Interview with Author Kathleen Kaska

Kathleen Kaska writes the Classic Triviography Mystery Series, as well as the award-winning Sydney Lockhart mysteries set in the 1950s. Her first two books Murder at the Arlington and Murder at the Luther, were selected as bonus-books for the Pulpwood Queen Book Group, the largest book group in the country.

What was the motivating factor that started you writing?

After five years of teaching, I’d finally reached a level of comfort in my classroom, which allowed me to enjoy my summers and weekends. When that extra time found      its way into my scheduled, I decided to write that book. Once I started writing, I never stopped.

What is your genre and who is your intended audience?

I write cozy mysteries. People who read my books enjoy lighthearted, humorous mysteries, which are character driven. A few folks have compared my zany characters and their wild adventures to Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series. For me, that’s      a gigantic compliment.

What are you currently writing?

Right now I’m halfway through my fourth Sydney Lockhart mystery, Murder at the      Driskill, which takes place in the historic Driskill Hotel in Austin,Texas. Number five is now brewing in my brain. Looks like Sydney will be in San Antonio at the Menger Hotel, so guess where I get to spend a week?

How do you make time to write?

I’ve been writing for so many years, it’s just become part of my routine. I’m a morning person, so most of my writing begins around 6:00 when I’m having my coffee, but if I get on a roll, I’ll continue throughout the day. Those days are the most satisfying, when I’m able to write three to five thousands words. While I was teaching, my alarm went off at 4:00 and I managed a couple of hours before I left the for work. Now I’m retired and fortunate to have my days free, but I mysteriously end up in some classroom, either subbing, mentoring, or teaching writing classes. Once a teacher, always a teacher.

What inspires you to write?

Reading authors I enjoy is my best inspiration. Martha Grimes, Agatha Christie, Laurie R. King, Nevada Barr, Anne Perry, Dick Francis, and of course Arthur Conan Doyle are just a few who get my creative juices flowing. Coming in a close second is when I hear from a reader about how eager they are to get their hands on my next mystery.

 What  would you have done differently in your writing life, if anything at all?

I would have started sooner, but then, I believe that everything happens when it is supposed to.

Tell us about your marketing strategy.

Sell my books how ever possible. Okay, maybe that’s an exaggeration. We all know that authors have to promote their books now more than ever. And what sells books the most is word of mouth. That doesn’t necessarily mean speaking face-to-face with someone. It means connecting with people via the Internet. So, part of my day is      spent networking online. When I have a new book coming out, I also get on the phone to libraries, writers leagues, bookstores, and offer to give presentations on writing. This works much better than a simple book signing. Some of my best venues are the historic hotels where I set my mysteries.

Does your spiritual life influence your writing? If so, how?

That’s a good question. I am spiritual, but I believe the best way to answer the      question is to say my religion and religious upbringing have found their way into my stories, but in a humorous way, never preachy. For instance, my protagonist, Sydney Lockhart, hates that she is Catholic because she is naturally sarcastic, outspoken, and a bit too wild for a woman in the early 1950s, so the Catholic-guilt thing comes back to bite her in the butt. Personally, it does that to me too, but I love being Catholic      because Catholics are so good at laughing at themselves.

What’s your literary community burning desire?

We’re fortunate to have a large active writing community in my little town. About a year ago, the Fidalgo Island Writers Guild was formed and the focus is on community service, as well as promoting local writers. We work with the Boys and Girls Clubs and the locals schools, providing mentors and tutors to students to need help with their reading and writing, or students you enjoy writing and want to hone their craft. This last spring we sponsored a writing contest for grades K through 8 and had an overwhelming response. Every student who entered had their story included in the publication of a book. We hope to make this an annual event.

Kathleen, what a pleasure getting to know you! Your humor and love for your writing and how you live your life is quite apparent. Thanks for your visit! Theresa