Monday, June 10, 2019

Interview with mystery novelist Kathryn Long

Novelist Kathryn Long joins me today to chat about her new mystery, Buried in Sin – A Mackenzie Blue Mystery.

Kathryn Long is a retired teacher turned dedicated writer. She loves filling her days reading and writing mysteries. Her credits include romantic suspense, A Deadly Dead Grows and her self-published series, THE LILLY M. MYSTERIES. Buried in Sin is her latest release, published by Black Opal Books in March 2019. She stays active on social media where you can find her on Facebook, Twitter, and her blog. She also belongs to Sisters in Crime and International Thriller Writers. Kathryn lives in northeast Ohio with her husband and pooch Max.

Welcome, Kathryn. Please tell us about your current release.
I think the book blurb says it best…
Research assistant Sarah Mackenzie enjoys collecting information for her uncle’s local history projects. But when she stumbles upon an open grave in Cornplanter Cemetery, she’s startled to find the body reminds her of someone she knew, someone she believed died ten years ago. Like opening Pandora’s Box, the discovery is full of unpleasant surprises and definitely not the kind this researcher likes to collect. To make matters worse, the local sheriff has learned about Sarah’s strained relationship with the victim, and the clues drop one by one to shift suspicion to her as the favored suspect. As the murders escalate and one becomes three, Sarah confronts her fear and searches for the truth, venturing into the world of Seneca Indian culture. Confronted with mysteries from the past as well as the present, she must find their common link in order to discover the identity of the Grave Maker and stop his killing spree.

What inspired you to write this book?
Buried in Sin draws from both personal experience and my fascination with Native American culture. I grew up visiting the area of northwest Pennsylvania and the Kinzua Reservoir/Allegheny Forest where our family has a cabin. So, the setting inspired me to write a story about it. Since there’s a strong Seneca Indian connection to this area, especially in its history, and along with my interest in such cultures, I felt those characters and the Seneca folklore fit perfectly.

Excerpt from Buried in Sin:
“Ah, yeah. Hold on,” I said, once more moving forward. A fresh grave in a cemetery. This wasn’t anything unusual. Somebody who died would need burying. However, no one had been buried in Cornplanter’s since the first half of the twentieth century.

My pace slowed to a crawl as I sniffed a foul odor. The harsh chatter of crows perched in the tree above startled me, enough that I lost my balance. I gasped, and my arms flailed wildly until I found my feet planted on the ground once more. Counting to ten, I took a deep breath. Another step. One more, and I reached the edge of the hole. “Okay, Mac, you can do this,” I whispered before leaning in to take a peek. With a loud gasp, I stumbled backward. Doubling over at the waist, I coughed and tried to hold down the bitter taste rising up through my stomach and into my throat.

“What in blue blazes is all that noise you’re makin’?”

My legs weakened, and I crumbled to the ground. In another minute, maybe longer, I put the phone back to my ear. “I have to go, Uncle Chaz. There’s a body… in a grave. I need to call the sheriff.”

Chaz laughed. “What did you expect? Land sakes. You’re in a cemetery.”

I shook my head, hard enough to make myself dizzy. My voice came out breathy and weak. “This one’s different. I’ll talk to you when I get home.” I ended the call despite his sputtering protest. My knuckles blanched as I tightened the grip on the phone.

To be certain the long day with its heat and burning sunlight hadn’t played games with my eyes, I walked back to the grave once more. Another quick look told me this was no delusion. A man laid in the grave, a red-stained hole through the middle of his chest. For a brief moment, though it seemed insane, the face appeared strangely familiar. Somebody from my past. But that was impossible, wasn’t it?

As I began to turn away, something else caught my eye. A rather large, flat stone rested at the head of the grave, as if placed there with deliberate intent. Curious, I edged closer to examine the stone with steps distanced enough to keep from slipping into the hole. The smoothly polished surface was marred by crude lettering engraved in its center. I bent to read and puzzled over what I saw. “Sins of the soul,” I whispered aloud.

I forced my trembling hand to hold steady as I pushed buttons on the phone to call the Warren authorities. A tiny whimper escaped my lips as I stole another glimpse at the grave and tombstone. Twirling on my heel, I faced the other way. I took several steps from the grave and my heartbeat evened. As I waited for someone to pick up, my mind tossed around the insane idea of how familiar the face was and the conclusion it pushed me to form.

I fought the urge to look again, but it taunted me, as if I needed convincing to give me some kind of reassurance. Instead, I continued in the other direction and moved toward the front of the cemetery where Jacob Bluehawk rested. There I stopped. Taking one hand, I rubbed it harshly over my face, struggling to erase the image of the body. Reese Logan was dead. He’d died almost ten years ago. He wasn’t the man in the open grave.

What exciting story are you working on next?
I have a contemporary romance coming out early next year, titled When I Choose. Right now, my agent is subbing the cozy mystery I wrote, BOARDING WITH MURDER. The movie, ARSENIC AND OLD LACE inspired me with its old Hollywood charm and the eccentric sisters—though, at least in my story they aren’t poisoning and burying bodies in the basement! Besides that, I have a second book that will follow Buried in Sin, tentatively titled, PLAYED BY MURDER.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Around the age of fifty! Yeah, I’m a late bloomer. At least that’s when I wrote my first novel-length story and got it published. Actually, I think I became serious about writing back in high school when I joined the Writers Club. Of course, I’ve been creating stories and poems since I knew how to put words on the page.

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?
I’m a retired teacher, so you’d think I would write full-time. Yet, there are so many things going on in my life that keep me writing part-time. I love spending every chance I get with my family, especially my two grandbabies, and traveling to most any place I can, including to our cabin in Pennsylvania. And I don’t mind admitting, I love binge-watching shows on Netflix, mysteries mostly. As for my “work day”, I enjoy the freedom of retirement and find it difficult to schedule a regular routine for writing. That said, when I do start a project, my energy is like an elephant stampede! I’ll spend several hours a day to reach the end. If my creative flow is on task, I average 3,000 to 5,000 words per day, three to four days a week, and can finish a novel manuscript in three months. That includes the rereading/editing I do each day. During the process, I basically ignore daily needs like eating or sleeping. LOL And my hubby knows better than to disturb me. Seriously though, the writer fairy godmother must like me because it all works out.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I don’t know if this is interesting or just plain quirky, but I like to tape index cards all over my office, (they must be colorful, like florescent orange is my favorite), one for each chapter with bullet points and a time-stamp so I can refer back to them as I write the story. Believe it or not, that quirk can be a time saver.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Ooo, great question! Let’s see, I’d say my first memory of this would be when I was in middle school. I so wanted to be an archeologist. And mind you, this was way before the Indiana Jones movies came out. Then in high school, I changed and wanted to move to Paris and be one of those U.N. interpreters who spoke both English and French. Guess that’s why I majored in French in college. Of course, I never made it to France or spent my days digging up bones for a living, but I can sure write about them if I like!

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I think I’ve rambled on long enough, right? Seriously, enjoy reading and, if you’re so inclined, let the author know how you felt about the book by writing a review. Good or bad, we love feedback.


Thanks for being here today!

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