June 24th, 2008

Jenny O’Connell writes two books about two kinds of people

Okay, I’m officially jealous. Jenny O’Connell has not one, but two books out this month from MTV/Pocket books. Her first two Island Summer novels, Local Girls and Rich Boys, show what happens when you mix the year-round locals who live in the Martha’s Vineyard beach towns with the rich vacationers who are there for only three months of the year.

Since I write mysteries and thrillers, I asked Jenny some questions that always intrigue me:
A: Mystery writers often give their characters an unreasoning fear - and then make them face it. Do you have any phobias, like fear of spiders or enclosed spaces?

J: I am deathly afraid of snakes. I can't even watch them on TV. They just completely gross me out. I don't trust anything without fur or legs.
A: At its heart, every story is a mystery. It asks why someone acts the way they did - or maybe what will happen next. What question do your books ask?

J: In LOCAL GIRLS there is a real mystery, or at least an unanswered question. Kendra wants to figure out who her best friend's father is, something her friend has always wanted to know. It's sort of the missing link in Mona's life that makes her feel un-whole. Kendra thinks that solving this mystery will prove to Mona that she's a better friend than her new private school buddies. But, obviously, finding the truth about something has consequences.

In RICH BOYS there's not so much an overt mystery as an unknown. Winnie doesn't understand what gives Jay his dark side, the piece of him she can't figure out or make sense of. Again, when she gets her answer she finally understands but it doesn't necessarily solve all their problems.
A: Is there still a mystery in life that you are still trying to figure out?

J: Guys. I just don't get them.

In LOCAL GIRLS, Kendra and Mona are best friends, local girls who spend their summers catering to rich tourists and the rest of the year chafing against small-town life. Then Mona's mom marries one of the island's rich summer visitors, and Mona joins the world of the Boston elite, leaving Kendra and Martha's Vineyard behind. When Mona returns the following summer, everything is different.

Unlike his sister, Mona's twin brother Henry hasn't changed. He's spending his summer the way he always has: with long, quiet hours fishing. Kendra starts sharing early mornings with Henry, hoping he can help her figure Mona out. Then Kendra decides uncover the identity of the twins' birth father, a question that has always obsessed Mona. And so she begins to unravel the seventeen-year-old mystery of the summer boy who charmed Mona's mother. But it may prove to be a puzzle better left unsolved--as what she is about to discover will change their lives forever...

In RICH BOYS, Winnie jumps at the chance to babysit for a wealthy summer family and earn some extra money—but soon learns that life in the Barclay’s beautiful vacation home isn’t as perfect as it appears. And what was supposed to be a carefree summer quickly becomes more complicated than she ever thought possible.

If you go to a jennyoconnell.blogspot.com you can win an Island Summer t-shirt. You can learn more about LOCAL GIRLS and RICH BOYS and Jenny's other bookshere.

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Reporter who was covering crime turns out to be the criminal

It's a pretty common mystery premise that a reporter who covers crimes is drawn into them. But in Macedonia, a reporter who covered the deaths of several elderly women has killed himself after being accused of actually killing the women, then writing about it. Read more here.

This reminds me of the story of Austrian serial killer, Jack Unterweger, who also covered his own crimes as a reporter. That story was turned into a book called Entering Hades.

As for the Macedonian reporter, he supposedly killed himself by submerging his head in a bucket of water while two other men shared his cell. That seems like it would be difficult. I might be taking a closer look at those two guys.

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I'm a faulty robot

I'm writing a lot - currently working on creating four books, plus I have three books in various stages of the editing/production process (note to self: this is probably too much).

I don't know if it's from my fall while hiking, my lame attempts to do Pilates, or sitting hunched over a keyboard, but my lower back has rebelled. Every now and then today - especially when climbing stairs and nearly always when bending over - it freezes up and send me a message. That message is:


Now as I move about, I have an internal monologue similar to the pep talk you would give to a slow-witted child trying to learn to ride a bicycle. "That's it! Keep going! You're doing it! That's great! Oh no! Wait! Okay, okay, you can get through this. Just keep moving!"

My body is like a faulty robot and I'm trying to pilot it.

Got any tips for dealing with lower back pain, inability to pick anything off the floor (you should have seen me at the grocery store when I dropped a box of low-fat Wheat Thins) (which I figure I can eat with abandon because they are low fat), and sudden, searing pain?

Ice? Heat? Tylenol? Advil? Aleve? Any kind of stretch? How bad would it be if I took some six-year-old muscle relaxers I think we have hidden away?

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