Jennifer is an American, living in Amsterdam with a background in journalism and art history. She loves strolling the museums, biking and sitting with a cup of coffee as she plans her next trip. She writes both stand alone novels and the Travel Can be Murder cozy mystery series. You can find all her books on her website and follow her on her Facebook page.
Paris—the city of love, lights … and murder?
Join tour guide Lana Hansen as she escorts five couples on an unforgettable Valentine-themed vacation to France!
Unfortunately it will be the last trip for one passenger…
And now lets get to the interview…
Which is more important to your book, the mystery or the love story?
For most of the Travel Can Be Murder cozy mysteries, the mystery comes first. But in Death by Baguette, the murder and mystery are strongly intertwined.
The story follows a couples-only trip to Paris, led by the star of the series – tour guide Lana Hansen. Each of the couples’ relationship are in a different place – some are deeply in love, others are coasting along, and at least one is falling apart. The romantic tours the group participate in help some couples reconnect and drives others further apart.
After one of the husbands is murdered during a romantic picnic under the Eiffel Tower, it turns out that several of the tour group members had reason to want the victim dead – including Lana Hansen!
When one of the wives is taken into custody while they are visiting Museum Rodin, Lana is certain the police have arrested the wrong person and decides to sleuth out the real killer, before anyone else in her group is murdered.
What type of love story plays out in your book—friends to love, enemy to love, instant love, or something else?
In this book, strengthening romantic bonds and rekindling fading love are the best descriptions. At the beginning of the story, it is apparent that several of the couples are having difficulties in their marriage and are using this trip to revive their love for each other. For some, a week in Paris is just what they needed! For others, it is a reason to murder.
Does the love element cause problems for your protagonist?
Yes, it does – in fact, it almost gets Lana arrested for murder! She had been dating the murder victim, not knowing that he was married or that his wife had booked them onto her tour to Paris. She only finds out after they all arrive in the City of Love and meet up at their hotel. That is quite a spectacular scene!
What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?
I write the first draft of my books by hand, and always use a specific college-ruled A5 notebook made by a Dutch company to do so. When the company declared bankruptcy a few years ago, I spent a week biking around Amsterdam buying up all the notebooks I could find, which was about twenty. I have gone through my supply since then, but luckily the company has made a restart and I can buy them again!
When you’re writing an emotionally draining (or sexy, or sad, etc.) scene, how do you get in the mood?
To get into the mood to write a really romantic scene, I like to have dinner at a fancy restaurant and spy on the neighboring couples. How creepy is that! After being with my husband for twenty+ years, our relationship is long past the blush of new romance stage (though I still love him dearly. Truth be told, he helps me scout couples while we dine.). You can always tell who the new couples are. Watching them out of the corner of my eye during the meal usually gives me enough inspiration to write.
For sad chapters, I usually don’t need much more preparation than thinking about all the dear relatives I have lost over the years (I come from a large family, there are a lot of us left!). I keep rewriting it and cranking up the sad factor until I can’t stop crying when I reread it. Then I know it’s done. My husband now knows that me bawling at the keyboard is sometimes a good thing!
Do you write listening to music? If so, what music inspired or accompanied this current book?
I have to have music on at a low volume when I write, preferably songs with an upbeat tempo. The rhythm usually helps motivate me to keep going. According to my Spotify list, I’ve been listening to a lot of Billie Eilish, Cardi B, Jack Johnson, Lizzo, Major Lazer, Groove Armada, Afrojack, and David Guetta.
But I begin most morning writing sessions with Dolly Parton’s “9 to 5”. “Pour myself a cup of ambition” has got to be one of the best song lines ever written. After working in a corporate cubicle for many years, this song is a wonderful reminder of the freedom writing provides me!!
Share something your readers wouldn’t know about you.
I am an art historian who lives in the Netherlands and I love to make objects and windows out of stained glass.