November 4, 2012

The Next Big Thing: Kathleen Kaska

Filed under: The Writing Life — jenny @ 10:38 pm

The Man Who Saved The Whooping Crane

When I got an invite from mystery author Linda Rodriguez, whose blog you can find here, to participate in TNBT, I had three reactions. One, I felt that little frisson of joy that happens to me any time someone does something that makes it seem like I’m a Real Writer, i.e., one who’d be writing a book. Two, I thought, Next Big Thing, ha. And three, I recoiled in horror because I never talk about a work-in-progress until I’ve penned the words ‘the’ and ‘end’.

I solved problem #2 by asking a writer I know for whom the words Next + Big do suit whether she’d like to trade blog posts with me. And Kathleen Kaska agreed, even though her post makes me a little green–a third book in her historical, musical, fashionable mystery series one month from coming out, and a fourth in the works. And how did I solve #3? Well, the answer to that will be over at Kathleen’s blog next week.

But for now let’s turn to the biggest reason I asked Kathleen to Blog Swap. I wanted to know what her next book is about!

Kathleen Kaska

Kathleen Kaska writes the award-winning Sydney Lockhart mystery series set in the 1950s when women were caught between the dichotomy of career and marriage; when fashion exploded with a never-before-seen flair; and movies and music had the country dancing with gusto. 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. The third book in the series, Murder at the Galvez, will be out on December 7.


What is your working title of your book?


Where did the idea come from for the book?

This is the fourth book in my Sydney Lockhart mystery series. Sydney is a reporter and her assignments take her to different locales, each in a historic hotel. In this story, she’s back home in Austin, Texas, so I selected the Driskill Hotel as the venue for murder. I’m excited about this book because Austin was my home for twenty-five years. My research allowed me to discover what the town was like in the 1950s before it grew to a city of almost a million.

What genre does your book fall under?

This series can best be described as a cozy mystery with a noir feel. I’m a big fan of the hardboiled mystery writers like Raymond Chandler, Rex Stout, and Dashiell Hammett. When I began writing my books, I modeled my protagonists after those wisecracking, tough guy detectives, but I wanted my main character to be a woman.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?

Sydney is a tall, sassy redhead, and I think Drew Barrymore would be perfect. Sydney’s cousin and pain-in-the butt sidekick, Ruth, is a perky little fashionista who often pretends to be a dumb blonde. Reese Witherspoon comes to mind for Ruth. And for Sydney’s sexy, detective boyfriend, there’s only one choice, Leonardo DiCaprio.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

This is a synopsis for Murder at the Galvez, which will be released on December 7.

Another hotel, another murder, another attempt on reporter Sydney Lockhart’s life takes place at the Galvez Hotel while she investigates the eighteen-year-old unsolved murder of her grandfather.

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

I’m thrilled to announce I just signed with a new publisher, LL-Publications.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

I’m currently working on the first draft of Murder at the Driskill and it is taking more time than usual. I can finish a draft in about eight months, but I’ve had a very busy year with two new releases and the reissuing of three of my out-of-print mystery trivia books all in a span of eight months.

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

My Sydney Lockhart mystery series has often been compared to Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series. Although set in the 1950s in various locales rather than modern-day Trenton, Sydney and Stephanie have one main characteristic in common; they are both too brazen for their own good.

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

I love writing humor because that’s what I love reading. Crafting mysteries has always intrigued me. After publishing three nonfiction books, I began working on my mystery series. Agatha Christie has been my biggest inspiration as well as the hardboiled authors I’ve mentioned.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

The series is set in a decade that proved to be a pivotal point for women in terms of lifestyle choices. I write about an independent woman, struggling to make it in a man’s world, not an easy feat back then. Also, the places I write about are real. The readers have an opportunity to travel back in time and discover what life was like in these historic hotels. In my first book, Murder at the Arlington, which takes place at the Arlington Hotel in Hot Springs, Arkansas, I write about the world of gambling and gangsters, which went underground after the town was cleaned up in the 1940s. Each hotel has a story to tell. All I have to do is to sniff it out.

Turn in to two more mystery writers and learn about their latest books and their inspirations.

Look for Peg Herring’s interview on November 19. Peg writes the award-winning Dead Detective Mystery Series.

Peter Townsend, author of Ghostly Images, shares his interview answers on November 26.

Before bringing Sydney into the world of murder and mayhem, Kathleen Kaska published three mystery-trivia books in the Classic Triviography Mystery Series. Two of them are finalists for the EPIC award in nonfiction.

Also this year, The Man Who Saved the Whooping Crane: The Robert Porter Allen Story, was released by University Press of Florida and has been nominated for the George Perkins Marsh award for environmental history.

When she is not writing, Kathleen and her husband spend time traveling the backroads and byways around the country, looking for new venues for her mysteries, and bird watching along the Texas coast. It was her passion for birds that led to the publication of The Man Who Saved the Whooping Crane.


  1. I love to travel and and one of my favorite reads is historical fiction novels. You’ve added in other features that make your series even more interesting. Congratulations on signing with your new publisher, Kathleen.

    Comment by Crazy Travel Adventures By Debra — November 4, 2012 @ 11:01 pm

  2. As a native Texan and graduate of the University of Texas (no need to append the word ‘Austin’ – I graduated so long ago that there was only one UT), I am familiar with the Driscoll, the Galvez, the Arlington, the Luther and the many other historic hotels of the Lone Star State. I am also a big fan of Linda Rodriguez, Kathleen Kaska and Jenny Milchman. Read ‘em. Hook ‘em.

    Comment by Mike Orenduff — November 4, 2012 @ 11:10 pm

  3. Kathleen and Jenny, thanks for sharing.

    You series sounds like fun. Nothing like a fiery red hed!

    Comment by Barbara Ebel — November 5, 2012 @ 7:04 am

  4. What a great idea for a series. Best of luck!

    Comment by mountainmama — November 5, 2012 @ 7:23 am

  5. Your books sound intriguing, Kathleen, and I already know you’re an excellent writer. That combination should result in great sales. Best wishes.

    Comment by Earl Staggs — November 5, 2012 @ 7:38 am

  6. Love birds and traveling is always high on my list of activities. Looking forward to becoming familiar with both of your writings. Thanks for expanding my TBR by 2.

    Comment by Jake — November 5, 2012 @ 10:27 am

  7. I’m out here on the West Coast and although I’ve been awake for a hour and am on my second cup of coffee, my brain is just now waking up. Thank you so much, Jenny, for hosting me today. It is always a privilege to be a guest on your blog. And thanks to all who were up early, reading and writing. Your comments are so encouraging. I’ve had such a hectic last few weeks, that I sort of hit a wall and put on the brakes. This was the push I needed to get back to work. I look forward to returning the favor and hosting Jenny next Monday on my blog, Birds and Books.

    Comment by Kathleen Kaska — November 5, 2012 @ 10:40 am

  8. Looking forward to your latest offering!
    William Shepard

    Comment by William S. Shepard — November 5, 2012 @ 11:27 am

  9. Fun interview! Sydney Lockhart sounds like a good character, and the time period is an interesting one. So are the historic hotels. Nice combination that I’m looking forward to.

    The Man Who Saved the Whooping Crane is also on my list. That’s what drew me to this blog and the other books. Beautiful cover and an important book.


    Comment by Ellis Vidler — November 5, 2012 @ 1:15 pm

  10. I follow Kathleen’s blog and enjoyed this interview. Reading about historic hotels sounds right up my alley. Love history, love travel. Plus, I’m a former journalist, so, although I’m not a tall redhead, I think I can relate to Sydney.

    Comment by Sunny Frazier — November 5, 2012 @ 1:31 pm

  11. I have to put in a plug for my friend, Mike Sloat. He’s the incredible wildlife photographer who provided the front and back photos for the book.

    Comment by Kathleen Kaska — November 5, 2012 @ 4:23 pm

  12. I love the Lockhart series and cannot wait to see what Sydney is up to in Galveston!

    Comment by Karla — November 5, 2012 @ 4:34 pm

  13. Thanks for hosting me today, Jenny, and to all who stop by. Just a reminder to check in on my blog Birds and Books next Monday where Jenny will be telling us about her WIP.

    Comment by Kathleen Kaska — November 5, 2012 @ 8:07 pm

  14. A very interesting interview! The descriptions make me want to read this series.

    Comment by Jacqueline Seewald — November 6, 2012 @ 8:52 am

  15. [...] Pyramid Scheme thing. Well, naturally, I said yes, because I’m an idiot and a blogger. And here’s Jenny’s blog where she (or some other author she hoodwinked into doing this) does the “Next Big [...]

    Pingback by The ‘Next Big Thing’ « Debbi Mack: My Life on the Mid-List — November 17, 2012 @ 1:53 am

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