Murder at the Pontchartrain
by Kathleen Kaska
I am pleased to welcome Kathleen Kaska
to Escape With Dollycas today!
Thank You, Stephen King
By Kathleen Kaska
The road from mystery trivia to the Sydney Lockhart mysteries meandered, hill-climbed, and detoured. I started writing mystery trivia to learn the craft by dissecting the work of master mystery writers Agatha Christie and Arthur Conan Doyle, and suspense filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock. I also wanted to offer something different to catch the eye of a publisher. The trivia book idea came to me when I read an article in a writers’ magazine about the popularity of those books. The second Stephen King trivia book and one on Clint Eastwood and the Seinfeld TV show had just been published. Gazing up at my complete collection of Agatha Christie mysteries on my bookshelf, a cerebral light bulb went on. Three months later, I’d completed a proposal for the Agatha Christie trivia book, and two months after that, I had an agent. He sold the book in short order, followed by my Alfred Hitchcock trivia book (The 100th anniversary of Hitch’s birth was right around the corner. Timing is everything.) Later came my Sherlock Holmes trivia book, which has since been updated and republished twice. Between submissions and publications, I took a few creative writing classes.
Was I ready to plot my own mystery? I tried, attempted an outline, played around with a few settings, and worked on character development. But I couldn’t seem to create anything that resonated. Although aware of the basic plotting formula, I struggled to pull things together. So I took a break and focused on what I enjoyed the most, writing travel and outdoor articles. I soon landed a staff-writer position at a local fitness and outdoor adventure magazine. Then after a couple of short-story contest awards and some nice reviews on my trivia books, it was time to refocus once more.
Trying to outline a plot caused an immediate knot in my stomach again. I couldn’t seem to do it. What-if questions kept popping into my mind taking me in so many directions that my head spun. What was the problem? I’d written outlines for my trivia books and articles, but my first mystery? It wasn’t happening. I even dissected several of my favorite mysteries, looking for a secret formula. Then my old pal Stephen King came to my rescue. I read his book, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, where he wrote about his seat-of-the-pants plotting method. This gave me a brand new perspective. I learned to trust my imagination, and characters began to walk into my life and tell me their stories. All I had to do was listen. And write.
I used the pantser method to write my first mystery series, the Kate Caraway Animal-Rights Mysteries. Each book deals with an animal-right issue. Besides my protagonist, Kate Caraway, some amusing characters developed. In A Two Horse Town, Ida Springfield, an eighty-two-year-old rancher, trying to save wild mustangs that roamed her ranch, came to life quickly. When the county planned to dam the river for agricultural use, Ida stood to lose her primary water source. To fix the situation, she let her shotgun do the talking. As soon as I pictured the old, cantankerous woman in my mind, her name followed, then her appearance, and then all hell seemed to break loose as the story unfolded. Then in Eagle Crossing, Paula Steiner arrived on the scene in a beat-up Cadillac, spewing profanity that would make a sailor blush.
I wanted to see how far this pantser method of writing would take me. Soon I’d created a down-and-out, hardboiled detective who lived in Manhattan in the 1940s. He told his story, and I completed this manuscript. Then, a couple of years ago, a British detective became fed up with working at New Scotland Yard and moved to a small village on the Cornish Coast. His story was so unbelievable that I couldn’t stop writing and finished it in three months.
Now, on to Sydney Lockhart, the protagonist in my award-winning hotel murder mystery series. She walked out of the bathroom when I checked into my room at the Arlington Hotel in Hot Springs, Arkansas, complaining about the dead man in the bathtub. By the time my week-long vacation ended, I had gotten to know Sydney well and decided to keep her busy. She’s been traveling with me ever since. I check into a historic hotel; she finds a murder victim and, much to her chagrin, is the main suspect.
Book number six in my Sydney series, Murder at the Pontchartrain, has just been released by Anamcara Press. This one is set at the Pontchartrain Hotel in New Orleans, a location rich in culture and ripe for storytelling.
I have a few ideas about future settings, but I’ll let Sydney decide. After all, she’s the one who hasn’t stopped talking.
Back to Stephen King. Did you know he wrote the short story, which later became the screenplay for the novel, The Shining, at the historic Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado? If it worked for Mr. King, it might work for me. I’ve always wanted to vacation in the Rockies.
Thank you Kathleen so much for visiting today.
Keep reading to find out about Kathleen’s new book and be sure to visit the tour stops hosting giveaways.
About Murder at the Pontchartrain
Murder at the Pontchartrain
Cozy Mystery (Humorous)
6th in Series
Setting – New Orleans, Louisiana
Anamcara Press LLC (June 15, 2023)
Paperback : 280 pages
ISBN-10 : 1941237940
ISBN-13 : 978-1941237946
“My name is Sydney Lockhart. I solve murders, most of which I’m the primary suspect.
My boyfriend/partner, Ralph Dixon, and I came to the Pontchartrain Hotel in New Orleans to get married. Instead, Dixon’s in jail for a double murder. I’m in a swamp, spying on the KKK. Helping me untangle this mess is my bubble-headed cousin Ruth who’s undercover as a chef at the Pontchartrain. My twelve-year-old charge, Lydia LaBeau, dressed as a voodoo queen, is looking for clues at Pat O’Brien’s in the French Quarter. Rip Thigbee, a ghost detective, is my only hope.
I’m not making any of this up. This is my life and this is what I deal with, like it or not.
So, mix yourself a Hurricane and join me in the Big Easy for another historic hotel murder case.”
About Kathleen Kaska
Kathleen Kaska is the author of the awarding-winning mystery series: the Sydney Lockhart Mystery Series set in the 1950s and the Kate Caraway Animal-Rights Mystery Series. Her first two Lockhart mysteries, Murder at the Arlington and Murder at the Luther, were selected as bonus books for the Pulpwood Queen Book Group, the country’s largest book group. She also writes mystery trivia. The Sherlock Holmes Quiz Book was published by Rowman & Littlefield. Her Holmes short story, “The Adventure at Old Basingstoke,” appears in Sherlock Holmes of Baking Street, a Belanger Books anthology. She is the founder of The Dogs in the Nighttime, the Sherlock Holmes Society of Anacortes, Washington, a scion of The Baker Street Irregulars.
Tour Participants – Please visit all the stops.
June 15 – Christy’s Cozy Corners – CHARACTER GUEST POST, GIVEAWAY
June 15 – fundinmental – SPOTLIGHT
June 16 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
June 17 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – AUTHOR GUEST POST
June 18 – Cozy Up With Kathy – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
June 19 – Maureen’s Musings – SPOTLIGHT
June 19 – StoreyBook Reviews – CHARACTER GUEST POST
June 20 – Indie Author Book Reviews – AUTHOR GUEST POST
June 21 – Literary Gold – SPOTLIGHT
June 22 – #BRVL Book Review Virginia Lee – SPOTLIGHT
June 23 – Brooke Blogs – CHARACTER GUEST POST
June 24 – FUONLYKNEW – SPOTLIGHT
June 25 – Sapphyria’s Book Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
June 26 – Ruff Drafts – AUTHOR INTERVIEW
June 27 – Baroness Book Trove – SPOTLIGHT, GIVEAWAY
June 28 – Jane Reads – CHARACTER INTERVIEW
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