To celebrate the release of Kate's newest book, I'm doing a SPECIAL EDITION of Adam Interviews!
Let's dive right in!
Living in gorgeous Coastal Devon, Kate synergises her lifelong love of reading Cozy Sleuths with years of writing experience and her extensive knowledge of foreign climes to write Travel Cozies.
Her first Cozies were the 1970s-set Màiri Maguire Cozy Mysteries - fun, frothy, fast-paced mysteries, with just enough clues and twists to keep you guessing until the end.
Now Kate’s Quick Reads Cozy series is released: Huntingdon Hart Investigates, Casefiles of an Occasional Detective
Kate hopes that her readers will get as much pleasure from reading Màiri’s adventures as she gets from Sherlock Holmes, Father Brown, Ellery Queen, Raffles, and Jana DeLeon's Miss Fortune series.
Find her at:
Star Trek or Star Wars?
I enjoy them both! In different ways for different reasons. Although my Fave in-space shows are the original Lost in Space (I loved Zachary Smith) Galaxy Quest and Spaceballs.
A book that pleasantly surprised you?
Louisiana Longshot, Jana DeLeon’s first Miss Fortune book. It’s very funny, and it was a book I didn’t expect to be humorous.
Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?
My ideas come from the Muse, but the information comes from a lifetime of hoovering up knowledge. I love learning. When I get an idea, it’s usually about something I already know well. On the rare occasions when it’s not, my research is extensive.
For example, I have lived in every city featured in my Travel Cozies series, Màiri Maguire Cozy Mysteries. But I intend to write a Màiri story set in Vienna, where I have never lived. So I have arranged to rent a flat in the heart of Vienna for 3 months and I shall write the book whilst living there. First, though, I need to exhaustively research Vienna during the period (1972).
What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?
I self publish, so whether I’m writing that day or not, my work begins when I open my eyes and it doesn’t stop until I go to bed. Sometime I wake up in the middle of the night and grab my laptop. Always I’m thinking about work. I stop reluctantly to wash and dress, to grab a quick bite to eat at odd intervals, to go for a walk. I stop happily to talk with my family and to worship. The rest of the time, I’m working - or too ill to move. As James Barrie so perfectly put it “You think that was hardship? It was sublime.” (in What Every Woman Knows). Always working is sublime, I mean.
Do you have any suggestions to help someone become a better writer? If so, what are they?
The Bard said it for me. “This above all, to thine own self be true.” Of course you would be insane to write a book that no-one will want to read, but I do not believe that any well-written book exists which someone doesn’t want to read. And we have the wornderful luxury today of being able to self publish. So your audience will find you. You don’t need to worry about pleasing a particular market segment, or writing “commercially”. You can be true to yourself and write what you want to write.
But do not make the mistake of thinking that you can slam up a book that hasn’t been properly formatted, with a home-made cover and an interior which shows no respect for the editing process or the publishing industry, and make no effort to market that book – and yet still find readers.
Read Dorothea Brande’s wonderful book Becoming A Writer, and do everything she says.
Never stop learning. Learn from the Greats – Sol Stein, Lajos Egri, Michael J Stravinsky, Thornton Wilder. And from those at the coalface today – Save The Cat, all James Scott Bell’s books for writers, Jennie Nash’s Blueprint for a Book
Learn from the behind-the-scenes professionals. Here is a link to a marvellous online exposition of great writing principles. https://summit.yourwritingprocess.com/talks/tbd-2/ If it’s no longer available, try the presenter’s website AbigailKPerry.com
Depending on your age, you may find it easier to get a publisher than to self publish, notoriously difficult although it is to get a publisher. With a few well-known exceptions like J K Rowling and Mark Dawson, few writers earn enough to live on the income from their calling, whether self published or traditionally published.
I shall not easily forget my shock on learning that Howard Waldrop, a writer whose work I respect enormously (and which was always in high demand), earned less in a lifetime of writing than a barely competent middle-skilled middle manager earns in a year.
Accept, before you try to make a living by writing, that Lady Luck – not the degree of your native ability – will determine whether you earn enough from your writing product to let you eat. Most writers have day jobs. Some of us have pensions. But only a tiny percentage of us can make a living by writing what we want to write. So have a backup plan.
Always remember Churchill’s words: Never ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, give up.
What’s the greatest living example of that? IMO, Connie Willis. I adore her work. And it very, very nearly, never saw the light of day. This woman was the first writer ever to win both the Hugo and the Nebula. She has been honoured over and over and over. And yet if not for the slightest thing, postage stamps already affixed to an envelope, she would have given up. She tells that moving story in her preface to A Letter From The Clearys. So don’t give up.
Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
I am blessed to hear from my readers all the time, a couple of hundred emails a week usually, although when my son was very ill over a thousand readers wrote to me on the same day. They say lovely things like they hope my health improves; and they send me Hugs or say they are praying for me; and that I mustn’t wear myself out working too hard – and then in the same email they say how much they are longing for my next book. That was why I decided to write Hunt. Novellas are easy for me to write and Quick Reads are a good way to give my readers some stories to enjoy while they wait for my next novel.
What is the first book that made you cry?
A marvellous novel I read when I was 14 years old, called A Dragon’s Life I am ashamed to say I don’t remember who wrote it. It was an incredibly evocative tale of a man in a travelling carnival, who was dressed in a dragon costume, and he got accidentally left behind on a roadstop. He had to try to reach the carnival trucks, and he couldn’t manage to catch up with them. All the time he was still wearing the costume, and it got dirty and torn, and he was too hot, and hungry. He couldn’t get a ride, and he had no money on him. And in the middle of the road, he got hurt in some small way by a passing car, (maybe it splashed dirty water on him, I don’t remember exactly what happened) and when that happened I cried a river. I wanted to reach into the book and pull him out of it and feed him. I was crying because I couldn’t do that. He was absolutely real to me. And at the same time I knew it was just a story, that the man I was weeping for didn’t really exist. A wonderful book.
Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you building a body of work with connections between each book?
When I sit down to write, I say to myself, perhaps, today I am going to work on Chilworth Street (a crime novel I’ve begun) and maybe I do, but maybe I work on one of my Cozy series instead. Or I say, today is the day I figure out how to rewrite Elda (a screenplay I’ve decided to self publish as a novel) and instead my eye is caught by something else and I write a new flash fiction piece. Or I say, Oh Hell! a deadline has snuck up on me, and I type like a maniac until I can submit. I do hit my deadlines, but sometimes it’s at 3 minutes before midnight. So I don’t exactly build a body of work, it’s more that some opus muscles its way to the front of the queue. And it’s a winding queue. There are over a hundred stories I want to write, who knows if I’ll live long enough?
How do you balance making demands on the reader with taking care of the reader?
Frankly, I don’t. I figure that if readers don’t enjoy my books then they’ll read someone else’s books. I think non-stop about how I can make my writing better, more entertaining, easier to escape into, more believable, funnier, frothier, more action-packed. More enjoyable. Clean, but not stuffy. Only once have I worried about reader reaction. I’d written a moment of extreme violence into a Cozy, which is a No-No. No-one has ever called me on that scene, though, and more than seventeen thousand people have read it, so I guess my readers can take care of themselves.
Do you write novels, novellas, short stories, episodic fiction, poems, screenplays, or something else? What is your preferred format?
I write novels, novellas, short stories, episodic fiction, poems (which I don’t publish, they are about things which speak to me strongly, and so they are private), fact articles, and screenplays. I find novels the hardest to write, novellas the easiest, and screenplays the most enjoyable. My dream is that a savvy TV showrunner will pick up my Hunt stories. They are easy to produce, you see. Only two main sets and a little location work on the racecourse; most of the racecourse scenes could be drawn from the enormous bank of racing stock footage. Hunt’s mystery stories are funny, and they’re a little tiny bit different, and of the right length for TV. And Hunt is a character that actors would love to play. Actors usually go crazy for my work; it's producers who think it’s “not what viewers want”. That’s kinda like when I go into a store to buy a product and they tell me they don’t stock it because there’s no demand, when I’m standing right there in front of them, the human embodiement of demand.
How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
I don’t actually know. How far back are we counting? Are we counting only work I intend to finish someday, or including work I’ve abandoned because I can’t shape it to the right medium? Are we counting old manuscripts that have been lost in physical space, but which still live inside my head, which if I ever get time I’ll try to put back onto paper? Limiting the count to stories which are on my calendar to work on within the next twelve months, there’s Hunt, Màiri, The Major, Crystal Clare, Chilworth Street, Elda, Belle, The TreeTops Club, oh, say fifteen or so.
What is the answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything?
Ask Douglas Adams, God rest him. I adore his Dirk Gently.
What does literary success look like to you?
Some would say I’ve had a suspicion – that’s Glesgae talk for a little tiny bit – of sucess, because my debut book enjoyed the Publishers Weekly’s Fiction Spotlight in their March 2022 Indie RoundUp and has since garnered lots of awards. But what I want is for my books to be in libraries.
I am giving unlimited quantities of my multiple award winning book, Death in Paris, for free, to any library or hospital which wants it. Just ask. On the day I can walk into a library and see all my books shelved there, that will spell success for me.
What do you have coming next?
Newly released is the first of my humorous Huntingdon Hart Investigates Quick Reads, The Case of The Missing Peke. There’s a prequel, only available to members of my Readers Club, If This Too Should End which explains why Hunt left MI5, how he was able to do so without repercussions, and shows us the darker side of his character during his days as a hitman.
The next story is the Quick Reads series is The Case of The Manic Magpie, coming out over the Easter weekend. Also in April I’m releasing two more Hunt stories The Case of The Clever Cat and The Case of The Challenge Colt. I shall continue to release Hunt’s Quick Reads stories as long as demand lasts.
The anthology A Bookworm of a Suspect which features a Màiri novella The Demon’s in the Details is released in April too.
In May the third of the Màiri Maguire stories Death in Rome is released as an eBook, and in July the first three Màiri books are released as Death in Europe, a print book to read on the beach.
In late September I bring out All Souls Night in Glasgow, a Màiri Halloween novella; and in October Màiri’s Home for the Holidays, a 5 book Christmas box set consisting of one short story, three novellas, and The Glesgae Glossary, a fun “dictionary” of Glasgow vernacular.
I may, depending on health constraints, also release in 2023 the first of Major Peverel’s stories, They Call Him Gimlet and the fourth Màiri novel Death in Istanbul.
And now an excerpt from her Huntingdon Hart Investigates Casefiles!
Huntingdon Hart Investigates: The Casebook of an Occasional Detective
Case #1: The Case of the Missing Peke
In The Bird’s Nest
I'm not going to tell you that I'm a genius, because you probably wouldn't believe me. Of course, a lot of other people will tell you that I'm the reincarnation of Mycroft Holmes, but you probably won't believe them either - which is wise of you, because I'm not.
I'm plain old Huntingdon Hart (call me Hunt) of the beautiful English village of Upper Shrewsbury, where you see me now, whiling away a wet Wednesday at the bar of my local, The Bird in Nest.
No, I am not going to tell you my real name. Not because then I'd have to kill you, ha, ha. Because then some tiresome old bores might be interested to hear that I'm still alive, and do their best to change that unwelcome (to them) state of affairs.
It's true that I learnt a few tricks during my sojourn at MI5, and it's true that I still have access to the ministry's IT team, and if you ask me whether I still do a little work for them on the side, I'm not going to tell you. King and country, and all that.
And may I say how happy I am to be living in the reign of King Charles the Third, let's drink a toast to that. Good old G&T, staple of the British Empire since Queen Victoria's day.
What do you mean, I drink too much? A gentleman cannot drink too much. Peter Piper picked a pail of pickled peppers, eh what? All right, a peck of peppers, have it your own way...
Oh, you remember me from our schooldays, do you? I rather think not. My schooldays weren't that long ago, I'm barely 35 now, and I certainly don't remember you, old boy. Which school, eh?
It was a mistake to wear my Rugby tie, was it? I don't think so. Haven't you ever heard of rotten bounders wearing the tie of a school they've never been to, old chap? What makes you think I'm not one of those blighters, the ministry's full of them.
You remember my wavy black hair and electric blue eyes, athletic build, and devilish charm, do you? Haven't you ever heard of contact lenses, my dear fellow? And I wouldn't say that our conversation has been laden with charm, would you?
Oh, all right, Blaise! of course I remember your fat grinning face. What do you want?
And that's how it all began, that's how my happy mayfly existence got turned upside down and I became a sober citizen (in both senses of the word, unfortunately).
Not that I would have it any other way. I’m a lucky man, and I know it.
How Blaise Heedley-Smythe recognised me is a mystery, because I was wearing coloured contact lenses (my eyes are naturally brown) and the genesis of my wavy black hair is a secret between me and my barber (like many Englishmen, I have fair hair). I didn't go to Rugby, I went to Winchester. Heedley-Smythe and I were never schoolmates, either.
I suppose it must have been my devilish charm which gave me away... it couldn't have been my heavily muscled six foot six bod, because although I was always tall, until that interlude three years ago in the Lebanon, I had been rather slightly built. A little incident out there changed my mind about the value of going to the gym.
Anyway, that stinker Smythe sussed me out somehow, and it seems all he wants me to do is find a missing Pekingese puppy. Not exactly rocket science.
The wretched animal's the property of the Duchess of Blantyre, who had graciously accepted an invitation from the Baron of Chester to watch the gee-gees from his box at Ayr Races yesterday, and for reasons passing human understanding, her grace brought the pup to the races with her.
The little hound, smaller than my hand, I’m told, had jumped down from her lap when she was cheering Westcoast Breeze on to victory. Afterwards, the peke was nowhere to be found.
But the thing is, you see, I'm not exactly a wow with the ladies. You'd think I would be - the devilish charm, athletic build, £6million in the bank - not to mention my natural brilliance. (Yes, I know I said I wasn't going to mention that, but I lied.)
So you'd think the ladies would be all over me.
But sadly, no. The reason is a local she-dragon called Nancy O'Bleary, who makes it her mission in life to tell porkie pies about me.
She says I'm no good in bed.
And how would she know, the minx? since I've never had the dubious pleasure of her company between the sheets.
But sad to say, the local ladies believe her - and what's a man to do? You can't call a woman (Nance is no lady) a liar. Even if I did, who would believe me?
With my training in Intelligence, the best solution would seem to be - counter-propaganda.
So I'm considering putting an ad in the personals: Lonely Billionaire Seeks Soulmate. Not that I'm seeking a soulmate, more of a hot date, but you have to say that if you want the chicks to answer your ad. I am not speaking from personal experience, you understand, merely sharing the received wisdom of my old pal Hamish McTavitty, who tried that one on.
It didn't work. Since Hamish is not a billionaire, in fact he doesn't have two pound coins to rub together, that's just as well.
But I digress. I am less upset than you might think that no soulmate will find her way to me in Upper Shrewsbury, because my favourite occupation is not romancing the ladies, it's going to the races.
I'm as happy as the next man to enjoy a fragrant armful of feminine charms, but truth be told, I'd rather she were a filly.
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