HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: Well, wow. Earlier this week we asked you to think of some good questions for our new Reds Jenn McKinlay and Ingrid Thoft. We got SO MANY great ones, we can’t even fit them all. So here are, oh, twelve? And we’ll bring you the others someday soon--you all are brilliant!
(And wow--again--their answers are fascinating: Nutter Butters and the kitchen counter?)
From Grace Koshida
Ingrid, were you a PI in a former life? If yes, do you have a story to tell about a former case/investigation?
INGRID: I earned a certificate in private investigation in a year-long program offered by the University of Washington. I’m not licensed to practice, so I never did any on-the-job work. I do have stories, however, from the class itself! I think I’ll save those for a future blog post!
JENN--How do you juggle writing the three series?
I try to work on one book at a time and maintain full immersion in that world. Plus, I write 10 pages per day every day.
(HANK: All together now: TEN PAGES A DAY??? Okay, fine. )
From Hallie Ephron
Where are we more likely to find you--in your kitchen or garden?
INGRID: Wait—what? What’s a kitchen? What’s a garden? I prefer spending time in neither place! I would much rather be outside in the water or taking a hike. If the hike brings me to a restaurant, it’s a win-win!
From Karen in Ohio
Before you started writing your mystery series, did you do any other kind of writing, and was it professionally or as a hobby?
INGRID: I’ve always loved to write. My first publication was a “newspaper” with a circulation of five: my parents and three sisters. Much of the coverage focused on Jimmy Carter. My jobs after college entailed a lot of writing—at a non-profit, in corporate communications and in higher-ed. All of it good training in fiction writing!
JENN: I wrote some rom-coms for Harlequin - very educational right up until I was fired.
From Sheila K.
What fiction book do you love so much that you re-read it over and over again?
INGRID: I’m not a re-reader, truth be told. That said, I did pick up “Rebecca” this week after hearing Jenn’s recommendation. I read it a long time ago, so I imagine it will seem quite new.
JENN: There are several but I do love to revisit Anne of Green Gables every few years.
I always worry that the protagonist will get killed. I would like to know—do you enjoy putting them in danger & how do you decide on how much danger.
INGRID: I think your protagonist has to be in some danger—either physical or emotional—because you want the reader to be engaged. It’s fun to create danger and suspense from my the comfort of my desk. I can’t think of many books where the protagonist dies. I think that would result in a lot of unhappy readers. Can you guys think of any?
JENN: The level of danger depends on the scene and the plot. I don't enjoy torturing the characters but I love the challenge of writing a scene that elicits strong emotions for the reader.
From Victoria Smith
Do you have any special food that you must have close-by when writing?
INGRID: Fina eats everything I would like to: Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Nutter Butter cookies, and a lot of take-out. I used to share her diet soda habit, but I’ve cut way back, and she keeps on chugging. I actually try to keep water nearby, which sounds very boring, but it’s important to stay hydrated!
JENN: Chocolate - lots of chocolate!
From J Cochran
If you could have lunch with any three authors- past or present, who would they be? Present company excluded, of course. Or, which three characters?
INGRID: Only three? The late Robert Parker, the late Maya Angelou, and Leah Remini. That would make for an entertaining meal!
JENN: Three authors who set me on my current path would be my pick for lunch dates - Robert Crais, Janet Evanovich, and Harlan Coben, accordingly lunch with Stephanie Plum, Myron Bolitar, and Joe Pike would be a hoot!
From William Mackela
Do any of you have a program that lets your fans become characters in your books?
INGRID: No, but I love the idea!
JENN: Not a program but I have done charity events where I auction off being written into a book.
(HANK: The first time I did this, I got Urszula Maszny-Latos.)
So cool to discover this blog at the beginning of the year. My question: would you ever be tempted to take on the Kennedy assassination or the lost Anastasia or other major real life messy story?
INGRID: I would not. I think there are other people who would do it better, and I don’t like to be constrained by reality (when writing)!
JENN: I haven't been tempted as yet but I never say never.
From Kathy Reel
Was there a murder case while you were growing up or in your young adult life that captured your attention and made crime/mystery writing even more alluring to you?
INGRID: YES! Hank, you’ll remember this one: The Charles Stuart case had the whole city of Boston enthralled. Charles Stuart and his wife were ambushed one night in their car, and his wife and unborn child were murdered. Stuart claimed a black man perpetrated the crime, and the Boston Police Department banged down every door in certain neighborhoods to find the man. It turns out that Stuart killed his pregnant wife, and when the facts began to emerge, he killed himself by jumping off the Tobin Bridge. It was a tragic, fascinating case, the stuff of “Dateline.”
((Hank: yes, I covered this forTV! And I cannot tell you haw hilarious it is to hear that this happened in your “young adult life.” Ahhhh.
JENN: None that I can think of but perhaps on a subconscious level?
Where do you write?
INGRID: At a desk in my home office with a lovely view. I’m very close to Pike Place Market where I do my errands and pop out for fresh air and a dose of humanity.
JENN: Where do I write? Standing up at my kitchen counter. Weird, I know.
(Hank—really? I think that calls for a follow up question…uh, how did that start? Tell us in the comments…)
From Daniele K
What's next for you both?
INGRID: Next week, I go on tour for DUPLICITY and then I’m coming home and sleeping! After that, I need to get cracking on a stand alone that I have in the works.
JENN: I have five books coming out this year, so three mysteries - ASSAULT AND BERET, CARAMEL CRUSH, and DEATH IN THE STACKS and two romantic comedies - ABOUT A DOG and BARKING UP THE WRONG TREE. 2017 is looking to be a whirlwind and we're only on day six!
HANK: WOW! Such fun to hear these—you all had terrific questions! Now we have one for you: What are you reading this weekend?
PS: Tonight I will be at MURDER ON THE BEACH bookstore in Delray Beach Florida with Andrew Gross, Charles Todd and PJ Parrish! Come say hello—Joanne is promising food, drinks and free books!
Any other Reds or writers appearing at events we should know about?