Today’s special guest is Jennifer-Lynn Keniston. We’re chatting about her new mystery novel, Afta-U.
Welcome, Jennifer-Lynn. Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
I was raised in Hanson, Massachusetts. I earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English, with a concentration in writing and a minor in philosophy, from Plymouth State College in New Hampshire. I then went on to receive a Master of Arts degree in English from Bridgewater State College in Massachusetts. During my undergraduate years at Plymouth State, I had a number of articles published in the school newspaper, “The Clock.” I have always been an avid poet, and even had entries published in some of Poetry.com’s book compilations:
Twilight Musings, 2005, “Garden Of Eden”
The Best Poems & Poets of 2005, “Kodak Moments”
The International Who’s Who In Poetry, 2005, “Birthday Morning”
Collected Whispers, 2008, “Point Sebago”
Away from my literary pursuits, I have worked as a project manager for over eleven years, and obtained my PMP certification (Project Manager Professional). Currently, I work as a project manager for a company that provides cloud software products for call centers at small, medium, and enterprise companies.
In addition to working full time, I also run my own business, Ansel Resume Resolution Services LLC, writing resumes (as a certified resume writer) and cover letter packages, and offering tutoring and professional writing services. In my spare time, I am a certified Spinning instructor and teach Spinning classes (indoor bike classes).
I now live and write in Concord, New Hampshire, sharing my home with two Maine Coon Cats.
Please tell us about your current release.
My debut novel, Afta-U, was officially released on November 24, 2015. My book publisher is Tate Publishing. The story details everything that happens after the death of a little girl named Hope, at age 11. Hope’s best friend Jean, who is now almost 40, narrates the story. Jean Cartwright Rhodes returns to her hometown with her husband and daughter, twenty-nine years after the tragic death of Hope, when she inherits the house her friend's family once lived in. Now, years later, she finds herself haunted by a dark truth --- and by the specter of Hope herself. The Afta-U is both a literal and figurative boat that quietly immortalizes Hope, since Jean is haunted by her past and hasn’t come to terms with it. Afta-U unfolds as a psychological chess match, a complex web of intrigue, unexpected relationships, lies, and devastating secrets as Jean struggles with the impact of decisions she made long ago on all the lives around her. When Jean confronts and tries to come to grips with Hope's killer, she finds herself waging a personal battle between madness and redemption.
What inspired you to write this book?
When I was home working on my personal computer and preparing to take the Project Management Professional examination, something inside of me made me bring up a blank word document on the computer screen. I typed the name of my grandfather’s boat as the title Afta-U, and then proceeded to fill up half of a page with an introduction to a story. That paragraph is still in the novel, but is after the new opening paragraph. I had no idea where the story would go and who the characters were. I’ll confess, I do not write from an outline unless I’m forced to do so, even when writing research papers, etc. I do the outline last and then edit and move parts of a paper or story around. I do have more of an idea where my second story will go, but I will most likely, write this second one all out of order again and then bring it all together later in the process. The idea and name for the second novel surfaced before I was even halfway done with writing this first novel. This first book was much more of a personal novel, even though it is completely fiction.
Michael’s smile broadened. “It seems you’re surprised to see me, Jean. Don’t tell me you thought that they’d leave an eleven-year-old boy locked away forever.”
What exciting story are you working on next?
I am working on a poetry compilation called "Breadcrumbs" and also on my second novel entitled Fresnel Lens. Some of the characters from my first novel carry over into this second novel. However, it is almost a standalone story, set in the fictitious towns I’ve created named Nain Valley and Graytown. It is more of a mystery where Jean is unaware of the underlying mystery and helps to unravel and solve it. This time around, it isn’t personal for Jean.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
To be honest, I always considered myself to be a writer. Personally, I have been writing poetry and short stories since I was a child. But there was a pivotal moment when I was in junior high school, when I worked on writing what ended up to be approximately a handwritten 25 page story, of a woman who wanted to become a doctor. I would write a few pages and bring these pages into school for a few people to read. There was a girl named Sarah, who was extremely supportive and excited to read the pages. She motivated me to want to write more and share it with her and others. But it was when I first received a sample printed book of Afta-U from Tate in the mail for me to review for layout and format, that the dream to become a published writer really began to feel real to me. Now I am excited to share the story with others and hope they find enjoyment for the 4-5 hour commitment they are investing in reading it. I joke around that I’m hoping no one would prefer to put down the book and go and clean a toilet! I’m hoping many readers will embrace and love my book and when finished, will be disappointed that it ended, finding themselves anxiously awaiting the completion of my second novel.
Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I do not write full-time. I work full-time as a project manager for a company that provides cloud software products for call centers at small, medium, and enterprise companies. In addition to working full time as a project manager, I also started my own business in 2014, Ansel Resume Resolution Services LLC, writing resumes and cover letter packages, and offering tutoring and professional writing services. In my spare time, I enjoy instructing Spinning classes (indoor cycling classes). My goal is to get up an hour earlier each day and start out my day writing for an hour. On weekends and days I am able to start even earlier, it would be a blessing to write longer.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I just sit down and write. I do not work from an outline. Characters appear to me and basic story ideas. I then work to chisel and perfect the characters and storylines. I write the story out of order and then work to bring it all together. As an idea comes to mind, I frantically search for a piece of paper, a receipt, or a napkin to jot it down on. I have many small pieces of papers crinkled up with scribbled ideas on them, stuffed inside my computer bag that I often reference.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I think I was born wanting to be a writer. However, there was a time when I wanted to be an archeologist. That is why Jean, in a childhood flashback, expresses an interest in becoming an archeologist.
My author website – (check for an author signed copy promotion where you can buy hardcover and softcover): http://www.jenniferkeniston.com/afta-u/
Tate Publishing’s website where you can buy hardcover, softcover, and a digital download copy:
Amazon.com (hardcover and softcover):
Thanks for being here, today, Jennifer-Lynn!