Kerryn Mayne on crime, Friends and twin-mum life
Lenny Marks is the type of character that stays with you long after the last page, thanks to the clever writing, compassion and depth within Kerryn Mayne’s debut novel Lenny Marks Gets Away With Murder. I’d been keen to read this story ever since I heard of its premise and just as I’d hoped, it proved to be an entertaining, uplifting and bittersweet combination of humour, pop culture references and heart-wrenching social issues.
I especially enjoyed the references to the Friends TV series, Lenny’s love of Scrabble and collection of The Hobbit novels, and the way Mayne drew on her policing background to inform Lenny’s traumatic past. Lenny Marks Gets Away with Murder was released in February by Penguin Random House and is perfect for fans of Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine and Boy Swallows Universe.
Five fast minutes with Kerryn Mayne
Essential writing snacks?
It’s really whatever is on hand (or that the kids have left in their wake), but if I’m writing in a café I cannot go past a flat white and fruit toast. However, I have some pretty high standards where fruit toast is concerned. If I’m in a café, I want it to be better than what I’d get off the supermarket shelves myself. And I need a high fruit to bread ratio. A smattering of raisins does not constitute fruit toast. I am pretty sure some of my good friends avoid breakfast or brunch with me due to the fruit toast interrogation I give the wait staff. I’m not sorry.
Favourite exercise to counteract all the hours sitting at the keyboard?
Exercise currently consists of lifting 8 month old twins or walking to child care or school pickup! I don’t often get hours at a time at the computer keyboard (I would love hours at a time). But when I do I imagine this gorgeous author lifestyle of typing, stopping for a yoga stretch break (I’m very flexible in this future fantasy) and swanning about my very clean house eating acai bowls, or equally healthy home-made snacks. That’s realistic, isn’t it?!
What’s your go-to weekday dinner dish (include link to a recipe if it’s an online recipe!)?
This is when I admit I have become a corner cutting, simple as it comes cook. I used to love cooking, now I just need to get people fed. And I have 8 month old girls that eat differently to the 3 and 5 year old and then often the adults (that’s me) eat something different again. I’m a pescatarian (not to be confused with a presbyterian) and one of my faves is a Marley Spoon recipe we’ve had on repeat. https://marleyspoon.com.au/menu/50068-potato-and-spinach-curry-with-warm-naan. It makes a lot, freezes brilliantly and you can add as much or as little chilli as you want.
Which career would you choose if money wasn’t a factor and writing wasn’t an option?
I would run a bookshop café, called ‘Treat Yo’ Shelf’. I would have a cat (possibly called Malcolm) that roamed the shop and we’d make excellent bagels and coffee people would drive across town for. There would be a sandwich board out the front I’d write puns on, like ‘I started reading a book about mazes – I got lost in it.’
Or I would live out my childhood dreams of working the haberdashery counter at Spotlight.
Favourite way to spend a Friday night?
At home, getting my nerd on with my husband and a board game, in front of the TV with a favourite show running in the background (think The Office, Parks and Rec or Schitts Creek). I sound like Lenny Marks right now, and that’s not entirely untrue; although my husband is real and not an imaginary character from Friends. There would also be red wine; specifically pinot noir or shiraz.
Have you done anything special with any of your advances?
I had been in love with the paintings of Alexandra Strong for a long time. I follow her on Instagram and had my finger hovered over purchasing a print many times. Instead, I saved a note in my phone that said ‘if you get published, buy yourself this’ and I put the link to my favourite painting of hers in it. She is an Aussie artist and her work is gorgeous ( @alexandrastrongart on Instagram if you want to check her out). The original painting I bought hangs at my front door. I’ve got my eye on a different artist and art work (a photograph this time) in honour of the next book.
Spot where you seem to get the best bursts of inspiration?
Quite often at bedtime, so I send myself an email to remind me in the morning. Otherwise if I get up and shuffle around I risk waking babies/ husbands etc. The only problem with that is I don’t often look back at them. Same goes for handwritten notes or post its. I have plenty, but it’s more like I need to get it out of my brain and into existence so I can go to sleep. I do love a jigsaw too and find them good for mindfulness, or mindlessness and just working through plot problems while keeping my hands busy. I do tend to get fidgety if I sit still!
Favourite perfume or scent?
Lavender anything, rain on hot bitumen, Gucci Guilty perfume.
Do you have a writing ‘uniform’ (mine’s big earrings, cardigan and jeans)?
Anything at all, and often pyjamas. I should add big earrings, they don’t get used much these days.
Aussie novel you’re most looking forward to in 2023?
This is when I wish I could read faster. There are so many awesome books coming out, and already out and on my to be read pile. Here’s a couple; The Bookbinder of Jericho by Pip Williams, The Tea Ladies by Amanda Hampson (what a great premise) and Fire With Fire by Candice Fox (I mean, it’s Candice!). And one a little from left field, I follow the podcast The Shit No One Tells You About Writing (it’s a must for all authors in the querying trenches) and heard about a book called Sunshine Nails by Mai Nguyen. It is such a fabulous sounding book and I want my hands on it. It’s being released internationally and I will be getting myself a copy the minute it does.
Share a quirky habit/talent or something readers might be surprised to discover about you.
A long time ago (pre 4 children and when I exercised more), I won gold for ‘Toughest Competitor Alive’ at the Emergency Services Games. I mean, would anyone even be surprised by this? Probably not (and by this I mean, yes, everyone would and should be surprised by this). I retired on a high.
Find Kerryn online
Instagram @kcmwrites, Facebook (which I’m terrible at using) Kerryn Mayne or my website kerrynmayneauthor.com
Kerryn Mayne is an author, former wedding photographer, current police officer and terrible (but enthusiastic) tennis player. When not at work attempting to solve crime, she is writing about it or preparing an endless stream of snacks for her four children. Kerryn lives in the bayside suburbs of Melbourne with her husband, children and a highly suspect lovebird.
Lenny Marks Gets Away with Murder
Lenny Marks is good at not remembering. She has spent the last twenty years not thinking about the day her mother left her when she was still a child. Her stepfather’s parting words, however, remain annoyingly unforgettable: 'You did this.' Now thirty-seven, Lenny prefers contentment and order over the unreliability of happiness and the messiness of relationships. She fills her days teaching at the local primary school, and her nights playing Scrabble with her pretend housemate, watching reruns of Friends and rearranging her thirty-six copies of The Hobbit. Recently though, if only to appease her beloved foster-mum, Lenny has set herself the goal of ‘getting a life’. Then, out of the blue, a letter arrives from the Adult Parole Board. And when her desperate attempts to ignore it fail, Lenny starts to unravel.
WIN - WIN - WIN
Head to my WIN page for your chance to win a copy of Lenny Marks Gets Away With Murder thanks to Penguin Random House. Simply enter the contest HERE by 5pm Monday June 12. Aussie addresses and newsletter subscribers only, please.