J.A. Hennrikus is the Executive Director of StageSource. Last fall her story “Tag You’re Dead” was published in THIN ICE. She tweets under @JulieHennrikus, and group blogs on nhwn.wordpress.com. She wrestles with allusions of athleticism, is an avid theatre goer and a proud member of Red Sox nation. Her website is jahennrikus.com
Your story in Dead Calm, “Her Wish” has a special connection for you. How did you get the idea?
The story is inspired by a friend of mine. I don’t want to give too much away, but while she was battling inflammatory breast cancer a few secrets slipped that were surprising to most of the people who knew her. After she passed away I was inspired to use some of her stories to write this short story. She was also a mystery writer, and would have loved this. When we came to our first Crime Bake together (the second New England Crime Bake) she bought the Level Best book that year, and had everyone sign it. We both agreed that it was a dream of our to be included in the anthology one day.
Your masters thesis is about point of view in Agatha Christie’s novels. Tell us something about that.
This wasn’t an easy topic to get approved, trust me. There is a bias against genre fiction in academia, and an even bigger bias against Dame Agatha. But I did a ton of research to support my thesis, and it happened. My thesis was that her use of POV moved the genre forward. I used MURDER ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS, THE MURDER OF ROGER ACKROYD, THE SECRET ADVERSARY and AND THEN THERE WERE NONE as my primary texts. Each of these uses POV differently and very effectively. I’m always happy to talk about my thesis in more detail, so just ask.
When I spoke to my thesis advisor for the first time, I wondered if I should add a chapter or two at the beginning justifying the subject. He said that anyone who is still read forty years after her death doesn’t need to be justified. One of the best outcomes of this process is that I am more of a fan of Mrs. Christie than ever. She was a very good storyteller.
Tell us something about what you do when you’re not writing.
I am the ED of an arts service organization called StageSource. We support theater artists and organizations in the greater Boston area. I am very fortunate that I work in a field that I love, and part of my job is going to theater. A lot.
I need to set a fitness goal, and get back to the gym. A friend and I both have significant birthdays in August, and we are talking about learning how to surf for the occasion. Since I have no experience in this at all, it could well turn out to be a huge disaster. But if nothing else, I will get a story or two out of the experience.