Before we get started talking about your writing, tell us a little about yourself, where you’re from, what you do for a living (if you’re not a full-time writer) what hobbies you have, etc. Whatever you’d like to share to introduce yourself.
Good morning, Karen. Thank you for having me on your blog. I grew up in the West, where the first books I remember loving were Cowboy Sam early readers by Edna Walker Chandler. I settled in Colorado 35 years ago, so naturally my novel-length fiction is set in a contemporary Colorado mountain town. My short fiction appears regularly in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, and reflects my experience in a factory setting as an environmental regulatory specialist. I like to include cowboy and cowgirl characters in my stories when I can, which provides an excuse to do research by horseback riding. When I’m not working the day job or writing, I enjoy gardening, camping, and fishing.
1. How did you get started writing?
My siblings and I learned the quickest way to gain the undistracted attention of adult relatives was to stage little plays we wrote. I’m sure they were awful, but the great-aunts were delighted with our attempts. The mixed drinks they imbibed while we entertained them probably softened their literary tastes.
2. What genre(s) do you write in and why?
I write amateur sleuth mysteries. The mystery appeals to readers because it offers a happy ending when in real life, murders may go unsolved, or lack the swift redemptive justice we would prefer. I enjoy creating bad guys and girls who deserve to be punished, and ensuring they get what’s coming to them. My stories are not romances, but typically have a romantic subplot. In my Rock Shop Mystery series, a widow must work through her grief before she can allow herself to love again.
3. What do you think about when you’re alone in your car?
I discovered that my public library carries books on cd. I am working my way through all the Sue Grafton alphabet series. Listening to murder mysteries while driving makes me cherish every stoplight, instead of chomping at the bit in frustration. “Oh, caught by the light. I’ll be late, but maybe I can finish this chapter.”
4. What is your favorite part of writing?
The terror of beginning a new project balances with the thrill of discovery as plot and characters unfold. Writing the first rough draft can be intimidating and frustrating, but I know there will be a finished story eventually, making the hard work worthwhile. Revising and editing the manuscript requires polishing and incorporating beta-reader suggestions. Seeing the finished product, whether magazine or novel, is rewarding. Having a reader tell me he or she enjoyed a story, and why, is the ultimate accomplishment. Each step has its own rewards. Can I say my favorite part of writing is the entire creative process?
5. What is your least favorite part of writing?
The business aspects of writing are my least favorite part of the process, although it is very necessary. Keeping a log of writing hours and expenses. Seeking markets. Trying to get attention for my work in a crowded marketplace, when I am not a “look at me” kind of person. I have learned that people don’t bite. Usually. So I am more likely now to tell a stranger I write fiction than I was at the beginning of this journey.
6. Pick two celebrities to be your parents. Who would they be and why?
My parents are both such quirky people. They molded who I am, for better or worse. I could not imagine having any other parents. One of my short story characters, frustrated actor and factory floor laborer Marlin Hammerbach, would like to have been the son of Sir Laurence Olivier and Dame Joan Ann Plowright, the Baroness Olivier. Alas.
7. Where do you get the ideas for your stories?
I usually have a character or snippet of a scene pop into my head. Some grow on me, and occupy more and more of my thoughts. The idea for Stone Cold Case began on a multi-family camping trip in the mountains. The adventurous young people discovered a dilapidated hunting dugout. Branches had been placed across a narrow gully, and a blue plastic tarp hung over the entrance. Age and weather had worn it down, giving it an air of creepy decay. The kids had great fun dropping through the “roof” and sliding down the gully full of rotting leaves.
I had a “what if” moment. My imagination dreamed up a body buried under the leaves. That image stuck with me for a couple years before it worked into a story. In Stone Cold Case, the body is not found in a hunting blind, but both the blue tarp and the imaginary body became vital to the story.
8. Tell me about your ideal reader.
I truly appreciate my terrific readers. They tell me that while a steamy romance or terrifying thriller are not off their reading lists, they also enjoy gentler stories sometimes called cozy mysteries. They enjoy intelligent writing because they are smart people. Most have fallen in love with one of my characters. I don’t mind if it is one of the donkeys in the Rock Shop Mystery series, although short story character Dr. Charles Jerome Harrison runs a close second in my informal polls. My ideal reader buys my books, but I am happy when they check them out from the library, too.
9. What is your “go to” routine that helps you get in the mood to write? Special beverage? Music? Etc.
My most creative writing time is 5:30 to 6:30 am. I am least likely to be interrupted in the early morning. Sunday afternoons when I have the house to myself are great for marathon writing sessions. Classical or instrumental music via headphones is helpful when I can’t have the quiet I want. I am just too easily distracted to work in a coffee shop. Ideal beverage? Definitely coffee. My idea of heaven is writing on my deck on a summer morning. It doesn’t happen nearly often enough!
10. Tell us about your next book & when is it being published?
My most recent novel release is Stone Cold Case – A Rock Shop Mystery.
Rock shop owner Morgan Iverson’s discovery of human remains reopens a cold case and unhealed wounds in a Colorado mountain town, while her find of a rare gemstone sparks a dangerous treasure hunt. Fifteen years ago, prom queen Carlee Kruger vanished. When Carlee’s mother asks Morgan to investigate her death, the clues seem as convoluted as the coils on a fossilized ammonite. The hunt for the truth heats up as the local newspaper editor helps Morgan uncover the past. The rock shop’s mascot donkeys and an elderly cowboy chase after a Sasquatch look-alike who may hold the key to Carlee’s death. Whoever knows what happened to Carlee will do anything to keep the truth buried.
My most recent short story, “The Chemistry of Heroes”, appeared in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine’s May 2016 issue.
The Marshall Gasket Company renovation hits a snag when a body is discovered under a newly poured concrete floor. The factory is plagued with thefts of supplies used in meth labs, while animal rights activists protest an art gallery display of taxidermy. Chemistry holds the solution when Dr. Charles Jerome Harrison and his young assistant Tony Gilbert once again become entangled in a murder case.
Be sure to come back to read more about Catherine and her book, STONE COLD CASE, A Rock Shop Mystery on Wednesday’s Karen’s Killer Book Bench. Happy Reading!
Links to Catherine’s website, blog, books, etc.
Stone Cold Dead – Book One: Available on Kindle
Stone Cold Dead – Book One – hardcover: Amazon
Stone Cold Dead – Book One – hardcover or Nook: Barnes & Noble
Stone Cold Case – Book Two: Available on Kindle
Stone Cold Case – Book Two – hardcover: Amazon
Stone Cold Case – Book Two – hardcover: Barnes & Noble
**SPECIAL GIVEAWAY**: Catherine is giving away one hardcover copy of STONE COLD CASE to one lucky reader who comments on this Author Peek or Karen’s Killer Book Bench blogs. Thank you, Catherine, for sharing your story with us.
Don’t miss the chance to read this book!