Interview: Jennifer Kincheloe

Let’s get to know Jennifer Kincheloe, author of The Body in Griffith Park, and see how she answers our Mysteristas questions!

What’s your idea of a perfect day?

Can it be really long? Writing would be part of my perfect day. Travel too. I’d probably be in Paris or Mexico City for the museums and the food. Maybe I’d hit the opera house. But I also want to walk on a wild beach, so I’d probably need a helicopter. My husband would be there, my kids, my mom, my sisters, my cousins. At night, I’d have a book release party for the French (or Spanish) translations of the Anna Blanc mystery series.

What made you interested in writing this particular story? 

I was inspired by heroic women. Alice Stebbins Wells became the first female cop in Los Angeles in 1910. That took guts to be the only woman among hundreds of male cops. Also, Fanny Bixby, who was a lot like Anna Blanc. Fanny was young, pretty, single, and the daughter of one of the richest men in California. She became a special constable in 1908, carrying handcuffs and a gun. Like Anna Blanc, her family and society didn’t think much of her police work.


What themes do you regularly (re)visit in your writing? 

Sexism. Racism. Social issues that touch Anna’s jail like mental illness, poverty, substance use, and the exploitation of women. All of these issues are still problems today. They’ll probably keep popping up in my writing until we solve them.

Tell us about your main character. / Describe your protagonist as a mash-up of three famous people or characters.

Scarlett O’Hara, Lucille Ball, and Sherlock Holmes. Anna Blanc is as glamourous, clueless, and pragmatic as Scarlett. Like Scarlett, she doesn’t always know her own heart. She can be as goofy, mischievous, and self-absorbed as Lucy. Although frilly on the outside, Anna has a razor-sharp mind, like Sherlock.

Tell us a bit about yourself. / Where do you see yourself in five years – this is the time to dream big!

I used to be a research scientist on the faculty of UCLA. I took time off to write and be with my kids. It’s hard to get back into academia once you’ve stepped out of it. Academia is all about your last publication, and Anna Blanc mysteries don’t count.

Dreaming big, in five years, I’ve combined my careers. I have a successful Anna Blanc TV series, and they let me be a writer on the show. And since we’re dreaming, I play Madame Lulu and I’m fabulous (This part is a stretch. I have no acting experience or training.) Meanwhile, I’m cranking out new Anna Blanc mystery novels, while doing criminal justice policy research part-time at a major think tank. My novels are translated into every language on earth.

*****

About A Body in Griffith Park

Los Angeles, 1908. Anna Blanc is a former so-so socialite, a flailing police matron, and a killer detective.

Ex-heiress, Anna Blanc, is precariously employed by the Los Angeles Police Department, reforming delinquent children and minding lady jailbirds. What she really wants is to hunt criminals and be alone with Detective Joe Singer–both no-nos that could get her fired. On a lover’s tryst in Griffith Park, Anna and Joe discover the body of a young gambler. Anna can’t resist. She’s on the case. With a murder to solve and her police matron duties piling up, a young girl shows up at Central Station claiming to have been raped by a man from Mars. The men at the station scoff, but Anna is willing to investigate. Meanwhile, Anna begins getting strange floral arrangements from an unknown admirer. Following the petals leads her to another crime–one close to home. Suddenly pitted against Joe, Anna must examine her loyalties and solve the crimes, even if it means losing the man she loves.

*****

Jennifer Kincheloe is a research scientist and writer of historical mysteries. Her novels take place in 1900s Los Angeles among the police matrons of the LAPD and combine, mystery, history, humor, and romance. The Woman in the Camphor Trunk was released in November, 2017 and was nominated for a prestigious Lefty Award.

Her debut novel, The Secret Life of Anna Blanc was a finalist in the Lefty Awards for Best Historical Mystery, The Colorado Author’s League Award for Best Genre Fiction, the Macavity Sue Feder Award for Historical Mystery, and is the WINNER of the Mystery & Mayhem Award for Historical Mystery and the Colorado Gold for Best Mystery.

Jennifer grew up in Southern California, but has traveled to such places as Greenland, Nicaragua, Ethiopia, and Papua New Guinea. She’s been a block layer, a nurse’s aid, a fragrance model, and on the research faculty at UCLA, where she spent 11 years conducting studies to inform health policy. Jennifer currently lives in Denver, Colorado with her husband and two teenagers, two dogs, and a cat. There she conducts research on the jails.

12 thoughts on “Interview: Jennifer Kincheloe”

  1. Welcome, Jennifer! Anna sounds like a great character – who wouldn’t like someone who is part Lucille Ball?

    I’m sure you’ve done a lot of research for the books. Do you see any change in how those issues were dealt with “back in the day” as opposed to now?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Back in the day, we put people with mental illness in institutions. They were pretty horrible. Today, the mentally ill are often in jail in solitary confinement, which is really expensive and not very therapeutic.

      Like

    1. Thanks so much! I love the newspapers from the 1900s. They are an endless source of story ideas as well as language use and social morays. I read everything from the want ads to the fashion pages to the advertisements. I love the articles about the police matrons, crime, and the society pages.

      Like

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