Meet Lyssa Pennington — Spunky professor who loves geeks, dangerous thrills, and solving mysteries

I met a really exciting character this week and just have to share what I learned with you.

Lyssa Pennington is a spunky economics professor who, when she’s not tackling huge egos and nasty gossipers on campus, solves mysteries. In fact, for Lyssa, the more thrilling the better!

She’s a handful and a half, and a blast to be around.

Want to know more about Lyssa and her stories? Read on…

I’m so excited you’ve asked me to interview, Terri! I love solving murders with my husband, Kyle, in The Penningtons Investigate, but I’m excited about having the spotlight just on me, Lyssa Pennington, today.

What’s the one trait you like most about yourself?
I couldn’t survive without my sense of humor. My habit of looking for something laughable in even the most serious situations has helped me get through some terribly difficult times. As my husband, Kyle, says I’m “sunny and funny”. I’m very good at getting him to laugh, even on the toughest of days.

What’s the most embarrassing thing that ever happened to you?
I really wish you hadn’t asked me this! My absolute worst, most embarrassing moment occurred during my final negotiations with the president of Tompkins College, for my dream job. I had a total meltdown. Never mind that he was mostly responsible for it. Still, sobbing and screeching at the college president? It wasn’t pretty, and God knows it wasn’t professional! Fortunately, his beautiful wife came to my rescue and coached me on an apology or I wouldn’t be employed today.

What quality do you like most in a man, and why?
There are so many traits I value in a man—integrity, sensitivity, intelligence, talent, a sense of purpose. I have to pick one, though, right? Okay, I’m going straight to my husband, Kyle, as an example. He is the ultimate geek—enormously intelligent and also focused on using that intelligence to benefit others.

If you could do something over again, what would it be and why?
Remember I told you about that meltdown I had when I was negotiating for my current job at Tompkins College? There’s a backstory that I wish I’d done different. Kyle and I had dated a whole year in London when I was there on a post-doc. In all that time he hadn’t made any moves on me, so… I assumed he was a confirmed bachelor and just interested in me as a terrific date. That’s why, when I was asked to interview for the job at Tompkins College, I jumped at the chance and took the job. But I sobbed the whole way across the Atlantic Ocean. The truth is, Kyle loved me as much as I loved him, but he didn’t want to stand in the way of my career. My moving to Tompkins Falls really complicated our lives, and I wish we’d—wish I’d been able to have a mature conversation with him about my feelings instead of getting on a plane and turning my back on him.

Do you have a favorite quote? If so, what is it?
I’m going with, “No one can make you feel inferior without your permission.” Eleanor Roosevelt gave us that gem, and I pull it out all the time in my work at Tompkins College, where I’m surrounded by huge egos and nasty gossipers.

What’s your job and why do you do it?
I love my job! I’m an economics professor, and my main responsibility is to arm my students with money sense and financial literacy before they graduate. I’m really fortunate my father instilled both knowledge and a sense of responsibility in me, as far as money, growing up. Because of his coaching, I was able to get my PhD without student debt. My students aren’t so lucky, and I want to do all I can to teach them how to deal out there in a complex economy.

What is your idea of a perfect day/night?
Oo-la-la! Let’s not talk about the perfect night, which would be very private between Kyle and me. The perfect day, though, is easy to picture. Our favorite place is Kyle’s estate in Cornwall, and we only get there every few months. The perfect day is windy and sunny, and we have plenty of time to enjoy the South Coast Path, walk hand-in-hand, take photographs, talk over everything that’s happened since our last visit to Pennington House, and brainstorm about the coming months.

Do you argue with the author that writes you?
All the time! I’m so different from C. T. Collier, but especially in the early drafts of a book, she keeps slipping into her voice instead of mine. I can’t tell you how frustrating that is! Plus, when things get dicey in the story, she forgets I’ve got spunk and I’m dying to solve the murder… no matter how dangerous. The more thrilling the better.

What kind of clothes do you like to wear, and why?
You just hit on a major difference between my husband and me! Kyle loves luxury, and I can’t even count the number of custom tailored suits in his closet. I cringe when I think of how much money that represents. For me it’s simple. I have six academically appropriate skirts, which I’ve either sewn myself or bought at consignment shops. Plus assorted sweaters and tops, some well-worn blue jeans, and two hoodies—one from my alma mater, University of Texas Austin and one from Tompkins College. No, I don’t wear the hoodies to work! Or the blue jeans.

What book are you reading?
I’m deep into The Little Book of Hygge, by a Danish author. I picked it up right after Kyle and I got back from his business trip Iceland, and it describes so perfectly a lot of the really neat things I heard in Iceland about how the people handle the long dark winters. Terrific book, I recommend it.

You can buy Planted here.


C. T. Collier was born to solve logic puzzles, wear tweed, and drink Earl Grey tea. Her professional experience in cutthroat high tech and backstabbing higher education gave her endless opportunity to study intrigue. Add to that her longtime love of mysteries, and it’s no wonder she writes academic mysteries that draw inspiration from traditional whodunits. Her setting is entirely fictional: Tompkins College is no college and every college, and Tompkins Falls is a blend of several Finger Lakes towns, including her hometown, Seneca Falls, NY (AKA Bedford Falls from It’s a Wonderful Life).

You can find C. T. here:

Facebook: kate.collier.315
Twitter: @TompkinsFalls

Copyright © 2012-2017 · All Rights Reserved ·

About terriponce

I write about secrets, suspense, and soulmates.
This entry was posted in Stories Behind The Stories and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Meet Lyssa Pennington — Spunky professor who loves geeks, dangerous thrills, and solving mysteries

  1. cj Sez: Clever way to introduce characters…Interview one who talks about the other. Best wishes for great success with these two.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Nupur Tustin says:

    Wonderful interview!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Pingback: Meet Lyssa Pennington — Spunky professor who loves geeks, dangerous thrills, and solving mysteries | lcrwblog

  4. Reblogged this on lcrwblog and commented:
    Why does Terri Ponce describe my sleuth, Lyssa Pennington as “a handful and a half, and a blast to be around”? See for yourself! (

    Liked by 1 person

  5. terriponce says:

    Happy to have you here today, Lyssa!

    Liked by 1 person

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