An Interview with Author Jenny Offutt

For this month’s blog, I interviewed Jenny Offutt, a Missouri native and author of Black Willow -- a romantic/ suspense novel. I met Jenny through a mutual friend who suggested I contact her for guidance and support for my first publications. Since meeting Jenny, I continuously admire her willingness to foster a community of local authors, so I published this blog to spread her wisdom, passion, and knowledge of the craft. 

Please tell us a little about yourself and your writing.

My passion for writing began very early in life and continued to deepen throughout my high school years. By the time I entered college, I was plotting ideas and storylines on every scrap of paper within reach. My favorite scenarios revolve around deep, moving love stories, laced with the white-knuckle intrigue of suspense. I'm an avid lover of all the arts, and have a degree in Musical Theatre, which I used while performing on stage in Branson, Missouri for over a decade. There have been a number of writers and authors in my family back through the ages. My grandmother was an support and help author; my mother is published in several poetry books, and many years ago my great aunt was a poet laureate and traveled the country with her writing. Additionally, my brother Steven Bassett just published his first book earlier this month, which is Christian fiction. 

 I live in the Midwest with my husband and our two boys, where we have a Bed and Breakfast resort on the beautiful shores of Table Rock Lake. I am a member of Romance Writers of America, Mystery Writers of America, Ozarks Romance Authors and Ozarks Writer’s League.

What inspired you to pursue writing? Were there key people or other authors who influenced you?

 My mother began reading to me at a very early age and passed on her great love of literature. I was instantly fascinated by the way you could get lost in a book, the adventures you could go on right from your own living room! In high school and college, I studied journalism and creative writing, which further encouraged and developed my love of writing and the written word. 

What is your writing genre and writing style?

 The genre I currently write in is romantic suspense, heavier on the suspense. I’m kind of addicted to it. I love reading it, and I love, love, love writing it!

What books have you published? 

Black Willow is my debut novel, with two more on the way by next year.

How can my readers purchase your book(s)?

 My books can be purchased online at all major bookstores, including:

Do you have a favorite author? 

 I am a huge fan of Nora Robert’s early books. Also, I enjoy a good Stephen King or Dean Koontz novel or two.

Can you tell my readers more about Black Willow?

 Black Willow is a fast-paced, atmospheric novel with plenty of suspense, twists and turns. My goal is always to make the reader feel as if they are a part of the story. I want them to see it, feel it, smell it, experience it—really feel as if they know the characters, and care about them, identify with them. Here’s a snapshot of the story: 

When her twin sister mysteriously dies, New York Times bestselling author Nora Bassett’s world is turned upside down. Lost in grief, she is shocked to find that she’s the sole beneficiary of Black Willow, the giant Victorian farmhouse in Pennsylvania Dutch Country her sister had been in the process of renovating into an inn. Desperate to feel close to her sister, Nora moves her writing career into Black Willow to continue renovations at the side of Ben Whitfield, the rugged, handsome contractor her sister had hired. But as strange things begin to happen, Nora finds herself drawn into the mystery of the house and the dark secrets it holds—unaware of just how close danger lurks.

A dream job. That’s what contractor Ben Whitfield thought when he agreed to take on the renovation of the monstrous house. A dream job, that is, until he stumbles across the dead body of the young woman who’d hired him. And when an exact replica of her shows up as the new owner, Ben is shocked at how quickly he finds himself falling in love with the beautiful stranger. But as the grand opening of the inn nears, danger escalates. Ben suspects that Nora’s life may be in jeopardy—and he will do anything to protect her. Together, the two must race to uncover the truth that remains hidden beneath Black Willow Farm’s beautiful, dark surface before it’s too late . . . 

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What is your favorite and least favorite aspect of the writing process? 

 My favorite aspect of the writing process is the writing itself. The storyline, the characters, intertwining their lives. Deciding their fates! It’s all so exciting. 

The editing is my least favorite part, for sure! 

 

Who was the most fun character to develop in your books and why? 

Developing the antagonist is always fun! He/she provides the basis of conflict and struggle—tension that makes a story engaging and exciting. The antagonist provides opportunity for the main character to grow and to overcome obstacles, discovering inner strength they never knew they possessed. 

What does the future hold for Jenny Offutt?

My goal is to get two more stand-alone novels out in 2020, and then who knows? More books, hopefully. Creating characters, plots and storylines filled with adventure, romance, and suspense is one of my favorite things to do! 

To learn more about Jenny and her writing, visit her website, www.jennyoffutt.com.