Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Rocco welcomes author Kathy Aarons!

My guest today is author Kathy Aarons!

Kathy Aarons is the author of the nationally bestselling CHOCOLATE COVERED MYSTERY series by Berkley Prime Crime. Research for the series was such a hardship: sampling chocolate, making chocolate, sampling more chocolate, and hanging out in bookstores.

Kathy grew up in rural Pennsylvania, attended Carnegie Mellon University, and moved to New York City where she built her career in public relations and met her husband. They relocated to California where she became one of “those” moms:  running the PTA, fundraising for school foundations, helping with a high school writers conference, creating costumes for youth theater, building puppets, and cheering on her daughters in hundreds of swim meets and soccer and basketball games.

She began writing when her youngest daughter attended school five days a week and pursued publishing more seriously when her oldest daughter went off to college. She’s dedicated to supporting arts education for youth, volunteering for the CCA Writers Conference, the only free writing conference for high school students in the country. She also serves on the board of Playwrights Project, whose mission is to advance literacy, creativity, and communication by empowering individuals to voice their stories through playwriting programs and theatre productions.

She now lives in San Diego with her husband and two daughters where she wakes up far too early, and is currently obsessed with the Broadway Idiot documentary, finding the perfect cup of coffee, and Dallmann’s Sea Salt Caramels.

You can follow Kathy on Facebook or Twitter or visit her at: www.kathyaarons.com.

  • Tell us a little about your background
I started writing fiction when my youngest daughter started going to preschool five mornings a week – anything to avoid housework!
I’d been a marketing director in New York before moving with my husband to California and becoming a stay-at-home mom. I was Queen of Volunteering (which you can see in my bio) which interfered a lot with my writing.
Because I knew how to write ad copy, I assumed I could write a novel. I joined RWA where I first got the hint about all the parts of writing and publishing that I didn’t know. It took many workshops, conferences and fiction writing craft books, and a lot of actual writing, for me to learn how to write a book.
  • Tell us a bit about your latest release. How did that idea come about?
Behind Chocolate is the third book in the Chocolate Covered Mystery series. It centers on the concept of “catfish” – people who pretend to be someone else online for the purpose of getting something out of others. Often the goal is some kind of emotional connection, but sometimes a catfish will try to get money or gifts from others.

Chocolatier Michelle Serrano and bookstore manager Erica Russell are finalizing plans for West Riverdale’s Halloween Festival and become embroiled in a murder investigation when their high school intern is accused.
  • How do you “get to know” your characters before and while you’re writing the books?
I create a file of physical characteristics and also write long essays from the point of view of all of my major characters – particularly the villain – before I get started. While plotting I keep in mind the character arc I’d like each to follow in the story.
But I’m always open to changes in characters’ motivations and growth. Often new ideas come up while I’m writing that are better for the story.
  • How do you construct your plots? Do you outline or do you write “by the seat of your pants”?
I do outline, but my outlines change. I must know who the villain is and why they committed murder before I can get started. Then I develop the steps that my main characters must take that lead to the villain.

I also like to have details on several red herrings along with clues that lead to them being suspected, plus at least one clue that clears them. I can never figure out what the final plot twist will be ahead of time. It doesn’t come to me until I’m deep into the book, and it’s always such a relief when I figure it out. 
  • Which do you consider more important, plot or character?
Character is more important, but plot is right up there for a mystery.
  • What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a writer and what inspires you and keeps you motivated?
My biggest challenge is juggling everything that must be done while writing and marketing a series. In one week, I could be writing the new book, while editing another book and marketing a third.

I’m inspired by other authors who are juggling more than one series and/or other writing endeavors – Jenn McKinlay, Terrie Moran, Nancy Coco, Kate Carlisle, Daryl Wood Gerber, and more. Also by my critique group – Barrie Summy and Kelly Hayes – who keep me on track. And by my husband, Lee, who supports my writing career and by my daughters, Shaina and Devyn, who manage to find time to write on top of their busy schedules.

I continue to volunteer quite a bit, and finding that balance is quite challenging, especially when the needs of the organizations all hit at once. I’m president of the board of directors for Playwrights Project (www.playwrightsproject.org), an organization that teaches playwriting, literacy and so much more to students, seniors and underserved populations including foster youth and the incarcerated; I volunteer for the CCA Writers’ Conference (http://ccawritersconference2016.weebly.com/ ), the only free writing conference for high school students in the US; I advise and teach for the San Diego Middle School Writing Workshop Series; and I’m president of the board of directors for Partners In Crime – the San Diego chapter of Sisters in Crime (http://www.sistersincrimesd.org/ )
  • Do you have an “How I got my agent” story you want to share?
I love my agent story! I saw on Twitter that my dream agent, Jessica Faust, was open for new clients for one weekend only. I checked out her website and sent a query letter. She asked for a partial, and then the full manuscript. A couple of weeks later, she called to say that she loved my writing style and wanted to sign me!
  • What are you working on now and what are your future writing plans?
I’m currently writing the Trouble with Murder, first in the new Gourmet Cat Mystery series by Kensington/Lyrical. It will be out in late 2017. I’m also writing another mystery proposal and a zombie movie script.
  • What is a typical workday for you and how many hours a day (or week) do you devote to writing?
I like to wake up very early (4am), make French press coffee and get to work. At 6, I walk a few miles with my husband and then get back to writing. I typically write in the mornings and unless something is pressing, handle my volunteer work and errands in the afternoon.
All of this goes out the window in the couple of months running up to deadlines. I could be writing 12 hours a day!
  • If you could take only three books with you for a year-long writing retreat in a gorgeous setting with no library, which three would you take?
Wow! That is a tough question. If I planned to focus on learning more about the craft of writing, I’d take Story by Robert McKee, The Anatomy of Story by John Truby, and Story Engineering by Larry Brooks. I’ve heard great things about all three --  they’re sitting on my shelf, but I’ve never read them!

If I wanted to bring my three favorite novels, I’d cheat and bring Belong to Me by Marisa de los Santos and ALL of the Harry Potter novels.
  • What advice do you have to offer to an aspiring author?
Keep writing, keep learning and never give up!
  • What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done?
I’m not a very crazy person, but in my twenties I rode my bike all over New York City for years without wearing a helmet. I’d challenge taxi drivers and buses for my lane – kind of nuts.
  • What question do you wish interviewers would ask? (And what’s the answer?)
What do you do outside of writing, and I’ve already answered this – volunteer!
  •  Where can we learn more about you and your books?
www.kathyaarons.com or on my Facebook or Twitter pages.
Just for Fun:
Night or Day?  .Day – very early morning
Dog or Cat? (answer carefully)  While I love the cats in my book, my husband is allergic to both
Beach or Pool?   Beach
Steak or salad?  Salad
Favorite Drink?  Philz Coffee
Favorite Book?  Harry Potter series
Favorite TV Series?  Too many good ones these days!
Favorite Movie?  Star Wars – The Force Awakens – I love Rey!
Dirty Martini or Pina Colada? Pina Colada
Hawaii or Alaska? Hawaii although Alaska is gorgeous!
Finish this sentence:  If I could meet anyone in the world, past or present, it would be J K Rowling or Lin Manual Miranda
If I had just one wish, it would be to end prejudice

***

BEHIND CHOCOLATE BARS
DOUBLE, DOUBLE-BOIL, AND TROUBLE…
 
Best friends and business partners Michelle and Erica have a monstrous to-do list as they prepare for the annual West Riverdale Halloween Festival. Their shop, Chocolates and Chapters, will have a booth at the event, where Michelle will serve spooky delights while Erica displays an assortment of spine-chilling books. Thank goodness the teenagers from Erica’s comic-book club are chipping in to help. But one of their volunteers winds up in trouble after a woman’s body is found in an abandoned house—with the teen’s superhero key ring close by.
 
The teen swears he didn’t do it, but he’s obviously hiding something—leaving Michelle and Erica with a witch’s cauldron of questions. Soon they discover that the dead woman was tricking a whole bunch of people out of more than just treats. Now these two friends must go door-to-door if they hope to unmask a killer…

Kathy will send one lucky commenter their choice of Chocolate Covered Mystery books - either paper or ebook in the continental US; ebook outside the US.
To enter, leave a comment on this blog post with your name and email address (entries without email will be disqualified). For extra entries, you can do any or all of the below:


* Follow my blog (+ 1 point)
* Follow me on Twitter (+ 1 point) (Link: https://twitter.com/RoccoBlogger)
* Tweet about the contest (+ 1 point)
* Friend me on Facebook (+ 1 point) (Link: https://www.facebook.com/ToniLotempio)#!/
* Mention the contest on Facebook (+ 1 point)
* Mention the contest on your blog (+ 1 point)

Winner will be chosen at random using random.org.  Don’t forget to mention all you’ve done in your comment. Good luck! Contest ends midnight Oct. 23!




14 comments:

  1. Hi Kathy, so excited to see you have another delicious release! I'd love to read a copy of your new one.
    Gina Nelson; ginaleenelson@gmail.com

    ReplyDelete
  2. What a great interview! So excited to read about Kathy's new book! I thought I was an early riser as well, but 4 am sure tops 5! Thanks for the chance to win!
    +1 follow blog
    +1 follow twitter
    Thanks!
    Julia
    JHolden955(at)gmail(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
  3. Love all the info! Looks like a sweet new book ;) Shared on Twitter (69steelers2), FB & G+
    Cheers-
    Kelly Braun
    Gaelicark(at)yahoo(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
  4. Love all the info! Looks like a sweet new book ;) Shared on Twitter (69steelers2), FB & G+
    Cheers-
    Kelly Braun
    Gaelicark(at)yahoo(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
  5. Fantastic interview. Very exciting! Thank you for this chance! areewekidding@yahoo.com

    ReplyDelete
  6. Fantastic interview. Very exciting! Thank you for this chance! areewekidding@yahoo.com

    ReplyDelete
  7. Enjoyed this post immensely. Great to meet you Karen. Would love to read this series so I would want the first one in paperback. One of the things I love about this blog. Is all the new authors and books I learn about. Refreshing and exciting.
    I follow on the blog, on twitter, facebook. Tweeted about the contest. Mentioned on FB & pintrist. But try as I might, and I meant to mention it before. I did make to your FB page once, a long time ago, I seem to vaguely remember. But have never been able to make it since. Even with clicking on the link above and copying and pasting. So I’m confused. Della at deepotter at peoplepc dot com

    ReplyDelete
  8. Rocco your posting on this blog are so very informative and entertaining. The Chocolate Covered Mystery series by Kathy Aarons is one that provides the reader with a pleasurable time and looking for the next one in the series. I follow you blog and also on Facebook. robeader53@yahoo.com

    ReplyDelete
  9. Thanks for the info, Rocco! Looking forward to this book, and Kathy, I join you in your wish. Thanks! frybbe (@) gmail.com
    * Follow my blog (+ 1 point)
    * Follow me on Twitter (+ 1 point)
    * Friend me on Facebook (+ 1 point)

    ReplyDelete
  10. Another great interview, Rocco! I have this series on my TBR list. All of the books get great reviews and I'm looking forward to reading the series. What could be better than reading about chocolate. Following your blog and also on Facebook and Twitter. Sharing on Facebook.
    diannekc8(at)gmail(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
  11. Another great interview, Rocco! I have this series on my TBR list. All of the books get great reviews and I'm looking forward to reading the series. What could be better than reading about chocolate. Following your blog and also on Facebook and Twitter. Sharing on Facebook.
    diannekc8(at)gmail(dot)com

    ReplyDelete
  12. Interesting interview. I think years ago most people used to ride bikes without helmets, but doing so in NYC would be a little daring!

    ReplyDelete
  13. I am so glad to see playwrighting being encouraged. I enjoyed wringing one myself.
    I did chocolates for friends and family then in m y former bakery for many years. Great fun and satisfaction.
    I wish you the best in all you do, Kathy.
    Tonette
    tomettemjs@gmail.com
    Rocco, I follow the Blog;
    I am a Friend on FB,
    I shared on FB,
    I follow on Twitter;
    I tweeted.

    ReplyDelete
  14. I have just recently started this series I am on book two and I am loving it! This was a great interview Rocco! I shared on Facebook and Google +' following you on Facebook and your blog!
    edtercrossatyahoodotcom

    ReplyDelete