Mystery author Annie Hansen is helping me wind up another week here on Reviews and Interviews. We’re chatting about her latest Kelly Clark Mystery, Take the Donut. It’s book 3 in the cozy mystery series.
Annie Hansen is a graduate of the University of Illinois with a B.S. in Biology. She is a partner with Hansen Search Group, a staffing firm she cofounded with her husband and business partner, Brent Hansen, in 2001. She was named the winner of the Helen McCloy Mystery Writers of America Scholarship in 2011 for her submission of “Give Me Chocolate.” Annie is the author of The Kelly Clark Mystery Series and can be reached through her website: www.kellyclarkmystery.com. She lives with her family in the western suburbs of Chicago.
Welcome, Annie. Please tell us about your current release:
The third novel in The Kelly Clark Mystery Series, Take the Donut, takes the reader further into Kelly’s mysterious back story. Kelly’s past has been something she’s been trying to hide from, but when a new piece of evidence is brought to light, she is tempted to try and change the story altogether.
Kelly Clark has spent the last three years of her life running from her tumultuous past. With her violent ex-husband, Steve, locked up, Kelly is now in a supportive and loving relationship with her boyfriend, Jack, and reconnecting with her two sisters. Kelly finds time to help her sister, Adelle, launch a new donut business, while also getting her parents to move back to their hometown of Geneva, IL from their home in Miami. But when a jailbreak at Steve’s prison threatens her safety, Kelly is drawn once again to solving the mystery of what made her ex-husband derail in the first place. When Kelly finds out one of her close family members may have been involved in Steve’s fraudulent money schemes, Kelly begins to doubt everyone around her. Did she trust the wrong people? Is Steve coming back to get his revenge on Kelly? Featuring an interesting heroine who is determined to make a new start, Take the Donut is a cozy mystery that centers on temptation, family drama, greed, and sweet revenge. Is William lying about his past? And if so, is Catherine willing to sacrifice their beautiful life in order to find the truth? Featuring a fascinating heroine who longs for answers but is blinded by her own privilege, We Could Be Beautiful is a glittering, seductive, utterly surprising story of love, money, greed, and family.
What inspired you to write this book?
I want to complete this series to the end because I feel like I owe it to Kelly, my main character. I started this madness for her, I need to end it and end it well. Or at least, in a way that will complete Kelly’s story. For some reason, I found that the third book in the series was much more difficult to write than the first or the second. I think by the time you get to the third in a series, you’ve really attached to and connected to your characters. Every move they make has a big influence on the outcome for the series. In my books, there are three main sisters that are the pivotal characters. I’m in love with all three of them and want the best for them. But this is a murder mystery series, someone has to die!
What exciting story are you working on next?
I am currently hibernating! I plan to spend the months of January and February reading, reading, and reading. It rejuvenates me and allows my mind to rest so that in the spring I can start location scouting. I use real locations in the towns surrounding Geneva, IL, where my main character, Kelly Clark, lives. That will begin in the spring and then the writing kicks in during the summer. I hope to start writing my 4th Kelly Clark Mystery by summer of 2017 with a release by fall of 2018.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I really accepted the role after my first book was published. I realized quickly that the audience expects a professional, so it’s time to step up and take on that role. I like to say to myself, “Own it, girl! God gave you this opportunity and desire to write. No second guessing or negative head talk. Step up and own it.”
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 right now. I’m a partner in a staffing firm I cofounded with my husband in 2001, Hansen Search Group, so that takes the majority of my time. I’m also a mother of young children. Right now, my life is a lot of juggling and working whenever I can. I work a lot at night when my kids go to bed.
When I’m writing a new manuscript, I only write about two pages a day, but I commit to it every day. It really helps to stay checked into the stories and the characters. I’ve written three books like this now and it works for me. If I write every day, I end up with a first draft after 6 months. The editing and re-writing from there is madness.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
If I’m stuck, I vacuum. It clears up all the cobwebs in my head.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I read all the time as a kid, but I never imagined I would write myself. I thought seriously about being a healthcare professional, but I’ve discovered I’m scared of blood, so I’m kind of glad that path did not work out. Hahaha!