Q&A With Jenn McKinlay

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Q&A With Jenn McKinlay 

I hope everyone is having a good week so far. Today’s Q&A is with Jenn McKinlay who writes cozy mystery and romantic comedies. Jenn’s cozy mystery series are Cupcake Bakery Mystery, Library Lovers Mystery, Hat Shop Mystery, & Bluff Point. Jenn’s romantic comedies are Paris Is Always A Good Idea, Wait For It, Royal Valentine, It Happened One Christmas Eve, Attraction Distraction, Booked which is an anthology of 3 romantic short stories for book lovers and coming this summer Summer Reading. 


Q: So Jenn what do you love about writing cozy mystery series and romantic comedies? 


A: Hi! Wonderful to be here!  There’s so much to love about both genres. 

In cozy mysteries, I have to say a dead body really moves a plot along and I just love setting up a puzzle to be solved. I love the sense of community and the way the characters have running jokes with their friends and family. When the times get tough, they have loved ones to lean on which I find very comforting.

In romcoms, I love banter. There can never be enough banter. In fact, when I first started writing them, there were some issues in that all my characters did was crack wise as they were falling in love and my editor said that while that was fun, we needed some conflict. Okay, fine. But more banter than conflict!

Q: When in your life did you realize that being an author was your calling? 


A: I think I was a young teen. I saw the movie Romancing the Stone (still a fave) and I thought –YES! That’s what I want to do. So I did.

Q: What advice would you give to anyone wanting to write great cozy mysteries and great romantic comedies? How do you deal with writers block and what advice would you give to aspiring authors on how to deal with it? 


A: I’ve been very fortunate to never have writer’s block. My issue is that halfway through a project I’ll get another idea I want to work on and I have to actively force myself to finish the task at hand first. It’s brutal. 

If you want to write a great anything, I think the number one thing to do is to write every single day. I recently watched Wednesday Addams (the Netflix show) and one of the things I loved about it was how she had designated writing time every day. Yes, Wednesday, that’s how it’s done. 

Q: If you were to write another genre other than romantic comedies and cozy mysteries, which genre would you explore and why?


A: I have several thriller and paranormal mystery ideas sitting in a file on my computer. Because I have to finish the current projects first, I won’t be able to work on the new ideas for a while. As of right now, I am contracted through 2025, so we’ll see if I can carve out some time in between projects or if I just have to wait. 


Q: For you is it easier to write a series and keep it going or is it easier to write a standalone novel?


A: Great question! Building a new world for a standalone takes so much mental energy and it’s very time consuming, but revisiting an established series can be very constraining so they both have their challenges. 

I will say when I go back to each of the mystery series, it’s a lot like going home. I know everyone, I’ve missed them, and I’m happy to be back. Whereas, the standalones are like going to study abroad for a semester. You have to do a very deep immersion into a new world so it’s a nice break from the same old same old. 

Q: Obviously you must be writing new mysteries and new romances. Can you reveal any details?


A: At the moment, I am finishing FATAL FIRST EDITION the next library lover’s mystery, which opens on a train! So fun!

I’m copyediting SUGAR PLUM POISONED, the next cupcake bakery mystery and I’m really enjoying it. I have a terrific copyeditor. 

And I’m finishing the rough draft of my next rom com newly retitled LOVE AT FIRST BOOK. It’s about a librarian who goes to Ireland to work in a bookshop and help an author write the final book in her series after a ten year bout of writer’s block, except the author’s son who owns the bookstore would prefer his mother not finish the book as he’s worried for her health. Conflict! I am really enjoying this one!

Q: If you were to collaborate with another author, who would it be with and why?


A: Another great question! I don’t know. I’m a very solitary unit and I can be a bit bossy so I don’t know who would be willing to put up with that, James Patterson, maybe? I think he has the most practice of working with other authors. 


Q: If you had to choose, which books did you have the most fun writing and why?


A: Because all of my books, mystery and romance, are comedies, I really have a blast writing them all. If I can crack myself up, I know my people – the readers who get me – will laugh, too. It’s so much fun to set those scenarios up. Summer Reading is my most banter heavy romcom, so it’s a solid fave and in the mysteries, I have favorites in each. I loved writing Dark Chocolate Demise (cupcake) and One for the Books (library) and Assault and Beret (hat shop). But in all honesty, the book that is my absolute favorite is whichever one I just THE END on. It’s such a great feeling to cross the finish line.

Q: Does Hollywood have any interests or the rights to any of your novels? I already fan casted who would play who should Paris Is Always A Good Idea, become a film.


A: That would be amazing! There’s been interest in the mysteries and my Christmas novella It Happened One Christmas Eve has garnered some interest, too, but as my agent says “When Hollywood calls, it’s best to just lie down until the feeling passes.” Hollywood is notoriously fickle. 


Q: What’s your advice to new authors on how to deal with negative critique whether its reviews, online trolls and any family and friends who aren’t supportive of their writing goals?


A: Never ever ever ever read your reviews.  Period Full stop. There’s no point. You’re not going to rewrite the book and it’s a viper pit out there. In the beginning I read a review of my first cupcake mystery that made me cry and I thought “Why am I letting this person with terrible grammar, misspellings, and poor writing skills weigh in on my work like their opinion is valid?” I haven’t read any reviews since unless they are vetted by my PR team. 

As for unsupportive family and friends, don’t let them steal your joy. Don’t share your writing with them. Play the long game and when you get published and hit the NYT make sure they know it.