Amanda McKinney - Page-turning Murder Mysteries Peppered With Steamy Romance
Award-winning author of Romantic Suspense and Mystery, Amanda McKinney wrote her debut novel, LETHAL LEGACY, in 2017 after walking away from her career to become a writer and stay-at-home mom. Set in small, Southern towns, Amanda's books are page-turning murder mysteries peppered with steamy romance. Since releasing her debut novel, Amanda has written ten books including the BERRY SPRINGS SERIES and the BLACK ROSE MYSTERY SERIES, with many more to come. As our Author of the Day, Amanda tells us all about her book, The Fog.
Please give us a short introduction to what The Fog is about.
The Fog is a fast-paced, sexy, small-town murder mystery about two very different strangers—Wesley is a former black ops Marine turned cocky cowboy, and Gwen is a smart, independent forensic entomologist—who come together to solve a string of murders, not realizing they are about to engage in a dangerous game of cat and mouse with a ruthless killer. When you read one of my books you can always count on love, murder, mystery, suspense, and happily ever after endings.
Have you always wanted to be a writer? What got you started?
The decision to begin my writing career was the answer to a lot of soul-searching and prayers, to be honest. I’d always struggled with what I was meant to do professionally. My world was cubicles, PowerPoint presentations, quotas, and butt-kissing. I knew, deep down, that this was not my path. I wanted to be the person who said, “I love what I do so much that it doesn’t feel like work.” So, I kept sending positive energy out into the world, open-minded to what that job might be, and one day, the decades-long quest finally ended after I wrote the first few paragraphs of my first book (that was so terrible it never saw the light of day). I fell in love instantly. I have absolutely no regrets.
Why murder mystery romance? What drew you to this genre?
I’m a sucker for romantic suspense/mystery. I love the delicate mix of romance, intrigue, edge-of-your-seat thrill ride, and of course the grand finale of it all, the happily ever after ending! And let’s be honest, a swoon-worthy hero doesn’t hurt either. As a reader and a writer, pacing is very important to me. One of my favorite things about the genre is that the stories are fast-paced. Nothing pulls me out of a book more than slow pacing or that ever-dreaded lagging middle section. When I write a book, I focus on creating a page-turning experience and making the reader feel a mix of emotions—fear, anticipation, shock, lust, you name it. If he, or she, goes to bed thinking about my book, or stays up all night just to finish it, I’ve done my job. A few of my favorite romantic suspense authors that do this very well are Nora Roberts, Laura Griffin, Toni Anderson, Sandra Brown, Linda Howard, and Karen Rose.
Besides writing, what other secret skills do you have?
One, I’m a hell of a shot. My dad had me target-shooting Folgers cans in the backyard when I was a little girl. Two, over the last few years, I’ve learned I’m quite the little hustler! I approach my writing career as a small business and really get into the analytics, marketing and business side of things. There’s an entrepreneurial spirit in me that I didn’t know was there! It’s been an absolute blast, and I can’t wait to see what the future holds.
Why did you pick a small town as the backdrop for your story?
I was born in a small, southern town that has more cows than people. Big trucks, American flags, cowboy hats, sweet tea—all the fantastic clichés. From a very early age, I loved two things: reading and the outdoors. For me, inspiration sparks when I’m in nature. There’s something about being out in the mountains, that can be magical and enchanting, but also dark, creepy, and extremely lonely—which makes one heck of a backdrop for a murder mystery series. Each book in the Berry Springs series is shaped around the outdoors—The Woods, The Lake, The Storm, The Fog, The Creek. Throw in a few dead bodies, a sexy alpha male, and strong, independent female and the series was born!
Do you have any interesting writing habits? What is an average writing day like for you?
I’m someone who loves schedules, plans and consistency. Spontaneity scares the crap out of me. So, I keep myself on a tight schedule, professionally at least. I get up at 4 a.m. every day (crazy, I know), get my coffee, and watch the Weather Channel for a while, then workout before the kids wake—unless I’m nose-to-nose with a deadline, in which case, I skip the morning workout and go straight to writing. I write every day, no matter what. I find that this helps keep the same tone through the book, and keeps my creative juices flowing (along with a nice cocktail, of course). There’s nothing more frustrating than opening my computer and staring at the screen for thirty minutes trying to figure out what my next word should be. Writing every day helps to avoid that. I also have a daily word goal and I’m pretty hard-core about meeting it.
What are you working on right now?
2019 is going to be a big year for the McKinney Machine! The next Berry Springs book (The Creek) comes out at the end of this month. I’m currently editing Berry Springs Book #6, scheduled to be released in May. I’ve got one more BS book in me before I’m switching to an entirely new series that I am so excited about. I’m talking kid-in-a-candy-store excited. It will have everything you’d expect in a McKinney novel—hot romance, alpha males, strong females, fast-paced suspense, and mystery. Look for that this fall.
Where can our readers discover more of your work or interact with you?
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