By JEFFREY BISHKU-AYKUL
Hyde Parker K.B. Jensen has published a new murder mystery novel, drawing inspiration from the neighborhood and her professional life.
Entitled “Painting with Fire,” her book tells the story of an unemployed woman sharing an apartment with a man who has a shadowy past, on the heels of a murder outside their building. Although Hyde Park is never explicitly mentioned, said Jensen, she imagined the story taking place in its streets.
“Hyde Park in a different reality, a parallel universe,” is how Jensen, a Hyde Parker of seven years, describes the book’s setting. “We don’t have the body count that the neighborhood in this story has.”
Jensen says the abandoned St. Stephen’s Church at Blackstone Avenue and 57th Street stoked her imagination. “When you’re creating a fictional story you have to take liberties, so obviously it’s not 100 percent the same. But I definitely borrowed heavily from that church.”
And like the story’s main character, Jensen lives in a three story walk-up, although she calls it “a coincidence.”
For Jensen, a journalist of 10 years, her time reporting at the Times of Northwest Indiana — where she covered local government and crime in Southeast Chicagoland — proved useful.
“Everything in this book is fictional, and it’s all brand new, but at the same time I’ve definitely been influenced by the things I’ve seen and heard, and even the way people talk at a crime scene, or the tragedies and how that feels.”
Jensen took four years to complete her book, two years writing and two editing.
“And I never really decided to write it,” Jensen said. “One day I sat down and I started writing a poem, and the poem turned into a short chapter. And I just went, “Oh, OK, I’ll just keep working on this.”
A writer since she was 7, Jensen uses a pen name to separate her fiction from her work as a journalist — and because of her 10-letter last name.
“That is the number one reason for the pen name,” Jensen said.
Jensen published the book through her own company, Crimson Cloud Media, LLC, with Amazon as a distributor. To date, her e-book has been downloaded more than 10,000 times.
Jensen will be hosting a launch party for her book from 4 to 6 p.m. on June 1 at Green Exchange in Logan Square, 2545 W. Diversey Ave. For more information about her book, visit paintingwithfirenovel.com.