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Friday, September 4, 2015

An Interview with Mystery Author Linda Thorne

Linda Thorne began pursuing her true passion, writing, in 2005. Since then, she has published numerous short stories in the genres of mystery, thriller, and romance. Her debut novel, Just Another Termination, is the first in a planned series of mysteries that tell the story of Judy Kenagy, the first career human resources manager to turn sleuth. Just Another Termination will be released by Black Opal Books on August 29, 2015. She is currently writing the second book in her series, A Promotion to Die For.  

Like her lead character, Thorne is a career human resources manager. She has worked in the HR profession in Arizona, Colorado, Mississippi, California, and now, Tennessee. She holds a BS degree in business from Arizona State University and has completed a number of graduate-level courses in her field.


Welcome, Linda!

In your various job roles in personnel, I bet you have run into a lot of good material for your mysteries, including people you would like to murder! Do you ever base characters or incidents in your novels or real life?

I’ll never forget reading something Lawrence Block wrote years ago. He discussed the general wording that is in every work of fiction that says something like, “Names, places, characters and incidents are fictional. Any resemblance to an actual person, business, event, etc. is entirely coincidental.” Then in the next sentence, Block said, “And the world is flat.” 

The people we meet and the things that happen to us make us who we are. I don’t know how any author could come up with ideas without pulling from personal experiences. Yes, there are pieces of real events and personality characteristics drawn from real people in my book, but they are mixed together, my imagination is added, things like setting and time-frame are so changed that the book is truly fiction.   

You have probably also been exposed to a lot of drama and comedy. Why did you choose to turn your writing talents to mysteries?

Since my childhood, I’ve always loved to read murder mysteries. I was a big fan of TV series such as Columbo and Murder She Wrote, watching all of them and then watching reruns. 

Also, in my human resources career I’ve done many investigations when issues are reported or accusations are made. These investigations are a search for facts similar to what the police do as part of a murder investigation. I have some amazing stories of what I’ve found out in a number of these investigations. Stories, of course, I can not discuss. Sometimes what is first reported to HR turns out to be something totally different when the truth unfolds. Part of the job in human resources is solving mysteries. 

I’ve also had to work with the police in a few investigations, much like my lead character, Judy Kenagy, in Just Another Termination. Quite a long time ago, an employee at a company where I worked did not show up for work. We sent a co-worker over to check on her and she was found murdered. In my role as human resources for that company, I helped the police do their investigation at our company. The case was never solved.  

When you relax with a good book, who are some of your favorite mystery authors? 

The biggest for me are J.A. Jance, Michael Connolly, Carolyn Haines. Robert Parker and Lawrence Block (his older books).

Tell us about your main character, Judy Kenagy, and what makes her a good sleuth.

Judy Kenagy is a good sleuth because she’s a tenured human resources manager, well trained in doing investigations. She also is heavy with guilt over her coerced involvement in a wrongful termination that prompted a suicide. She believes helping to solve the new murder will in some way assuage her guilt over the suicide years earlier.  

I know this is difficult for authors, because we are all so individual and usually modest, but if you had to liken your books to a well-known series, which one would you choose? Or which one have others said you remind them of?  Kooky Stephanie Plum?  Methodical Miss Marple (or Miss Silver)?  Books by the versatile Mary Higgins Clark?

I would say my books are closer to Mary Higgins Clark than any of the others.

What are you working on now?

My second book in the series, A Promotion to Die For. In this book, a job promotion returns Judy to a suburb of Topeka, Kansas where she lived almost thirty years earlier. A little town where a random twist of fate prevented her murder, but caused someone else’s. The case was never solved and the murderer is still out there.

Thank you, Linda!  May you have the success of Mary Higgins Clark! If you would like to learn more about the author, check out her website. You can also find her on Twitter.  

Here is a blurb about Linda's book, "Just Another Termination".

At long last, she lands a job with a good employer, but the trouble is just beginning…

Human resources manager Judy Kenagy hopes her days of running from bad bosses and guilt-ridden memories are over. But alas, she’s barely settled in when a young female employee is found shot to death, spinning her new workplace into turmoil. Small-town police chief, Carl Bombardier solicits Judy’s help in her role as the company’s HR Manager. While working with Judy, he shares his fanatical interest in a twenty-five-year-old double homicide he believes is linked to her last and worst bad boss. To make matters worse, the trusted assistant of her monster ex-boss starts showing up, keeping the unwanted connection going. When the pesky trusted assistant turns up murdered, Judy learns there’s a connection with the shooting death of the employee. She starts sleuthing at the crime scene and stumbles upon an important piece of evidence. Can she solve all of the murders with this single find? If she does, will she finally be freed from the demons of her past? Or are things not as they seem?



17 comments:

  1. Thank you for hosting me on your blog today. I'm excited about being your guest and chatting with you and visitors who stop by.

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  2. Linda, I had no idea that being a personnel director could be so "sleuth-like"!

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  3. It's been so long since I've heard someone refer to the title as personnel director. That was my first title in this field. It was in the early nineties that the term "human resources" evolved. I always liked "personnel" director or manager better, but I don't hear it much anymore. Yes, in my career we have investigations of certain issues and events. The fact finding process has brought out some bizarre and surprising results over the years.

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  4. What a great resource for ideas a Human Resources background must be. You have a treasure trove of stories and characters that you can flake and form into some very interesting stories. All the best with your first book and the second one when it hits the shelves.

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    1. Thank you. Some ideas in my book came from work-related events that I can talk about since the companies are now out of business and the information is public. One example, is the murdered employee I talked about in my interview here.

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  5. Terminations! The word just conjures up all sorts of fabulous and mysterious stuff! I do remember one HR Director in particular who spent much of her day picking at her fingernails - it drove everyone crazy, and one person actually mentioned it in an exit interview. Exit Interview - great title for an upcoming book, I think! I love that a Human Resource person - like a Security Director - has access to confidential info, which can really cause problems of the deadly kind. Best of luck, Linda - and "Just Another Termination" is a winner!

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    1. Thank you, Kate. I really need to go online and find out more about some of the visitors here. You have some interesting ideas. My husband bought a stamp I can use to stamp inside the book when signing. It hasn't arrived yet, but he said it stamps a print that says something like "You're terminated." It's pink like a "pink-slip." I love your story about the HR person picking her nails. Sounds like she had an easy HR job or an overworked assistant.

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  6. Great "meeting" you electronically, Linda. What an interesting protagonist you've developed--and Judy Kenagy's back story is very compelling--and then the intrigue the Police Chief brings. Wow, just Another Termination is definitely on my TBR list. (just downloaded to my Kindle) Also really like your cover. Much success!

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    1. I'm starting to read about some of you I have not met before. Interesting backgrounds here. I'm a small fish in comparison. I didn't expect anyone stopping by would buy my book. Thank you.
      P.S. I like P.D. James too. I'd heard of her forever, but only started reading her books a few years ago and wondered why I waited so long.

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  7. I like the term 'Personnel Director' - it conjures up an eagle-eyed character looking down, over her specs,on the worker bees...! I agree with Gayle - what a rich source of stories and characters you must have. I really look forward to reading "Termination" - and wish you wonderful luck with it.

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    1. Yeah, the image of the "Personnel Director" from earlier years has always been how you describe it. Maybe that's why they changed the title to human resources. The title didn't change the job much. Are you the Rosemary Lord who writes about Hollywood then and now?

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  8. Linda, I am so thrilled to discover you and your mystery series--in fact, I just ordered "Just Another Termination." You see, I am also a battle-scarred HR veteran (I got into the field when it was still called "Industrial Relations") and until I read your interview, I never thought about my work as investigative--but it often was. We never had a murder at my workplace (so far as I know) but we did have a security guard go off the roof one Friday evening as she was taking down the flag. I thought it very suspicious! I write women's fiction because I'm simply not smart enough to write mysteries, but my protagonists do work in HR. "Write what you know," as we've often been told. Best of luck to you for big success with your mysteries.

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    1. Yeah, the image of the "Personnel Director" from earlier years has always been how you describe it. Maybe that's why they changed the title to human resources. The title didn't change the job much. Are you the Rosemary Lord who writes about Hollywood then and now?

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    2. I think my reply to Rosemary Lord ended up her with Bonnie S. My reply to Bonnie is in the comment below.

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  9. Industrial Relations, I thought, was mostly connected to unionized work environments. I've worked in those too. Sometimes easier as the collective bargaining agreement spelled out what would be and what would not be in black and white print and there was no budging. Your story of the security guard falling off the roof would be a great plot for a book. You'd have to be smart enough to write a mystery if for no other reason than you loved the movie, The Big Chill, and that proves it to me. It wasn't a mystery, but to get all those points on life and experience that you can't get if you're not smart enough to also write a mystery. Besides, it took me ten years to get my mystery right and I worry it's still not right.

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