Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Jenn McKinlay Interview - Wait for It

Photo Content from Chelsea Sedoti

Former librarian Jenn McKinlay is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Bluff Point Romances, including Every Dog Has His Day, Barking Up the Wrong Tree, and About a Dog, as well as the Library Lover’s Mysteries, the Cupcake Bakery Mysteries, and the Hat Shop Mysteries. Jenn lives in sunny Arizona in a house that is overrun with kids, pets, and her husband’s guitars.


What was the greatest thing you learned at school?
How to ditch without getting caught. Seriously, until college I didn’t enjoy school at all except for the social aspects. Once I was in college, however, I became a top student and when I studied library science, I found my happy place. Learning how to research any topic is the best thing I ever learned.

Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
Having a reader tell me that my books got her through a particularly dark period in her life was one of my most rewarding moments. Books have always given me respite from real life, so it was gratifying to be the giver for a change.

What are some of your current and future projects that you can share with us?
I’m currently working on my next women’s fiction romantic comedy and then I’ll dive right into the next library lover’s mystery.

Why is storytelling so important for all of us?
Life is complicated and scary and frequently difficult. Storytelling teaches us how to navigate the hardships that life sends our way. I’ve definitely had my own thinking adjusted by stories and I believe in the power of stories to improve people’s lives and circumstances.

Can you tell us when you started WAIT FOR IT, how that came about?
The idea came to me while taking a shower in January of 2020. Annabelle was such a force of nature in her walk on part in Paris Is Always a Good Idea that I couldn’t let her go and then, on that particular day, the complete story just popped into my head -- while covered in suds and without a pen, naturally.

What do you hope for readers to be thinking when they read your novel?
There’s a lot to unbox in Wait For It as they characters struggle to let go of their self defeating patterns of behavior. It’s my hope that readers will follow their individual journeys and learn that you can always ask for help, it’s never too late to change, and that starting over is sometimes the bravest choice of all.

What part of Annabelle did you enjoy writing the most?
Annabelle’s interactions with Nick were my favorite parts. They challenged each other in the most delicious way and it was a pure joy to write.

If you could have written one book in history, what book would that be?
Great question! I’d love to have written Much Ado About Nothing or The Taming of the Shrew, the original romantic comedies.

If you could introduce one of your characters to any character from another book, who would it be and why?
Because I love crossovers so much, in my book Death in the Stacks, I introduced all of my mystery characters from my three different series. It was so much fun but also very tricky!

Tell me about a favorite event of your childhood.
There was no one pivotal event in my childhood. I was lucky enough to have a brother eleven months older than me and we were free range kids, who lived outside all day long until we were forced to go home because the sun was setting and dinner was ready. Those were magical days.

Best date you've ever had?
Drinking whiskey sours with my husband at an old fifties style lounge in Phoenix. It was out first date and I knew he was “the one”.

What was the first job you had?
I was a library page from age 14-18 at my local public library in Niantic, CT.

Which incident in your life that totally changed the way you think today?
Standing up to a bully in school. I learned that hurt people hurt people and I’ve never forgotten that.

What were you doing the last time you really had a good laugh?
Planning a prank on my son with his girlfriend. We laughed so hard I was surprised we didn’t get tossed out of the restaurant. We totally got him, too.

First Heartbreak?
College boyfriend chose his fraternity over me. That one hurt!

You have the chance to give one piece of advice to your readers. What would it be?
Be kind.

  • 1. It is set in Phoenix, AZ
  • 2. The heroine is twice-divorced and only twenty-eight.
  • 3. The hero uses a wheelchair.
  • 4. There is a scene set at the gay Denny’s, which only true Phoenicians know.
  • 5. I lived in the Biltmore neighborhood where the book is set for several years.
  • 6. The book was written in my neighbor’s house during the pandemic because all of my people were home and under foot.
  • 7. The cat in the book, named Sir, is based on my nephew’s cat Giuseppe Socks.
  • 8. I had to interview architects and graphic designers in order to write the book.
  • 9. I’ve driven out to the desert to watch the meteor showers that Annabelle and Nick discover.
  • 10. Writing a book about anxiety gave me anxiety!
Your journey to publication
When did I decide to become a writer? Funny story. True story. I was a teenager and went to see the movie Romancing the Stone. I don't know that I decided to be a writer so much as I decided to be Kathleen Turner. Yes, that would be quite a stretch for me, but living in an apartment in New York City, writing romance novels for a living seemed like a good gig and so the dream began. I did nothing with it for YEARS.

When I was twenty-five, I packed up my stuff and moved to Arizona and started writing romances. They were pretty bad, but I learned a lot along the way about POV, character development and plotting, etc. I took a wide variety of part-time library jobs, convinced that it was all temporary because one day I would be a published writer.

While I was pursuing this dream with some pretty impressive single-mindedness, I had my heart broken a few times and I broke a few along the way. I found my soul mate (in a library - for real) and married him. I had a gorgeous baby boy.

And then the call came! A lovely woman called from Harlequin and wanted to buy a book I had submitted a year (yes, a WHOLE year) before. She said, "We want to buy your book." I looked at the bundle of joy in my arms and asked, "What book?" She said, "Hmm. Usually people scream about now." I said, "I can't. It'd wake the baby." This was my first lesson in perspective and what is truly important in life, my family, but I still wanted to be a writer.

I signed a contract and went on to write for a couple of Harlequin's romantic comedy lines. I had another gorgeous baby boy. The writing was hard for me and I learned that I was not a category romance writer so much as a mystery and women’s fiction rom-com writer.

So, I started over. I wrote several mysteries and romances. I submitted to agents and publishers. No one loved the whole package. They loved my characters and hated my plot or vice versa. It was agony. Then a lone voice, an agent, decided she thought I was a genius (always a good sign).

She signed me and now I had a buddy to suffer the rejection with me. It still hurt. We kept trying. It went on for two years. And then we sold! In 2008, I agreed to write a decoupage mystery series, then I submitted an idea for a cupcake bakery mystery series and it sold.

Interestingly, during a meeting with my editor, I asked her what other types of stories I might consider writing. She handed me a stack of books, which were all romantic comedies. I trusted her judgment and tried my hand, once again, at rom-coms. I managed to write 450 pages in one month. Since I had recently switched literary agencies, I was relieved when my new agent read the book and said, "Wow, you wrote a perfect book!" She happily sold it and several more to my wonderful editor, so I was officially back in the women's fiction game with my seventh, WAIT FOR IT, coming out in August .

Is it enough yet? I don't think so. So far, my books have landed on the New York Times, USA Today, and PW best seller's list. Awesome, but still, there's something just outside my reach. I guess I'll know what it is when it's in my grasp. Maybe it is something only time can give me. I don't know.

In the meantime, I am writing up a storm in my house in the desert. While my house, which is filled to bursting with plants, pets and my husband's guitars, is not the New York City apartment I dreamed of as a teen, I wouldn't trade it or the life I am living for anything!

A woman looking for a new lease on life moves to Arizona where she rents a guest house on a gorgeous property with a mysterious owner--a man who teaches her about resilience, courage, and ultimately true love, in this funny, bighearted novel about hope and healing from New York Times bestselling author Jenn McKinlay.

Stuck in a dreary Boston winter, Annabelle Martin would like nothing more than to run away from her current life. She's not even thirty years old, twice-divorced, and has just dodged a marriage proposal... from her ex-husband. When she's offered her dream job as creative director at a cutting-edge graphic design studio in Phoenix, she jumps at the opportunity to start over.

When she arrives in the Valley of the Sun, Annabelle is instantly intrigued by her anonymous landlord. Based on the cranky, handwritten notes Nick Daire leaves her, she assumes he is an old, rich curmudgeon. Annabelle is shocked when she finally meets Nick and discovers that he's her age and uses a wheelchair. Nick suffered from a stroke a year ago, and while there's no physical reason for him not to recover, he is struggling to overcome the paralyzing fear that has kept him a prisoner in his own home.

Despite her promise to herself not to get involved, Annabelle finds herself irresistibly drawn to Nick. And soon she wonders if she and Nick might help each other find the courage to embrace life, happiness, and true love.

You can purchase Wait for It at the following Retailers:

1 Winner will receive a $10 Amazon Gift Card.


  1. I love to read and go for long walks.

  2. Long walks (really)and bingeing reality TV.

  3. "Favorite things to do alone?" Read blog posts about politics!

  4. I like to read books.

    abfantom at yahoo dot com

  5. My favorite things to do alone are going ghost hunting, watching tv, reading books, and playing around on the computer.

  6. My favorite thing to do alone is read.