Katherine Bolger Hyde is the author of the Crime with the Classics traditional mystery series as well as several books for children. She lives in the redwood country of California with her husband, youngest child, and two obstreperous cats. When not reading, writing, or working at her editorial day job, she can usually be found knitting while watching British mystery shows
- Welcome Katherine! Tell us a little about your background.
Thanks ROCCO! I taught myself to read at age four and decided at age eleven I wanted to be a novelist. My degree is in Russian literature. I’m the daughter of an editor and have worked as an editor my whole career. So it’s fair to say books are my life.
- Tell us a bit about your Crimes with the Classics mysteries. Where did that idea come from?
I love classic literature and the mysteries of the British Golden Age. So when I decided to write a mystery series, incorporating the classics into the traditional mystery format seemed like the logical choice.
- How do you “get to know” your characters before and while you’re writing the books?
I don’t do a lot of detailed character analysis before I start writing. I establish the character’s role in the story and a few basic facts, then I allow the character to reveal him- or herself as I write. My characters often surprise me once I get going and they take on a life of their own.
- How do you construct your plots? Do you outline or do you write “by the seat of your pants”?
I’m halfway between a plotter and a pantser. I sketch out about a one-page synopsis and make virtual notecards in Scrivener for a bunch of scenes I know I’ll need. Then I start writing and let the story evolve. Inevitably new characters and elements come up in the process of writing, though the basic story trajectory usually stays pretty much the same.
- Which do you consider more important, plot or character?
Characters always come first for me. The plot evolves from their desires and motivations. When I’m reading, the best plot in the world won’t hold my attention if the characters have not engaged me first.
- What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a writer and what inspires you and keeps you motivated?
The biggest challenge was to persevere through all the years before I got my first contract. At this point, I’m motivated by all the stories I want to tell. Also, my computer wallpaper is the Squirrel of Judgment who wants to know why I’m not writing.
- Do you have a “How I got my agent” story you want to share?
When the manuscript of Arsenic with Austen was about half finished, I won a scholarship to a mystery writing conference that included the opportunity to meet with an agent. The agent I met with, Kimberley Cameron, loved my series concept and my writing, and she asked to see the book when it was finished. I sent it to her, and she read it over a long weekend and offered me representation. Then she sold the book to the first editor she sent it to.
But lest it sound like this was all too easy, let me hasten to add that I had been writing and getting rejected for twelve years by that point. I call it my “twelve-year overnight success story.”
- What are you working on now and what are your future writing plans?
I’m working on the fourth volume of Crime with the Classics, called Drowning with Dickens. I also have ideas for a different series and a couple of standalones. Where I go next depends on how long Minotaur wants to continue this series.
- What advice do you have to offer to an aspiring author?
Never give up. And always have the humility to accept criticism and good advice. As an editor who has read manuscripts from hundreds of aspiring authors, I can say definitely that humility is the one quality that separates the potentially successful writer from the mere dabbler.
- What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever done?
Whatever it was, it was a long time ago, and I’ve blocked it from my memory.
- What’s one thing your readers would be surprised to find out about you?
In my thirties, I led a dance troupe that did Renaissance court dances in authentic costumes we made ourselves.
- If you entered the witness protection program and had to start over, what job would you want to do?
I’ve always had a latent desire to be an architect. But at this point, I’m a little old to embark on something that takes that much training. So I’ll stick to designing fictional houses like Windy Corner in Arsenic with Austen.
- What would you love to have a never ending supply of?
Good dark chocolate, good coffee, and great books. And yarn. Lots of yarn.
- What’s the last tv show that made you laugh?
Father Brown. Although the show has almost nothing to do with G. K. Chesterton’s classic stories, it’s charming in its own right and often quite funny.
- What store could you browse in for hours?
Powell’s Books in Portland, OR. They even have a café where they let you bring unpurchased books in, so there’s no reason to leave before closing time.
Just for Fun:
Night or Day? Day.
Dog or Cat? (answer carefully) Cat, of course. In fact, Rocco, you would be perfect to play Bustopher Jones, the cat Emily inherits along with her aunt’s mansion in Arsenic with Austen.
Beach or Pool? Beach, but I don’t sunbathe and don’t go in the water. I just like to stroll by the waves.
Steak or salad? Yes.
Favorite Drink? Dark chocolate mocha.
Favorite Book? Persuasion
Favorite TV Series? Inspector Lewis
Favorite Movie? A&E’s Pride and Prejudice
Favorite Actor: Benedict Cumberbatch
Favorite Actress: Emma Thompson
Dirty Martini or Pina Colada? Margarita
Hawaii or Alaska? Alaska
Finish this sentence: If I could meet anyone in the world, past or present, it would be Jane Austen.
If I had just one wish, it would be to have the money, time, and health to make a literary pilgrimage to the UK and Ireland.
If I could trade places with anyone in the world, it would be Louise Penny. I want to be her when I grow up.