Reader, the second book in J.S. Lenore’s paranormal mystery series, came out last week and I just had so many questions.
It’s a good thing that J.S. Lenore was willing to answer them! Well, seven of them, that is.
If you’ve read Reader, you’re in for a real treat. If you haven’t yet had the pleasure, this Q&A just might convince you.
About ‘Reader’ by J.S. Lenore
After nearly dying at the hands of an uncontrollable ghost, Detective Kim Phillips is finally back to work with the Chicago Police Department. Sure, she’s shackled to a desk, sifting through cold cases, but it’s better than being stuck in her apartment. It lets her focus on something other than her unreliable powers, the sudden influx of Turned ghosts in the Windy City, and the continuing tension between her and her old partner, Detective Riley Cross.
That all changes when she finds the case file of a missing girl and is sucked into a vision from thirty years ago. Caught between the present and the past, Kim struggles to find answers about the case and herself. Can Kim solve the mystery of her changing powers and find the girl, or will her tenuous grasp on her powers and the investigation spiral out of control?
Hypable talks ‘Reader’ with author J.S. Lenore
‘Burner’, the first book in the Affinity Series, was such an action-packed book while ‘Reader’ takes things much more slowly. In what ways was your approach to writing ‘Reader’ different from writing the first book?
I knew that I wanted to focus on how Kim recovered from the events of Burner and that that was going to drastically change the tone and pacing of Reader. So, I paid more attention to Kim’s mental space and the internal conflicts she was dealing with, rather than the external ones. It’s a much more introspective novel, and I liked that there was a different, more pensive feel to Reader than Burner.
Without spoiling anything, after finishing Burner, what was the one thing that you were most excited about tackling (or introducing) in ‘Reader’?
There’s a scene toward the end of the book that I knew I wanted to write as soon as I started the novel. It’s a very important scene for one of the long-term plotlines in the series, but I really can’t say much about it without giving it all away. You’ll know it when you read it, though.
Why did you decide to make this book’s (presumably) self-contained mystery a non-supernatural one?
The mystery in the first book is the exception to the rule. Kim mainly works cases like a detective would in our world. I wanted to bring that idea to the forefront, that Kim is a detective who’s also a Medium rather than a supernatural investigator.
Kim and Priya have such an interesting relationship. They’re more than just friends, but there’s also a sort of mentor/mentee thing going on there. How would you define their relationship?
The relationship between Kim and Priya is one of my favorites, though it’s hard for me to categorize it. It’s deep friendship and an almost sisterly bond, but Priya also sees Kim like a particularly exasperating daughter. And at the core of it all is an abiding love and a knowledge that they’ll support each other no matter what.
Let’s talk about my love, Riley Cross. We get to see a few different sides of him in this novel, one being how much of a dork he can be. What side of Cross is the most fun for you to write and explore?
I have to admit, I do love dorky Cross. He’s so enthusiastic about the things he enjoys, it’s almost impossible to not have fun writing those moments for him. But I also like the serious, brooding side to him. He’s generally a charming guy, but there are definitely times when he can be very serious. The contrast between the two is great to highlight, and you’ll definitely be seeing more of that dichotomy in later books in the series.
Being a Chicagoland dweller, your descriptions of travel always stick out to me. You not only point out turns, but also landmarks and things your characters see along the way. What does your research for moving around the city look like? Do you ever go on a drive along your characters’ routes as research when you’re in town?
I spend an awful lot of time using Google Maps and Street View. Kim works in the Englewood district, which is a bit too rough for this out-of-towner to be randomly driving around. However, a couple of the settings in Burner were based on places that I’ve been while living in the Chicagoland area, and I do try to visit the safer neighborhoods if I can.
Is there anything you can tease for ‘Healer’, the next novel in the Affinity Series? Anything you’re super excited about?
I can’t tease a whole lot at this point. Just know that the overarching mystery of the series will start to clarify, while some of the other elements will become less certain. I am planning on upping the romance themes in Healer, so watch out for more sparks between characters. And if I can, I’m going to talk about Priya’s background, though her story may end up becoming a standalone novella. Whatever shakes out, I hope that fans of the series will enjoy what’s coming next for Kim, Cross and Priya.
About J.S. Lenore
From an early age, J.S. Lenore has always been passionate about books and storytelling, but it wasn’t until high school that she started writing her own stories. Starting with fan fiction, Lenore found some minor success writing under the handle p1013. Burner, the first book in the Affinity Series, was her first foray into novel-length fiction. Set in Chicago, where Lenore was born and raised, it’s a dark tale about life and death, the ways that people define themselves, and how our histories can impact our futures.
J.S. Lenore now lives in Indianapolis with her husband, daughter, three cats, and zero ghosts.