I’d like to welcome EJ Kindred to Women and Words! Her publisher, Launch Point Press, is offering up either a print book or e-book for one lucky commenter. All you need to do to enter the contest is drop a comment at the bottom of the post, and in a week I’ll do the drawing.
EJ, tell us a bit about yourself and how you became interested in writing!
I’ve liked to write ever since I could read. I think it’s genetic. My maternal grandfather was friends with James Michener and his own writing, even letters, was almost poetic. My mother was a natural storyteller. My sister can write beautiful poetry. Creativity just runs in the family.
I know you have a tale to tell about your twisty, wisty path to publication. Cough it up!
I’d started In Harm’s Way several years ago, but it had languished, mostly for lack of attention on my part. I always had a pretty good idea where the story would go, but life kept me busy doing other things. Then Lori told me about the Portland Lesbian Writer’s Group, which I joined. She was also hosting writing retreats on a Oregon coast. I went the first time without any clear idea of what I was going to do, but bit by bit, I started adding to the draft. Then at one of those retreats, Lori, MB, and you came to my room for a brainstorming session. I didn’t know what to expect, but it was amazing. I came away from that with tons of ideas for the story. After that session, I had the entire first draft done in less than six months.
During that time, Lori called me and, out of the blue, asked if I’d feel more motivated to write if I knew the book would be published. I call it the “this shit just got real” moment. I did question her decision, since she hadn’t read any of the draft, but she insisted. And here we are.
In Harm’s Way is your first mystery. Where did the idea for the book come from?
Actually, it isn’t my first mystery, though it is the first to be published. Some time ago, I took a couple of online classes from the Writer’s Digest University, and as part of that, I started a mystery novel that I did finish. It was a train wreck, not at all publishable, but still a learning experience.
In Harm’s Way started with a question I heard asked at a reading: how does a writer know if a novel is a standalone or part of a series? For me, the initial answer was that the protagonist must have a reason to be in other peoples’ lives. I suppose that’s why so many series are built around lawyers or police officers, etc. I have no interest in writing from the legal perspective and I don’t have the knowledge to write a police procedural or detective novel. That left me with the amateur sleuth. Annie is a housekeeper, which puts her into the midst of others’ lives while also keeping her somewhat on the outside, looking in, perhaps able to be objective.
How do you go about the process of spinning your tales, EJ? What’s your writing process?
I have a writing process?
You are a smartass of the best kind! What kind of research did you do for the novel, or is your research process in question as well?
No, it’s not, but actually almost none. I did study the Oregon map a little bit, just to work out timing from my fictional town of Charbonneau (which I set west of Portland) since my characters drive back and forth quite a bit. I’m going to need to do more for subsequent books, because Annie has legal problems to resolve.
This is a series book, meaning there will be more to come. Where are you at for the second book? Do you have a direction it’ll take?
I have plot lines in mind, though I’m a bit worried that four is too many. Of the four, I know where I want three of them to go, but the fourth is still a question.
For the second book, I’ve written almost nothing, though I do have a working title: Family Secrets. My characters have been nudging me to get to work, but since the spring, my life has been so chaotic that I haven’t done any writing. I’m hoping that things will calm down so I can get to work in earnest later this summer.
We hope so too! Are you a member of any awesome writing organizations? If so, tell us how they’ve helped that blossoming writing career of yours!
I’m a member of the Portland Lesbian Writer’s Group, which meets once a month (most months). It’s not a large group, which I appreciate. Being in the company of other writers and other creative people charges my writing batteries. We write in solitude…well, except for the characters chattering away in our heads! So it’s nice to spend time with other writers. We talk about our work in progress (or not in progress) and occasionally discuss a certain aspect of writing, such as conflict, etc.
Tell us where and when readers can get a hold of your book!!!!
In Harm’s Way is available on Amazon in print and electronic form. I think Lori has put it out there on other platforms, but I don’t know where. For those in Portland, I’ll have copies at the PLWG reading event in November.
Here’s a summary of In Harm’s Way:
When her father dies in a fire and the suspected arsonist is later murdered, Annie Velasquez comes under suspicion. In an effort to escape the stress and rebuild her shattered life while the investigation grinds on, she moves to a small town outside Portland, Oregon, and gets a housekeeping job. Peace of mind is short-lived when her employer is stabbed to death and an experienced detective is on the case. Who killed Dr. Wentworth? And what happened to the house chef, Annie’s friend Mo? Is there a malevolent force dogging Annie’s footsteps? Will Annie live long enough to find out?
EJ Kindred’s Bio:
EJ Kindred is a recently retired Oregon attorney. Her legal career of 26 years was spent doing her best to make rich computer companies got even richer, and she’s delighted to have left it all behind. She’s been a writer from an early age, penning terrible stories and wretched poems with which to torment her family, friends, and teachers. She refuses to disclose how many Star Trek scripts she wrote. Other than a first place award in a short story contest long, long ago in a state far, far away, her first published work is the story “The Other Marie,” which appears in the anthology, Time’s Rainbow: Writing Ourselves Back Into American History. The subject of the story, Marie Equi, was one of Oregon’s first women doctors, a crusader for humane working conditions, an anti-war activist who spent time in San Quentin for sedition, and an unabashed lesbian-all in the early 20th century. In addition to enjoying retirement and writing, EJ makes quilts, occasionally donating them to the fundraising efforts of various groups, primarily cat rescues. She enjoys jigsaw puzzles, old movies, spending time with friends, and, of course, reading anything and everything. She lives near Portland, Oregon, with an undisclosed number of cats. Her website is found at http://www.EJKindred.com.