“Receiving a Ballantyne invitation in your mailbox was akin to
finding a golden ticket in a chocolate bar.”
Kendel Lynn set Board Stiff at a South Carolina beach, a place where she once lived. Beach bum that I am, the book was on my must-read list. Elli Lisbon, Kendel’s main character, lives on the beach like a millionaire and controls billions of dollars, but she isn’t wealthy. As director of the philanthropic Ballantyne Foundation, she serves the founding family of the nonprofit requiring her many talents, one of which is solving mysteries. When I read Kendel’s biography, I found a similar over-achiever who must know how to multitask since she heads two companies and also writes. Please welcome Kendel Lynn back to WWK and read her blog “Three Thoughts from an Editor.” E. B. Davis
Kendel, would you give us a short synopsis of Board Stiff?
As director of the Ballantyne Foundation on Sea Pine Island, SC, Elliott Lisbon scratches her detective itch by performing discreet inquiries for Foundation donors. Usually nothing more serious than retrieving a pilfered Pomeranian. Until Jane Hatting, Ballantyne board chair, is accused of murder. The Ballantyne’s reputation tanks, Jane’s headed to a jail cell, and Elliott’s sexy ex is the new lieutenant in town. Armed with moxie and her Mini Coop, Elliott uncovers a trail of blackmail schemes, gambling debts, illicit affairs, and investment scams. But the deeper she digs to clear Jane’s name, the guiltier Jane looks. The closer she gets to the truth, the more treacherous her investigation becomes: a brutal attack on her own suspect and the murder of a witness. With victims piling up faster than shells at a clambake, Elliott realizes she’s next on the killer’s list.
Elli’s the woman most likely to have antibacterial gel in her purse. Why?
She’s completely freaked out about the idea of getting sick, especially from something from a stranger’s grimey, grubby, icky, slimey, germy, sneezed-on hands. Her hand-sani comforts her, lets her know she’s protected from the unknown, if only the most microscopic unknown.
This isn’t the first time Elli’s had to delve into complications posed by board members and residents of Sea Pine Island. Elli’s degree is in Criminal Justice, but she’s working on obtaining her S.C. Investigator’s license, requiring 6000 hours experience. She only has accumulated 400 hours. Will she ever get her license?
Yes! But it may take the rest of her life. She isn’t afraid of the task and she understands she’s working on her own timeline, not anyone else’s. She’ll get there!
Of Elli’s considerable talents, which one serves her best in solving murders?
Her people skills – sort of a people-awareness. She works with so many personality types, the eclectic and the eccentric, during her course as Director of the quirky Ballantyne Foundation. She’s very self-aware of her own disposition, honest with her own shortcomings, so it helps her figure out the folks she’s investigating.
Given your commercial success, have you ever been asked or have served on the board of an organization like the Ballantyne Foundation?
No, not yet anyway. I’ve served on volunteer committees many times, and they’re definitely a mad mix of characters, power struggles, and opinions. It’s truly wonderful fodder for murder mysteries.
Are wealthy people eccentric, or do they function at such a high level most people can’t fathom how they live?
I think society permits unconventionality in the wealthier set. If you’re rich, you’re eccentric, if you’re poor, you’re just crazy.
How does Elli avoid becoming a blimp while eating honey-roasted turkey and Brie, she-crab bisque, croissants and blackberry jam?
Seriously. She rides her three-wheeled bike wherever she can! She still has a decent metabolism and walks on the beach for miles. She’s a healthy size, definitely not on the skinny side. But we’ll be addressing her dietary situation in a future book. More of her coming to terms with the changes life and body bring to a woman over forty.
Elli’s parents expected a boy, whom they wanted to name Elliott. They never changed the name. I find Elli’s background intriguing. Will we find more surprises in her history in future books?
Absolutely! We’re just getting to know her, and it’s fun to peel back the thin layers of her life, revealing the tidbits that make her who she is today.
What adventures will Elli face in Whack Job, due out in May 2014?
I’m just finishing it and what a fun one to write! She helps a loyal Ballantyne donor recover a stolen Faberge Egg, but encounters the darker side of island life with pawn shops, trailer parks, tennis clubs, yacht parties, and murder. Plus, she’s unsure about her own client. Is he a victim or a complete whack job?
You’ve been successful in varying commercial fields including publishing. How long have you been a publisher? What attracts you to a book and how do you decide which ones to publish? How many authors have you published?
Publishing is definitely for me. I started Henery in January 2012 and I truly love every minute of it (except traveling, literally. I enjoy being at a conference, but dread the to/from.) I’m no different than most editors/agents, attracted to books that fit my personal taste. I like a fast pace (tighten, tighten, tighten), surprising humor (catch me off guard so I laugh out loud), and a twisty plot (I’ll try to figure it out, but make sure I don’t!).
We’ve got thirteen authors in the Hen House, with a few new ones slated for next year, plus we’ll have twenty-two books by the end of this year. And for those thinking of subbing, our calendar for next year is filling up fast.
Sick as it may be, do you think mystery writers kill off victims in their favorite settings?
Absolutely. A lovely setting is an ideal backdrop for murder – juxtaposing a pleasant environment with an unpleasant deed. We want to invite our readers into a town/place/island they want to spend time in. And then they get to play detective with us, so it’s fun for everyone.
After beach paradise, why did you move to Texas?
I’m originally from LA, so I think of it as a journey back toward California! I enjoyed the peaceful life on Hilton Head – the slow days, the salty air, the gorgeous landscaping. But I was antsy to return to more of a city life. Dallas is definitely city. Though everyone says y’all all the time…