Evening in the Yellow Wood by Laura Kemp is out now.
Abandoned by an eccentric father on the eve of her twelfth birthday, Justine Cook has lived with her fair share of unanswered questions. Now, ten years later, she leaves her life in southern Michigan and heads north to the mysterious town of Lantern Creek after seeing his picture in a local newspaper. Once there, she discovers her father had been leading a double life and meets the autistic brother she never knew—a young man who is mute but able to read her mind.
When a local girl who looks like Justine is mysteriously murdered, she joins forces with sheriff’s deputy Dylan Locke to capture the killer. But the more they dig for clues to the past, the closer they come to discovering a secret someone will kill to protect. Justine begins to show signs of supernatural power and faces her greatest challenge when she combats an immortal enemy that has hunted her family for generations.
Author Laura Kemp is a teacher who loves to write about her home state of Michigan. She has a B.A. in Creative Writing from Western Michigan University. It is there she studied under Stuart Dybek and has had her short fiction and poetry published in Chicken Soup for the Soul, Word Riot, Tonopalah Review, SaLit and SLAB: Sound and Literary Art Book. When not writing, Laura enjoys musical theatre, hiking, swimming, reading, and performing with her Celtic band- Si Bhaeg Si Mohr. She also enjoys spending time with her husband and four children.
Overall, I thought this novel was great. I love crime and fantasy novels and had high expectations for Evening in the Yellow Wood, and it delivered! The characters were great. The dialogue was great. The setting was great. My favorite character was Justine or J. She was relatable and easy to connect to, pulling me into the story. However, what really made this book shine was the dialogue and how organic it felt. Each character was well-rounded and unique with their own personality. The mysterious town too was awesome. I loved all the descriptions Kemp peppered throughout the novel.
The twist of fantasy added into this storyline took the book to another level too. I won’t give the details away, but I will say this is a novel you need to add to your TBR pile!
I was so excited to get to do an author interview with Laura, even more so after I read this fantastic novel she provided. I think it’s great to see another side of authors behind their books! So without further ado, let’s find found out more about Author Laura Kemp!
Have you always wanted to be a writer? I don’t remember a time I didn’t want to write, so yes. Always. My mom used to write my stories down when I couldn’t do it myself because I couldn’t read or write. There was always a desire to tell stories, and to have people be moved by the stories I told.
What inspired Evening in the Yellow Wood? Have you always wanted to write a mystery crime novel? I lived up north for a summer in Michigan, and I was a bartender at this real dive, and the guy I worked with (his name was Squirrel) asked me what I liked to do and when I told him I wanted to write a book he said, “Why don’t you write a book about us.” Now, ‘US” consisted of a bunch of his buddies, guys with names like Worm (his brother), Sweaty, and Hoss. I thought… yeah… why don’t I write a story about these guys. And it worked out.
I think true crime has always fascinated me. ‘In Cold Blood’ is my favorite novel, so getting to the bottom of a mystery has always been a challenge I gladly accepted. I absolutely love it when an author can ‘slide’ something past me that I didn’t see coming, so I made it my mission to do that to my readers in this book, and I think I succeeded!
Do you have a favorite author you read when you get writer’s block? I love Anita Shreve. I love her language, and how poetic it is, I love her sense of setting and place, the minimalist nature of her writing, with so much lingering beneath the surface. That tells me she trusts her reader and wants them to draw conclusions for themselves with just the barest of guidance. Her words are like music that is playing in another room. It makes you stop in your tracks, realizing that you love the song.
What was your process in writing this novel? Do you have a certain spot you have to write in? I have four kids and a bunch of animals, so my writing process is ‘Catch When Catch Can.’ I have a computer in the basement, and I try to write when the kids are sleeping (either early morning or late night). The first novel was written in very much the same way. My children were toddlers then, so it was even harder to carve out time. But I think it made me work harder, knowing I didn’t have the luxury of a set writing ‘time’ or ‘space.’
Walk us through what it’s like in writing a crime novel. Do you have a board you plot out how the mystery will unfold? I am a total panster. I don’t plan at all. I literally sit down at my computer and start to write, and this thing, a voice or muse or whatever you want to call it, takes over. I am just the conduit. If it feels off, I stop, wait a bit, and sometimes rewrite entire scenes. The basis for the murder mystery in ‘Evening in the Yellow Wood’ was based on an actual murder in my area. I found a box full of old photos, newspaper clippings, etc.. and I used that as the basis for the story, but that’s the closest I can say I’ve ever come to ‘plotting.’ I do my research, so I don’t look silly, then I sit down and let the writing fairy do the rest.