Sunday, July 31, 2022

Interview with Wendy Kendall

When celebrated international purse designer, Katherine Watson, hosts a gala for her Purse-onality Museum, she never expected the next day's headline to read: 'Murder at the Gala Premiere.' But after a dead body is found during the event, that's exactly what happened.” – Synopsis for Kat Out of the Bag.

This month, we highlight cozy mystery author Wendy Kendall, the author of the new In-Purse Suit mysteries.

15) Wendy, I have to ask- Why purses? How do they lend themselves to murder?

I confess to a passion for purses. Give them a chance, they're truly fascinating. Not only a fashion statement, what people carry gives clues to their personalities, actions, and even motives. That includes men carrying messenger bags or other accessories. How fun to have an amateur sleuth, Katherine Watson, who is a purse designer. Her attention to detail and her creative spirit are traits enabling investigation.

     My research for my books is always fun, but especially memorable was my trip to Little Rock, Arkansas where I visited the Esse Purse Museum that shows women's history through their diverse display of each decade's purses carried. It's a fantastic collection and includes so many lessons about women's lives during those decades. It's one of only 3 purse museums in the world, not including the Purse-onality Museum Katherine Watson runs in Bayside, Washington.

     During my visit to Esse Purse Museum, I not only studied the displays, I also interviewed the incredible, fun staff. I also met and interviewed the talented, energetic, visionary Anita Davis. In the front of my book Kat Out of the Bag you'll see the Esse endorsement “. . . purses have a story to tell and for Kendall's mystery, the stories unveil more than just purse-sonal history; they're the clues to catch a killer.”

14) It also has to be asked. Who is that adorable pooch on the index page of your blog? Is that supposed to be Hobbs, the canine sidekick of Holmes and Watson?

     Katherine Watson's investigation at times has her head to head matching wits with local Bayside cop Jason Holmes, and his K-9 partner Hobbs. Although they disagree often, Katherine and Jason discover an undeniable attraction. They have to put their feelings on hold and focus on solving the murder, before Katherine becomes the killer's next knock off. Faithful Hobbs is also suspicious of Katherine's adopted cat, Purrada.

     I also research local policing for my mysteries. I recently graduated from the Community Police Academy. I met great people, learned lots, and kept many notes for reference. When I was writing Kat Out of the Bag I went on a police ride along with K-9 partners. Very exciting! So Hobbs in my book came from that experience.

     Although my model in your picture is not Hobbs, she is indeed adorable. She is Leela, and she belongs to one of my sons. What a sweet dog she is, too. She has the personality ideal for a therapy dog. Although she did not inspire Hobbs, she does have the look, and she is the inspiration for a dog in my upcoming holiday season book that releases in November, Heart of Christmas Cookies and Dreams. Leela is morphed into a delightful beagle who plays a part of what incites romance between a chef, George and corporate leader, widowed Liz. Ribbons of love run through this story.

Here's a picture of me with “Hobbs” on our ridealong.

13) Katherine Watson appears to have come from a short story. “Purse-Stachio Makes a Splash,” as part of the lengthy One Scoop or Two series. What made you decide to turn her into a feature-length character?

     Lesson number one on mysteries – appearances can be deceiving. Actually Kat Out of the Bag is the first book I wrote. When I finished that book, I missed writing about the victim, Brenda. I missed her wonderful character, and also the friendship she'd had with Katherine. That's when I decided to write a prequel with a mystery adventure Brenda and Katherine could solve together. They dive into a chilling cold case that is quite curious and begging for resolution. This novella also introduces more wonderful characters of the Bayside community, including Arturo who runs the ice cream shop on the beach by the ferry dock.

12) What do you perceive as Katherine’s strengths and weaknesses and what makes her such a compelling detective?

     Katherine will surprise you, and I love that about her. Even as the author, I'd sometimes expect a certain action or reaction and Katherine would surprise me with a very unexpected  alternative. She's quite confident and decisive. She zeroes in with attention to details, and is very thoughtful.

     Katherine does have a tendency to speak her mind without caution. She struggles with her decision to manage her Los Angeles Rodeo Drive fashion empire from her family home in Bayside, Washington. Katherine also has a tangible fear. She is claustrophobic.

     Katherine is collaborative, probably what I enjoy most about her and truly a strength in detective work. She wheels out her design whiteboard and on the backside she gathers clues and analysis from a humorous assortment of characters including her down to earth Grandmother, Pam, Katherine's hippie and flower child mother who gave herself her name, Moonjava (Katherine calls her MJ), and the college student who runs the purse museum's gift shop, Amber. All their insights and clues come from such different perspectives, and Katherine has the persistence to analyze it all and come to conclusions.

11) Plotter, pantser or plantser?

     I'm definitely a hybrid. I plot an outline which is also extremely useful for determining where clues should be dropped and when/where characters need to be at specific times in order for the mystery to work. I also freely write within that outline structure, although as I start each scene I first answer for myself 3 very important questions -

     What is the purpose of this scene for me, the author?

     What is the purpose of this scene for the character sharing it in their point of view?

     What is it the other characters in the scene want?

     It's always interesting to see how the answers to these three questions are often very different.

10) Last year, you’d introduced us to another character, Desiree Tucker, in the romantic suspense thriller, Snow Kiss Cookies to Die For. Are there any plans to turn that into a series or is it a one off?

     I'm so proud that Snow Kiss Cookies To Die For is the Finalist for Best Suspense at Killer Nashville in August, an amazing mystery writers and readers annual conference. And, if you've read and enjoyed my book, it's also in the running for Readers' Choice Award and you can vote for it at this link -

     Romantic Suspense is a great combination, and this book practically wrote itself. Desiree is a first grade teacher at Bayside Elementary, dedicated to her students. She's a very warmhearted character and I enjoyed writing about someone in that profession. She's at the beginning of a sweet, new romance with Leo who works on the school's maintenance staff. Desiree's suddenly being tormented by a secret stalker though, and the situation is dire. There are several suspects, including Leo. At the end, there is a shocking confrontation. Enjoy the cookies too, because the yummy, original Snow Kiss Cookies recipe is included.

     What I've heard from readers is that they not only love my characters in Kat Out of the Bag, especially Katherine and Moonjava, they love the community of Bayside and they're interested in the characters who live there. I'm enjoying writing mysteries for Katherine, and for the citizens of Bayside.

9) When you were growing up, who were your favorite authors and had any of them gone on to influence, inspire or inform your work?

     I read like crazy when I was a kid, as I still do. My very favorite author was L. M. Montgomery with her Anne of Green Gables series. I also loved the Nancy Drew series and with other neighborhood kids I would invent mysteries on our block and those near us. We would investigate these made up mysteries. I also read and tried to solve the cases of Sherlock Holmes. Very challenging. I still go back and enjoy these stories. Each of these series had a tremendous influence on me.

     As an adult, a cozy mystery author who is one of my author heroes is Laura Childs, who writes several series. I have a podcast on YouTube, Kendall and Cooper Talk Mysteries where we interview mystery authors, and thanks to that podcast I met this hero author and got to interview her. What a huge thrill for me. I've learned a lot from her and her books.

     Finally, I am also greatly influenced by the Bard, William Shakespeare. In fact my newest book, a great summer read is Cherry Shakes in the Park which is a new twist on A Midsummer Night's Dream including all the humor, romance, and adding an enticing mystery.

8) Next month, you’re introducing us to another character, Bryson Tanner, in the novella, Cherry Shakes in the Park. Since no one’s been introduced to him, yet, tell us a bit about Bryson.

     Here's how Bryson's story begins -

     Standing at the bottom of the wooden stairs to Ginardo’s ice cream shop, Bryson wished he could shake off his broken heart as easily as he shook the beach sand from his feet. He’d missed Marta from the moment she got on that bus and left him. A rogue wave of sadness hit hard, splashing visions of their walks along the bay in his face.

     There on the beach, Marta’s friends waved to him. Naomi stood in the sunshine, up to her knees in water. Next to her, Tara took pictures on her cell phone. The space between them where Marta should be standing reflected the hole in his heart. Bryson waved back. Nice girls, but neither were Marta.

     He clenched his fists. Here he was, mid-twenties with plans for this decade of his life. Settling down with his girl, Olympic tryouts and qualifying, sprinting to a medal, product endorsements, and a happy new career. It all crashed and burned a month ago. His broken spirit affected everything, even track times. What do you do when your dreams hit a dead end?

     As the story goes on, Bryson is faced with mysteries of the heart when Marta returns with the Not Royal Shakes Company to perform in the park at Bayside. Sparks fly as Bryson is torn between rekindling flames with Marta or a new spark with her co-star Senona. They're racing to follow clues around Bayside, along with the Shakes Company cast of humorous characters, and of course a dog, to try and win the scavenger hunt prize.

     In the meantime, Bryson faces the mysterious kidnapping of his beloved coach's brother, and wants to help, but the clock is ticking to find and save him. Who knew that a comical midnight dalliance at Loon Point would merge clues to both mysteries and reveal the true danger Bryson faces?

7) Days ago, you’d also been included in a Christmas cookie-themed mystery anthology, Sprinkle With Sugar. Tell us a little about what your story’s about.

     This printed anthology includes the print version of Snow Kiss Cookies To Die For. Otherwise this story of mine is available in ebook. I'm honored for my story to be included with two other wonderful mysteries in this anthology.

6) For someone who lives in Seattle, the coffee capital of the world, you seem to be a tea aficionado. How did that come about?

     I'm definitely a tea lover. My parents were both from the United Kingdom, my mother from Wales and my dad from England. My mother tolerated tea and actually preferred coffee, but my dad loved them both. So I could feel “grown up” they would serve me tea with milk and sugar when family and friends enjoyed their coffee. I'll never forget one afternoon when my dad taught me how to correctly brew tea, including making sure the teapot was warmed with hot water before steeping the tea – very important.

     As an adult I dropped the milk and sugar in my tea, and I love trying teas from all over the world made with an assortment of leaves. Both my sons have contributed to my enjoyment of tea with special pots and accessories, and with a fantastic subscription to Tea Runners that gives me samples of 4 teas each month, and educates me about them.

     There's so much to know about this great drink. I always enjoy my tea while writing, and Katherine Watson's grandmother, Pam is also a tea enthusiast.

5) Describe your typical writing day. Do you draft in notebooks, straight on a laptop or both? Do you set daily word goals and, if so, what are they?

     I do make initial notes in notebooks, and when I think of something but don't have my laptop handy. Otherwise, I draft and edit all on my laptop.

     I set weekly goals. I am part of a tremendous writing critique group. I value their critique comments very much, and they also keep my enthusiasm up during tough plotting times. We meet once a week, and that's a great deadline for me to work towards my goals. I'm one of those people who are always motivated by deadlines.

4) Have you ever been tempted to write a hard-boiled mystery?

     Oh no, I enjoy reading and also watching movies of hard-boiled mystery, but I'm enjoying my cozy mysteries, romantic suspense, and my first full romance book coming this holiday season.

3) Is there any possibility of a cross-over novel between two of your characters?

     Oh yes, as I said Bayside is what ties my characters together. Katherine and Jason, with Hobbs, both appear in Snow Kiss Cookies To Die For with Desiree and Leo. Arturo Girardo are in both my summer beach reads, the Prequel, and also Cherry Shakes. You just never know who's going to pop up again! Right now I'm writing the sequel to Kat Out of the Bag. It's such an exciting case with returning and also intriguing new characters.

2) You’re also writing a series of middle grade mysteries called Silly Peppers. Tell us a little about that.

     This one is such a fun concept, unfortunately it hasn't received enough of my time yet to be reader ready. It's a wonderful concept of middle graders who are solving mysteries together. I'd be delighted for it to entertain and inspire our future mystery enthusiasts when I can get it finished.

1) So, what’s next for Wendy Kendall?

     Writing endeavors are so much fun. I'm finishing the sequel to Kat Out of the Bag and can't wait for readers to enjoy Katherine's next mystery adventure, hopefully next year.

     I have the plot outline for the next Katherine after the sequel too, ready for me to get started on.

     And I like exploring other genres, so I also have outlined a Fictional Historical Romance ready to write.

     And there's Silly Peppers.

     In the near future, I'm so excited about the release of Cherry Shakes in the Park this month, available for pre-order currently. And this holiday season Heart of Christmas Cookies and Dreams a Romance and the delicious, original recipe is included, along with the Legend of the Heart of Christmas Cookie.

     And, my fingers are crossed for Snow Kiss Cookies To Die For hopefully voted for Readers' Choice.

     Thank you for your questions. It's a treat to talk about my books and interests with you.

If you’re interested in discovering more about Ms. Kendall and her work, then follow the links below.





Official website

Amazon Author Page


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