Please welcome Kaye George, author of the Imogene Duckworthy series, the Cressa Carraway series, and the (forthcoming) Fat Cat series.
What’s your idea of a perfect day?
Nothing scheduled! A day that I can call my own, so that I can mess around with emails and facebook all morning and then write all afternoon would be ideal. Top that off with a long bath, complete with bath salts, a good book (I have a very good bathtub reading rack), some dark chocolate and a Scotch and water, and I’m there.
Do you have a signature accessory, color, fragrance, phrase, or meal?
Accessory? Some days I don’t get dressed. Meal? I’m not much of a cook, but I do love to make apple pie and people sometimes ask for it. They’re family, but still.
Excluding family, name three people who either inspired you or influenced your creativity.
It’s very hard to limit this to three! Maybe O. Henry, Mark Twain, and Alfred Hitchcock. Except I’ve left out a lot of people! When I was about 10, my Aunt Lois bought a deep freeze, a chest freezer. This was a novelty appliance and she was very proud of it. She announced that she would, at all times, have TWO flavors of ice cream in her house. It was summertime and hot. She lived across town, but I bicycled over there for ice cream. I also pulled her Alfred Hitchcock story collection books off the shelf and read them on her couch. My mother had told me I couldn’t read them because they’d be too scary, but Aunt Lois didn’t know that. I was in heaven, eating ice cream on a hot day and reading stories with twisty endings. You’ll notice that O. Henry was one who did that, too. Mark Twain just plain wrote the Great American Novel, plus a bunch of stellar short stories.
Do you listen to music when you write?
I can’t possibly do that! I can either listen to music or write. Listening to music is an active occupation for me, maybe because I’m a musician. But I can’t ignore all those notes. I have to have silence.
If your latest book were chocolate, what kind would it be and why?
I think Eine Kleine Murder might be milk chocolate on the outside, with a deep, dark truffle filling. I’d like to think that this is a traditional mystery with something more to it. Maybe it would have some crunchy nuggets, some tiny flakes of pecan, for the musical nuggets at the chapter headings.
What made you interested in writing this particular story?
This character is who I would have been had my life taken a different turn. I don’t mean that I would find dead bodies and solve mysteries, but I would love to be a symphony orchestra conductor. I’ve played in many orchestras and always fantasize about leading them. I’ve even done a tiny bit of conducting and it’s like a drug, holding a roomful of musicians in your hand, controlling them with a baton. Cressa Carraway isn’t a conductor in this book, she’s a graduate student writing a composition for her master’s degree in music studies. But if/as the series continues, she will blossom into a conductor, and my vicarious life will be complete.
What themes do you regularly (re)visit in your writing?
That’s hard to say from the inside. Maybe someone who has read my work could answer that better than I could. I have gotten comments about my short story collection, that I have a theme of women killing men, especially their partners. A television report about an abused woman can rile me up like nothing else can. Maybe I want women to prevail in a man’s world? I think family is a theme in my Imogene Duckworthy novels, and in this newest one, too.
Tell us about your main character’s psyche or personality. What led her (or him) to be the person s/he is today?
She’s a little awkward, socially. This is partly because she was raised by her grandparents after her parents were killed in a car crash when she was eleven. But before that, she lived on the road with them because they were touring musicians. She’s always felt a out of step with her peers because she hasn’t led a conventional, normal life. But her grandparents shaped her into a more secure person and the one thing she’s confident of is her musical ability. She’s more at home on a stage than at a party. She also longs for a friend, a confidante, since her grandparents are now gone, too, and she’s alone in the world.
Describe your protagonist as a mash-up of three famous people or characters.
One aspect of her is Shirley Temple–she blossoms on stage (although she doesn’t appear on stage in this book). Another might be Rudolph. She was born different, but can shine when she’s called upon to do so. For the third, I’ll call her a stubborn mule, or maybe a bulldog. From her grandmother, she gets a fiercely independent and tenacious strain and doesn’t quit once she gets a notion to do something, like find her grandmother’s killer when the police think her death was an accidental drowning.
If you could host a mystery-author dinner party, who are the six writers (living or otherwise) you’d include?
I’d have Dickens and Dostoevsky, since I had to leave them out above. If Agatha Christie could make it, I’d like to ask her about her mysterious disappearance. Dorothy Parker would be fun to listen to, as would Oscar Wilde. My job as hostess would be easy with them at the table. I’d finish up with Shakespeare and find out if he really wrote all those plays.
What’s next for you?
Next is the first book in the Fat Cat series, coming out in the fall of 2014. I’d also like to do a sequel to Eine Kleine Murder (Requiem for Red) and a fourth Imogene Duckworthy book (Stroke). At this writing, I don’t have a publisher for my Neanderthal mystery, Death in the Time of Ice, but if I get one, I’ll do a sequel for that someday, too–Death on the Trek. As you can tell I’ve done at least a little work on these. However, I will need to fulfill my three-book Fat Cat contract, first and foremost! (If I can, I’ll sneak in some short stories.) I don’t think I’ll get bored.
Kaye George, twice-Agatha-nominated writer, writes three mystery series: the Imogene Duckworthy series, Cressa Carraway series (Barking Rain Press), and the Fat Cat series to debut in 2014 (Berkley Prime Crime), as well as short stories that appear in anthologies and magazines as well as her own collection, A Patchwork of Stories. Her reviews run in Suspense Magazine and articles in several newsletters and blogs. She gives workshops on various subjects. You can find more information about (and buy) her latest book here and here.