So on this rainy May day, I hop in the transporter to pick up this week’s featured author. When she tells me where she’d like to go for the interview, I politely tell her, “Uh, it’s not that type of transporter. ” Then she slips me a special chip and when I insert it into the control box, everything goes wonky. I set the location…and the date…and soon we’re in London, where it’s cold and dank. Ms. Kaska rushes me out of the transporter and down the streets because, apparently we cannot miss the four o’clock appointment. It’s the early 20th Century with movies like The Artist and Midnight in Paris playing. Soon, we enter one of the most famous addresses in all of London…221B Baker Street and wonder of wonders, there’s the man himself.
With Mrs. Hudson serving us tea and Kathleen composing herself quietly in a corner, I’m to ask my questions to the great detective.
- Who is Kathleen Kaska and what makes her the most fascinating person in the city?
Excuse me, but no one is as fascinating as I am, just ask my biographer and friend Dr. Watson. However, Kathleen does have her moments. She’s managed to pry into my personal life and find out tidbits about me that even my odd brother Mycroft doesn’t know. I have to admit that I learned some surprising facts about Conan Doyle that perplex even me. Watson keeps raving about Kathleen’s other mystery series, the Sydney Lockhart hotel series, which in set in historic hotels. Watson says thatSydneyis a crackerjack investigator, which I find hard to believe sinceSydneyis a woman.
- Without revealing a deep dark secret, what’s one thing would people be surprised to learn about Kathleen?
There is no secret one could keep from me. Kathleen is under the illusion she has the skills and intelligence to solve crimes in, what has become known as, the Sherlockian method. That’s obvious since she insisted we have this interview here at my home and office. What’s even more obvious, and I must say, ridiculous, is that dear-stalker cap she’s wearing. An article of clothing I would not be caught dead in.
- Why did she be become a writer rather than something else such like a nuclear scientist?
I deduce that Kathleen’s science background is in biology, particularly genetics, and that she believes that physics, as in nuclear, is a highly overrated science. When I walked in she was reading my book, Darwin’s Origin of the Species so intently, she did not notice I’d come into the room. Considering the book was on the bottom of a stack of physics books, and she chose to ignore those, it is clear where her science interest lies. She was a science teacher of middle school students, judging by the minute nervous tick, the wrinkles around her eyes, and the red ink stains on her fingers and clothes. After she became comfortable in the classroom, she found she had extra time on her hands and she decided to write.
- Writers are readers. With which author(s) would she enjoy sharing dinner? Why?
And the answer is no, I will not have dinner with her no matter how much she begs. I suggest she ask Dr. Watson or Conan Doyle or maybe Rex Stout, Dashiell Hammet, or Raymond Chandler. Judging by her attire: baggy slacks, two-tone oxford shoes, a white dress shirt, and an out-of-date fedora, I’d say these noir detective writers fromAmericainfluenced her.
- If I were stranded on a deserted island (or suffering a four hour layover at the airport), why would her book(s) be great company?
That’s obvious, also. The Sherlock Holmes Triviography and Quiz Book is all about ME.
- Share the Kaska process of writing in regards to: idea and character development, story outline, research (do you Google, visit places/people or make it up on the spot?), writing schedule, editing, and number of rewrites.
Judging by the coffee stains on her shirt and the fact that she keeps nodding off so early in the afternoon, Kathleen is an early riser who fuels up on coffee. She plots by the seat of her pants. Why else would she have Stephen King’s book On Writing in her bag? King professes that plotting is highly overrated and the best method of writing is to put words down and see what happens. Kathleen is in agreement, no doubt.
- “I think I have a good idea for a story, but I don’t know where or how to begin. Will her process work for me. Any advice?”
If you just open your notebook and start writing, it will most likely work for you. I must say, I find this method intriguing, but difficult to identify with. When I work, my plan is laid out in my brain like a blueprint or a map. If I stumbled through the streets ofLondonsearching for answers without any clues to follow, I’d be the laughing stock at Scotland Yard.
- I saw an amusing T-shirt the other day which read ‘Every great idea I have gets me in trouble.” What is Kathleen’s philosophy of life?
T-shirt? An American wardrobe creation that will not find it’s way into my closet, but to answer your question about Kathleen’s philosophy of life, I can only be “Never give up.” In getting this interview scheduled at my flat, she sent numerous telegrams, made even more phone calls, much to Mrs. Hudson’s annoyance, camped outside my door, and followed me all overLondon. I had no chose but to agree to her request, otherwise, I’d never get a moment’s peace.
- Please tell me she’s not going to stop writing? What’s next for her?
Kathleen is working on her next Sydney Lockhart mystery, Murder at the Driskill set in the historic Driskill Hotel inAustin,Texas. After my brief trips to the American, I can assure you thatAustin will not be on my future travel plans. But Watson, here, has just stayed up the last two nights reading her first two mysteries, so what does that tell you? She’s also written mystery-trivia books about Agatha Christie and Alfred Hitchcock, having pestered those two poor creatures as well.
- Where can people find more information on Kathleen and her projects?
I suggest the agony column of the newspaper. That’s where I find the most valuable information, but Kathleen has just handed by a note: www.kathleenkaska.com or www.kathleenkaskawrites.blogspot.com, hummmm, a code I will work on deciphering immediately.
Kathleen Kaska is the author of the award-winning Sydney Lockhart mystery series set in the 1950s. 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 Queen Book Group, the largest book group in the country. Before bringing Sydney into the world of murder and mayhem, Kathleen published three mystery-trivia books: (What’s Your Agatha Christie I.Q.? (newly titled The Agatha Christie Triviography and Quiz Book), The Alfred Hitchcock Triviography and Quiz Book, and The Sherlock Holmes Triviography and Quiz Book. All three books are being reissued in May 2012 by LL-Publications.
Kathleen also writes nonfiction, travel articles, and stage plays, has just completed her most challenging endeavor. The Man Who Saved the Whooping Crane: Robert Porter Allen’s Odyssey, a true story set in the 1940s and 50s, is about Audubon ornithologist Robert Porter Allen whose mission was to save the endangered whooping crane from extinction. Published by University Press of Florida, the book is scheduled for release in September 2012.
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.