Art Meets Murder in Alex Kenna’s Debut Novel, What Meets the Eye
Author Interview + Book & Author Info + Author Pet Corner!
I had the honor of interviewing Alex twice, once as a member of the International Thriller Writers Debut Author Program, then again here for the Partners in Crime Book Tour.
I have worked with the ITW Debut Author Program for over six years, and try to interview every author when their book launches.
To read our first interview (with a completely different set of questions!) click the link here.
Art Meets Murder — What Meets the Eye
From debut author Alex Kenna comes a pulse-pounding tapestry of secrets, retribution, and greed for fans of Jeffrey Archer.
Kate Myles was a promising Los Angeles police detective, until an accident and opioid addiction blew up her family and destroyed her career. Struggling to rebuild her life, Kate decides to try her hand at private detective work—but she gets much more than she bargained for when she takes on the case of a celebrated painter found dead in a downtown loft.
When Margot Starling’s body was found, the cause of death was assumed to be suicide. Despite her beauty, talent, and fame, she struggled with a host of demons. But as Kate digs deeper, she learns that Margot had a growing list of powerful enemies—among them a shady art dealer who had been selling forged works by Margot. Kate soon uncovers a dirty trail that leads straight into the heart of the city’s deadly underworld.
Margot died for her art—and if Kate doesn’t tread lightly, she could be the next to get brushed out.
Published by: Crooked Lane Books
Publication Date: December 2022
Number of Pages: 288
ISBN: 9781639101849 (ISBN10: 1639101845)
To purchase What Meets the Eye, click on any of the following links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | BookShop.org | Goodreads | Penguin Random House
What Meets the Eye Author Interview: Art Meets Murder
What Meets the Eye incorporates opioid addiction. What drew you to writing about that topic?
Someone I know very well has struggled with drug addiction for years, so it is a topic that is frequently on my mind. I’m currently working on a sequel that explores addiction in a different context. I also worked as a DA for five years and saw the heartbreaking effects of addiction in court.
For Kate, who suffers from addiction, I was very interested in writing about someone who has already hit rock bottom and is on the mend but is not there yet. She is making progress towards her recovery, but it’s not a linear path and she’s still struggling. It’s also particularly hard for her because she’s an ex-cop and doesn’t have the most progressive view of addiction.
When I was writing Kate, I wanted to develop a character who had suffered through a set of experiences that fundamentally changed her identity. She lost her family, her job, and her sense of being in control of her life. Kate starts to heal a bit during the book. It’s a process that continues in the sequel.
What Meets the Eye is your debut novel. How has that experience been? Anything unexpected?
The experience has been really positive. I’ve been truly amazed by how much support I’ve gotten from readers, writers, booksellers, and complete strangers. The reading/writing community has been quite wonderful, and the trolls have been few and far between.
Personality wise, book marketing has been a bit of an adjustment. I tend to be modest and introverted, so self-promotion doesn’t come naturally to me. I think it’s a common challenge for authors—may of us write because we’re basically hermits. But at some point, you have to come out of the cave, or no one will know the book exists.
What would you like to be asked about What Meets the Eye that no one has asked yet?
I haven’t gotten a lot of questions about the art side of my book. Margot, the victim, is a celebrated artist and I put a lot of thought into creating her artistic world. It was important to me that her influences and references would feel authentic. I studied art and art history in college. Then when I graduated, I worked as an art critic and did a stint in a gallery.
I drew on all of those experiences when I wrote her. I tried to really think about what types of projects Margot would develop. Margot does a lot of work that blurs the line between art and real life. Some of the artists I mention as her influences, like Tracy Emin and Sophie Calle were very good at that. For Margot, I really wanted to take it a step further and blur the line between art and crime. Her art plays an important role in the book, but I don’t want to say more without giving too much away.
What does a typical work/writing day look like for you?
I wrote this book while pregnant with my son during the pandemic. I had nausea and gestational diabetes, and was semi-house ridden for months. On the plus side, my writing schedule was great because I had few distractions. Writing was an escape and a way to keep my brain engaged. In my real life, I was pricking myself five times a day and surviving on hardboiled eggs and cheese. But then I could turn to my book and write about killers and glamorous artists, and occasionally slip in the cocktail I wished I was able to drink.
Now a days, things are very different. I work full time and have a toddler. So writing is pretty much relegated to when he’s asleep, and on weekends when my husband or my mother-in-law can watch him. I don’t get a lot of sleep these days, but luckily, I’m a night owl by nature.
How far ahead are you thinking in terms of your writing? One project or several books down the road?
I get glimpses of other books, but I really try to keep focused because writing time is so scarce right now. By nature, my brain tends to pinball around from idea to idea. But if you work that way, nothing ever gets finished. I have an idea for book three that I’m pretty excited about, but I’m forcing myself to put it on ice until I finish the sequel. I also have the glimmer of an idea for a psychological thriller and a short story that are going to have to take a backseat for now.
When you prowl the flea markets, what kinds of items do you love to find?
My weakness is vintage jewelry, especially necklaces, since I don’t have my ears pierced. But I also love vintage furniture. My husband and I were completely broke when after buying our house, which was the definition of a fixer upper. We had a giant hole in the floor and a bathroom with a toilet but no sink. So, we completely furnished our house from flea markets and estate sales. In my book, Kate has a chair in her office that’s actually a disguised antique toilet. That is based on a hideous antique commode that my husband almost bought, but I drew the line at putting bathroom fixtures in my living room.
Final words of wisdom for aspiring writers:
Almost no one succeeds on their first try, whether that be your first submission to an agent, or the first book you complete. Believe in yourself and don’t give up.
Also, most of us are hypersensitive about our work and the thought of someone pointing out the flaws is terrifying. But that’s how you’re going to get your work to where it needs to be. Find a person or two who’s opinion you trust, ask them to be brutal, and mean it. Then take that advice and make your work even better.
At the same time, when you have the imposter syndrome, “my book is terrible” moments, remember that we all have those. Think about all the good things about your work and keep going.
Lastly, think about the market. You’re not writing in a vacuum. Think about what existing books are like yours, who your potential readers are, and how you can link your book to what already exists while showing how it’s different.
Author Pet Corner!
Alex Kenna is a lawyer, writer, and amateur painter based in Los Angeles.
Before law school, Alex studied painting and art history. She also worked as a freelance culture writer and sold art in a gallery.
Originally from Washington DC, Alex lives in Los Angeles with her husband, son, and giant schnauzer, Zelda.
When she’s not writing Alex can be found exploring Southern California, toddler-wrangling, and playing string instruments badly. Alex’s debut novel, What Meets The Eye, was released December 6, 2022.
To learn more about Alex, click on her name, photo, or the following links: Goodreads, Twitter & Facebook
Visit all the Stops on the Tour!
01/11 Showcase @ Mythical Books
01/12 Review @ read_betweenthecovers
01/14 Showcase @ The Book Divas Reads
01/16 Review @ Book Reviews From an Avid Reader
01/16 Showcase @ Quirky Cats Fat Stacks
01/17 Showcase @ Celticladys Reviews
01/18 Showcase @ 411 ON BOOKS, AUTHORS, AND PUBLISHING NEWS
01/20 Interview @ The Mystery of Writing
01/23 Review @ Jersey Girl Book Reviews
01/24 Review @ Paws. Read. Repeat
01/24 Showcase @ The Mystery Section
01/26 Review @ Sharon Beyond The Books
01/27 Showcase @ Silvers Reviews
01/31 Review @ Review Thick And Thin
02/02 Review @ Eat. pray. decorate
02/03 Review @ Melissa As Blog
Elena Taylor/Elena Hartwell
All We Buried, available now in print, e-book, and audio.
Silver Falchion Award Finalist, Best Investigator
Foreword INDIE Award Finalist, Best Mystery
The Foundation of Plot, a Wait, Wait, Don’t Query (Yet!) guidebook.
This Post Has 5 Comments
Wow, excellent and very interesting interview! Thank you so much!
Agreed! A lot of fun doing this one.
I enjoyed both the questions and the answers. What a lovely interview. 🙂
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