Wednesday, July 05, 2006

INTERVIEW: A Chat with Mystery Writer Angela Henry, Author of the Kendra Clayton Mysteries

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Angela Henry is a DLer who writes the Kendra Clayton mystery series. Here's what Crimespree had to say about her latest book, Tangled Roots:
"Smart, witty, and fast-paced, this second Kendra Clayton novel is as likeable as the first."

So let's chat, shall we, with the author of these witty mysteries.

Angela, you grew up and went to school in Ohio. What’s the best thing about Ohio? Do you live there now?
Yes, I still live in Ohio. I have to say the best thing about Ohio is we don’t get many natural disasters like hurricanes or earthquakes. The only thing we have to worry about here is the occasional tornado or blizzard.

You’ve written two Kendra Clayton mysteries. How did you come up with the idea for these books?
I came up with the idea for the first book, THE COMPANY YOU KEEP, after reading a story in the news about a man who was wanted for romancing/conning several women out of their life savings. I started to wonder what would happen if a man like that ended up murdered with all the women he conned as suspects. The plot kind of took off from there. The idea for the second book in the series, TANGLED ROOTS, came from my wanting to have one of Kendra’s students accused of murder. This particular character was mentioned briefly in THE COMPANY YOU KEEP as someone with a drug history. So, I was able to come up with the plot based on that character’s past drug history.

You are a reference specialist at a college library. What’s the most interesting question you’ve ever been asked in this capacity?
Since I work in an academic library, students usually have the same projects assigned each quarter. Therefore I get asked the same questions over and over again like: How do I find a scholarly article? Where are the books on Global Warming? But I did once get a reference question from a university in China. Seems we were the only library in the states that had back issues of an obscure out of print journal. That was kind of cool.

Tell us more about MystNoir.
MystNoir is a website I founded in 2000 which promotes African-American mystery writers and any author who features an African-American as the main character in their mysteries. The site is really a labor of love for me. I don’t charge authors fees of any kind to have their books featured on the site. I just want to share information with readers about what’s available. The site has become pretty popular. It was named a “Hot Site” by USA and has been featured in some articles and publications. I’m really proud of it.

What drew you to the mystery genre?
I can’t say that any one thing drew me to the mystery genre. I’ve been reading mysteries since I was a kid and have always been fascinated by the puzzle aspect of mysteries. Uncovering clues, following leads, and putting it all together to get to the answer is what I find most appealing. I guess you could say that’s why I enjoy doing library reference work as well. It kind of amounts to the same thing except with no dead bodies.

Is Kendra Clayton anything like you?
Yes and no. Kendra and I are both single women living and working in college towns in Ohio. We have the same taste in music and food. But Kendra’s had more boyfriends than me and is a much better friend than I could ever be. Meaning, if any of my friends ever get accused of murder, all I can do is help them find a good lawyer. I’m no sleuth. LOL!

Will you be at Bouchercon in the fall?
Unfortunately, I’m not going to be able to make it this year.

If so, as I asked Bill Cameron, will you speak to me there?
If I were going, I’d certainly seek you out. It’s no fun drinking alone ; ).

Who are your mystery idols?
Wow! I have so many. So I’ll just name a couple. I’m a huge fan of Walter Mosley. I mean where does a woman have to go to find a man like Easy Rawlins? One of my professors in college got me hooked on Ruth Rendell. I love her Inspector Wexford series, her standalones, and short stories.

You intend to continue the Kendra series, at least for the time being. Are you working on any other projects at the same time?
I turned in the last book on my contract to my editor in March. I’m hoping I get contracted for more Kendra books. I’m also putting the finishing touches on a proposal for a standalone novel.

You were recently at a conference in New Orleans. Had you ever been there before Hurricane Katrina? What were your impressions of the city?
No, I’d never been to New Orleans before Katrina. I spent most of my time in the French Quarter, which didn’t get a lot of damage. I had a great time in New Orleans. The food was excellent as was the customer service every place I went. Everyone was so friendly. I’ll definitely be going back.

How can your fans learn more about you, Angela?
Fans? Me? LOL! Don’t know if I’ve got any of those. But readers can visit my website for more info.

Thanks for that great interview, Angela! I need to check out Kendra pronto, and I also want to look into this Easy Rawlins. :)


Bill Cameron said...

Great interview! Nice to meet you, Angela!

I'm a former Ohio boy myself, Angela. Grew up around Dayton and went to Miami. I ended up moving to Oregon about sixteen years ago though.

I'm off to visit your site now!

Julia Buckley said...

Interesting! I think everyone lived in Ohio at some point.

Angela Henry said...

Hey Bill! Thanks for stopping by. I've met so many authors from Ohio lately. Wow! I didn't know ole Ohio had produced so much talent! I'm going to add your books to my ever growing TBR pile ; ). By the way, I live about a half an hour from Dayton in Springfield.


B. Marie said...

Hey Angela!
I am now in the process of completing your first novel: "The company you keep". I did things a little backwards. I first started reading "Tangled Roots" because it was a book that my daughter randonly picked out for me from our public library. Girl! I loved that book! I could not put it down. It was slamming! And may I say very humorous. And interesting. Every other page I was cracking up! Especially that part about "Florence" from the Jeffersons! I have never read a book with soooo much humor in it. I love to laugh! Your stories and characters are believeable and I think we all could relate to most of them. You keep writing girl and cause you seem to love to do what you do. Can't wait for your newest book to come out. I will be more than happy to buy it from a bookstore! My fiancee and I have a book reader's group. (Just him and I). He doesn't read them But loves to hear me talk and read about what is contained in the book and gives his assessment on the plot and the ending. He also thinks you are funny. Keep It Up!!!

Angela Henry said...

B. Marie,

Hey! You made my day! Thank you so much for the kind words. I'm so happy you're enjoying the series. I'm even happier that you think the books are funny because my sense of humor isn't everyone's cup of tea. Book three will be out in June and I hope you'll drop me a note to let me know what you think.

Thanks again & Take care!