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Interview: Angela Henry, author of Schooled in Lies

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Author Angela Henry takes time from her writing to answer a few questions.  She is the creator of the Kendra Clayton mystery series and her fourth installment, Schooled In Lies has just been published (Dec. 2009).  In addition to writing, Ms. Henry is the founder of the award-winning MystNoir website, which promotes African-American mystery writers, and was named a “Hot Site” by USA Today.  Readers can visit Angela at her website and blog.  She lives in Ohio, where she is currently at work creating her next world of words.

Tell us a bit about Schooled In Lies.

Schooled In Lies is the 4th book in my Kendra Clayton mystery series. The story revolves around Kendra, getting roped into serving on her high school’s reunion committee with murderous — and humorous — results.

How do you come up with the names of your characters? It almost seems as though, as an author, you have the continuous fun of naming children!

Names of main characters usually come to me pretty easily. It’s the names of secondary characters that can be hard to come up with. For those I use a random name generator that I found online.

What do you want readers to take away from reading Schooled In Lies?

The past always has a way of coming back to get you.

What was the most fun about writing Schooled In Lies?

Drawing on my own high school memories.

What was the hardest part about writing Schooled In Lies?

Drawing on my own high school memories. Some of those memories weren’t so fond.

Could you tell us about your writing process?

When I get an idea for a story, I do an extensive plot and chapter outline that serves as my blueprint. Once I get started actually writing the book, I aim for no less than 1,000 per day. I’m very strict about maintaining that word count because I don’t want to have to make it up the next day.

Do you have any particular habits that you take part in while writing? By that I mean certain music you like to listen to, foods you like to eat, environment that helps you write better, etc.

Well, I know a lot of people like to listen to music while they write. But I find music too distracting. I love to write surrounded by books. The majority of my books are written in libraries.

Where do you get your ideas and inspirations?

Believe it or not, some of them come to me in dreams. The rest are based on stories in the news. I’ve always been fascinated about what makes normal, everyday people decide to kill.

What were some of your favorite books as a child?

I loved The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe and Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House on the Prairie books.

What are you reading right now?

I’m on a YA kick right now. I’m reading Ruined By Paula Morris and The Hunchback Assignments by Arthur Slade.

Who are some of your favorite authors?

Wow. I have so many. I love Walter Mosley, Neil Gaiman, Gloria Naylor, Karen Marie Moning. Those are just a few. My taste is all over the place.

If you could have lunch and chat with any author, dead or alive, who would it be and why?

I’d love to have lunch and a chat with JK Rowling. I adore the Harry Potter series and would love to spend time talking about world building with the woman who has created one of the most imaginative fictional worlds I’ve ever read about.

If you had to summarize your life and give it a book title, what would that title be?

The Life & Times of a Criminally Minded Librarian

What do you hope to accomplish within the next five years?

I’d like to be published in a variety of genres.

What are you working on right now and can you give us a sneak peek? A small excerpt?

I’m currently editing book five in the Kendra Clayton series called KillJoy. Here’s a very rough sneak peek of KIllJoy:

The room was pitch black. There was something wet and sticky all over the floor and I couldn’t see what is was. I finally managed to grab the doorknob and pull myself to my feet. I felt around on the wall for a light switch. Once I got the lights on, I turned and froze. I was in what appeared to be an office. At first, I thought the red pattern on the walls was wallpaper. I quickly realized I was wrong.

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