By Lynn McPherson
I met Rose Kerr earlier this year at Malice Domestic. We had a few good chats over some delicious cake and I’m delighted to have her here today to talk about her great new book, Death on the Set. It’s the first book in the Brenna Flynn Mystery Series, recently published by Touchpoint Press.
Rose, can you tell us about your debut novel, Death on the Set?
Brenna Flynn is my protagonist in Death on the Set. Brenna’s had some bad luck. Her husband was killed in a highway accident, and then she loses her job as a high school guidance counselor due to budget cuts.
She returns home to Bayview City and works with a temp agency to find work until she can get work as a high school guidance counselor.
Brenna interviews for the job of a production assistant for a cooking reality show and aces the interview. On the second day at work, she finds a body. The police think she may have something to do with the murder and she’s their prime suspect.
Determined to prove her innocence, Brenna uses the skills she’s honed as a high school guidance counselor to learn about the victim and members of the cast and crew. The stakes are raised with threatening notes, poisonings, and blackmail.
Can Brenna uncover who the killer is before someone else dies?
The story is so much fun. Where do you get your book ideas?
I had a lot of fun writing this book! For Death on the Set, my son and I were watching a cooking reality show and the head chef (who shall remain nameless) was especially nasty to the contestants. I looked at my son and said, one day someone is going to kill him. My son said, Mom, there’s your story. It took a while to get that story out, but it was fun writing it. The other two books in the series came from ideas that had been in my mind for some time.
Why did you choose a former guidance counselor as your protagonist?
I’ve worked with guidance counselors in the past. Some skills they have seemed natural for my amateur sleuth to have. The skills Brenna uses include research, understanding how people think, observant, active listening, drawing people out, critical thinking, problem solving, gathering information, making informed decisions, Brenna genuinely likes people and wants to help them where possible.
How important is setting in your books?
Bayview City is a fictional town on the shores of Lake Superior. My husband and I raised our family in a small town in Northern Ontario on the shores of Lake Superior. We had beautiful parks close to our town and took advantage of Lake Superior’s coastline. The lake was a factor in our lives because of how often the weather changed. We had some storms that came up quickly. The lake is vast, majestic, and constantly changing. I’ve used some parts of the town we lived in and parts of larger towns and cities in my books. It’s a setting I’m familiar and very comfortable with.
What’s your writing process? Do you have an extensive outline? Are you a pantser?
I do a lot of preparation for my books; I outline thoroughly. In my series, my main character, Brenna Flynn, takes on temp jobs. It’s important for me to understand the responsibilities she has for each position. The recurring characters each support Brenna differently. New to the series characters need to be developed. I like to know who is the victim, who the killer is, and why they’re the victim and the killer. I’ve tried pantsing and it just didn’t work for me. I admire anyone who is a pantser! One thing I’ve started doing with book three is ending my writing session with a brief note reminding me of the next scene. It’s been helpful to keep me on track.
Did you always want to be a writer? Why crime?
I wanted to write, but wasn’t sure what to write. I tried my hand at writing romance, but it didn’t stick. I found writing murder mysteries much more fun!
Who are your favorite cozy authors?
I have several authors that I reach for frequently: Connie Berry, Lynn Cahoon, Kate Carlisle, and Vicki Delany. I’m always looking for new cozy authors to read.
What’s next for Brenna Flynn?
Book two, tentatively title Death in Academia, is with my editor. I’m writing book three, working title, Death at the Festival. I don’t think Brenna is going to find work as a guidance counselor for some time!
Rose Kerr lived most of her adult life in small towns. She and her husband raised their family in a small town in Northern Ontario, on the shores of Lake Superior. Rose is a member of Sisters in Crime, the Guppy Online Chapter of Sisters in Crime, and Crime Writers of Canada. For more info visit www.rosekerr.com