Like many of her fellow 2021 Debuts authors, Jaime Lynn Hendricks has been writing stories for years—essentially since she was a child. But her writing these days is not for kids. Michele Campbell described this debut novel, Finding Tessa, as “a dark tale of abuse, revenge and redemption, full of head-spinning, mind-boggling, Gone Girl-sized twists,” and Danielle Girard wrote of the book: “Just when I thought I’d figured out what was happening, Hendricks delivered an unexpected turn that left me back at square one and frantically turning pages until the final scene.” The book released last week, and Jamie Lyn has another thriller, It Could be Anyone, coming out next spring. Launching a book takes a lot of time and energy, so I’m grateful that Jaime Lynn had a little left to spare for me and a few questions.
Christina: Finding Tessa is described as “a smart domestic thriller where nothing can be taken at face value.” What about writing thrillers appeals to you. Do you think that genre can do things others cannot?
Jaime Lynn: What appeals to me is how things are never what they seem. Thrillers are crafted in such a way that the reader always has to be on their toes, expecting the world to crumble around them. In, say, romance, you have two people meet each other and even through obstacles, they fall in love and the reader gets the happily ever after. You never know what’s going to happen in a thriller.
Christina: In books like this one, the reader knows not to trust anyone. How difficult was it to write characters that readers are empathetic toward and yet suspicious of?
Jaime Lynn: This was the hardest part—you want your characters to be likeable but also suspicious. The unreliable narrator is a hallmark of thrillers. I personally don’t mind when I dislike a character in a book—I won’t necessarily root for them, but I like to go on the journey, even if it’s to see them get their comeuppance. I think the two POVs were good for bouncing the suspicion from one to the next, changing with each chapter.
Christina: You chose to use dual narration from the point of view of both husband and wife, Jace and Tessa. Did one POV call to you more than the other? Was one easier to write?
Jaime Lynn: I liked both Jace and Tessa because I knew their secrets. I tried to make Tessa the exact opposite of me as far as her upbringing, but I made Jace’s very similar to mine. So it was a fun combination of making stuff up while also reminiscing.
Christina: Print media and marketing has been your professional home for a while. What have you learned from that profession that has helped you with your publishing journey?
Jaime Lynn: That over the last year with the pandemic, when publishing houses said they were having trouble getting paper, BELIEVE THEM! (Haha!)
Christina: What do you do when the words just aren’t flowing? Do you have other creative outlets you turn to that help you get through those times?
Jaime Lynn: I talk it out with one of my critique partners—the one I exchange with daily, chapter by chapter, who knows all the secrets. Sometimes, you need someone who’s close enough to the work, but not creating the work, to spark some life into it.
Christina: What is your writing kryptonite?
Jaime Lynn: Sunshine and warm weather! It’s my favorite, whether I want to meet a friend for lunch or go for a walk around the neighborhood or sit by the pool and read, sunshine will always tell me I’m wasting the day away when I’m sitting inside, tapping at my computer! And before anyone asks, NO, I cannot, CANNOT, do the 5am writers club. 🙂