.
Ruth Rendall because she’s so good at psychological suspense.
Walter Mosley-Easy Rawlins, need I say more?
Janet Evanovich-because she’s hysterical.
JK Rowling-because she sure knows a thing or two about world building.
What is a key element to any good mystery/suspense?
I think a key element to any good mystery is a believable/plausible motive. You have to give your victims believable reasons for being victims and your suspects good reasons why they are suspects and you must show these reasons. You never want your readers to feel cheated.
I know that mystery/suspense is your major genre for writing; have you thought about moving into other genres in the future?
Despite my best intentions, everything I write ends up with dead bodies in it. If I branch out it will be to other mystery/suspense sub genres. For instance my first romantic suspense/thriller, The Paris Secret, will be released this fall from Harlequin’s new digital-first imprint Carina Press.
For those interested in writing mysteries, what three pieces of advice would you offer?
- Read the kinds of books you want to write.
- Educate yourself about the publishing industry and how it works.
- Don’t try to replicate someone else’s success. There is no one size fits all method for getting published. Every author’s journey is different and you have to chart your own path.