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Poisons, prophecies—and a peculiar past . . .When a local woman begins searching for a couple she hasn’t seen since the 1960s, Redwood Cove Bed and Breakfast manager Kelly Jackson and the crime-solving group, the “Silver Sentinels,” are quick to help out. They’re also quick to guess that they’re in over their heads after the woman is found dead beside the body of a Greek fortune teller—and a fellow Sentinel gets attacked. As Kelly juggles work and her responsibilities at a food and wine festival in town, she and her sleuthing posse must confront a killer obsessed with old secrets . . . and solve a murder mystery more than fifty years in the making.
Janet, welcome back to Island Confidential! Can you tell us a little about your protagonist, Kelly?
Janet Finsilver: Kelly Jackson was raised on a Wyoming cattle ranch that operates as a dude ranch in the summer. She tried several different careers, but none of them felt like a fit. Kelly’s thrilled when the company she works for, Resorts International, assigns her to manage Redwood Cove Bed and Breakfast. The town and people feel like the community she was hoping to find. Kelly experienced a bitter divorce with her best friend stealing her husband and is unwilling to get involved again.
How much of you is in Kelly? How would you feel about her if you met her in real life?
JF: I’d really like her. We share a love of animals, riding horses, and the outdoors. I used to work in education and Kelly taught school for a while. Another common interest is helping people. If I was a Redwood Cove regular, I’d introduce her to as many people as possible. We both have red hair. I’ve stood out all my life because of the color of my hair. I endured a lot of teasing as a child. I found it hard to write a character without that as part of her background.
Do your characters change and evolve throughout consecutive books in the series?
JF: Yes. Kelly finds herself getting interested in Scott Thompson, an executive administrator for Resorts International. She reins her emotions in, so the relationship grows very slowly.
Helen Rogers and her ten-year-old son, Tommy, moved to Redwood Cove to work at the bed and breakfast when her husband died. She thought the small town and beautiful outdoors would be good for her son. That didn’t prove to be the case. Tommy has a slight touch of Asperger’s which makes him socially awkward. The tight group of children at the school grew up together and weren’t interested in having a newcomer join them. Through the books Helen and Tommy begin to find their place in community.
I just started book four, and I don’t know what’s ahead for the others!
Have you ever thought of killing someone that you know in real life–on the pages of a murder mystery, I mean?
JF: A travel agent who turned an international flight into a nightmare. Because of the type of ticketing she did, there were several places it looked like my luggage might get left behind. It was something I couldn’t fix in advance. Pleading and changes made at the airport got me through, but it was stressful.
How realistic is your setting? Do you take liberties, or are you true to life?
JF: The setting is Mendocino, California, with the beautiful Pacific Ocean coastline and the towering redwood trees…with a name change to Redwood Cove. I chose to have a fictitious name after attending a conference where panels talked about some of the problems that could possibly arise using a real place. I take minor liberties. I changed the name of the Mendocino Whale Festival to Whale Frolic. I kept the chowder sampling that takes place, but I made it into an evening event instead of one in the morning. I gave the airport a runway that ends at a seaside cliff which it doesn’t in real life.
When the movie or TV series is made, who plays the major parts?
JF: I like the “when” in your question! Thanks! I’m familiar with very few actors. I do tend to think of a young Pierce Brosnon when I picture Scott.
What’s the worst and best advice you’ve heard or received as an author?
JF: The best advice is to write because you love the process. Enjoy what you’re doing. I don’t know that I’ve had any worst advice. I would caution people to beware of feedback from someone that says “you have to” do a certain a certain thing. They might be right. But sometimes the change is one that reflects how they write, not what you’re trying to accomplish.
Janet Finsilver is the USA TODAY best-selling author of the Kelly Jackson mystery series. She worked in education for many years as a teacher, a program administrator, and a workshop presenter. Janet majored in English and earned a Master’s Degree in Education. She loves animals and has two dogs–Kylie and Ellie. Janet has ridden western style since she was a child and was a member of the National Ski Patrol. One of the highlights of her life was touching whales in the San Ignacio Lagoon. MURDER AT REDWOOD COVE, her debut mystery, was released on October 13, 2015. Her second book, MURDER AT THE MANSION, was released on June 7, 2016.