PW: You're currently the editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan. What inspired you to write If Looks Could Kill, a whodunit?

KW: My fantasy from a young age was to become a mystery writer. Nancy Drew so changed my life. I remember the first time I saw The Secret of Red Gate Farm at my grandmother's house. I looked at the cover and I was hit by a lightning bolt.

PW: What took you so long?

KW: I went into magazines as a writer, then became an editor-in-chief and just kept putting off the novel—until I was at Redbook, and we had this person come in to apply for the job of writing the horoscope. She took my hands and said to me, wow, you are two people. You're editor-in-chief of this magazine but there's this writer inside of you that wants to do some things. I was two chapters into the book when I got the call telling me they wanted me to take over Cosmo. And here's the funny thing: in the first draft the nanny was found dead on a copy of Cosmo. And I thought it's a sign from God that I'm meant to finish this.

PW: You're also the author of two how-to books—9 Secrets of Women Who Get Everything They Want and Why Good Girls Don't Get Ahead and Gutsy Girls Do. Once you knuckled down, was writing a whodunit more or less of a challenge?

KW: It felt very different. But I went and bought about 12 books on how to write a mystery. Also, because magazine writing is about telling, when magazine writers make the transition to fiction they tend to talk too much. The one thing about the mystery genre is you expect the heroine to be talking a bit, or the protagonist to be mulling over things.

PW: Was it fun inhabiting a contemporary female character like Bailey?

KW: I tried to make a character I thought would be familiar and could be irreverent about some of the issues single women, or formerly single women, face. I got divorced in my early 30s. And though Bailey isn't totally like me, I did borrow that. I married someone else and I'm a mom now, but that was such a definitive time for me.

PW: Your book also lays out—hilariously—certain code words used by fashion editors and celebrity wranglers. Do phrases like "shoe slut" and "chub check" come naturally to you?

KW: I always love that sort of stuff. But even as I'm in the thick of it at the magazine, there's always that secret freelance writer part of me that stands back and watches it with a certain degree of bemusement.

PW: Are you worried that people will recognize themselves?

KW: I would say I've done a pretty good job of making sure they won't, though there have been some lines I stole, particularly some of those editor-in-chief lines I've heard and jotted down over the years. Like Bailey, I'm intrigued by the kind of powerhouse editor who can make people scatter from a meeting in terror.

PW: Do you know where Bailey's next case will take her?

KW: She does a little travel writing sometimes, to keep her mind off all the tragedy she ends up writing about. So in the second book she ends up at a spa, where a murder happens.

PW: So reading all those mystery how-to manuals helped?

KW: You wonder as you're checking out with all these books if the salesperson is thinking, "Oh God, this poor, pathetic thing in the business suit, she's hoping to write a mystery." I'm dying to go back into that store and tell them, "I did it!"

PW: If your book were featured on one of the women's magazine's covers, what might the blurb say?

KW: How about "The Hot New Murder Mystery That Will Make You Moan with Pleasure!"