Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Author Kaye George in the hotseat!

Don't forget our shelf giveaway!

Kaye George, Agatha-nominated mystery writer, writes several series: Imogene Duckworthy, Cressa Carraway (Barking Rain Press), People of the Wind (Untreed Reads), and, as Janet Cantrell, Fat Cat debuting in September (Berkley Prime Crime). Her short stories appear in anthologies and magazines as well as her own collection, A Patchwork of Stories. Her reviews run in Suspense Magazine. She lives in Knoxville, TN.

R:  Hello Kaye!  Tell us a bit about yourself and how you became interested in writing.
 I’ve always been a story teller. Before I could write words, I described my drawings with elaborate stories. My mother inspired me to write fiction, though. She told me she had always wanted to, and would get ideas, but never developed them or wrote them down. I write because she wanted to, and because I was born making up stories.
R: Tell us about your FAT CAT series! The first one is to be released in September – can you share details with us?
 The star of the series is Quincy, a tubby tabby with a gift for sniffing out edibles. Here’s the back cover copy for FAT CAT AT LARGE:
The jig is up for Chase’s adorable plus-size cat, Quincy. His new vet says “diet”—that means no more cherry cheesecake bars. From now on he gets low-calorie kibble only. But one taste of the stuff is all it takes to drive him in search of better things. Quincy’s escape is the last thing Chase needs after the nasty run-in she has with underhanded business rival Gabe Naughtly.

Chase tracks Quincy down in a neighbor’s kitchen, where he’s devouring a meatloaf, unaware of the much more serious crime he’s stumbled upon. Gabe’s corpse is lying on the kitchen floor, and when Chase is discovered at the murder scene, she becomes suspect number one. Now, with a little help from her friends—both human and feline—she’ll have to catch the real killer or wind up behind bars that aren’t so sweet.
R: Is “Quincy” modeled after any cat in particular?
 As soon as I started writing about Quincy, I began channeling Agamemnon, the last rescued feral that we had. He was, I think, the smartest cat in the world. If he had possessed thumbs, he could have conquered the world, opened doorknobs, and maybe written fiction. He loved to play Elf Bowling on the computer. If I asked him if he wanted to play, he jumped into my lap. I would help him press the space bar and he would patiently wait until Santa Claus popped up at the end of the game. Then he would bat at him.
R: As Kaye George, you write other mysteries. Can you tell us about those?
 Of course! I am juggling three other series. I started the Imogene Duckworthy humorous series when I lived in Texas. Saltlick is modeled after the town we lived in outside Wichita Falls (called Wymee Falls in the books). Immy wants to be a private eye detective, but she goes about it all wrong. Somehow, her bungled actions lead to discoveries of crimes that are so far not even known to the police. She also manages to uncover murderers. Immy was called, by one reviewer, a combination of Lucille Ball and Inspector Clouseau.
 Two others have only one entry so far, but more are planned and partially plotted and written.
The Cressa Carraway Musical Mysteries feature a young woman who is a composer, working on her master’s thesis in classical music, in the first book, EINE KLEINE MURDER, with a goal of conducting. She retreats to her grandmother’s idyllic rural Illinois lake cabin to write, but discovers her beloved Gram’s body instead.
The last series is the People of the Wind. These are a small band of Neanderthals and the setting is 40,000 years ago. Enga Dancing Flower and her sister, Ung Strong Arm, were adopted into a tribe as infants. When the leader is slain, in DEATH IN THE TIME OF ICE, suspicion falls on Enga and the tribe begins to argue. A new Ice Age is approaching and game is getting scarce. They must have a new leader and Enga must find the killer for her, and her tribe, to survive.
R:  Do you have an “how I got my agent” story you’d like to share?  How did you feel when you got the call your first novel had sold?
I’ll leave out the hundreds of rejections to my queries over a ten year period. That’s what led to eventually submitting the above novels to small presses. This also led to publication, which was terrific. But I still kept trying to get an agent.
 I narrowed my focus and set my sights on an agency with a great success rate, one that placed a lot of cozies that were prominently displayed in bookstores. I learned that the procedure was to submit a proposal to the agency. This consists of three polished chapters and a detailed synopsis, complete with ending, plus ideas for two more books in the series. In other words, the novel is plotted out and begun before you submit. I sent several of these to BookEnds Literary and all were rejected. I got to know some writers connected with them and learned of upcoming projects. (Some series are initiated by and accepted from the writer, some are the ideas of the publisher.) I submitted for them, too. I even became a BookEnds candidate for a Berkley Prime Crime project, but the editors at BPC picked someone else.
Finally, another project came along that I thought I could do, but I was so weary of plotting and beginning projects that were dead on the floor of my computer. CHOKE had been nominated for an Agatha award by then and was well-received, so a friend suggested I submit that instead of a proposal. I thought, well, the worst I can get is another rejection. On the strength of my writing in that novel, I acquired Kimberly Lionetti for an agent.
As for first call, the most vivid is for the first short story I sold. I believe I got $7 for it. But the fact that someone liked my writing well enough to publish it sent me screaming all over the house. I read the email and literally jumped up and screamed. For days afterward, it would occur to me that I was finally going to be a published author and I would start screaming again. Luckily, no neighbors called the police.
R: What’s a must have for you when you are writing? What aids the creative process?
 I just need time and quiet. I would like a LOT more time in each day. There are files full of too many ideas for me to write in this lifetime, so there’s no problem there.
 I use a spreadsheet, for novels, that I’ve developed over the course of the several I’ve written. I rely on it completely. I have a tab for characters and columns for age, description, role, vehicle, etc. I have a timeline tab to keep track of what events fall on which day. That sheet has columns for the main characters so I can keep track of where they are and their movements, and notice that, if they haven’t appeared for too many chapters, I need to add them in.
Short stories tend to pop up fully formed, or nearly. A few times I felt I was taking dictation from the character. Those were mostly unchanged from the first draft and are some of my favorites.
R: If you had access to a time machine, which historical moment would you travel to and why?
 Since I got so interested in Neanderthals, and since I made up so many things about them, I’d like to go back and check my theories. Many conflicting theories exist about these people, which means that I’m able to pick which ones suit my story. But it would be fun to see exactly what they were like.
R: What is one thing your readers would be most surprised to know about you?
I was extremely shy as a child. In high school I had a few close friends, but was afraid to speak to anyone else for fear they wouldn’t speak back. That was exacerbated by the fact that I was the smartest one in many of my classes (which made me disliked, I always felt) and I played in the orchestra (not the cool band).
As a freshman in college, I was lonely and miserable. After considering and rejecting suicide (because it would disappoint my Aunt Kathryn too much), I observed others, especially outgoing people, and studied them. Finally, it became apparent that I could say hello to people and they would actually say hello back. I started engaging people in conversation. Today I think most people would consider me outgoing and I still like to talk to strangers and learn about them.
R: What is the craziest thing you've ever done? 
 Break into the high school. The Tri-City Youth Symphony was on Saturday mornings. It was Saturday morning and I had left my violin at school. It was my week to drive the carpool and one of us decided “we” could get my violin. We found a window opened a crack and they boosted me up to get into the instrument room. I snatched my violin, piled up some tympani or tuba cases (or something big) and climbed back out.
Monday, at school, they told us there had been a break in and money was taken from the office! We never told what we did. Maybe the thief got in the window we left open, who knows?
R: What do you hope readers will most take away from your writing?
I want to entertain people. To take them away from the real world. There is a lot of misery and unhappiness and the news isn’t often very uplifting. I love to make people laugh. That’s good medicine.
R: What are you working on at the moment / next?
I’m finishing up the second Fat Cat book, FAT CAT SPREADS OUT. A county fair is involved, and a lot of butter. There will be a third in this series. I may be able to finish up a nearly-done sequel in the Carraway series before I start number three.
R: Are you a plotter or a pantser?
I plot in the beginning. I have to have a framework to hang my words on. Inevitably, the characters and the plot take off and veer from my original plan, but the main parts are there for stability.
R: Do you have any advice for beginning writers?
 Read. A lot. Find other writers. Get critiques from people who aren’t fond of you. Or at least who aren’t related to you. For me, the other writers I rely on are the Guppy chapter of Sisters in Crime. This was important to me when we moved from Dallas to the boonies and I left my book group and my critique group.
The most important trait of a published writer, besides some talent and hard work (and all that reading), is persistence. It is not at all easy to get published, if you want someone else to publish you.
Just for Fun:
Night or Day?  I’m a night person.  I can’t do anything coherent before noon.
Dog or Cat? (answer carefully)  I can’t answer this. I love them both! I mourn every single one we’ve ever had. They don’t live long enough.
Beach or Pool?   If you had said Mountain, I would choose that. I’m not much of a swimmer and don’t get along with a lot of sun.
Steak or salad?  Can I have both? With a baked potato and sour cream? Sounds like my ideal meal.
Favorite Drink?  I’m torn between Dr. Pepper and Cutty Sark.
Favorite Book?  Can’t do it. Waaay too many.
Favorite TV Series?  I like the old funny sitcoms. Nowadays I hate to miss Jeopardy!
Favorite Movie?  I don’t think I can answer this either. Whichever one I saw last that made me laugh and cry.
Favorite Actor: Johnny Depp.
Favorite Actress: Maybe Sandra Bullock.
Dirty Martini or Pina Colada? Scotch and water, please.
Hawaii or Alaska? I yearn to take the Alaska cruise.
Finish this sentence:  If I could meet anyone in the world, past or present, it would be __one (or both) of my grandfathers, whom I never knew.
If I had just one wish, it would be__the usual, world peace. Since that’s probably not possible, a modest lotto winning, say 4 or 5 million.
If I could trade places with anyone in the world, it would be __There have been people in the past that I wanted to trade places with, but I always eventually realized that person had as many problems as me. I like being me.
Thanks Kaye!
Folks you can find Kaye at:
My two webpages:
My three blogs:
Kaye George
Janet Cantrell
My Facebook page

My Facebook author page
My Amazon page

Send an email to and I’ll add you to my newsletter!
One copy of Fat Cat at Large will go to a lucky commenter!
Leave a comment on the comment section of this blog along with your email address!  For extra entries, you can:
Friend the Human, Toni LoTempio
Friend ROCCO!
Friend Kaye!
Follow ROCCO on twitter @RoccoBlogger
Tweet or FB about this contest!
Winner will be chosen by Contest closes midnight, September 1.


  1. This sounds like a great new series.

  2. This sounds great! I love the idea of keeping a spreadsheet.

  3. Comment, comment. Comment. Okay, that's gotten old. Sounds like a really fun mystery, and loved learning more about your life and your writing process.

  4. Let me know if you've friended me for this contest! I'll let Rocco know.

    1. Sent you a FR, but couldn't find Rocco or Toni...

  5. I would love to read this book. I also love cats.

  6. I love humor and the plot of this sounds right up my alley.
    Marilyn (

  7. Sounds like a great read! And I love a blog by a cat!

  8. Another Cozy Cat Series-- I love it!!

  9. I am myself out of the contest because I have won several recently and I don't want to be a prize-hog, but I love a cozy mystery and cats.I wish you great success,Kaye. You and I have a great deal in common in our lives, smartest kid in class, very shy,now considered out-going and smart cats!
    Looks like the TBR list of mine will be growing even higher!

  10. Glad to meet another "formerly shy" person Tonette. Life is strange, eh?

  11. Sorry to be late, but I've been away with little internet connection
    libbydodd at comcast dot net