Monday, October 30, 2023

Elise Hart Kipness

Elise Hart Kipness is a former television sports reporter turned crime writer. Her debut mystery, Lights Out, the first in a series, is based on the author’s experience in the high-pressure, adrenaline-pumping world of live TV. Like her protagonist, she chased marquee athletes through the tunnels of Madison Square Garden and stood before glaring lights reporting to national audiences.

My Q&A with the author:

How much work does your title do to take readers into the story?

I’m a bit obsessed with my title and I feel like I can say that because I didn’t come up with it. After bagging my original title, my husband suggested Lights Out. What I love about Lights Out is that it works really well for a domestic thriller. But it also has a sports reference. If someone plays “lights out” it means that they can’t miss. I thought the connection to basketball was really cool because the murder victim is an NBA player.

What's in a name?

At first my main character was named something completely different. In fact, I unintentionally chose a last name that I had a hard time pronouncing. My Long Island accent tends to come out when I have a “t” in the middle of a word. I usually pronounce it as a “d.” Originally, my main character’s last name was “Martin” which I pronounced Mar-den.” Then I thought–why would I do that to myself? So I changed my protagonist’s name to Kate Green!

Do you find it harder to write beginnings or endings? Which do you change more?

One-hundred percent endings! I tend to write in layers, which means I’m always coming back to the beginning and tweaking it. But when I get to the ending I get a little stymied. I usually know what the twist will be, but my mind imagines so many different ways to reveal the ending that I struggle deciding which way to go. I’ve found, my best endings come in conjunction with collaboration with my agent and editor.

Do you see much of yourself in your characters? Do they have any connection to your personality, or are they a world apart?

My main character, Kate Green, is a way cooler version of myself. We are both sports reporters. But where I’m a soccer mom, she’s a former Olympic soccer gold medalist. I chase my three dogs around the yard, she chases bad guys through the hidden tunnels of Madison Square Garden. Her demons are also way more interesting than mine. Darker and edgier. But we both love coffee and greasy grilled cheese sandwiches.

What non-literary inspirations have influenced your writing?

Anything that tells a story from movies to television to songs and musicals. I’m always studying how ideas are portrayed and plots revealed.
Visit Elise Hart Kipness's website.

The Page 69 Test: Lights Out.

--Marshal Zeringue