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By J.A. (Julie) Hennrikus
Today I write to you from my Somerville apartment
Of my five fellow bloggers, I feel like I know Jessie the least. We have crossed paths at the last few New England Crime Bakes, and had some great conversations there. But this was a great chance for me to get to know her a little better, and to introduce her to you.
Julie: When did you start writing?
Jessie: I feel like I was a writer before I could read. As a child I kept nearly constant company with a vast cast of imaginary friends. Their lives were fraught with difficulties which I enjoyed complicating. When I played make believe games with my younger sister she wanted for us to be princesses or rich people. I insisted we be utterly destitute because it would increase the drama in our story line. As soon as I could read I started writing stories. I wrote a short story in second grade inspired the Marlborough Man. I turned him into an armed bandit, which I guess was my first crime story.
Julie: OK, now you have to post the story about the Marlborough Man. Who are your writing influences?
Jessie: For mysteries, Agatha Christie, Ngaio Marsh, Dorothy Cannell and Charlotte MacLeod. I also love Scandinavian crime writers, especially Arnaldur Indridason and Jo Nesbo.
I have added a few influences since this post was written. I would have to add E.F. Benson and P.G. Wodehouse along with Margaret York and Kate Morton.
Julie: I haven’t read any Scandinavian crime writers. I will need to add those authors to my list! By way of introduction, would you tell us what you are working on right now?
Jessie: For my Granite State Mysteries series, I am finishing up Body of Water, which involves flooding and secrets unearthed by the rising waters. In untitled book 2 of my Sugar Grove series the main character, Dani Greene is trying to start an agricultural cooperative but members are experiencing sabotage at their farms.
[Julie note: Jessie has two series. Her debut novel, Live Free or Die, was published by Mainly Murder Press in 2010, and won the 2011 Daphne du Maurier Award, Mainstream Division.
Drizzled with Death, the first in her Sugar Grove Mysteries, will be released from Berkley Prime Crime, a division of Penguin Publishing, October 1, 2013.]
So this has updated quite a lot! I’ve written 16 books since this post! I am currently at work on a stand-alone historical set in Maine.
Julie: Why cozies? Do you write anything in other forms?
Jessie: I love cozies because they provide a puzzle without being grim. I like grim but I am not always in the mood for it. You have to be willing to experience the emotions of your story world for large portions of your waking life. I am someone who tries to find the positive in most situations. Writing cozies allows me to enjoy the structure and challenge presented by the construction of a mystery while still usually killing off people that everyone would prefer to see dead. I do have a couple of less light-hearted projects under construction but they are not currently on the front burner.
This is quite different for me too! I have written four novels that are decidedly not cozy. And I have moved away from contemporary novels to historical ones instead even when the tone remains lighthearted. I think as time has gone by my life has changed enough that I feel as if I have the emotional bandwidth to explore more tones. When my children were small there were so very many worries and I wanted to be able to escape into something that felt like all would be okay in the end. I still like to do that, but I have room for a bit more darkness at this point in my life. That may not always be the case, but I am enjoying it for now.
Julie: With two series, that isn’t surprising! What’s your connection to New England?
Jessie: I have lived in New Hampshire since I was eight. With very few exceptions, all of my family lives in Maine. My family can be traced back to the Mayflower and a relative hanged at Salem for witchcraft.
This remains the same. I still live in New England, but have started spending part of the year in Maine since this post first published.
Julie: OK, I am going to let you save the relative story for another blog entry. Who are some of your favorite authors?
Jessie: I adore Martha Grimes, Margaret Yorke, Lloyd Alexander, P.G. Wodehouse, E.F. Benson, E. Annie Proulx, Billie Letts, Fannie Flagg and John Irving.
I’d like to add Elly Griffiths, Kate Morton, Hilary Mantel, Vaseem Kahn, Diane Setterfield, Alice Hoffman, Charles Lovett, Lyndsay Faye,Tracy Chevalier, Kate Summerscale, Susanna Kearsley and Kate Atkinson to the list. I also tend to read more nonfiction than I did ten years ago. I particularly love Cal Newport’s work.
Julie: What a great list! What would people be surprised to learn about you?
Jessie: I think most people that meet me now are surprised to learn how shy I was as a child. I couldn’t even order a pizza by phone. Eventually, I decided shyness was preventing me from doing what I wanted in life and I pushed myself to overcome it. I got a job as a salesperson in a clothing store when I was sixteen. The first day of work my boss told me to greet customers. I realized getting fired for not doing my job would be worse than speaking to strangers. I started out by smiling at people and eventually worked up to actually speaking to them. Slowly, I developed a more outgoing attitude in other aspects of life. I still hate to use the phone but I can order pizza.
One thing that has changed that seems to surprise people is that I hav become an utterly smitten and entirely devoted dog person albeit for just one dog, my poodle Sam. I have had dogs in the past, but didn’t for many years. Sam appeared it seems just as I needed him. I think my infatuation with him does tend to surprise people.
Julie: Thanks for a great interview Jessie. She is going to be checking back in today, so any questions for her?
Readers, which authors have you started to read in the last ten years? Leave a comment to be entered for a chance to win the giveaway today!
So where in Maine to you live part of the year? Spent my childhood at Sebago Lake.
OOB! Sebago is so lovely!
Jessie, such a good point about needing to write lighter when your children were small. Congratulations on all books, light and dark, and on the new standalone – can’t wait to hear more about that!
You’ve brought so much to the blog and to our group. It’s been a pleasure traveling this path with you.
Thanks very much, Edith. I appreciate your kind words.
We moved to NH from MA when my son was starting the first grade. He still lives in NH with his family and I fly up to visit once or twice a year to visit. I love the state motto. It’s better than The Sunshine State but I love living here, no more snow and ice. Most of our vacations back then were in Maine. Old Orchard Beach was fun and Boothbay Harbor I love. Thank you for this chance at your giveaway. pgenest57 at aol dot com
We seem to have had many of the same haunts! It sounds like you’ve found a great spot for you now!
Glad you get to spend some of the year in Maine now! I always visited Story Land and Santa’s Village in New Hampshire with my kids many moons ago.
I’m reading Daryl Wood Gerber’s Fairy Garden Mysteries right now, which I found through a Facebook group. I think Facebook book groups and the Kindle app are what has changed my reading over the past 10 years by providing just such a vast amount of authors and books!
I loved taking my kids to Story Land! And those groups astonish me with their breadth of suggestions!
I have started rereading many of my old books and authors…Douglas Clark. Gladys Mitchell, Edgar Wallace, Dorothy L., H C Bailey, Dorothy Gilman, Lucille Kallen, Stefanie Matteson, Michael Gilbert, and others.
I was born in Rochester NH and moved to Maine when I was seven. I still live in Maine but escape the winters for three months in Florida. It will be fun to read your granite state series!
My mother moved to Florida several years ago and never looked back! Winter was what made her leave!
For me it’s all the authors from Wickeds and Mystery Lover’s Kitchen. I was introduced to each group through Edith. I felt like I had found a treasure trove. In fact, I had! Through each of them, I have been introduced to many, but they were my roots.
Thank as we grow older, we are willing to accept that life isn’t all champagne and roses and on occasion reading something a bit darker reminds us of that making us more accepting of every day life.
What was your favorite book to write and why? Are any of your stories sort of parallel to your life – minus the death of course? 🙂
Thank you for the wonderful chance to win one of your books! Shared and hoping.
2clowns at arkansas dot net
Crime novels give me perspective too! And thanks for the question! I would su the first Change of Fortune mystery, Whispers Beyond the Veil and the first Beryl and Edwina, Murder in an English Village were my favorites to write this far.
Whispers Beyond the Veil is one of my all time favorite books. It is just so well written.
Thanks so much!!!
Great interview. I’ve added too many authors to list. Reading Harini Nagendra’s debut now, The Bangalore Detective’s Club.
Thanks! And thanks for the recommendation!
I started reading more mysteries about 10 years ago, mostly contemporary. Then about seven years ago I read Come Hell or Highball by Maia Chance, which led me down the path to my current love for historical mysteries by Ashley Weaver, Rhys Bowen, Colleen Cambridge and you (among many others). I also still read serious fiction by writers like Elizabeth Strout and Alice McDermott.
I love Maia’s work! Thanks for mentioning her! I am also a fan of Strout!
I love reading these with our updates! You are an amazing woman.
Aww, thanks! So are you!
I’ve loved reading all of your books!
In the past ten years, I read more classic mystery and less biography and true crime. It may be time to add those back in.
Thanks so much! If you like true crime podcasts can be great!
Great interview, Jessie. I started reading all the Wickeds’ books. I never heard of any of you wonderful ladies 10 years ago. I still love to go back and read the Golden Age authors, and many others whom I discovered in later years. I just finished a Charlotte MacLeod that I somehow missed the first time around. Delightful.
I enjoyed this informative and interesting interview. I have read mysteries which are captivating by A.M. Stuart, Sulari Gentill and so many. These are historical mysteries which I enjoy greatly.
Thanks for the recommendations!
Going back ten years is a long time of reading mysteries in my life! I heard of the Wickeds only two or three years ago and have been reading their books since then. Prior to that, I read so many authors that I cannot remember them all. I know that I first began with Deborah Crombie and fell in love with her characters, Duncan and Gemma very quickly.
Thanks so much for your support! We all appreciate it!
too many new authors to count – laurie king and tracey clark are included.
There are so many, aren’t there?
I’ve started to read so many authors in the last 10 years, including all of the Wickeds. Fun fact, Jessie’s first maple syrup mystery was the only one on my radar before I found the blog. 🙂
(Obviously, no need to enter me in the giveaway.)
That is a fun fact! I had no idea!
I have started several but one author I really like is Amorette Author
Please enter me
Thanks for the recommendation!
In the past 10 years since starting to chair the Author Luncheon series at my church, I’ve been excited to discover wonderful Maine and New England authors like you,Edith Maxwell, Ju!ia Spencer Fleming, Kate Flora, Bruce Coffin, Dick Cass, Matt Cost…oh too many to name. I’ve enjoyed getting to know you all! Looking forward to meeting you in September.
There are a lot of us in New England!
In the last ten years I have learned to love all you Wickeds’, avidly read your books, and am still hungry for more! I also started to love Vicki Delany, V.M. Burns, Linda Reilly, Lauren Elliott, Rhys Bowen, and so many more beloved authors. So much fun reading, and so little time… Thank you for sharing your lives and your writing art with us eager readers. Luis at ole dot travel
Thanks so much! What a greatest of additional authors!
JESSIE: Congratulations on a productive 10 years! I remember reading DRIZZLED WITH DEATH and also enjoy your Beryl/Edwina books. I have found so many new authors that it’s hard to choose. Ellen Byron and Libby Klein for humorous mysteries, Vicki Delany for several cozy series, Bruce Coffin and Paul Doiron with series set in Maine.
Thanks so much, Grace! I love Paul’s novels too!
I may be a bit prejudiced but you are my favorite author. First I read the books and then I listen to them on Audible.
I’ve read a lot of new authors in the last ten years. All of the Wickeds, of course and others, like Tonya Kappes, Duffy Brown, Karen White, Vicki Delaney, Nancy Parra/Coco to name a few.
Such a great list of authors!
Great interview! You are a new to me author and I appreciate learning more about your books. Besides The Wickeds, some other authors I like to read are Bree Baker, Gayle Leeson, Joanne Fluke, Krista Davis, etc. I am always adding to the list as I discover new authors.
Nice to meet you, Cherie!
Hi Jessie. You’ve come a long way from our sessions in the Portland diner. I’m so proud of you!
Thanks so much, Carol-Lynn!
In the past 10 years I have started to read a lot of new authors. Besides The Wickeds, there are Lorna Barrett, Valerie Burns, Laurien Berenson, Miranda James, Leslie Meiers, Joanne Fluke and so many more.
What a great list!
I read a lot of authors but I recently started reading CJ Box
I enjoy his descriptions of the landscape!
Love the book cover!! In the last 10 years I have been reading a lot more cozy mystery books. Including the Wicked authors! Thanks for the chance!
Thank you so much for sharing. I am not sure where to begin. I have found so many wonderful authors. The list includes Joanne Fluke, Lauren Elliott, Kimberley O’Malley, Gabby Allen to name a few. I have a lot of other authors on my TBR. God bless you.
Found a lot of good authors from this blog to follow.
I am so pleased to hear it! Happy reading!
Jessie, I loved rereading this interview! One of the many blessings of the past ten years has been our friendship. Congratulations on the exploration of your writing journey. And thank you for being an inspiration regarding curiousity.
Aww! Thanks! And thanks for the interviewing me so many years ago!