Monday, May 15, 2023

Jenn McKinlay Interview - Summer Reading

Photo Content from Jenn McKinlay

Jenn McKinlay is the New York Times, USA Today, and Publisher's Weekly bestselling author of several mystery and romance series. She is also the winner of the RT Reviewer's Choice Award for romantic comedy and the Fresh Fiction award for best cozy mystery. Her work has been translated into multiple languages in countries all over the world. A TEDx speaker, she is always happy to talk books, writing, reading, and the creative process to anyone who cares to listen. She lives in sunny Arizona in a house that is overrun with kids, pets, and her husband's guitars.


Greatest thing you learned at school.
How to sneak read in my biology class in seventh grade. My lab partner and I were book nerds so we’d stand our notebooks up and then hide behind them and read. Our teacher was completely oblivious. It was definitely the year of Apple Paperbacks from Scholastic!

What fiction most influenced your childhood, and what effect did those stories have on SUMMER READING?
I discovered romantic comedies when I was in high school. I read anything and everything by Jennie Crusie or Jennifer Greene, as I got older I discovered Nora Ephron’s movies and I knew it was exactly where I wanted to be. Simply put, if I’m not laughing, I’m not interested.

What’s one thing that readers would be surprised to find out about you?
I had a reader once tell me that I write “short”. She came to a book signing and was surprised to find I am almost six feet tall. Her observation made me laugh as I didn’t know writing short was possible.

Has reading a book ever changed your life? Which one and why, if yes?
A Knight in Shining Armor by Jude Deveraux. I read it as a teen and just loved everything about it. That book more than any other made me want to be a romance writer.

Your Favorite Quotes/Scenes from SUMMER READING
One of my favorite scenes from Summer Reading is when Sam thinks she’s going to have to give her younger half brother a “sex” talk as he has started hanging around with a girl he is clearly infatuated with:

My not-so-little brother was seated at the kitchen table with a monster bowl of ice cream in front of him. I grabbed a spoon and joined him.

“So…” I said.

Tyler pushed the bowl so it was between us. Chocolate ice cream with whipped cream and sprinkles. Perfect.

He looked at me waiting for me to say more. I took a spoonful to fortify myself and only after I had swallowed did I elaborate.

“You and Sophie.”

Tyler flushed and said, “What about us?”

“As your temporary guardian, I think I need to ask how serious it is.”

“No. Nope. Nuh-uh.”


“We’re not having this conversation.” He gestured between us with his dripping spoon, leaving splats of chocolate on the table. I grabbed a napkin from the holder and wiped them up.

“What conversation?”

“The sex conversation,” he said.

I gaped at him my face a mask of innocence. “What makes you think I want to talk about that?”

“Just because you and Ben—”

“Stop right there,” I said. I felt my own face get warm.

“Ha!” he said. “Not so much fun now, is it?”

“It was never going to be fun,” I said. I scooped up more ice cream, not caring if I got brain freeze. “I just need to know that you’re being careful.” I paused, feeling a pain in my head that had nothing to do with the ice cream. “Like do you need me to buy you condoms or anything.”

“Ah!” He let out a horrified yell. “I’ve barely even kissed her!”

“Oh, well that’s good,” I said. “You’ve just been together so much I was worried that things might be moving too fast.”

“Really feeling uncomfortable right now,” he said. He shoveled some more ice cream into his mouth as if he could end this conversation if he cleaned out the bowl.

“All right,” I said. “There’s just one thing that we need to talk about and then I’ll stop torturing you, I promise.”

He closed his eyes, no doubt hoping he’d be abducted by aliens before I continued.

“I know they cover the basics of sex—” he made a strangled noise that I chose to ignore “—in health class, but do they talk about consent?”

He looked physically pained and made a moaning noise. His face was now as red as a beacon and if he perched on East Chop, he could stand in for the lighthouse out there, no problem.

“When you’re…you know…you have to listen to her,” I said. “Simply put, no means no, and it doesn’t matter when she says it or if she said yes and then changes her mind. No means no. I don’t care if you have to slam it in the door to get a grip. Understood?”

“Got it. Can I go now?” he asked. “I’m feeling a sudden need to climb into a blanket fort with all of my stuffed animals.”

“Go,” I said. He practically ran from the room, and I yelled after him, “But no snuggling them if they say no!”

“Ah!” he yelled all the way up the stairs.

So, that went well.

Are there authors that you’re excited to engage/work with?
I’m a member of the blog Jungle Red Writers. They’re a stellar group of mystery and suspense authors – Hank Phillippi Ryan, Rhys Bowen, Lucy Burdette, Deborah Crombie, Hallie Ephron, and Julia Spencer-Fleming – that I consider friends as well as writing pals. We support each other in so many ways. But there are pockets of writers’ groups, open to everyone, all over the country and online. By and large, writers are very nice people who are happy to help a fellow author out and I feel very fortunate to be a part of this community.

Which character have you enjoyed getting to know while writing SUMMER READING?
Samantha’s younger brother Tyler has been fun to write about. I have two adult (barely) sons and Tyler’s journey really reminded me of their teen years. Oy.

What advice would you give to someone who wanted to have a career in writing?
Write every day. Write for yourself. If you’re bored, your readers will be bored. There is no secret handshake to getting published. It simply requires finishing the book, and the next book, and the next book. Writing truly is the one occupation where if you can dream it, you can do it.

What were your inspirations for the characters in this novel?
My sister-in-law’s family is Portuguese (from the Azores) and when I did my research on the history of Martha’s Vineyard and discovered it was settled primarily by Azorean fisherman, well, that it was a no-brainer that my heroine’s family was much like my in-laws. As for the hero, my husband is a hot guy librarian by day and musician by night so he informed Ben’s character tremendously.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever received from another author?
“Don’t compare yourself to anyone else.” Charlaine Harris offered me this advice when my first mystery was coming out and she was RIGHT. Writing is an individual journey and careers are not comparable. You’ll just make yourself crazy if you’re constantly monitoring how others are doing. What I’ve also learned is that no one is doing as well as their social media feed makes it seem – pay no attention to the man behind the curtain! LOL.

When a woman who'd rather do anything than read meets a swoon-worthy bookworm, sparks fly, making for one hot-summer fling in New York Times bestselling author Jenn McKinlay's new rom-com.

For Samantha Gale, a summer on Martha's Vineyard at her family's tiny cottage was supposed to be about resurrecting her career as a chef, until she's tasked with chaperoning her half-brother, Tyler. The teenage brainiac is spending his summer at the local library in a robotics competition, and there's no place Sam, who's dyslexic, likes less than the library. And because the universe hates her, the library's interim director turns out to be the hot-reader guy whose book she accidentally destroyed on the ferry ride to the island.

Bennett Reynolds is on a quest to find his father, whose identity he's never known. He's taken the temporary job on the island to research the summer his mother spent there when she got pregnant with him. Ben tells himself he isn't interested in a relationship right now. Yet as soon as Sam knocks his book into the ocean, he can't stop thinking about her.

An irresistible attraction blossoms when Ben inspires Sam to create the cookbook she's always dreamed about and she jumps all in on helping him find his father, and soon they realize their summer fling may heat up into a happily ever after.
You can purchase Summer Reading at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you JENN MCKINLAY for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive a Copy of Summer Reading by Jenn McKinlay.