When rookie reporter Irene Glasson stumbles onto the scene of a grisly murder at Oliver Ward's glamorous hotel, the pair find themselves thrown together in a race to catch a vicious killer in our May Top Pick in Romance, The Girl Who Knew Too Much. Irene and Oliver's suspects include Old Hollywood hearthrobs and East Coast hitmen, and Irene is hiding some secrets of her own that could spoil her and Oliver's growing attraction for good. We talked to Jayne Ann Krentz, the bestselling romance author who writes historical mysteries under the name Amanda Quick, about leaving the Victorian era, plotting out a web of killer twists and more!
Describe your latest book in one sentence.
A failed magician, a gossip magazine reporter and a hired killer walk into a 1930s Hollywood bar.
As Amanda Quick, you’ve written a number of historical mysteries set in Victorian England. What made you decide to set The Girl Who Knew Too Much in 1930s Hollywood instead?
I was looking for a fresh fictional landscape. Talked it over with my editor and she said those fatal words: “Well, what about the 1930s?” I had never even considered that particular decade. But the minute I sat down to write the first sentence I got that wonderful jolt of recognition that zaps an author when she knows she has found a world that is ideal for her kinds of characters, plots and voice.
There are so many intriguing aspects and angles to The Girl Who Knew Too Much’s mystery. How do you plot all of them out? Do you make an initial, detailed outline and stick to it, or were there some elements that sprang up midprocess and made you change your plans?
I began with a rough outline, but as soon as I started writing, everything started to change. That’s how it always goes with me. It would be great to know exactly where I’m headed when I go into a book, but sadly, I don’t get my best ideas until I actually start writing. Something about the creative process drives the creative process.
I’m a huge Old Hollywood fan, and I had a great time trying to draw comparisons between the characters of The Girl Who Knew Too Much and real celebrities. Were there any specific figures or scandals that inspired you?
So many scandals, so little time! Those Hollywood fixers could cover up just about anything, including murder, if the star was worth it. That means the plot potential is unlimited.
What is your favorite thing about your reporter heroine, Irene?
I love to write about characters who are in the process of reinventing themselves. That takes grit and determination. Irene’s got plenty of both. I like that about her. I like it a lot.
Irene and Oliver make a great team, and they’re surrounded by intriguing side characters. Would you ever write a sequel and give them another case?
Amazing that you ask! I’m not doing a sequel, exactly, but I am writing another book set in the Burning Cove world. Readers will definitely meet Irene and Oliver again as well as many of the side characters. I love this new world, and I’m hoping to hang around here for a while.
What books do you find yourself turning to for escapism or comfort after a bad day?
I’m always up for escaping into a good book. On good days or bad I’ll read anything by Christina Dodd or Susan Elizabeth Phillips, and I’m a huge fan of Deanna Raybourn’s new Veronica Speedwell mysteries.
What’s next for you?
I just finished my new novel of contemporary romantic-suspense, Promise Not to Tell. It will be out January 2nd under my Jayne Ann Krentz name. I’m really excited about this one. It’s a sequel to When All the Girls Have Gone. For those who read that book, this is Cabot’s story.
ALSO IN BOOKPAGE: Read our review of The Girl Who Knew Too Much.
Author photo copyright Marc von Borstel.