Estacada writer draws on Oregon roots in novel
Estacada author Kay Jennings grew up visiting the southern Oregon coastal community of Bandon with her parents. The location made such an impression that years later, those trips served as the inspiration for her debut mystery novel "Shallow Waters."
"I always thought it was kind of a spooky beach," said Jennings, who will sign and discuss the book from 5-7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 1, at Chapters Books and Coffee in Newberg, and Saturday, Nov. 9, at the Portland Book Festival.
Published this summer, "Shallow Waters" is set in the fictional Port Stirling — a town based on Bandon. The story follows the new Chief of Police, Matt Horning, as he relocates to the coastal town after facing professional difficulties in Texas. On Horning's first day as chief, the mayor's daughter is found dead in a tunnel along the beach.
The novel takes place over one week as Horning meets the town's occupants and attempts to find answers about the crime.
"From the 300-foot bluffs ringing the white-sand pristine beach, to the posh golf resort at odds with the blue collar town, Horning and his team work at break-neck speed to uncover the facts," a press release states. "But will they find the killer before he — or she — strikes again? Will a psychopath ruin Matt Horing's new life before he can even start it?"
Jennings is in the process of writing a second mystery featuring many of the same characters, which will be published in early 2020.
"Authors often fall in love with their characters, and that's what happened to me," she said. "It's a standalone novel, but a lot of the characters will continue on."
Jennings was inspired to write a mystery because the stories are one of her favorite genres to read.
"I like trying to figure them out," she said. "My mother always said I had a great imagination, and I like to see if I can figure (the mystery) out when I read."
She also appreciates that the stories sometimes differ from real life experiences.
"(In daily life) you don't always see results every day. Mysteries have a clear beginning, middle and end," she said.
She's enjoyed receiving feedback about "Shallow Waters."
"It's been my lifelong dream to publish a novel, and it's been awesome to see the reactions from readers," she said. "The most gratifying thing is when people enjoy reading it."
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