I am delighted to welcome Kay Charles to Escape With Dollycas today!
Please Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Well, I grew up in a haunted house in a small Ohio town. At seventeen, I moved to New York City to go to art school, and upon graduation became a really good waitress. Things eventually worked out. I’ve spent most of my adult life as a freelance graphic designer, writer, and editor—with stints running the youth services departments for two libraries, as design director for a web services company, and managing a laundromat.
Nowadays, I’m mostly retired from design work and spend my time writing and teaching in the MFA in Creative Writing program at Southern New Hampshire University. Under my real name, Patricia Lillie, I write creepy stuff. Kay Charles is the PG-rated, not scary, and approved of by my mom version of me. Both versions are addicted to coffee, chocolate, and cake. We also knit and sometimes purl.
What are three things most people don’t know about you?
1. My natural hair color. To be fair, it’s been so long since I’ve seen it, I don’t even know what it is.
2. In my graphic designer days, I created many typefaces (fonts). The fonts I designed still show up all over the place, and “AlleyCat” shows up on the covers of a lot of cozies!
- My first published books (in the last century) were picture books written under my real name. Two of them ended up part of Kindergarten and First Grade school reading curriculums. So, some of my current readers—or their children—learned to read with either When the Rooster Crowed or When This Box Is Full!
What books/authors have most inspired you?
There are so many! I’m going to end up forgetting someone. A few of the authors who made me fall in love with traditional and cozy mysteries: Agatha Christie, Ngaio Marsh, Joan Hess, Charlotte MacLeod/Alisa Craig, Amanda Cross, and M.C. Beaton. The new Lilian Jackson Braun Cat Who… book used to come out just before my grandmother’s birthday. I always bought it for her and checked to make sure all the words were there before wrapping it (you have to check them one at a time). I’m doing an ongoing reread of Jane Haddam’s Gregor Demarkian series, it’s as good as I remember. And then there’s Louis Penny and Valerie/VM Burns (under any of her names) and Jacqueline Winspear and Alexia Gordon and the list goes on!
What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
I don’t do a lot before beginning a book. The thing is, I love doing research and am always in danger of falling down a rabbit hole and spending all of my time researching instead of writing. I do make a list of things that need to be researched and check to see if they will work for what I have planned and how much information is easily available. Then I can research as I go, either while writing a first draft or after the first draft is finished to fill in any blanks I left to be researched later. For anything that needs deeper research than I can do on my own, Reference Librarians (at both local public and academic libraries) are wizards!
Do you ever suffer from Writer’s Block?
OMG, yes. I’ve spent more time than I want to admit staring at a blank screen in “Wut r wurds” mode. And it’s miserable. Eventually, the words do come—even if they end up changed in the end. Which they usually do!
As I tell my students, revision is the writer’s best friend. Don’t worry about perfection when getting down that first draft. Don’t compare that first draft to the published books you read. You have no idea how many times the author rewrote, revised, and edited that story before it made it into your hands. Don’t get stuck revising those first chapters over and over in search of perfection. Get the story—from beginning to the end—on the page. The only thing a first draft needs to be is finished. You’ll have time to make it nice later. That’s a lot of “don’ts,” but they all add up to do write and keep writing.
When you are not writing what do you like to do?
I love to knit. I love twisty, cabley goodness and often get in over my head when choosing patterns, but that’s part of the fun. Of course, I love to read, but you probably guessed that. I often wind up my day playing silly games on my iPad while watching British mysteries on TV. (Maybe that should have been one of the “three things” listed above. Not the British mysteries, the silly games.)
If you could travel anywhere in the world where would you go and why?
Thanks to a cousin who lives and works in Europe, I’ve been lucky to spend time in Great Britain, the Netherlands, Germany, Prague, and Florence. I’d return to any of them in a heartbeat! One place I’ve never been is Paris. I’d like to remedy that someday.
What is next on the horizon for you?
I’m in the beginning stages of the next Marti Mickkleson Mystery, working out the characters and situation, and I have ideas for the next two. Those next three books may or may not involve libraries, charity softball games, and/or an aging rock star. The other me, the one who’s not so cozy, is working on some dark short stories I hope to send out on submission in the next year. And I have this sweater I want to finish knitting soon, while it’s still cool enough to wear it.
Thank you, Kay, so much for visiting today!
Keep reading for information about Kay’s new book, Old Bones and New Ghosts.
About Old Bones and New Ghosts
Old Bones and New Ghosts (The Marti Mickkleson Mysteries)
2nd in Series
One Ghost Another Ghost (January 25, 2024)
Print length : 252 pages
Digital ASIN : B0CPCF4S3Z
Marti Mickkleson and her ghostly Grandma Bertie are back!
With only one month to go until Marti meets the conditions of her late father’s will and gains control of her trust fund, she’s determined to be on her best behavior. No admitting that she can see ghosts and certainly no talking to the dead.
But her mother’s roped her into a new family project, her new office has a mysterious haunt, Grandma Bertie’s digging up mysteries from the past, her friend Dmitri’s barely speaking to her, and her sister’s life is falling apart. It’s enough to make a girl miss her days of flipping sort-of-beef patties on a Burger Buster grill.
Then things get really bad.
With both a cold case and a new murder on her hands, her “best behavior” won’t cut it. Protecting her family may cost her more than a trust fund. It may cost Marti her life—or the life of someone she loves.
Join Marti and Grandma Bertie in the follow-up to Ghosts in Glass Houses!
Great Escapes Praise for Old Bones and New Ghosts
(The Marti Mickkleson Mysteries)
by Kay Charles
I highly recommend this to cozy mystery readers, and I am looking forward to reading more from Kay Charles. This was such a fun and entertaining read that I inhaled in almost one sitting…
Old Bones and New Ghosts is the second book in author Kay Charles’s wonderful cozy paranormal mystery series, the Marti Mickkleson Mysteries, and what a fantastic follow-up to the series debut it is!
~Guatemala Paula Loves to Read
More About Kay Charles
Kay Charles is the much nicer, mystery-writing alter ego of dark fiction writer Patricia Lillie (author of The Cuckoo Girls, a 2020 Bram Stoker Award® finalist.) Like her evil twin, Kay grew up in a haunted house in a small town in Northeast Ohio, earned her MFA from Seton Hill University’s Writing Popular Fiction program, teaches in Southern New Hampshire University’s MFA in Creative Writing program, and is addicted to coffee, chocolate, and cake. She also knits and sometimes purls. Both their lives would be much easier if one of them enjoyed housework.
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January 23 – Mystery, Thrillers, and Suspense – AUTHOR GUEST POST
January 23 – Brooke Blogs – SPOTLIGHT
January 24 – Literary Gold – SPOTLIGHT WITH EXCERPT
January 25 – Sarah Can’t Stop Reading – REVIEW
January 25 – Reading Is My SuperPower – SPOTLIGHT
January 26 – The Mystery of Writing – CHARACTER GUEST POST
January 26 – CelticLady Reviews – SPOTLIGHT WITH EXCERPT
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January 27 – MJB Reviewers – SPOTLIGHT
January 28 – Maureen’s Musings – SPOTLIGHT
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January 30 – Christy’s Cozy Corners – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
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