Interview w/Quirky Mystery Series Author Jennifer Kincheloe about Her New Book

I met Jennifer Kincheloe at the Historical Novel Society's Conference in Colorado right before she published her first book, so one of the coolest things about the Anna Blanc series is that we have watched it unfold along with this rising author's career from the first book via interviews. Check out the author's journey by reading them all!



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 Interview with Jennifer Kincheloe, author of the Anna Blanc Series, the newest installment of which is The Body in Griffith Park.

What inspired the new book? 
Like all my books, it is loosely based on a historical event—this time, a scandal in the life of a wealthy police matron. It’s a hard book to talk about because there are spoilers early on. I’ll just say, look up the Jonquil Apartments in a newspaper data base to get the real story. But only after you’ve read the book!

Anything different about how you pursued this book in the series? 
The first book, THE SECRET LIFE OF ANNA BLANC, I wrote for myself—a purely joyful experience. By the time I wrote THE BODY IN GRIFFITH PARK (book three), I was on deadline—a professional, grown-up writer—both under more pressure, and better equipped to handle it. For all three books, I started by reading, especially newspaper articles from the era, then let my imagination run wild.

What is your favorite piece of historical research that is used or referenced in the book?
Most definitely the story of Petronilla. Griffith Park is one of the largest city parks in the country, and it has a sordid, haunted history. Even today, they find bodies left and right. (Google it!) It’s a veritable psycho killer dumping ground. But the park used to be a private ranch, owned by Don Antonio Feliz, who lived there with his niece, Petronilla. As Don Antonio lay dying of smallpox, a local politician and his lawyer came and altered his will, tying a stick to his head to make him nod in agreement. The lawyer changed the will so that the politician got everything, and 17-year-old Petronilla got nothing. According to legend, Petronilla cursed the land. “The substance of the Feliz family shall be your curse! The wrath of heaven and the vengeance of hell shall fall upon this place.” She then dropped dead to seal the curse with her blood.
It worked. Subsequent owners of the land met horrid fates—death, disease, and ruin. The property changed hands with frequency. Finally, Griffith J. Griffith donated the land to the city of Los Angeles to get it off his hands. (But he did not escape the curse—he went mad and shot his wife in the face). Many, many park visitors report seeing the ghosts of Petronilla and Don Antonio.
In the book, Petronilla’s curse falls on Anna Blanc. Or, she thinks it does.


What kind of techniques or devices to you use to write a good murder mystery?
I never plan the mystery, but let it unfold. Because I’m a social scientist, Anna sometimes thinks about problems the way an academic would—she’s very analytical and uses science and statistics. But I have to couch that within the limitations of a woman with a high school education. (Oh, and a year of finishing school).

What are your favorite murder mystery books to read? 
I’m currently reading Wendall Thomas. Her mystery series starts with Lost Luggage. It’s about a dedicated, heroic, travel agent and it’s pure joy. She’s always jumping from helicopters in Stewart Weitzsman stilettos or something. A totally different style is Ausma Zehanat Khan. Start with The Unquiet Dead. She’s literary and each book opens up the world of a different Muslim community. She’s one of the greatest authors writing mysteries today.
Any plans for another installment or are you looking in a new direction for future work? 
I’ve got many more Anna Blanc stories to tell!

The Body in Griffith Park
By Jennifer Kincheloe

“A wild romp through turn-of-the-century Los Angeles…Anna Blanc is a blast!” — Amy Stewart, New York Times-bestselling author of Girl Waits with Gun
                     
Los Angeles, 1908. Anna Blanc is a former so-so socialite, a flailing police matron, and a killer detective.

Ex-heiress, Anna Blanc, is precariously employed by the Los Angeles Police Department, reforming delinquent children and minding lady jailbirds. What she really wants is to hunt criminals and be alone with Detective Joe Singer--both no-nos that could get her fired. On a lover's tryst in Griffith Park, Anna and Joe discover the body of a young gambler. Anna can't resist. She's on the case. With a murder to solve and her police matron duties piling up, a young girl shows up at Central Station claiming to have been raped by a man from Mars. The men at the station scoff, but Anna is willing to investigate. Meanwhile, Anna begins getting strange floral arrangements from an unknown admirer. Following the petals leads her to another crime--one close to home. Suddenly pitted against Joe, Anna must examine her loyalties and solve the crimes, even if it means losing the man she loves.

Buy the Book: Amazon.

MEET THE AUTHOR

Jennifer Kincheloe is a research scientist and writer of historical mysteries. Her novels take place in 1900s Los Angeles among the police matrons of the LAPD and combine, mystery, history, humor, and romance. THE WOMAN IN THE CAMPHOR TRUNK was released in November, 2017 and was nominated for a prestigious Lefty Award. Her debut novel, THE SECRET LIFE OF ANNA BLANC was a finalist in the Lefty Awards for Best Historical Mystery, The Colorado Author's League Award for Best Genre Fiction, the Macavity Sue Feder Award for Historical Mystery, and is the WINNER of the Mystery & Mayhem Award for Historical Mystery and the Colorado Gold for Best Mystery.

Jennifer grew up in Southern California, but has traveled to such places as Greenland, Nicaragua, Ethiopia, and Papua New Guinea. She's been a block layer, a nurse's aid, a fragrance model, and on the research faculty at UCLA, where she spent 11 years conducting studies to inform health policy. Jennifer currently lives in Denver, Colorado with her husband and two teenagers, two dogs, and a cat. There she conducts research on the jails.

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