English Alum in the Spotlight: Kendra Hadnott

Kendra Hadnott
Kendra Hadnott

Recently, we here at the Jet Fuel Review hosted an Alumni Author Reading featuring three alumni from the university where we are based, Lewis University. We wanted to celebrate them not only in that space, but here on the blog, too. Two weeks ago we spotlighted former JFR Managing Editor Tim Fitzpatrick, last week we highlighted poet Susan Slaviero, and this week we finally have novelist Kendra Hadnott.

Kendra Hadnott is an author, freelance writer, educator, and blogger. In 2015, she was named the third place winner in the 2014 International 3-Day Novel Contest for her novella, Somebody’s Nobody. Her short stories have been published in various university magazine publications. She is the author of the 5-book LIVE series and children’s paranormal fantasy novel, Something Watching Me (an official 2016 Chicago Public School Battle of the Books title). Her science-fiction novel, Death Leaders, is the latest of her work to be published. Previously a writer/project manager for a well-known toy company, Kendra happily traded in her 9-to-5 gig for a rewarding career as an author. She holds a bachelors degree in English from Lewis University. You can visit her website here.

Below we have an interview with Kendra, and also feature the first chapter of her novella, Somebody’s Nobody.

What are you working on currently and why?
I have a couple of different projects in the works. I don’t think I can ever truly work on just one. The first project is a middle grade novel that’s still in the revision phase (fun times!), and the other is a humorous and educational picture book about a wise young boy. I very much enjoy writing for both children and adults, but children’s literature poses more of a challenge for me…which I like. With most adult books, you have what I call “bail outs” to help engage your readers and hold their interest. Without a doubt, in the adult market, sex, violence, and/or vulgarity tends to sell, even if the story itself is well written. With children’s lit, you don’t have the luxury of writing about anything that’s not G or PG-esque, so it truly is all about skill. It’s a challenge to engage children with the written word, and lord knows they don’t have the largest attention spans…but I love that. That part of the writing process has always appealed to me.

 

How does your work differ from those with the same genre?
My writing tends to either be very humorous or dark. My work comes out that way because of the perspective I have. There are things that I write about that a lot of folks wouldn’t ordinarily consider funny until they see things from my point of view. A lot of my sci-fi and horror stories wind up with people who normally don’t even read those genres because my writing is not generically dark; it’s my story from my perspective, which sometimes happens to be dark. I said this to say that it’s one thing to have unique experiences to insert into a body of work, but it’s a whole ‘nother animal to put an unconventional spin on those experiences. That’s the thing that I think makes my [writing] voice stand out.

 

What is the process of your writing? And how does that process work for you?
I’d like to say that I’m one of those writers who does a chapter-by-chapter outline before starting a story, but that simply isn’t true. My stories often start off as one liners or random ideas that I expand on. When I wrote my novel Death Leaders, I tried to do things the “right way” and outline the entire story prior to writing it. Once I started writing, I ended up ditching almost all of the outline and just going with the flow. That’s pretty much what I do now. I may do a very, very vague outline for the story, but most of the process for my first draft is just diving right in and letting the characters dictate the plot. Later on, I go back and patch things up that don’t quite make sense or that could be expanded (not all of my characters are completely logical about these things).

 

What book might we be able to find on your nightstand as of right now?
I try to read a little of everything, but YA (young adult) novels are a great weakness of mine. I’m reading The Alchemist right now, but before that, I finished off The Fifth Wave by Rick Yancey. Loved it!

 

If you had the chance to co-write with one author, who would it be and why?
James Patterson. The man has a commercial for god’s sake. He definitely knows how to sell books.

 

What might your personal library look like? What type of books interests you more?

My library is super diverse. I read quite a bit for pleasure, so I switch things up to keep my interest. On my shelf you’d find the following types of books (and probably more): fiction, autobiographies, self-help, spirituality, philosophical readings, etc. Fiction interests me the most. If you’ve ever read my work, you know that I’m all for escaping the confines of real life. It fascinates me when authors make the unreal feel like a normal, everyday event.

From one of your favorite books, pick a quote that speaks to you.
I haven’t committed anything to memory, but you can never go wrong with a good Dr. Seuss quote!

Do you have a favorite poem?
Not really. I’m primarily a fiction writer, but I do admire writers who are able to fuse poetry and prose. Author Lauren Oliver does this particularly well.

Where does your inspiration come from?
God.

***********************

Kendra’s novella Somebody’s Nobody is published by Miles Way Press and can be purchaed here.

http://amzn.to/214Lple
http://amzn.to/214Lple

Chapter 1: DETECTIVE BOOKMAN

Amy was 24, a great cook, a skilled driver, and dead. At least that’s what her neighbors had managed to remember about her. One neighbor had seen her make a flavorful-looking manicotti dish last Tuesday. Another had seen her artfully turn a corner while driving. No one else in the neighborhood answered their door.

I had first gotten wind of Amy’s case at 8:07pm on Wednesday March 24th. I remember the exact moment because it was the first time in months that my wife had not acknowledged my presence begrudgingly. I think she was glad to have me home for once. Candied yams, macaroni, grilled salmon with bell peppers- and then a phone call from Detective Chapman who was on 25th street standing next to a young girl who had been stabbed 47 times and nearly decapitated.

When I arrived, I immediately shared Chapman’s frustration. There were two neighbors nearby who had come out to see what happened. John, who had apparently kept a close watch on Amy’s dinners, stood lackadaisically against a light post smoking a cigarette. He sported cut off tattered shorts, large brown flip flops, and a dingy white t-shirt with a stretched out front pocket. I decided to keep an eye on him.  Carol, an elderly woman in her 80s who had especially admired Amy’s driving abilities, sat across the street on a stair stoop with a yellow tank top and short grey sweat shorts, casually watching the police. She was surprisingly scantily clad for a woman of her age. I made a mental note to arrest her for indecent exposure once this case had closed. Amy Clad had been a “nobody” it seemed. No traces of friends and a near empty cell phone with the exception of two entries: a local clothing store and her mother.

“Nothin huh?” I asked Chapman as I lit a cigarette. The subtle burn of the nicotine felt good when it mixed with the cool night air. Detective Chapman lowered his eyebrows in frustration.

“This kid could have been listed in Merriam Webster as the prime definition of a hermit. And now she’s the worst kind, a dead one.” I was all too familiar with Chapman’s statement. We had worked with far too many untraceable young adults; adults who as children had run away and didn’t want to be bothered with being found. To me, Amy Clad was not a nobody. She was somebody who had managed to pull me away from helping my son with his Algebra the day before finals. Somebody who stopped me from having dinner with my wife for the first time in months. Amy Clad was damn special as far as I was concerned.

“Well,” I said. “You know what they say. A bird on the hand beats two in the bush…something like that. Let’s get this closed.” I threw my cigarette onto the barren concrete, smashing it with my wing tip shoe.

“You feel alright, man?” Chapman asked.
I shrugged listlessly. “I’m hungry.”
“Where are we off to?”
“To see Mommy Dearest. Somebody wanted to make sure this kid didn’t live. Might as well find out why.”

***********************

Thank you for reading! And please go back and check out our previous “Alum in the Spotlight” features on Tim Fitzpatrick and Susan Slaviero if you haven’t already.

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