Kendra Saunders currently lives in New Hampshire, but Boston, MA is the “home” of her newest dark comedy, Death and Mr. Right. Kendra’s helped out Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester through various guest interviews, and she’s been friends with the staff for some years, which makes us very happy to host her today, celebrating Death and Mr. Right–which, we may add, sold out of Amazon on its release day this past Tuesday! (It’s back in stock, but ABSW still has some copies for you to buy right here in Worcester!)
In the humorous style of Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett, Death and Mr. Right is a romp through Boston and beyond with the diva-like Death (recently-made-former agent of nightmares) as he tries to get back his job, the list of the names of the damned that he lost (oops!), and above all, not fall in love.
As you might imagine, things aren’t going so well…
Thanks for stopping by, Kendra!
So, what was the spark for Death and Mr. Right? What was the inspiration that got you started on this journey?
As for inspiration, this book was almost entirely inspired by real life friends and experiences! For many years, I had a seed of an idea kicking around in my head- two people sitting together and having a short, pleasant conversation about life- and then us, as the audience, realizing it’s the Grim Reaper and Cupid having this conversation. For some reason that resurfaced last summer when I saw a photograph of my friend Ricky, this blue haired diva, with one of his friends. I wrote the introduction of Death and Mr. Right the night I saw the photograph! At the time it was just a short story, but I soon realized it would make a good novel and that the short story was a perfect introduction. From there I drew from friends and my own embarrassing life experiences.
Did you come across any roadblocks or things that hung you up while you were writing Death and Mr. Right? If so, what were they and how did you overcome them?
You know, this book was relatively easy to write. The biggest issue for me was a problem I have with every book… somewhere near the middle, I ‘lose the plot’. Thankfully, with this project I was lucky to have my friend Kate to turn to when I lost the plot. She looked at everything quickly and said, “This is your life, remember that. You’re Kelly Gold. Just go back to your own life and figure out what bothers you the most.” So she sort of put me back on track! I went back to drawing from that place really deep within myself, lots of really embarrassing situations and bad memories and frustrations, and that helped get the plot going again and really drove the protagonist.
The city of Boston, itself, comes across as more than just setting–it’s a bit of a character, itself. What drew you to Boston for a location? And how did you breathe your own life into it for the novel?
Oh, Boston and I have such a complicated relationship! Boston feels like a person to me, like New York City’s fitful little brother. Boston has such beautiful areas, especially the waterfront and the Newbury Street area, but it also has this stressful vibe to it, mostly because of the scary drivers! You can go to one of the best concerts of your life in some tiny club in Boston or you could get rear-ended while trying to exit onto an off-ramp. You could meet cool hipsters or find yourself hopelessly lost with bloodied feet from walking on cobblestones. I tried to capture that dichotomy in the book. And one of the most embarrassing experiences I’ve ever had at a restaurant took place in Boston, so I used a fictitious version of the restaurant in the book. The true story behind it is a favorite anecdote, and now it can be immortalized in fiction.
What is a question you haven’t gotten asked in an interview before–but that you’d like to be asked? And what would that answer be? (Someone already asked me for a pony… so no repeats of that!)
Well, I haven’t gotten any marriage proposal questions from any handsome, good-natured, well dressed men in an interview before, so I’d like to be asked that and the answer is YES!
Now that we have had a taste of your awesomeness, what are the deets about your book so we can all buy it? (ISBN, where to buy it, etc.)
Death and Mr. Right drops October 1st. It will be for sale in most Barnes & Noble stores, on amazon and worldwide at bookdepository.com. There are many things you can do to make this funky little book into an indie success. You can call or visit your local bookstore and ask them to order a copy of the book, you can tweet me ( @kendrybird ) with the hashtag #deathandmrright , you can take a picture of yourself with the book and tweet it or instagram it with the #deathandmrright tag… I’m going to feature the pictures on my site, along with a link of your choice, if you’d like. So hit me up!
[Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester is also happy to be carrying Death and Mr. Right!]
You’ve got a very active life in social media, and you promote your work in a lot of untraditional ways. What advice can you offer other authors who are looking to help promote their books and are trying to get online more?
Choose two social media platforms that you really like and concentrate on those. Some people try to do it all- facebook, twitter, instagram, blog, pinterest, tumblr, whatever… it gets to be a burden, especially if you’re new to it. I suggest you use two that you really like, and use one more for personal contacts and one more for ‘fans.’ Facebook is great for personal contacts and twitter is great for fans. With Facebook, you have more of a human connection, but you also have the gatekeeper of adding people as your ‘friend.’ With Twitter, you speak and anyone in the world can listen. Post about what makes your life unique. Fans and followers want to see things they can’t see in their own lives, like places you’ve traveled, cool people you’ve met or whatever else. Also, don’t be afraid to tweet people you admire. Everyone is so connected now, and there’s comfort in that, even for someone ‘on top.’ I’ve interacted with Neil Gaiman, Jonathan Ross, Tom Hiddleston and many other of my personal heroes on Twitter. So don’t be afraid to try talking to one of your heroes!
Speaking of your active online life, how can fans (un-creeper-like) stalk you to find out what you’re up to and what else they can possibly give you money for? 🙂
I LOVE to hear from everyone! My twitter handle is @kendrybird and I’m on instagram @kendralsaunders and update my website regularly http://www.kendralsaunders.com In addition, the radio interviews I do go up on my youtube channel after they air. I’ve interviewed Dmitry Sholokhov, Michelle Lesniak Franklin, Fabio Costa, Melissa Fleis, Miranda Levy.. you can hear those on my youtube channel!
http://www.youtube.com/KendraLSaunders I also upload video journals there from my travels. Recent ones include my trip to NYC for Death and Mr. Right’s signing at BEA, and my adventures at NYFW!
What are you working on now, and what other projects can we look for from you in the near future?
I’ve recently finished writing The Unlove Spell, which is probably my favorite thing I’ve ever written. It’s about a young witch named Marling, who lives in New York City and isn’t very good at magic. She tries to put an unlove spell on her former lover, sexy Russian writer Viktor Arson, to keep him from falling in love with anyone else, but she accidentally puts it on herself instead. The story begins five years later, when their paths cross again and she finds out Viktor’s family are actually fae royalty. The fae and witches have a long, ugly history, and Marling has to decide… does she really love him, or is that just the unlove spell she placed on herself?
It’s a comedy and it’s fun and it’s set in New York City. It’s currently with my very favorite agent, so my fingers are crossed!
I’m also mostly finished with a poetry and short story collection about these two people who are never quite right for each other, but they keep crossing paths in different lives and realities. It’s really melancholy and I’m excited about the idea of sharing it with the world!
Once again, thank you so much for stopping by the ABSW blog, Kendra! It’s always a blast to hang out with you!