- Nikky Lee
10 Questions with Kura Jane Carpenter
Kura Jane Carpenter is a New Zealand author writing paranormal cozy mysteries. In 2019 Kura was the recipient of the Sir Julius Vogel award for Best New Talent. When not writing, Kura enjoys convincing strangers that greyhounds make the best pets.
1. Tell us a bit about yourself! Where do you call home and what do you write?
Home is Ōtepoti aka Dunedin, aka "Dunners". (Ōtepoti is the Māori for the harbour—pronounced: Oaty-poe-tee).
I write paranormal cozy mysteries. My new series follows a suspended Fairy Godmother and a henchman-turned-talking-cat as they solve crime and restore justice, one dead body at a time, in the frozen magical kingdom of Wyld Enchantment Woods.
2. What drew you to that particular genre?
I love mystery and humour, add in a bunch of quirky characters and dialogue full of banter, and I am there!
3. What are you currently working on?
I'm working on the third novel in the Wyld Enchantment Woods series, titled "Post Mortem" which will be out in October. In it, the sleuth's faithful sidekick Tom's secret crush is accused of murder, oh no! There's also a peculiar printing press, a new character Doctor Hyde, he's lovely, magical smuggled contraband, and a former model turned bookseller who definitely doesn't have a mysterious past.
4. What inspired you to write cozy mystery?
Money, definitely making all the lovely $$$, Wait, no? Um...cute kittens? Hmm, actually if I truly think about it's because the real world is full of injustice and I just wanted a world where everything made sense, where things worked out. Sigh. Again, it's probably why I wrote fantasy rather than contemporary mystery, which is more full of nasty real world stuff.
5. Tell us about your writing process. Are you a plotter, pantser or somewhere in between?
I'm an inbetweener. For the longest time I was a panster, and while I love writing that way, I had to acknowledge that it was largely unproductive. In the name of bad science, I wondered, "Could I force myself to become a plotter?"
As most of my writing had a mystery subplot anyways, it was a natural evolution to conduct my test and attempt a story that focused on solving mystery.
Long story short, I now plot the central mystery going in: the crime, the killer, the suspects. And I pants everything else, the characters, the world building etc etc. So far it's working. The mystery plot keeps me on track (productive) while all the story stuff, characters and their odd world keeps my little pantser brain happy going "What if Cinderella's big sister grew up to solve crime?" "What if Merlin was a shameless glory hound?" "What if the wicked queen had driven her country to the point of bankruptcy?"
6. What’s the strangest or most interesting thing you’ve researched for your writing?
I don't research, not anymore. I used to do a—years ago. (Yes, you want me on your quiz team, I know heaps of useless facts). Again, it was part of my unproductive years. Now I just make stuff up or draw from my memory. For example, a fact that I came across many years ago—that midwives in ye old days wore red capes (and more interestingly WHY) did end up being used in book one: Mirror, Mirror, Who's The Killer?
7. What’s the most fun you had writing a particular scene and why?
Hmm... I love writing the little funny snippets of some of my regular-side characters. Hansel and Gretel the children vampires, Bron the baker who is accused of murder in just about every book, the orphan street kids with their talking rat—wait, forget that one, that's a spoiler for book three. Shush!
I also like flawed characters and playing with unreliable narrators. I really love developing my main sleuth: Ella Charming, as a person—she's got a kind heart, but she's also grumpy and super judgemental but can't see that fault in herself. She's always complaining about her brother Merlin and it never crosses her mind she might be a little jealous of his success.
8. Who are your literary influences? In what way?
Terry Pratchett, his style was hilarious but it also perfectly reflected real-life relationships and that's what I aspire to. Funny mysteries with heart.
9. What books are on your bedside table right now?
Let's just say, if it toppled I would be crushed.
10. Last and most important, where can we find your books/stories?
The mighty, mighty 'Zon, all hail our electric overlord, is the best place, please, click the follow button on my Amazon Author page here:
Also, feel free to beg your local library to stock a copy. Libraries are truly magical places; they should be supported.