Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Interview with cozy mystery author Kate Dyer-Seeley

Please give a hearty Reviews and Interviews welcome to cozy mystery author Kate Dyer-Seeley. She’s here today talking about her debut novel Scene of the Climb. It’s the first in her new Pacific Northwest Mystery series.

Kate Dyer-Seeley writes the Pacific Northwest Mystery series for Kensington. She lives in the ruggedly beautiful Pacific Northwest with her husband and son, where you’ll find her hitting the trail, at an artisan coffee shop, or at her favorite pub—or better yet—all three.

Welcome, Kate. Please tell us about your current release.
Scene of the Climb features the wild forests and stunning vistas of the Columbia River Gorge, hipster hangouts in Portland, Oregon, and a young journalist, Meg Reed, who bills herself as an intrepid adventurer in order to land a job writing for Northwest Extreme magazine. The only problem is that Meg’s idea of sport is climbing onto the couch without spilling her latte.

The magazine sends her to Angel’s Rest (a 2,000 foot peak) to cover a reality TV adventure race filming in town. After clawing her way to the top, Meg witnesses a man plummet off the cliff. Meg quickly realizes that his death was no accident, and finds herself in the middle of a murder investigation.

What inspired you to write this book?
A pair of hot pink hiking boots! It’s true. I love to hike with my family in the Columbia River Gorge, where the murder takes place in Scene of the Climb. One weekend we were hiking Angel’s Rest and a young woman in her early twenties was trekking up the trail in a pair of hot pink hiking boots. I thought, “She is a character.” She and her pink boots definitely stood out!

Not long after we hiked Angel’s Rest, a hiker fell to his death from the summit which tragically has happened more than once. I wondered what would happen if someone had “help” off the ledge. From there the story came together once I had that premise in mind.

What exciting story are you working on next?
I just finished Meg’s next adventure, Slayed on the Slopes. It comes out on April 7, 2015. Meg is sent up to Timberline Lodge on Mount Hood to cover a winter training weekend for the Ridge Rangers, a new high-altitude guiding team. She’s not a fan of heights, so is less than thrilled to learn that the Ridge Rangers are staying at the Silcox Hut, a remote mountain cabin a thousand vertical feet above the lodge and reachable only by ski lift or snowcat.

She braves the elements and a bumpy snowcat ride, in hopes that she can conduct her interviews inside next to a crackling fire with a steaming cup of cocoa. Alas, poor Meg ends up stuck outside in a blizzard. She swears she hears gunshots over the sound of the raging wind, but no one believes her. That is until one of the Ridge Rangers is found in a frozen pool of blood.

I’m starting work on the third book in the series now which is going to take Meg out to Hood River for an international windsurfing competition. She’s going to be in way over her head!

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
The first time I received a paycheck for my writing. I did a lot of freelancing for regional and international publications. My first paycheck for freelancing work was for $35. I was thrilled! I took a photo of the check and hung it on my office wall. Obviously the cash wasn’t going to pay the bills, but getting paid for my writing was a big step forward in my career.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
Yes, I write full-time. When I’m working on a manuscript, I draft in the morning when I tend to be fresher. I set a daily word count, and don’t leave my office until I hit it. Then I spend whatever time I have remaining on marketing, editing, and other projects. I try to carve time in my schedule to get outside and walk every day. I find that most of my breakthrough moments, when I’m struggling with a plotline or character, happen when I’m not actually writing. Plus now I can actually count time out in nature as “research.”

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
Good question. I like to really get into Meg’s head so I transform my office into Meg’s world when I’m drafting. Right now my office walls are plastered with posters and photos of windsurfers, vintage dresses, and microbrews. I create Meg playlists to listen to while I write. She’s a modern day throwback so I listen to a lot of big band and swing music. But then, she’s also young, so I mix in Taylor Swift and indie bands like the Decemberists. It’s a quirky mix!

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
What didn’t I want to be? A paleontologist, a reporter, a marine biologist, an astronaut, a teacher… I could keep going. I think that’s why writing is a good match for me. It lets me immerse myself into many different worlds and keeps me engaged, especially when I’m doing research. I loved researching all of the places featured in the book. Scene of the Climb has an adventure guide and scenic tour in the back that readers can use to follow Meg’s route through the Columbia River Gorge. Writing that gave me an opportunity to dig through history books, interview experts, and do hands-on research.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Thanks so much for having me! One of the things that I enjoy most about reading mysteries is that they serve as travelogues. I love reading about charming beach-side towns on the east coast, and quaint villages tucked into the English countryside. I hope that readers will be able to get a taste of the Pacific Northwest lifestyle through Meg’s eyes.

It's been my pleasure, Kate. Happy writing!

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