Be careful what you tell your hair dresser. Especially if you are a cop. Because while she listens to you vent about your work, she’s taking notes for her next mystery novel.
That’s how DB Kennison, known to her friends as Darlene, got her start as a writer. In 2008, with the recession, people stopped spending on facials, makeup, and hair. Darlene went from more work than she could handle to staring at the walls. She wrote to save her sanity.
“I did a year and a half in college,” she says. “I took a basic English class. They gave me six papers to write. It was torture.”
But when she was ready to write novels, she was smart enough to know how much she didn’t know. She took courses online. She reached out to everyone for feedback. She discovered the Mystery Writers of America’s mentor program.
“My mentor was Michael Allen Dimmoch, and I am eternally grateful to him for not just saying to me, ‘Don’t quit your day job.’ He was very, very generous in encouraging me to learn how to do it and to continue. That was really big for me, it was huge, considering how much red there was on that manuscript.” Darlene has kept the critique to this day.
She was just as tenacious when it came time to sell her first book. “I just about quit over synopsis and query letters, but I pounded through it.”
Her debut novel is STILL LIFE, which introduces Randi Lassiter, a real estate agent in a small town who gets her PI license and alternates selling houses with investigating crimes. She is aided in both tasks by her friend CJ, of the multiple green pigtails, brightly colored clothes, and bawdy turn of mind.
Randi literally stumbles over a dead body at the opening of the book. There is nothing humorous about how this beautiful young woman was killed. Even more horrifying, her body was arranged just like one of the avant-garde art works in one of the art shows in town.
To solve this murder and the ones that follow it, Randi teams up with Detective Jon Bricksen, who just transferred into town, eager to leave the evils of Milwaukee behind.
Randi and Jon pretend to be a couple and follow the clues into the deep underbelly of the modern art world. The undeniable chemistry between them quickly complicates everything.
What made Darlene choose to write a police procedural, usually only attempted by those with a background in law enforcement?
“I lived in Texas for seven years and worked in a convenience store. A lot of cops came in. I made friends with them and they invited me to go on ride-alongs.”
Darlene also worked as a 911 dispatcher. She is still friends with some of those and asks them questions when she needs to know about procedure. She is hairdresser to a woman who works for the DOJ in Madison, who takes her on tours so she can get a sense of how the department works.
“When I realize I’ve done something wrong, I just research it and research it and soak it all in.”
Darlene’s can-do attitude has led to the sale of her second book in the Randi Lassiter series, tentatively entitled Secrets, and Samhain has already asked for a third book in the series.
DB Kennison was born and raised in Colorado, where some of her fondest memories took place with a book in her hands and days were spent reading and daydreaming. As a kid, she remembers weekly trips to the library and the excitement of getting to pick something fresh and new from the stacks. She still feels that way when looking for a new book to read. After moving to Wisconsin, she came to love life in a small town and along with it, an appreciation of great beer and cheese. Her heart is there among the rolling hills and limestone bluffs. DB currently lives in the middle of nowhere with her handsome, supportive husband and three spoiled dachshunds, which vie for position as daily muse. As someone with an active imagination, she is constantly weaving tales and now putting it all down on paper. What an adventure!
To learn more, please visit her website.