Jennifer Bardsley was watching the Edmonds Fourth of July fireworks show in 2019 when she had a book idea.
She and her daughter had run into about a hundred Edmonds residents they knew throughout the hot summer day. She was in awe of the sense of community in her town.
“What if I wrote a book about this?” Bardsley thought. “Main Street, America, where everyone you know turns out for the Fourth of July?”
So far, that idea has turned into two books.
“Good Catch” is Bardsley’s latest in the “Harper Landing” series. Its lead characters, Marlo Jonas and Ben Wexler-Lowrey, are unlucky in love. On a dare, they both download a dating app so they can find someone who isn’t their type.
For Marlo, a spin instructor at a gym, that means dating a man who wasn’t voted most handsome in high school, and for Ben, a reporter for The Seattle Times, that means dating a woman he feels is out of his reach — too pretty, too smart, too successful.
Spoiler alert: “Because it’s a romance, there’s a happy ending,” Bardsley said. “I wanted to do an enemies-to-lovers and I wanted to do a bet-dare wager — those are two types of tropes in romance, and I wanted to combine them.”
The Edmonds author actually had three new books out last year: In addition to “Good Catch,” she published “Sweet Bliss” through Montlake Publishing and “Quick Fix” with Owl Howl Press.
She is the author of the “Blank Slate” and “Harper Landing” series, as well as “The Puritan Coven” and “Fight or Flight” series, which were written under Bardsley’s pen name, Louise Cypress. Her standalone novels include “Narcosis Room,” “Books, Boys and Revenge,” “The Gift of Goodbye” and “Mermaid Aboard.”
How did she find her pseudonym? Louise is her middle name and Cypress is the street she grew up on.
“The Puritan Coven” is a trilogy about teenage vampires that competes with “Twilight” on Amazon’s top teen vampire picks.
The books have sold so well that Bardsley’s pen name has become more popular than her actual one.
So Bardsley wrote another trilogy, “Fight or Flight,” this time about teenage shape-shifters, under her pen name. Then she wrote a companion novel to that series titled “Slayer Academy: Secret Shifter.”
There will be more from Louise Cypress, but right now Jennifer Bardsley has the spotlight.
Her “Harper Landing” books are set in a fictional town that was inspired by Edmonds — there’s a ferry dock, senior center and yacht club in Harper Landing. “Good Catch” is the follow-up book to “Sweet Bliss,” in which we meet Julia Harper, descendant of the town’s founder and owner of a frozen yogurt shop on Main Street.
Bardsley, who writes the column “I Brake for Moms” for The Daily Herald, has published 16 books in just five years.
After outlining a book, she writes 3,000 words per day, with no breaks, until she’s finished a novel. She meets with a writer’s group about once a week, where they swap pages so she can get feedback from other published authors.
Bardsley is involved with EPIC Group Writers, an Edmonds-based nonprofit that offers writing resources, hosts writers’ groups and holds prose and poetry contests. She has served as a judge for the group’s writing contests. EPIC is an acronym for Every Person is Creative.
Laura Moe, president of EPIC Group Writers and a published author herself, reads all of Bardsley’s manuscripts and helps edit her Herald column.
“I love the ‘Harper Landing’ books,” Moe said. “The one that just came out is my favorite so far. I feel like with ‘Good Catch,’ Jenny has found her sea legs with romance. With every one of these, she gets better at writing them because she’s graduated from writing young adult into writing for adult romance.”
Moe isn’t the only one who loves the new series. There’s a wait list for “Sweet Bliss” and “Good Catch” at the Edmonds Library.
“People are stressed out from the pandemic,” Bardsley said. “They just want to read something that’s happy, easy and relaxing. These books are supposed to make you feel good.”
In “Good Catch,” the leading characters from “Sweet Bliss” make an appearance, so you’ll also get to catch up with Julia Harper, owner of Sweet Bliss fro-yo shop, and Aaron Baxter, a recent Harper Landing transplant. The continuity between her books — plus a map of Main Street — helps to build the community of Harper Landing for her readers.
Her favorite character in “Good Catch”? Hands down, it’s Ben Wexler-Lowrey. He covers Snohomish County, rides his bike to work in Seattle and helps out at the mom-and-pop bakery on Main Street. “Ben is a solid character,” she said. “I love that he rides his bike everywhere.”
Ben is important to Bardsley’s story for another reason. Bardsley wanted to write a book that touches on the plight of local journalists who work too hard for not enough money — to the point that they often can’t afford to live in the areas they cover. She illustrates that irony through Ben, who must split the rent with three housemates.
“I’ve written the ‘I Brake for Moms’ column for nine years, and I can really see how hard people work and how important the stories are,” she said. “Having a local newspaper to tell our stories is incredibly important. I hope that, through Ben, readers will get a glimpse of what I see as a columnist.”
Moe, of Lynnwood, has also read Bardsley’s next two manuscripts for “Harper Landing.” While she can’t say much, she says they’re also good. Turn-it-into-a-miniseries-for-Netflix good.
Each book in the “Harper Landing” series has new leading characters. Which means you can read them out of order: “Good Catch” doesn’t have to follow “Sweet Bliss.”
“I always do happily-ever-afters because I’m a sweet romance author,” said Bardsley, adding that she doesn’t write sex scenes in her romances because she doesn’t want her mother-in-law reading them. “If you were going to write a whole series about the same couple, you would have to break them up. I don’t want to do that.”
If you fall in love with Harper Landing, you’re in luck. Montlake Publishing has picked up Bardsley’s “The Heart Remembers,” a companion novel to her “Harper Landing” series. It’s a small-town romance set in Port Inez, the fictional town a ferry ride away from Harper Landing. That book is scheduled to publish this year.
More about Jennifer
Jennifer Bardsley, 43, of Edmonds, writes the column “I Brake for Moms” for The Daily Herald. She has written the young adult novels “Genesis Girl” and “Damaged Goods,” as well as the romance novels “Sweet Bliss” and “Good Catch.” Twelve more books, all but one of them YA novels, were written under Bardsley’s pen name, Louise Cypress. Follow her on Instagram @jenniferbardsleyauthor.
Washington North Coast Magazine
This article is featured in the winter issue of Washington North Coast Magazine, a supplement of The Daily Herald. Explore Snohomish and Island counties with each quarterly magazine. Each issue is $3.99. Subscribe to receive all four editions for $14 per year. Call 425-339-3200 or go to www.washingtonnorthcoast.com for more information.