Angela Henry was once told that her past life careers included spy, researcher, and investigator. She stuck with what she knew because today she’s a mystery writing library reference specialist, who loves to people watch and eavesdrop on conversations. She’s the author of six mysteries featuring equally nosy amateur sleuth Kendra Clayton, as well as the thriller The Paris Secret and the Xavier Knight Urban Fantasy series. She also writes middle grade novels under the pen name Angie Kelly. When she’s not working, writing, or practicing her stealth, She loves to travel, is a connoisseur of B horror movies, and a functioning anime addict. She lives in Ohio with her gamer guy and is currently hard at work trying to meet my next deadline.
How can readers get in contact with you?
Readers can contact me through the contact form on my website: http://angelahenry.com or directly at: firstname.lastname@example.org
What inspired your book?
Doing It To Death, just like Sly, Slick & Wicked before it, was inspired by my love of old school R&B. I heard the song on the radio one day and just knew it would be the perfect title and inspiration for the next Kendra Clayton mystery.
What would you like readers to take away from your book?
That the past always has a way of catching up with you.
Why did you choose to write mysteries?
I’ve always loved mystery novels and movies since I was kid. But unfortunately there are very few mystery series featuring African-American characters. So I decided to write the kind of book I would enjoy reading.
Which character did you have the most fun writing about?
I currently have three series. So all my main characters are my favorites when I’m writing about
them. But Kendra remains near and dear to my heart because she’s my first.
What advice would you offer to someone whose book is about to be released?
Let everyone know about your book. I can’t speak for other authors. But I have a hard time tooting my own horn and talking my books up to potential readers. But if no one knows about your book, no one will read it. So you have to step out of your comfort zone. I’d also recommend learning all you can about book marketing and promotion. There’s a glut of information online as well as some excellent books and classes.
What does literary success look like to you?
For me literary success would mean solely supporting myself through my writing.
What are three things you wish you’d known before you reached where you are now?
1) I wish I’d known that publishing is a business and being rejected by a publisher or literary agent often has nothing to do with the quality of your writing.
2) Reviews are for other readers and not for the author. Don’t obsess over them!
3) Whether you’re self-published or traditionally published, promoting your books are your responsibility.
What do you do to interact with your readers?
I interact with readers through my newsletter and my Facebook page and Twitter.
What are your three favorite social media platforms and how are you using them for promotion?
My favorites would be Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest. I use them to post my book news and events. I also love sharing books I’ve read or am reading and pictures that inspire my writing.
What are you reading this Summer?
I have a mountain high TBR pile. So, I’m not sure what I’ll be reading this summer.
When you're not writing, what do you like to do in your spare time?
I love to travel and watch movies.
Oprah always asks, what do you know for sure?
I know for sure that I have many more books in me.
Can you give us a sneak peek of your next book?
Sure. Here’s an excerpt from Doing It To Death:
I was busy scanning the front page of the Willow-News Gazette as I flung the screen door open to let the dog back in. So I didn’t notice when the screen door didn’t slam shut right away. In fact, I was so engrossed in the paper, I didn’t notice that the beagle had brought something in with her besides her rawhide bone until I heard heavy footsteps echoing behind the click of Queenie’s claws on the linoleum. I was so startled, I dropped the newspaper and stumbled back against the counter and stared at the stranger standing in Mama’s kitchen. It was a man, a tall, heavyset, dark skinned man over six feet tall, with sunken eyes, and grey stubble dotting his cheeks. He wore a blue warm-up suit underneath a bulky green parka, the zipped up warm-up jacket straining over his large belly, a white baseball cap, and black trainers. I couldn’t tell how old he was but if I had to guess would put him somewhere between late fifties to mid-sixties.
“Sorry,” he said, giving me a sheepish look. He held up his hands and took a step backwards. “I knocked and when you flung the door open I assumed you were inviting me in.” As he spoke I saw the glint of a gold tooth.
“Who are you?” I said when I finally found my voice.
“Name’s Delbert Bentley. But folks just call me Dibb.” He took a step forward and held out a meaty hand for me to shake. I eyed his hand dubiously before reaching out and giving it a quick shake vaguely wondering if I’d just shaken the hand that was about to strangle me.
“And you’re here because?” I let the question hang in the air.
“I was just lookin’ for a buddy of mine and someone told me you was his lady and might know where he is. You’re Kelly, right?” He didn’t wait for my answer and started looking around like this so called friend of his might pop out of one of the cabinets.
Was he talking about Carl? I guess he could be a friend of Carl’s but somehow I doubted it. I’d meet most of Carl’s friends and this man wasn’t one of them. Maybe he was someone Carl had represented in court or gave legal advice to when he was doing pro bono work for Holy Cross Ministries.
“Actually, my name is Kendra, and if you’re looking for Carl, he moved to Atlanta and I don't have his number. But I can give you his work address.” Somehow admitting that I didn’t have my ex’s phone number and address embarrassed me. But it was true. The one and only letter I’d gotten from Carl since he’d moved to Atlanta was from his work address. I had no other way to get in contact with him.
“Who’s Carl?” asked my visitor looking very confused, which made me confused.
“Carl Brumfield, my ex. Didn’t you say you were looking for him?”
“Don’t know no one named Carl.”
“Well, are you looking Leonard Duncan?” I asked when it occurred to me he might be looking for Mama’s new husband.
“Nope. I’m talking about Lewis Watts. You’re his woman, right?”
Huh? Who in the hell would have told this man that I was short ass, processed hair having, pimp suit wearing, old enough to be my father Lewis Watts’s woman? This had to be some kind of sick joke.
“Look mister Dubb…” I began.
“It’s Dibb,” he corrected.
“Okay,” I said, taking a deep breath. “I don’t know where you’re getting your information from or what kind of game you’re trying to play, but I am most certainly not Lewis Watts’s woman.”
“My bad, little sister,” he said, chuckling softly at my outraged expression. “But you kinda looked like you was his woman in this picture.” He pulled a snapshot from the pocket of his coat and handed it to me. I stared at it suspiciously before taking it from him. Then I took a look at it and felt my face flush with embarrassment that it even existed in the first place, especially when I didn’t even remember posing for it. Actually, that's not exactly true. I remembered the pose. It was the camera I was a little foggy on since I’d been half drunk off fuzzy navels at the time.
In the picture I was dressed in a blue halter dress with a pimp hat complete with a pink feather sticking out of the brim, broken down over my left eye. I was sitting astride a Ducati motorcycle with Lewis standing next to me with his arm draped around my shoulders, while I wore a goofy grin on my face. It was the one and only piece of evidence that I had actually gone out on a date with Lewis Watts. But I’d had good reason, or so I thought at the time. Lewis had information that I needed and going out with him was the price I had to pay to get it. But I’d ended up paying a much higher price in the end as Carl had seen me getting into Lewis’s car that night and got the wrong idea. He thought I was cheating on him, dumped me, and moved away. There was, of course, more to the story but you get the gist. Impulsively, I turned the picture over and saw the words Lewis and Kelly, 1999
Distinguished Gents Annual Pimp & Ho Ball. I winced.
“Where did you get this?”
“From the Distinguished Gents Club House over in Dayton. It was tacked up on the bulletin board.”
“Well, this is just one picture from one night. I’m not, nor have I ever been, his woman,” I replied through tight lips. I started to stuff the photo in my pocket so I could burn it later. But my unwanted guest reached out and snatched it back.
“Makes no never mind to me whether you his woman or not. I just need to track him down.”
“He’s a custodian at Springmont High. Have you…”
“Already done checked there,” he said cutting me off. “They said he quit right before Christmas. He don’t stay over on Foreman Street no more and the high school won’t give me his address. So do you know where he lives or not?” He asked impatiently with a slight sneer. Despite his initial pretense at politeness, I could tell this was not a nice man and I wanted him out of Mama’s house, now.
“Not,” I said, then walked over to the back door and pushed it open, the cold January air nipped at my cheeks. And to my great relief, he walked past me out onto the porch.
“Well, if you happen to see him would you give him a message for me?” I hadn’t seen Lewis since our date back in the fall. But if it would hurry my visitor along so I could get back into my warm house, I’d happily comply.
“Yeah, sure. What is it?”
“You tell him Dibb Bentley’s back and I need that thing that I left at his place the night Otis Redding died.”
It was on the tip of my tongue to ask him what thing he was talking about but when I looked up into his hard, flat eyes, I realized I didn't want to know. Thankfully, he didn’t wait for a reply and left. I stepped back into the house, letting the screen door slam shut behind me, and closed and locked the backdoor for good measure. The noise got Queenie’s attention and she pulled her head out of her food bowl and ran to the door and started barking like crazy.
“Some guard dog you are,” I told her before heading into the basement to do my laundry.
Anything you'd like to say to the readers of SORMAG?
Yes! A big thanks for interviewing me LaShaunda and letting me share about my writing and the new Kendra Clayton mystery. Also, if you’re new to my writing please consider signing up for my newsletter at http://angelahnery.com to get a FREE Angela Henry Starter Library, which includes The Company You Keep (the first book in the Kendra Clayton series), The Paris Secret (featuring librarian Maya Sinclair), and Trick Dice, a short story exclusive to subscribers.
Kendra Clayton finds herself once again on the trail of a killer when a case of mistaken identity lands her smack in the middle of a decades old beef between an ex con named Dibb Bentley and her least favorite person on the planet, Lewis Watts. And when their beef turns deadly, and Lewis is arrested, Kendra has a hard time turning a blind eye, especially when the evidence against Lewis doesn’t add up. But when the killer targets Kendra, and Detective Blake Mason insists she stay with him for her own protection, Kendra doesn’t know what she’s more afraid of, a murderer lurking in the shadows, or her growing attraction to Mason, who has heart-break written all over him.
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