Welcome to another edition of Spotlight Saturday at Darlene's Book Nook, where we feature authors and their books!
We will be joined today by Kathleen Kaska.
Kathleen Kaska is the author of the award-winning Sydney Lockhart mystery series set in the 1950s. 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. Before bringing Sydney into the world of murder and mayhem, Kathleen published three mystery-trivia books: (What’s Your Agatha Christie I.Q.? (newly titled The Agatha Christie Triviography and Quiz Book), The Alfred Hitchcock Triviography and Quiz Book, and The Sherlock Holmes Triviography and Quiz Book. All three books were reissued in May 2012 by LL-Publications.
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Welcome back to Darlene's Book Nook, Kathleen!
Kathleen has written a guest post, so I will now turn the floor over to her!
Born on the Road
by Kathleen Kaska
Sometimes you close your eyes to relax but the voices in your head won’t shut up. And sometimes that’s good. One time my husband and I were on our way back to Texas from our annual Thanksgiving trip to the historic Arlington Hotel in Hot Springs, Arkansas. I’d just finished a productive week outlining the plot for my second Kate Caraway novel. The creative juices must have still been on full pump, even after several hours on Interstate 30. Eyes closed, I pictured our room at the hotel and wondered: What if someone checked into that room and found a dead body in the bathtub? What if that person were a young, single woman traveling alone? What if the police suspected her of being the killer? And finally, what if the woman and the detective on the case were instantly attracted to one another? More ideas floated through my brain; then I began hearing a voice, seeing a face. All at once I knew exactly who this young woman was, what she looked like, and how she was going to handle the situation.
“I’m glad I finally got your attention,” she said. “You may have enjoyed your stay at that hotel, in that room, but let me tell you what happened when I checked in. I pushed the bathroom door open. Two damp towels were in the sink. Wet, slimy soap floated in the dish. Beard stubble was sprinkled across those white hexagonal floor-tiles. I couldn’t believe my eyes. The damn housemaid had blown-off the bathroom! Or so I thought. Then I noticed one end of the shower curtain ripped from its rings. A leg, a hairy and white leg, was draped over the edge of the tub. Seems it belonged to the body of the hotel’s bookkeeper.”
“Keep talking,” I said.
Ms. Sydney Lockhart spilled her story for the next 225 miles. By the time we pulled into our driveway, I couldn’t wait to get to my laptop. Murder at the Arlington had been born—on the road.
Well into chapter three, I felt the story needed a little something extra. Thanks be, Sydney spoke again. Her voice had a cocky femme fatale lilt. She sounded more like a female Phillip Marlowe than a present-day news reporter. No wonder. All those years of reading classic detective novelists (Raymond Chandler, Rex Stout, and Dashiell Hammett) had planted of a noir-mystery seed in my brain. I went back to page one, turned back the clock a half-century, and Sydney was now in her element. It was 1952. Sydney was struggling to make it as a reporter in a typically male profession.
The character, setting, and plot worked. Murder at the Arlington won the Salvo Press Manuscript Contest in 2008 and was published the following spring. It was the beginning of my Sydney Lockhart Mystery Series, which has become known as the “hotel murder-mystery series.” The second book, Murder at the Luther, finds Sydney on the Texas coast (Palacios) at the historic Luther Hotel, where LBJ and several other Texas politicians often hobnobbed their way around. Murder at the Luther and Murder at the Arlington received a marketing boost when the Pulpwood Queens Book Group, the largest book group in the country, selected them as bonus books. The venue for my third mystery is the famous Hotel Galvez in Galveston. Sue Grafton may extinguish the alphabet for her Kinsey Millhone series, but I’ll never run out of old hotels for my stories. And I’ve slept in them too. A big benefit from creating Sydney is that she keeps bringing me back to some of the most enchanting lodgings in the country.
Look for Murder at the Galvez this fall (LL-Publications). Then Sydney and I will be off to the venerable Driskill Hotel in downtown Austin. Rumor has it some rich old boy staying on the fifth floor is in big trouble.
Thanks so much for joining us today, Kathleen!
One lucky winner will win a paperback copy of Kathleen's latest Sydney Lockhart mystery, Murder at the Galvez.
Reporter Sydney Lockhart checks into the Hotel Galvez to report on the controversial Pelican Island Development Project conference, an assignment she’s not looking forward to. The last time she entered the hotel’s foyer was eighteen years earlier when she had discovered her grandfather’s murdered body. She plans to get her story and get out. But soon after arriving, the conference is cancelled; the keynote speaker is missing. When his body turns up in the trunk of Sydney’s car, she finds herself embroiled in another murder, one that forces her to reevaluate the integrity of two men she loved and trusted: her grandfather and her father.
To enter the giveaway, you must complete the Rafflecopter entry form below.
This giveaway is open to Canada/US mailing addresses only. The contest will close at 12:01 AM EST on September 15, 2012.a Rafflecopter giveaway