By George Ebey
Author Cynthia Kuhn’s latest book, THE ART OF VANISHING, brings us the next installment in her Lila Maclean Academic Mysteries series.
When Professor Lila Maclean is sent to interview celebrated author and notorious cad Damon Von Tussel, he disappears before her very eyes. The English department is thrown into chaos by the news, as Damon is supposed to headline Stonedale University’s upcoming Arts Week. The chancellor makes it clear that he expects Lila to locate the writer and set events back on track immediately. But someone appears to have a different plan: strange warnings are received, valuable items go missing, and a series of dangerous incidents threaten the lives of Stonedale’s guests. After her beloved mother, who happens to be Damon’s ex, rushes onto campus and into harm’s way, Lila has even more reason to bring the culprit to light before anything—or anyone—else vanishes.
The Big Thrill recently caught up with Kuhn to learn more about this thrilling new story.
What first drew you to writing mystery stories?
Trixie Belden and Nancy Drew. I’ve been a dedicated mystery reader as far back as I can remember and always secretly dreamed about writing one someday. During graduate school, I stumbled upon Amanda Cross’s books and immediately fell in love with the academic mystery genre.
Tell us about your character, Lila Maclean. What has her journey been like up to this point?
Lila is a new English professor who wants to succeed at the prestigious Stonedale University but isn’t sure she fits in. The Semester of Our Discontent and THE ART OF VANISHING take place during her first year—and while navigating the school culture is complicated enough, she must also turn sleuth when murder and mayhem come to campus. In both cases, she’s challenged personally and professionally in ways she never would have imagined.
What elements do you feel are essential for a good suspense story?
There are so many possibilities, and they may vary by genre. But one important aspect of traditional mysteries would be an undercurrent of unanswered questions, so that readers are engaged by the potent combination of uncertainty and anticipation.
What tricks have you learned as a writer to make your writing time as productive as possible?
Making writing to-do lists! Jotting down ideas as they occur throughout the day means that when it’s time to write, there’s always something to add, develop, or change. It’s an effective excuse-slayer if I’m tempted to wander away.
Do you have anything new in the works?
Book 3 in the series, in which Lila will be confronted once again with something mysterious to solve!
Cynthia Kuhn writes the Lila Maclean academic mystery series. Her work has appeared in McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern, Literary Mama, Copper Nickel, Prick of the Spindle, Mama PhD and other publications. She teaches English at Metropolitan State University of Denver and serves as president of Sisters in Crime-Colorado.
To learn more about Cynthia, please visit her website.