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I’m Frankie, and I’m a Rage-aholic

By K.L. Romo

“You’re an angry woman, Frankie.”

How many times had she heard that throughout her 33 years? In bestselling author Hannah Mary McKinnon’s newest thriller, THE REVENGE LIST, anger management takes center stage. But who knew it could get you killed?

Snarky, sassy, and downright irreverent, Frankie Morgan is a hothead. She’s got anger issues. At least, that’s what everyone tells her. Her mouth gets her into trouble—she has no problem saying what she feels. And that is the problem.

Frankie promised her dad she’d go to anger management classes, so now she’s sitting in a circle that could just as well be at an AA meeting. She’s fighting to stay awake when the counselor asks everyone to make a forgiveness list, writing the names of everyone you’re still angry with. Well, that won’t be hard. Frankie writes 11 names down in her notebook, just for fun. There is no way she’s going to forgive these people.

Hannah Mary McKinnon

Then, during break, Frankie and a fellow attendee ditch the meeting and go for coffee. But when she gets back home, Frankie can’t find her notebook. She doesn’t care much about the list, but the notebook has client information she needs for work. Someone has it, and when accidents happen to the people on her list, Frankie must figure out who’s hurting them before someone ends up dead.

McKinnon kicks the humor into high gear with Frankie’s acerbic wit and lack of filter, while readers whisper to themselves, I hate it when that happens. She tells The Big Thrill how much fun it was to create Frankie, how people view anger in women differently, and why society should do more to validate anger issues.

What was the spark for the story in THE REVENGE LIST?

Before I came up with the idea for THE REVENGE LIST, I pitched three others to my editor. While she liked the various concepts, she thought they were too quiet. I remember panicking a little and getting frustrated with myself because I needed something bigger and louder. I thought, “anger can be big and loud.” That idea was followed by “ooh, what if an anger management exercise went terribly wrong?” Thankfully, the fourth idea got the green light, and THE REVENGE LIST was born.

Oddly, as I worked my way through the first draft, I took a course about criminal and psychopathic minds, and one module was about anger. It felt serendipitous.

How does society view anger differently for women versus men?

Rob (hubs) and me

There’s a definite distinction between what’s generally deemed acceptable and what isn’t with anger in men and women. A woman is perceived as emotional, hysterical, and out of control, whereas men rarely seem to get labeled that way. And studies have shown there are large discrepancies according to race, so we have to be careful not to generalize across the board. Certainly, the threshold for a woman being labeled as angry is lower than for a man.

Overall, we’d fare better as a society if we learned to acknowledge anger as a valid emotion for everyone and helped individuals deal with it from the youngest possible age.

Although Frankie is a damaged character, you made her sassy, independent, and funny. Why did you choose this approach?

My Christmas Gift (I don’t write books on it.)

I’m so glad you liked her, too, as she became very dear to me. Frankie carries a certain amount of anger inside her, mainly because of her past, which the reader discovers as the story unfolds. However, I didn’t want her to be raging all the time, as it would’ve been exhausting to write and not enjoyable for the reader to follow her journey.

I take great care in trying to make my characters as real as possible, so I rounded Frankie out with other traits, including humor. She made me laugh as I wrote the scenes (“Back off, Deliverance!” is one of my favorite lines) because Frankie does and says things I’d probably never have the gall to do or say. I also loved her interactions and good-natured verbal sparring with her brother Rico.

How does writing romantic comedies (under the pseudonym Holly Cassidy) balance the dark side of writing thrillers with the fun of laughter and romance?

I love writing thrillers—thinking up dark plots and countless twists—but during Covid, when the world went to you know where, and my mum died, I ended up writing my funniest thriller, Never Coming Home. I enjoyed the humor so much, and it gave me such incredible relief, I wanted to do it again. Coincidence—and my brilliant agent, Carolyn—led me to write the romantic comedy The Christmas Wager (September 2023) a while later.

First Chapter Fun Shirt

I had so much fun having my characters Bella and Jesse fall in love that I’m now working on another rom-com for 2024. Writing both crime and romantic comedies has turned out to be a great balance for me, although my thriller for 2024 is probably my most murderous yet. After finishing The Christmas Wager, I was ready for there to be fictional blood on the page. And a lot of it!

What’s going on with First Chapter Fun with Hank Phillippi Ryan?

We’re still going strong after over three years! In case you’re not familiar with First Chapter Fun, Hank and I read the opening pages of a different book every Tuesday, live, on Facebook and Instagram at 12.30 p.m. ET. We’re booked (excuse the pun) until the end of the year, which is incredible, and are closing in on 350 episodes. It’s a delight and an honor to introduce our viewers to another author and their book each week. Come join us!

A library I found in Switzerland

Tell us something funny that’s happened in your life that your fans don’t know about yet.

I can’t sing, read music, or play an instrument, yet my thriller for 2024 is about the rise and violent demise of an all-female pop rock group called The Bittersweet (and I had an absolute blast writing it). And when I say I can’t sing, I mean it. When our eldest son was about three years old, I sang him a lullaby, and he asked me to stop. You’ll never catch me at a karaoke bar, that’s for sure!

K. L. Romo
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