Jaime Lynn Hendrick’s debut, Finding Tessa released last year to great success and greater reviews. I caught up with this extremely prolific author (how prolific? VERY), and asked her to share a little about her publishing journey and writing practice. The answers are delightful, intimidating, and inspiring.
Review of It Could Be Anyone
It Could Be Anyone has a pitch perfect premise–A groom dies under possibly suspicious circumstances at his own destination wedding, and plenty of guests have reason to kill him. In fact, it could be anyone :-).
Dutch, Allie, Veejay, Ethan, Emma, and Fiona have been best friends since college. When Fiona starts dating Trevor, her friends should be happy for her. After all, she’s happy. But, it turns out that Trevor is blackmailing each of Fiona’s friends into being supportive of the union in order to fuel his own ambitions.
We jump from character to character and delve into each one’s secrets, one reveal at a time, which for me was the best part of the story.
The novel is fun, extremely readable, and twisty. I couldn’t wait to find out not just who did it, but what Trevor had on each of these seemingly well adjusted thirtysomethings.
Interview with Jaime Lynn Hendricks
It Could Be Anyone is a destination wedding mystery/thriller. What was it about setting your thriller at a destination wedding that appealed to you?
I tried to think of a setting that was supposed to be joyful and fun, and then throw a wrench into the entire story. A wedding is supposed to be the happiest time of the bride and groom’s life, and that’s also why I decided to make the groom a slimeball. Behind closed doors and all that, right? You never know what’s really going on in someone’s head.
You’ve said that It Could Be Anyone was written before the novel that became your highly successful debut, Finding Tessa. Can you tell us a little about your publishing journey and how that came to be?
‘Twas a long and winding road! I wrote It Could Be Anyone in six weeks, and it was the novel that got me my agent. While it was on sub, The Guest List debuted and we were hearing that there were too many similarities so we pulled it. While it was on sub, I wrote Finding Tessa so we went on sub again immediately. We got a lot of interest from the big publishers, but they all had the same feedback—they didn’t like the ending. My agent suggested I rewrite the last half of the book, and when we put it on sub after I did that, it sold two weeks later. Sometimes we have to listen to the experts! Then my publisher took It Could Be Anyone as my first option, and then bought my next book as well.
Do you write full time? What does your typical day look like?
Yes, writing is my job, now. Thankfully I have a wonderful and supportive husband who gave me the time to make something of my dream of being published after my company downsized and I got laid off after twenty years there. So, I went at it full force when I had nothing but time. I was laid off in January 2019 and wallowed for a month, then started It Could Be Anyone toward the end of February and started querying in May. I signed with my agent in July.
When I’m actively writing something new (like now) I force myself to write 1000 words a day. Sometimes I can get that done in thirty minutes. Sometimes it takes seven hours. So, my days are anything but typical! It’s nice when I can bang it out early and then I have the rest of the day free to read, have lunch with friends, and yes, binge watch my shows. When it takes forever to get the words out, I end up cranky with a sore back from not moving all day!
Being a pantser, how much of a story do you have in mind when you sit down to write?
The only thing I know before I start a new manuscript is what the twist is going to be. Then I develop the characters and let them control the story and how we’re going to get there. Sure, sometimes they take a different turn, but I always keep the twist the same. Knowing how I’m going to upend the story makes it easier to get there.
It Could Be Anyone is an ensemble piece, with a number of POV characters–all of them having the motive to kill the groom, which is the event that begins the novel. If you were to pick one of the characters and say this is the one whose story this really is, which character would it be? (You can ignore this question if answering it is a spoiler)
As you mentioned, they all had motive. I think the story belongs to the killer, and that’s probably all I can say about that! Ha.
I read in one of your interviews that you already have novels three and four written. When can we expect to see those, and is there anything you can tell us about them?
The third is called I Didn’t Do It and comes out Spring/Summer 2023. That’s a really fun one, because it’s about an author being murdered at Thrillerfest (name changed, of course!). Then other thriller writers get threats, and they band together to try to find out what’s going on, until it comes to light that they all have a connection to the dead writer. Then they become suspicious of each other, and realize they are living in a thriller novel themselves.
The next one is done (tentatively, What They’re Hiding), and so is another (tentatively, Everyone Is Lying), and I’m working on another now (tentatively called “Book” – don’t tell me I’m not creative! Ha). I suppose we’ll have to see how my publisher wants to handle those options when we get there. My agent hasn’t officially submitted them yet—we’re waiting for the book 2 fanfare to die down.
Where can our readers read more about you and find your books?
I’m pretty active on Instagram (@jaimelynnhendricksauthor) so anyone who wants to see that personal side of me aside from my writing (my love for the New York Rangers, wine, my dog, books, etc.) will probably have the most fun connecting with me there! Of course, I post about my books and upcoming book news there as well.
Her short stories appear in the Bouchercon 2023 Anthology, A Stranger Comes to Town: edited by Michael Koryta, Secrets in the Water, After Midnight: Tales from the Graveyard Shift, River River Journal, Snowbound: Best New England Crime Stories 2017, and 1+30: THE BEST OF MYSTORY.
When not writing, Emilya works as a visual artist and reads massive quantities of psychological thrillers, suspense, and crime fiction. She lives in the Hudson Valley with her family.