I am so excited to introduce y’all to my friend and author, J.C. Kenney! J.C. is the Amazon and Kobo bestselling author of The Allie Cobb Mysteries. His debut, A Literal Mess, was a finalist for a Muse Medallion from the Cat Writers’ Association in mystery fiction. His new book, A Deadly Discovery, brings amateur sleuth Allie Cobb back for a new mystery. When he’s not writing, you can find him following IndyCar racing or listening to music. He lives in Indianapolis with his wife, two children, and a cat.
N: Welcome to the blog, JC. I’m so delighted to have you with us today. So, what inspired you to start writing?
J: For as long as I can remember, I always wanted to write. I did well in composition classes in school and even hand-wrote the beginnings of stories several times over the years, but I was still one of those folks who wanted “to have written” a book. Nothing stuck until I got an idea in my head in 2011 that simply wouldn’t let go. It was like the characters were knocking on the inside of my skull demanding to be let out and have their stories told. One day, in August 2011, I opened a Word document (this was during work hours at an old job, don’t tell anybody) and started banging away at the keyboard. Six weeks later, I completed the first draft of my first book.
From then on, characters have kept knocking. And I’ve kept opening that door.
N: What comes first—the plot or the characters?
J: The plot. Since I write whodunnits, everything begins with a murder of some sort. Then, I decided who did it and why. Once I have those components in hand, I create a timeline, and then get to writing the story. It’s a structure keeps me on track. And believe, me I need structure in my life!
N: You’ve written four novels in the Allie Cobb cozy series—what is the most surprising thing you discovered about yourself while writing your books?
J: That I’m not horrible at writing mysteries? LOL. Actually, it was coming to the realization of how much I enjoy researching ways to murder people. Yes, it’s morbid. But it’s also really interesting from the science perspective. And I’m constantly learning new things. Also, in the interest of full disclosure, I have no intention of putting what I’ve learned to use in real life. Just want to be sure we’re clear on that!
N: I’ve never worried about that! Your newest book, A Deadly Discovery just released January 19. Can you share with us something about this new Allie Cobb story that isn’t in the blurb?
J: The science in the book is one hundred percent fact-based. My wife is a genetic counselor. I conferred with her to make sure the science Allie relied upon in narrowing down the suspects was spot on.
N: As you’ve written the Allie Cobb series, has it been hard to keep her world fresh with each book?
J: So far, no. One thing I do to keep the stories fresh is introduce new characters in each book. Those new characters bring new storylines with them. For example, the young woman I introduced in A Mysterious Mix Up, Calypso Bosley, takes on a larger role in A Deadly Discovery. Allie’s relationships with her friends and family are always changing, so that keeps thing interesting. And finding new ways to involve Ursi, Allie’s cat, is always fun.
N: Talk to me about writing from a woman’s POV as a man? Any problems?
J: So far, not really. For me, the key is getting to know my characters as well as I know folks in real life. I also learned a lot about writing from a woman’s POV when I was writing my romances. I work very hard at getting into the character’s head, so I know how they think. If I’m not sure about something, I don’t hesitate to check with my wife.
N: If you had to describe Allie in only three words, what would those three words be?
J: Creative, kind, and relentless
N: If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
J: In writing, there will be good days right and bad days. There is a lot that is beyond your control. Because of that, one thing you can control is your attitude. Don’t lose touch with the part of the business that brings you the most joy.
N: Are you working on anything at the present you would like to tell your readers about?
J: Absolutely! I just started revisions of Allie Cobb Mysteries book 5. It’s due to my editor the end of March. And I’m also working book 1 in a new series called The Record Store Mysteries. The amateur sleuth in that series works at a store that sells new and used music.
N: Wow, that sounds like fun! You’re going to be busy, but what do you like to do when you’re not writing?
J: I’m a big fan of IndyCar racing, so I follow that closely. I also love to read.
N: What did you want to be when you grew up?
J: I was a huge of fan of WKRP in Cincinnati, so I wanted to be a disc jockey. While I never made it on the radio, I did spend five years doing DJ work for wedding receptions and parties. It was SO much fun!
N: I loved WKRP, too! Great writing! Favorite book when you were a kid?
J: The Chronicles of Narnia, no contest. I read a lot as a kid, and those stories are the ones that stand out.
N: If you could choose three people, living or dead, to invite to a dinner party, who would they be and why?
J: One – my dad. He died when I was sixteen. He was a member of the Greatest Generation and I would love to talk to him adult to adult about his life and experiences. Two – Agatha Christie. The chance to spend an evening talking with, and learning from, the Queen of Mystery would be priceless. Three – Barack Obama. He is so smart and has such a deep understanding of the world as it is today. It would be incredible to talk with him about world affairs.
A Deadly Discovery
Certain she’s seen more than enough death for one lifetime, literary agent Allie Cobb is ready to close the book on her amateur sleuthing, even when she learns that an unidentified body has been unearthed in a local state park. But when a worn and haunted-looking woman shows up on her doorstep with a grim story about her young daughter’s disappearance twenty years ago—and the police confirm that the recently discovered body is hers—Allie can’t bear to turn the poor woman away.
Determined to uncover the truth about the young woman’s murder, Allie begins delving into the circumstances of her life and those she knew so many years before. And when she meets powerful resistance from those she questions—many of whom are now trusted leaders in her small, tight-knit community—she’s sure she’s on the right track. But as she narrows down the list of suspects, Allie realizes too late that a cold-blooded killer is dead-set on keeping the secrets of the past buried, and it will take all her wit and cunning to avoid becoming the second young woman to meet an untimely end . . .