Kathleen Kaska is a writer of fiction, nonfiction, travel articles, and stage plays. She’s also the author of the award-winning Sydney Lockhart mystery series. When she’s not writing, Kathleen spends much of her time traveling around the country, looking for new venues for her mysteries and bird watching along the Texas coast and beyond. When too road weary, she splits her time between her two favorite places, the Pacific Northwest and the Texas Coast.
Judy: The Sydney Lockhart series is set in the 1950s. What made you choose that era?
Kathleen: I love writing about independent women who take risks, so my theme for this series is the empowerment of women. I chose the 1950s because women were beginning to realize their potential and claim their power. Sydney is an independent gal, but she’s not always as strong as she thinks she is, or wants to be. I put her in situations where she has to take risks and prove herself. Most of the time she succeeds, but not always. Whatever happens, she learns more about who she really is.
Judy: I understand you also love mystery trivia. Tell me a bit about that and where that fascination has led.
Kathleen: I always wanted to write mysteries, but I also knew it was easier to break into publishing with nonfiction rather than fiction. Trivia books were becoming popular back in the 1990s, and I decided to make use of my complete Agatha Christie collection by writing the Agatha Christie trivia book. I queried an agent, he signed me on as a client, and within a month, we had a contract. I followed the Christie book with the Alfred Hitchcock trivia book, and then the Sherlock Holmes trivia book. What an education that was. In doing my research I had a chance to dissect and analyze books, short stories, plays, and screenplays written by Christie, Conan Doyle, and Hitchcock. Only then did I begin writing my own mysteries.
Judy: You’re also a lover of birds, travel, and running. How do these pursuits influence your writing?
Kathleen: Birding allows me to put some distance between me and my writing, which is a good thing, otherwise I would obsessive on whatever project I’m working on. Travel allows me to discover new hotels in which to set my series, and running gives me a clear head. I guess you could say, these activities add balance to my life.
Judy: What’s a typical writing day in the life of Kathleen Kaska? Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Kathleen: I don’t have a typical writing day since I retired from teaching. While teaching I had to adhere to a strict schedule to get everything accomplished. Now most of my days include running or cycling; spending time with my husband; reading; and writing. Nice, huh? The best advice I have for aspiring writers is to finish the book. You can’t polish, sell, or promote your work if you don’t have a finished product.
Judy: What’s next?
Kathleen: Right now I’m working on my fifth Sydney Lockhart mystery, Murder at the Menger (San Antonio). I’m also working on a new series set in Manhattan in the 1940s. My protagonist is a PI who had just returned from serving in WWII and he is suffering from PTSD. Needless to say, it is quite different from my lighthearted Sydney mysteries.
Thank you, Kathleen.
Thank you, Judy!