Mystery novelist Angela Henry (www.angelahenry.com) is about the freshest breath of air you’re likely come by in terms of light reading for a black audience. None of that soft porn you constantly get as romance, or the pot-boiling dead-end of inept mystery writers. Her thing, indeed, is deft whodunits with a nice dose of humor and a smidgen or so of romance. It’s a great combination for the misadventures of Henry’s infinitely likable heroine Kendra Clayton, restaurant hostess, remedial ed instructor and — always sticking her nose in where it doesn’t belong — an amateur sleuth who keeps scooping the very irritated cops. Clayton blithely goes from book to book in the delightfully upbeat series, making the most of small town life, an ice-cream gobbling hole in her love life and at least the satisfaction of being a damned good detective — albeit more in a Jim Rockford mode than Thomas Magnum.
Henry’s titles to date are The Company You Keep, featured in various magazines, including Ebony, Tangled Roots, Diva’s Last Curtain Call, Schooled In Lies and the brand new Sly, Slick & Wicked. She’s also got the romantic thriller The Paris Secret, not in the Kendra Clayton series and available as an e-book.
Angela Henry, born and raised in Springfield, Ohio, received her B.A. in English Literature at Ohio University. She had her short story “Trick Dice” published in Proverbs For The People: An Anthology Of Contemporary African-American Fiction and awarded honorable mention in Ebony’s 10th annual Gertrude Johnson Williams Writing Contest for her short fiction, “Peaches for Mercy”. In 2000, Henry founded the award-winning website, MystNoir to promote African-American mystery authors USA Today.com dubbed it a “Hot Site”, A&E’s Mysteries.com chose it as a site of the week and it’s been featured in Black Issues Book Review.
Right after the January release of Sly, Slick & Wicked, Angela Henry (AH)gave the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder (MSR) an e-mail interview.
MSR How pleased are you with the success of your Kendra Clayton series?
AH I’m very pleased with the reception the series has received. Readers seem to really relate to Kendra and that makes me very happy.
MSR How did you come up with the character and just how much of her is Angela Henry?
AH I came up with the character of Kendra Clayton by drawing upon the traits of all the important woman in my life. There is a little bit of everyone I love in Kendra. As for how much of me is in her, very little. We share some of the same opinions but beyond that we’re very different. She’s a lot braver than me. I’d be too scared to do half the stuff she does.
MSR What improvement have you seen MystNoir make on the scene in terms of exposing novelists?
AH I started in MystNoir in 2000 and I’m very proud of how many African-American mystery novelists it has featured. I even had a grad student contact me to let me know she used MystNoir as a source in her dissertation. It’s also listed as a source for AA mystery writers on many library websites.
MSR What started you writing?
AH I’ve been an avid reader all of my life but there came a time when reading other people’s stories wasn’t enough. I wanted to share my own, too.
MSR What moved you to get so wrapped up in mysteries?
AH My love of reading mysteries is what inspired me to write them. I love creating puzzles and clues for readers to follow, and red herrings to mislead them. But what I really love is creating back stories for my characters. I have a lot of fun doing that.
MSR What’s next?
AH I’ve written a middle grade novel that my agent is currently shopping to publishers and I just finished my first urban fantasy novel about a fallen angel who solves supernatural crimes in New Orleans. Plus, I’ve got another Kendra book in the pipeline.
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