Debut Author Spotlight: Kristen Lepionka
There's something about summertime that just makes us want to pick up a chilling mystery. Which is why we were intrigued by Kristen Lepionka's debut, The Last Place You Look. It's the story of PI Roxanne Weary, who's hired to look into a case where nothing is as it seems. Indeed, Roxanne's client believes she's recently seen the woman her brother was convicted of murdering 15 years before. We wanted to know more about the book — and Kristen, because debut authors are the best.
Name: Kristen Lepionka
Book: The Last Place You Look
Series: Roxane Weary mystery series
Current Home: Columbus, Ohio
Author Icon: Joan Didion
Favorite Word: If find/replace is to be believed, my favorite word is "almost." I have to go through every manuscript and de-almost it before submitting anywhere. I also tend to have my characters say "disparate" more often than is strictly necessary.
Was this the first full-length novel you ever wrote? No, this is No. five, but the first featuring my protagonist Roxane Weary, and I love writing her so much that it's clear to me the other books were just practice.
Tell us about your day job (current or former). I'm a graphic designer, currently between day gigs. I've done a lot of work in marketing for national chains who sell, variously, cheeseburgers, shoes, lacy underthings and shower gel.
How did you start writing? Since I was a kid I've been scribbling half-finished stories in the backs of notebooks, but I got serious about writing roughly eight years ago. By serious I mean "started finishing stories."
What was it like when you got "The Call"? Oh, this is embarrassing. I clearly remember the conversation I had with my agent when she offered to represent me. She had a lot of good things to say about the book, and I was dutifully taking notes, thinking this was going to be a revise and resubmit situation. When she offered rep, I just stared at my handwritten notes in stunned silence and I actually had to call her two days later so I could ask all those questions you're supposed to ask.
Have you always loved mysteries? What made you pick this genre for your debut title? Mysteries are my one true love. I just think stories that take place on the darker fringes of life have the capacity to reveal so much about human nature—and that's the yummy stuff to explore as a writer.
Were you inspired by any real-life cases? I was listening to season one of Serial when I wrote the first draft of the book, so I wanted to explore the idea of wrongful conviction and what spending that much time in prison can do to someone who is innocent. I had another case on my mind too while writing, but that would technically be a spoiler ... So I have to keep that part a secret.
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