On writing mystery books: I’m a pantser who is trying to be a plotter and finding that it does not work for me. I keep telling myself that outlining is the way to go. Then all I have to do is connect the dots. Buzzer noise here – wrong answer!
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What do you write?
Oh, pretty much everything. Although a life-long mystery reader (even before I discovered Nancy Drew) I started my writing life with poetry and romance. The poetry has long since fallen by the wayside, but the romance is my guilty little secret. I write for the Trues. Yep, True Confessions and True Story are the only ones left now, but my stories appear from time to time. Then there’s my mystery gig. Novels only. I haven’t yet figured out the formula for mystery shorts. I’m hoping with enough practice, I’ll get there. Either that, or I’ll paper my house with the rejections.
I currently have two mystery series, the Hayden Kent series published by Henery Press. Newest edition out on March 22nd titled Death by Sunken Treasure. Is that today? YIPPEE! Those are cozies, but on the traditional end of the spectrum. My self-published series features Catherine Swope, a woman with a past. They are definitely traditional mysteries with dark overtones. Knocking around in the back of my head are some very dark noir books that I’m going to have to attend too soon. They are getting too noisy clanking around back there.
Why do you write?
No choice in the matter. Started at an early age and kept on going. When I was a kid, I would occasionally speak tag lines, an early indication that I was doomed to slave over a typewriter. The fact of the matter, I love to entertain. My favorite form of entertainment is reading, so it seemed like a natural progression.
When and where do you write?
The when is always difficult. My day job consumes anywhere from ten to twelve hours a day, sometimes six days a week. I try to write (or do writing related “stuff”) for four hours a day. Usually an hour or so in the morning and then again for three hours after work. My husband and I joke that we have the world’s only long distance relationship separated by a hallway. My thought processes work best in the dark of night. If I’m really stuck on something, I either set an alarm to get up at 2 AM or take a nap and start writing when I wake up. It’s lucky I don’t need much sleep. Where I write is far more regular. I have a student’s desk in my office (I work my day job from home at the “real” desk) that sports my laptop, probably 20 notebooks variously color coded, a few inches of sticky notes, note paper pages, napkins, matchbooks, receipts, etc. scribbled with great ideas that may or may not trigger the original thought process, and a ton of books pertaining to the work at hand. I like order, which explains the color coding. The mess belongs to the other Kait.
How do you write?
Oh, this is a great question. So many different answers flood my mind. First off, I’m a pantser who is trying to be a plotter and finding that it does not work for me. I keep telling myself that outlining is the way to go. Then all I have to do is connect the dots. Buzzer noise here – wrong answer! For me at least, I need to be surprised, to follow the story arc wherever it goes. The one book I wrote from an outline is the one I like the least. Sad, but true. I have been able to develop a kind of hybrid version that does suit me. I know my victim and my protagonist when I start a book. So the first chapter is usually backstory, and I accept that. It’s what it takes to get me up and running and it never sees the light of day. After that I let the hook of one chapter lead me to the opening of the next
What do you read?
Everything. I have multiple degrees in useless majors, history, sociology, psychology, minored in philosophy. So I love biography, history, raving sociopath stories, noir, thrillers, even cereal boxes have appeal if nothing else is available. My core reading is mystery, with a minor in historical romances, and a subset of biographies. The only thing I won’t read is sci fi. Which is odd, I devoured it in college.
Why do you read?
Two reasons, I don’t get enough vacation time any other way, and since I started writing, as research. I can tell a book is good if I forget the research part and have to remind myself that I’m supposed to enjoy this, but also observe the craft.
Who do you read?
Besides my blog partners? Right now I’m working my way through Margaret Maron’s Deborah Knott series. Hank Phillippi Ryan, Polly Iyer, Sasccer Hill. These are people I preorder when I hear a book is coming out. My history concentration was civil war. I’ll read any primary source biography or social historical account. Had enough of the battles getting my major. Victorian era history if written by a Brit. I’m a snob that way. Then there are the books I’ll read over and over again because the writing sings. Dominick Dunne’s The Two Mrs. Grenvilles. James Clavel’s Noble House. Cereal boxes. Oh, I said that.
Tell me something funny.
Humor for me is in the situation. For example, my college roommate and I went out to one of those barbecue places where everyone sits at long picnic tables and you find and grab a seat as they become available. We were gnawing on our ribs when a woman three people down stood up, shouted out the name of a social disease, sat back down, and went back to eating. A hush settled over the entire restaurant. Then everyone went back to their dinner, a bit more subdued. My roommate and I started giggling, and ended up laughing so hard our stomachs hurt. It wasn’t funny in and of itself, but the entire situation was absurd. OK, you had to be there.