by Cynthia Chow
This week we are reviewing our first mystery author from Henery Press, Kendel Lynn, with her debut novel Board Stiff. We are also interviewing Kendel and at the end of this post are details on how to win a copy of Board Stiff.
Board Stiff By Kendel Lynn
As the Director of South Carolina’s charitable Ballantyne Foundation, Elliot “Elli” Lisbon finds that the prestigious title that has her organizing events, acting as a liaison between the board and the Ballantyne family, and meeting donors actually entails acting like a camp counselor over feuding board members and their inflated egos. A detective-in-training, her skills of investigating possible charities prove to come in handy when one of the more difficult board members and the owner of a chain of discount appliance stores, Leo Hirschorn, is discovered with his head through a clock and the mostly likely culprit is the extraordinarily unlikable Jane Walcott Hatting, who very loudly opposed his Shelter Initiative Project to develop housing for the homeless.
While Jane was never known for her diplomatic skills, Elli also doesn’t believe that the chair of the board, for over a decade, would have been so pedestrian in her dispatch of Leo. As Director, she must clean up what could possibly become a very messy public relations disaster for the Ballantyne Foundation. Unfortunately, this puts Elli directly in the sights of Sea Pine Island police lieutenant Nick Ransom, who twenty years ago broke Elli’s heart when he disappeared after leaving a seven word bon voyage voice message on her answering machine. Nick has Jane in his sights and steadfastly warns Elli to stay out of his investigation despite her bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice (which was hampered somewhat by her inclination to faint during autopsies). However, Ransom’s orders, and seeing him with the beautiful head of Mumbai humanitarian Reena Patel, fires Elli’s competitiveness and she adds investigating a murder to the list of discreet inquiries she normally conducts for the foundation.
Lynn has created a very fun romantic comedy that blends the mystery with a cadre of quirky characters who inhabit the wealthy and poorer conclaves of Sea Pine Island, South Carolina. Leo turns out to have had a collection of exes more than willing to cut his life short, and his venture into infomercials only introduced a new cast of aspiring actresses hoping for a break in either show business or as the new Mrs. Hirschorn. Complicating life for Elli is Matty Gannon, principal of Seabrook Prepatory Academy, and whose searing and surprising kiss just elevated him out of the “friend” category
This is a mystery full of humor and the mannerisms unique to the South, that combine into a fun-filled ride. Elli proves that her skills as a detective are on the level of the exasperating lieutenant and rival her talents at balancing the egos of the rich and not-so-famous.
Interview with Kendell Lynn
KRL: When did your first novel come out? What was it called?
Kendel: Board Stiff is my debut, and I’m quite excited. The official release day was April 30, so it’s new on the shelves. It features my mostly amateur sleuth, Elliott Lisbon, as she balances her duties as the director of a billion-dollar charity and helping charitable donors out of minor kerfuffles. It’s Archy McNally meets Monk, set on a South Carolina island.
KRL: What brought you to choose the setting and characters in this book? Please tell us a little about the setting and main character.
Kendel: I lived on Hilton Head Island for about three years, and it struck me as the perfect small town for a mystery: it’s filled with an eccentric mix of well-to-do retirees, somewhat secluded in their own world. That wedge of the world is beautiful, with Savannah only 30 minutes away. Elliott has her hands full with this crowd.
KRL: Do you have a schedule for your writing or just write whenever you can?
Kendel: Both. I schedule an hour a day, which then leads to longer when I’m really cooking. If it doesn’t get on the schedule, then I’ll never write. Too easy to put it off, there’s always something else to do. Though I try to make extra time, especially when I’m in a set of zesty scenes that need immediate attention.
KRL: What do you read?
Kendel: Mysteries and manuscripts. I’m a huge Sue Grafton fan, and can’t wait for W to hit in September. I also stray from mystery whenever Sarah Addison Allen has something new. Her Sugar Queen still enchants me. Every few years I read the entire Harry Potter series, it’s like visiting Disneyland! And Stephen King’s The Stand. The man’s a genius.
KRL: Any advice for aspiring or beginning writers?
Kendel: Don’t rush the process. Make sure you edit, revise, and re-work the first draft until it’s the 15th. Then send to betas, and do it all over again. Use betas whose opinions you trust, and let them know you want the honest feedback, not the be kind to me feedback. It stings at first, but you lose objectivity on your own work and you need someone to tell you when you’re boring and when you’re wordy and when you need to kick up the pace.
KRL: How do you feel about the growing popularity of e-books?
Kendel: I think it’s only the beginning, and I hope so. I’m a fan, I own several different devices, and I never leave home without them. So much easier, and convenient, than carrying books around. Plus I can try and buy from wherever. I totally understand the love of physical books, I still collect my favorites in paperback and hardcover, but for avid readers who consume a boatload of books each year, digital is the only way to go.
KRL: What is something people would be surprised to know about you?
Kendel: I absolutely hate to travel by car. If it takes longer than 45 minutes to get there, I’d rather stay home. I’m like a little kid who gets all antsy and crabby, complaining and whining and dying to get there.
KRL: Website? Twitter? Facebook?
Kendel: Website, definitely: www.kendellynn.com, Twitter, mostly sometimes www.twitter.com/kendel_lynn, Facebook, never. I tried it briefly, but not for me. I have enough time management problems without adding another! And I’m starting to really enjoy Goodreads. It’s fun to see what my friends are reading, vote on lists, host giveaways. I’ve just joined a couple groups, so we’ll see how it goes.
Thank you so much for having me!
To enter to win a copy of Board Stiff, simply email KRL at life@kingsriverlife[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, with the subject line “Board”, or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen May 18, 2013. U.S. residents only.
Check out other mystery articles, reviews, book giveaways & short stories in our mystery section.