Thursday, August 10, 2017

Interview with mystery author Kathryn Orzech

Mystery author Kathryn Orzech is here today and we’re talking about her new dark suspense, family saga, historical, thriller, romance, Asylum.

Kathryn Orzech writes mystery, suspense, and thrillers set in “New England and other exotic locations.” A seasoned world traveler, she’s anxious to share her “exotic” experiences with readers. An avid film fan and self-proclaimed news nerd, other interests include history and geopolitics, society and culture; archaeology, psychology and science; and parapsychology, leaving few subjects off her literary table.

She developed and manages, true paranormal experiences of ordinary people, online since the late 1990s with visitors from every state and more than 50 countries.

Kathryn is a member of Sisters in Crime (SinC), Connecticut Authors & Publishers Assoc. (CAPA) and professional groups: APSS, IBPA, IPNE, RWA.

Please tell us about your current release.
On an innocent day in 1899, while her father travels abroad, twelve-year-old Maggie Delito, daughter of the wealthy industrialist, witnesses a shocking scandal. The next day, she’s dragged from her family’s estate and locked in an asylum, along with the shameful secret. Beneath the noted asylum’s polish of respectability, a wicked villainy hides in dank shadows—and Maggie fears she will be its next victim.

Seventy-five years later, Laura “Del” Delito inherits more than ancestral assets when her prestigious family’s mysterious past comes knocking. After sacrificing an independent career on the brink of success, she assumes control of Delito’s failing jewelry business while daring to expose its ghosts—a strange old woman, cryptic messages, backroom betrayals, and a rare antique key that might unlock the truth. As she pursues clues from the Northeast to North Africa, she fails to see the danger looming close to home.

A book club favorite, Asylum is set in New England during periods of transition with the rise and fall of manufacturing, changing mores and folkways, and struggles for basic and equal rights. Asylum prompts discussion of social and economic issues that continue to resonate.

What inspired you to write this book?
Mere blocks from Mark Twain’s Asylum Hill neighborhood in Hartford, Connecticut, I attended a friend’s dinner party. A guest who worked in a one-hundred-year-old hospital claimed she’d seen a ghost in the hallway outside her upper floor office. I invited myself to a private tour the very next week, sparking an interest in its history during the 1890s, a period to which I had a lifelong attraction. Images stirred in my imagination and Asylum was born.

Excerpt from Asylum:
~ 1974 ~ October

Margaret Rosa Delito should have known the day would come to a grim end. She had a sense about things like that, important things, life and death things.

She lived a deliberate life centered on one purpose—to erase the memories of her dark days.

From the second floor of Delito, Inc.’s home office, Rosa descended the grand staircase with quiet grace, like she had nearly every day at 5:20 p.m. for more than sixty years. She paused at the atrium, sighing with a hypnotic stare through the lobby’s wall of glass.

Her fingers tightened around the scrap of paper clenched in her disfigured hand. The newspaper masthead dated 1900 had been left on her desk during the night … a cryptic message from someone connected to her past, someone employed at Delito. Secrets were bound to surface. Something wicked was sure to follow.

She’d sent her granddaughter to a meeting at their New York sales office and wondered how she fared. She had hoped to protect Laura, but if someone at Delito knew of its tarnished past, of the family’s complicity and the source of her shame, she had to tell her everything. And she would. Tomorrow.

Rosa stashed the torn newspaper into her purse before buttoning her favorite cashmere coat. Outside, dried leaves clattered across the sidewalk in a gusty wind. The American flag fluttered like a beating heart, like her heart, pumping faster in a rhythm gone bad. Pressure in her chest forced the wind from her lungs like when she slammed to the ground that day long ago, that day when it all began.

As her heels tapped across the lobby’s white marble tiles, Rosa’s recall skipped through memories of those times, in that place, that had tormented her life and haunted her dreams, like a phonograph needle scratching across damaged vinyl … walk cold … cold … cold …

My feet walk cold stone floors. I wear no shoes.
I feel my way along a wall and sense a tunnel though I see nothing but darkness.
I sneak toward a distant line of light where a door is cracked open. Voices inside. Moaning. Fear tightens its choking grip as I stand alone, knowing I must look into that room.
A chill crawls the back of my neck. Cold. My hands tremble. My knees weaken as I creep toward the door to see … Oh God … Oh God …
Be silent. Mustn’t scream.
Gray ghosts … Gray ghosts …
Shhh … They’ll see you.

What exciting story are you working on next?
Several. Counting Souls is a contemporary mystery set in a quiet valley town that seems to be the target of an enigmatic serial killer—but not one body has been found at the bloody crime scenes. Citizens are frightened. Police are frustrated. Detectives are baffled. Only two sisters see the signs in ancient writings the killer left behind. (My sister wants to be characterized in a book.)

I’m also pulled towards a prequel and sequel to Premonition of Terror. I love those characters. Ideas to develop that Premonition trilogy are in my head, but writing won’t begin until my sister is placated with her starring role in Counting Souls.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Excitement grew during the months preceding Liberty Weekend, July 1986. Celebration organizers expected millions of New York visitors, but what would they eat? Hot dogs! I learned a nearby wholesale grocery company had been contracted to supply packets of mustard, ketchup and kraut. Fascinated and amused, I contacted the business for details and wrote a article for The Waterbury Republican American, an area newspaper with a solid reputation. My headline read: Five Million Hot Dogs To Go. The editors changed it to a Feeding Huddled Masses theme, but loved the idea, sent a photographer to the plant, published my story in the Financial section, and sent a check for $35. It was official. I was a writer. That’s also when I decided newspapers didn’t pay enough to hold my interest. However, valuable lesson learned: If something quirky interests me, it will likely interest others.

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?
Retired from a graphics career, I write full-time. When I’m deep into a book and the characters take over, I might write from 6 a.m. till 9 p.m. That would be a productive and satisfying day. Most days are interrupted by marketing and promotion duties, so to jumpstart a writing routine, I might go dark for a while.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I must have a visual bond to a scene’s location. A psychiatric hospital. A shop in Morocco. A cow barn. I once lived in a converted Victorian mansion so for Asylum, it was effortless to imagine the fictional Delito family’s bigger, more luxurious estate. My other book, Premonition of Terror, was more difficult. I was stuck on a crucial scene that needed a body-dump site in Boston, at water’s edge, not far from a warehouse near railroad tracks. I searched Google satellite images for days until I found the perfect spot. I remember saying aloud, “There you are!” The scene came alive and I was in it, on the ground—easily defining positions and interactions of the characters for a realistic and emotional scene.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I had a long list of what I didn’t want to be. In the final semester of high school’s senior year, I had to choose something, so I looked at my grades and picked a subject with high marks. The winner was Art. My dad acquiesced, abandoning his dream of a nurse in the family. Following commercial art school, I worked as a jewelry designer, then ad agency Art Director (think Mad Men), then freelance, which afforded the freedom to travel. I say I wouldn’t change a thing, but often wonder, with different opportunities or encouragement, would I have excelled in Intelligence work? I think, yes, probably a career in the U.S. Navy.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Thank you, Lisa, for sharing this space, and a special thanks to your readers for their time and support of authors. I hope they realize how much we value them. When I’m writing, I’m not thinking about publishing a book, I’m doing my best to shape a fascinating story to tell a friend.


Thank you for joining me here today, Kathryn!

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