Kathleen Kaska writes fiction, nonfiction, travel articles, and stage plays. She has just completed her most challenging endeavor, The Man Who Saved the Whooping Crane: The Robert Porter Allen Story, a true tale about Audubon ornithologist Robert Porter Allen whose mission was to journey into the Canadian wilderness to save the last flock of whooping cranes before encroaching development wiped out their nesting site, sending them into extinction. Published by University Press of Florida, the book was released on September 16, 2012 and has been nominated for the George Perkins Marsh award for environment history and the Washington State Book Award for history / general nonfiction.
Kathleen also writes the award-winning Sydney Lockhart mystery series set in the 1950s when women were caught between the dichotomy of career and marriage; when fashion exploded with a never-before-seen flair; and movies and music had the country dancing with gusto. Her first mystery, Murder at the Arlington, won the 2008 Salvo Press Manuscript Contest. This book, along with her second mystery, Murder at the Luther, were selected as bonus-books for the Pulpwood Queens Book Group, the largest book group in the country. Murder at the Galvez was released on December 7, 2012.
Before bringing Sydney into the world of murder and mayhem, Kathleen published three mystery-trivia books in the Classic Triviography Mystery Series: The Agatha Christie Triviography and Quiz Book, The Alfred Hitchcock Triviography and Quiz Book , and The Sherlock Triviography and Quiz Book. The Alfred Hitchcock and the Sherlock Holmes trivia books are finalists for the 2013 EPIC award in nonfiction.
When she is not writing, Kathleen spends much of her time traveling the backroads and byways around the country, looking for new venues for her mysteries and bird watching along the Texas coast and beyond. It was her passion for birds that led to the publication The Man Who Saved the Whooping Crane: The Man Who Saved the Whooping Crane.
After graduating from University of Texas at Austin with a degree in physical anthropology, Kathleen taught middle-school science for 25 years. She was a staff writer for AustinFit magazine from 1997-2002. Her articles have appeared in Cape Cod Life, Marco Polo, Agatha Christie Chronicle, and Home Cooking Magazine. She is a frequent contributor to Texas Highways magazine.
When too road weary, she splits time between her two favorite places, the Pacific Northwest and the Texas Coast. It’s tough though, having been born with the original sin of wanderlust. Nonetheless, her laptop is nicely stowed in her bag and a bird-reference book and binoculars are always on the front seat.
And now from the author herself:
Beginning, Middle, End Unknown
I didn’t start writing until I was almost forty. I was teaching at the time, and when I came to the point where I felt comfortable in the classroom, I finally decided it was time to write that book. I knew I wanted to write mysteries, but I also knew it was easier to break into publishing with nonfiction. Trivia books were becoming popular, and I decided to make use of my complete Agatha Christie collection by writing the Agatha Christie trivia book. I queried an agent, he signed me on as a client, and within a month we had a contract. I followed the Christie book with the Alfred Hitchcock trivia book, and then the Sherlock Holmes trivia book. What an education that was. In doing my research I had a chance to dissect and analyze books, short stories, plays, and screenplays written by Christie, Conan Doyle, and Hitchcock. All three books were picked up by a new publisher, LL-Publications in early 2012, and reissued last May.
When I began writing my own mysteries, the hardboiled detective writers, Dashiell Hammett, Mickey Spillane, Rex Stout, and Raymond Chandler, were my biggest influences. I modeled my protagonist, reporter Sydney Lockhart, after those wisecracking tough guys. I like to think of Sydney as a female Phillip Marlowe. She’s brash, bossy, and too outspoken for her town good. She stands five feet ten inches and has a head of wild curly red hair. Being a woman in a man’s work, she often disguises herself as a man in order to get her stories.
My series is set in the early 1950s. I chose this decade because it was a pivotal time for women in terms of lifestyle choices. I write about an independent woman, struggling to make it on her own, not an easy feat back then.
Each story takes Sydney on an assignment to a different historic hotel. The places I write about are real. The readers have an opportunity to travel back in time and discover what life was like in these old hotels. In my first book, Murder at the Arlington, which takes place at the Arlington Hotel in a Hot Springs, Arkansas, I write about the world of gambling and gangsters, which went underground after the town was cleaned up in the 1940s.
In book two, Murder at the Luther, Sydney is on the Texas coast covering the infamous New Year’s Eve Ball at the Luther Hotel in Palacios. Her celebration turns sour when finds herself dancing with a dead man. With her fingerprints on the murder weapon and a police chief who has his own agenda, Sydney ushers in the New Year behind bars. But the gal lands on her feet and soon there’s another hotel, another murder, and another attempt on Sydney’s life. When she discovers that the unsolved murder of her grandfather eighteen years earlier is linked to a string of killings in Galveston, Texas, Sydney finds herself smack dab in the middle of Murder at the Galvez.
I’m working on book four now. Sydney’s back home in Austin, Texas, so I selected the Driskill Hotel as the venue for murder. I’m excited about this book because Austin was my home for twenty-five years. My research allowed me to discover what the town was like in the 1950s before it grew to a city of almost a million.
Each hotel has a story to tell and I write that story into my mysteries. Look for Murder at the Driskill early next year.
You can find more about Kathleen and her writing via…
If you would like to take part in an author spotlight, take a look at http://morgenbailey.wordpress.com/submission-information/opportunities-on-this-blog (the spotlights are option (a)) or email me for details.
** NEW!! You can now subscribe to this blog on your Kindle / Kindle app!
or http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B008E88JN0 for outside the UK **
You can sign up to receive these blog posts daily or weekly so you don’t miss anything. You can contact me and find me on the internet, view my Books (including my debut novel, which is being serialised on Novel Nights In!) and I also have a blog creation / maintenance service especially for, but not limited to, writers. If you like this blog, you can help me keep it running by donating and choose an optional free eBook.
For writers / readers willing to give feedback and / or writers wanting feedback, take a look at this blog’s Feedback page.
As I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t unfortunately review books but I have a list of those who do. If there’s anything you’d like to take part in, take a look at Opportunities on this blog.
I welcome items for critique for the online writing groups listed below:
Morgen’s Online Non-Fiction Writing Group
Morgen’s Online Novel Writing Group
Morgen’s Online Poetry Writing Group
Morgen’s Online Script Writing Group
Morgen’s Online Short Story Writing Group
We look forward to reading your comments.