Friday, June 12, 2009

Interview with Lynn Reynolds

I’d like to welcome our guest today, Lynn Reynolds. It’s a pleasure having you come visit us at Much Cheaper Than Therapy, where chocolate is plentiful and advice is free. So grab some chocolate and a lounge chair. Your therapy session has begun.

I understand you have a new release out called Thirty-Nine Again. Can you tell us a little bit about your fabulous new book?

Sabrina O'Hara is an accountant and a breast cancer survivor who’s celebrating her second thirty-ninth birthday. Now that she’s recovered from her cancer, she just wants to get back to her peaceful existence with her dull fiancé Scott. But then she discovers Scott's been leading a dangerous double life. She winds up on the run from Scott, from some very angry people in the Mexican Mafia, and from a very sexy Homeland Security agent who’d been posing as her personal trainer in order to get inside info on Scott’s nefarious activities.

Thirty-Nine Again is a very interesting title. How did you arrive at that name?

Through personal experience – LOL! I got to that age and seriously considered spending several years at 39. I tried lying about my age, but I kept getting confused about how old I was supposed to be, depending on who I was talking to. After a while, I gave up. I realize now that the late actress Ruth Gordon had the best idea – she said she always lied UP when she lied about her age, that way people were always really impressed by how good she looked.

Would you describe your book as a cozy, mystery, suspense, or thriller?

I describe Thirty-Nine Again as “chick noir.” That is, it’s a combination of chick lit and noir fiction – although truthfully, it’s much more “chick” than “noir.” It’s a fast-paced story about a woman on the run, trying to stay alive and trying to figure out whom she can really trust – so that makes it suspense. But it’s also told in what I hope is a light, humorous voice and delves into Sabrina’s experiences as a cancer survivor and as an older, single woman.

What made you decide to write in this genre?

I love suspense and mystery stories, so I figured I’d try to write something in that vein myself. I’d written a couple of still unpublished mysteries, and my friends were telling me I should write something fun and lighter in tone. So I tried to combine humor with a good suspense story. I’ll let readers judge whether I succeeded!

Where did you get your idea for this particular book?

I have a couple of friends who are breast cancer survivors, and I’d had a big scare myself a few years ago, when a doctor found a suspicious mass and I had to have a surgical biopsy. Turned out to be a fibroadenoma, which is completely benign – but it took a couple of months of uncertainty before I knew for sure what was up. That set me to thinking about my life and about things I hadn’t gotten around to doing yet – like writing a novel and getting it published. So that’s what inspired me to make Sabrina a breast cancer survivor. As for the suspense angle, with her run-in with a Mexican human trafficking ring – I’m not sure why I latched onto that angle. I think it was just something I’d been reading and hearing about in the news and it intrigued me.

Do you have all the key suspense/mystery elements thought out before you begin writing?

No, I’m terrible at plotting in great detail in advance. I do start out with an idea of who the “bad guy” is in a story, but sometimes it changes midway through. I keep trying to be one of those well-organized writers who creates a very careful outline before writing, but whenever I do too much of that, I seem to lose interest in writing the actual story!

Did you have to do a lot of research for the book? What are your favorite research books or sites?

I talked with breast cancer survivors and I talked with some law enforcement folks about general procedures. But the emphasis in the story is on Sabrina, who’s not working for a law enforcement agency, so a lot of things didn’t really need to be “by the book.” I think a GREAT resource for anyone interested in writing mysteries or suspense is crimescenewriter ( It’s a Yahoo group moderated by Wally Lind, a retired crime scene investigator. He also has many other group members who are police officers or forensic investigators or ER physicians, so it’s a great place to ask goofy or gross questions about any crime you might be plotting in one of your books.

Which character did you like writing about the most, and why?

Well, I certainly related very much to my main character, Sabrina, but Evan Garcia, the Homeland Security agent who keeps trying to rescue her (in spite of herself) was more fun because he’s bolder and more of a risk-taker than Sabrina. I also enjoyed writing the couple of cameo appearances from Sabrina’s batty grandmother, Nanny O’Hara. She’s a little out of touch with what’s going on around her – but full of very strong opinions anyway.

Tell us about how you develop your characters. Do you create character sheets, do interviews, that sort of thing? How does your research affect your character development?

The process is different for each of my stories. In the case of Thirty-Nine Again, I just started with a pretty clear picture in my head of the two main characters – Sabrina and Evan. I made some adjustments to Evan’s background as I did some research into what might make a good undercover investigator, but their personalities were pretty set in my head right from the start.

Do you have any authors that inspired you?

Too many to list! I definitely enjoyed Janet Evanovich’s early Stephanie Plum stories, although I have to admit that I couldn’t keep up with the series and haven’t read the last several. I also really like Tori Carrington’s Sofie Metropolis books, about a Greek-American girl who’s an amateur private eye. Very clever mysteries, a sexy Australian bounty hunter, and lots of Greek food.

What do you feel is the most effective promotion you have done for your book?

I’m just getting started at the whole self-promotion thing, so I couldn’t say for sure. I will say that I have worked as a publicist in the past for a number of arts organizations and non-profits – but trying to promote myself and my own work is much harder! Because I take it so personally, I guess.

What do we have to look forward next?

I have a couple of straight contemporary romances under consideration with some publishers, but I haven’t heard anything definite yet. Recently I’ve been working on a mystery with supernatural overtones that’s set in the Napoleonic Wars. I love historical novels and really wanted to try my hand at one, but I’m not completely sure about the setting for this one yet. I don’t like to get into too much detail about a work-in-progress when I’m in the early stages – mostly because I don’t really know what I’m doing yet! ;-)

Thanks, Lynn!

To celebrate her book release, Lynn Reynolds is offering a free ebook of Thirty-Nine Again to one lucky commenter on today's blog. Check back on Monday to see who won. She will be around all day today. I'm sure some of you have questions or comments for her, so please ask away...

Check out author’s website at



Anonymous said...

Good Morning Lynn,
Thanks for joining us here today. I love the title of your book. I see that you like to write in multiple genres. How do you handle switching from one to the other?

Have fun today.

Carolyn Matkowsky said...

Hi, Lynn,

Congratulations on your new release. I already have my copy, and can't wait to read it.

Ellen said...

Congrats, Lynn!!!!

Ann Whitaker said...

Lynn is dealing with some medical issues for the next few days, but I know she'll be eager to answer your questions as soon as she's able. On behalf of Lynn, thanks for dropping by.

Interesting interview, Lynn. That crime group sounds like a lot of fun. I'd love to be able to write suspense or mystery.

Here's to a great launch of THIRTY-NINE AGAIN.

Nancy said...

Woohoo, THIRTY-NINE AGAIN is here!

I love the interview, and was tickled to see that you're also a fan of Tori Carrington's Sofie Metropolis series.

Congratulations again on your release, and may your success soar!

Nancy Haddock

Carol Webb said...

Thanks for the interview, Lynn. Congrats on your release. It sounds like a really good read. I love the 30 again concept and having a breast cancer survivor as your heroine.

Anne Carrole said...

Congrats on your release! Sounds like a terrific read!

Estella said...

I am looking forward to reading this, as I am also a breast cancer survivor.

Anonymous said...

Sorry to hear about your medical issues. Speedy recovery and post when you can. Thanks.

Cate Masters said...

Great interview! Congrats on your release, Lynn. Sounds like a great read!

Lynn Reynolds said...

Thanks for understanding my lack of comments, Kim!

Estella, I hope Sabrina's story rings true to you as a survivor.

And Nancy, glad to see another Sofie Metropolis fan here!