Please welcome Kait Carson, author of Zoned for Murder, Murder in the Multiples (coming soon), and the forthcoming Hayden Kent series.
Thank you for having me. The Mysteristas collectively have given me hours of reading pleasure. It is wonderful to be asked to do this interview.
What’s your idea of a perfect day?
Hmm, hard question since it depends on the season. Right now, my perfect day would be waking up on a sunny morning, packing the dive gear in our airplane (my husband is a pilot and we own a Piper aircraft) and taking off for a great wreck dive followed by a meal of fresh fish and a returning to our home hanger before nightfall. In the winter, it would be traveling to Sugarloaf (I’ve yet to conquer the western slopes, they are on my bucket list) and spending the day skiing. Someday I hope to graduate from green to blue. Then catching up with our Maine friends in the evening. Of course, when I’m in the middle of a book, my idea of the perfect day is to wake up full of new ideas for my characters and spend the day bringing them to life! When I’m writing, I often dream about my characters, and they tend to give me bossy directions, which can take my books in entirely new directions.
Do you have a signature accessory, color, fragrance, phrase, or meal?
Is this a Diane-inspired question? The answer is yes to all…my signature accessory is my diver’s watch. It’s a man’s Timex indiglo on a lime green Velcro band. I feel naked without it. My signature color is purple in all its hues. I almost always have something from the purple family on and if I need a confidence boost then it’s either my lilac oxford shirt or my lavender polo shirt. Fragrance is in flux right now. Used to be Ralph Lauren’s Safari, then it became Chantilly after a dear friend made me a gift of a bottle. Now, I’m searching for a new fragrance, I’m thinking it’s time to go back to Safari. Something about its woodsy scent appeals now that we have moved from Maine back to Florida. Phrase, well, No worries! That phrase has gotten me in more trouble than anything else. Like most women, I hate to say no and tend to take on too much. No worries is my response to “can you do this?” The odd thing is, I always get it done and whatever it is, and it always somehow enriches my life.. Signature meal–to eat–cracked conch. To cook, salt free blackened steelhead salmon. Yum and Yum.
Excluding family, name three people who either inspired you or influenced your creativity.
Jo March has to lead the list. I knew I wanted to be a writer at the age of 4, but when I first read Little Women, I decided that Jo March and Louisa May Alcott were one and the same. I sat for hours in my room imitating their style in modern stories. Sr. Marie Therese, my high school English teacher my sophomore year. We were assigned a short story writing project and she selected three to read to the class. She read the first line of my story, then stopped. The class demanded she finish reading. Her comment was “That, class is the way it is done. The first line is everything.” She encouraged me to keep on writing, and through her classes and her generosity of time, gave me the tools to write well. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Guppies. Guppies is an Internet Chapter of Sisters in Crime. It was established for unpublished writers to give them the tools to achieve publication. Now it’s a healthy mix of published and unpublished and the best place to go for questions, advice and classes to hone your craft. The published members give unstintingly of their knowledge and have guided a number of Guppies through the thicket to publication. I was proud to serve as their President from 2009-2011.
Do you listen to music when you write?
Nope, I tried when I read that music stimulates the creative lobes in the brain, but I really need total silence to hear my muse.
If your latest book were chocolate, what kind would it be and why?
A dark chocolate Godiva truffle with a white chocolate interior. Murder in the Multiples is the story of things not being as they appear. It is darker than a normal cozy style mystery although it features an amateur sleuth. The story is rich in texture and taste, and when you bite into it, you find a completely different interior that turns your preconceived ideas upside down.
What made you interested in writing this particular story?
Miami, Florida and its unique style. The rules truly are different there. Catherine Swope had decided not to return to police work, but to go back to selling high end real estate. I worked for a law firm that sold one of Miami’s historic mansions to a Hollywood actor. When my boss took me to see the house, it blew me away, and fired my creativity. I filed the experience away in my journals and trotted it out for this book. I was also curious about what happens when the DEA seizes a house. How do they clear it, how do they offer it for sale, what happens if they miss some merchandise? I married the two stories and came up with Murder in the Multiples.
What themes do you regularly (re)visit in your writing?
I am fascinated by the why. Although all of my stories have to do with good v. evil, the overriding theme is that things are not as they appear. For me, the theme comes from the characters. The face they present to the public and their true private face.
Tell us about your main character’s psyche or personality.
What led her (or him) to be the person s/he is today? Catherine came from the school of hard knocks. She was an army brat who lived all over the world until the age of ten when her mother died. Her Uncle, a doctor in Aroostook County, Maine, raised her to adulthood while her father continued to pursue his career. She always felt her father blamed her for her mother’s death. It made her strive to be a perfectionist and a type A personality. Her Uncle gave her the skills she needed to survive, but she always yearned for her father’s approval and affection. Two things he never gave unconditionally. After college at the University of Miami, she decided to stay in Miami. She bought a house and became a police officer. She left the force after she was involved in a fatal shooting of a young man. The shooting was ruled justified, but she had difficulty living with herself. She began to drink. Her friends pulled her out of her downward spiral. An incident of back-sliding led to her being the prime suspect in the murder of the Zoning Commissioner in the first book of the series, Zoned for Murder. Solving the crime helped build her self-esteem. She was secure enough to decide that police work was not for her, even though she was good at it. Instead, she went back to real estate, trying to make a success of it after the housing boom went bust. Catherine is intensely loyal to her friends. At the same time, she is unconditionally fair and in a crisis will look at the facts a trait she learned from her Uncle. Life always manages to surprise her and she accepts it with good humor, but she does always feel slightly off balance as she continues to strive for perfection.
Describe your protagonist as a mash-up of three famous people or characters.
Kate Jackson as Sabrina Duncan in Charlie’s Angels served as a prototype for Catherine’s appearance and her sleuthing skills. Richard Dean Anderson as MacGyver for Catherine’s resourcefulness and Tom Selleck as Magnum, PI for Catherine’s sense of humor and of the absurd.
If you could host a mystery-author dinner party, who are the six writers (living or otherwise) you’d include?
What a great question! Diana Mott Davidson for her culinary advice. Rita Mae Brown for her love of animals and her ability to seamlessly make them speak. Dorothy L. Sayers for her sense of the absurd in writing mystery protagonists. Harlan Coben for his sense of dark thrillers and P.D. James for showing us all how a police procedural should be done.
What’s next for you?
Death by Blue Water. This is the first book in the Hayden Kent Series. It’s based in the Florida Keys and features a scuba diving paralegal protagonist.
Kait Carson lives and works with her husband, eight cats and two birds at an airpark in Ft. Denaud, Florida. She began her working life as a secretary for companies as diverse as an Italian gold importer–that led to her running an jewelry import business in the Caribbean–to a law firm that led to a profession as a certified paralegal. Bits and pieces of her day jobs crop up in her writing. When she’s not writing, Kait can be found diving the gorgeous waters around South Florida or skiing the slopes of Sugarloaf.