Posted by Ryder Islington, Author of Ultimate Justice, A Trey Fontaine Mystery, and coming soon: Ultimate Game, A Trey Fontaine Mystery.
I consider it an honor to be able to interview Kathleen Kaska. If you’ve visited her blog or read her books, then you know how talented she is. Below the interview is a beautiful cover of her latest book, Murder at the Driskill, along with a blurb, and also, Kathleen’s bio. I hope all of you enjoy having Kathleen here as much as I do. So, here we go:
Murder at the Driskill is the fourth book in your Sydney Lockhart Mystery Series. How did the story come about?
All my Sydney Lockhart mysteries are set in the 1950s in different historic hotels. Since Sydney is a reporter, she is often sent out of town for several days on assignment, which gives me a great excuse for checking her into hotels. I felt it was time to have Sydney solve a murder (or two) in her hometown of Austin, Texas.
- The are several historic hotels in Austin. Why choose the Driskill Hotel for your setting?
Austin was my home for twenty-five years. When my husband and I decided to downsize, we sold our house and moved into a high rise near the state capitol. I loved living in downtown Austin. After I got home from work, I’d tuck my car away in the parking garage, and my husband and I would walk to the Driskill bar for a cocktail on our way to dinner at one of Austin’s many eateries. On the weekends, I’d stop by the hotel, order coffee, pull out my laptop and start writing. It was only natural that I feature this gorgeous old hotel in one of my mysteries.
- One of the characters in Murder at the Driskill is a twelve-year-old girl named Lydia who is an intellectual challenge for Sydney. Lydia often dresses up like Sherlock Holmes. Why did you add this element to the story?
Like all of my characters, they come to me and insist upon me writing them into the story. I have little to do with who they are or how they behave. Lydia appeared in the first few pages and refused to go away. Her father owned a live theatre in Austin, and Lydia often finagled her way onto the stage. When her father was suspected of murder and went on the lam, Lydia took over running the theatre. The company was in the middle of rehearsing an original play called “Hamlet at the Alamo.” Lydia became disgruntled with the production and changed it to “Sherlock Holmes at the Alamo.” She also gave herself the lead role. It was like opening Pandora’s Box. Once she donned the Holmes’ costume, she decided she was smart enough to solve the murder and save her father. Sydney had different ideas.
I’m also a Holmes fanatic; this might have had something to do with it too.
- Sydney has recently declared herself a private investigator, although she is still working as a reporter. Both professions are unusual or rare for woman in the early 1950s. What made you decide to give your protagonist two challenging jobs?
I love writing about independent women who take risks. The 1950s was a decade of opportunity for women. Sydney’s reporting naturally led to investigating murders. In some of these cases, she was the main suspect, which meant finding the real killer to save her own skin. I also wanted to make life a bit difficult for her. Working as a reporter and an investigator causes great conflicts and leads to discord in Murder at the Driskill.
- Both you can Sydney were science teachers at one time. Do you share any other professions?
Although Sydney and I both worked for newspapers, the job I had was not as exciting as hers. She got to write about murders. I worked in the display-advertising department. The most exciting thing I did was to draw clothes on the scantily dressed women in the X-rated movie ads before they went to press. This was in the early 1970s in Waco, Texas. You gotta love it!
Now here’s a taste of Murder at the Driskill.
You’d think that newspaper reporter Sydney Lockhart, comfortable at home in Austin, Texas, could stay away from hotels and murders therein. But when she and her detective boyfriend, Ralph Dixon, hang out a shingle for their new detective agency, they immediately land a high-profile case, which sends them to the swanky Driskill Hotel. Businessman Stringer Maynard has invited them to a party to meet his partner/brother-in-law, Leland Tatum, who’s about to announce his candidacy for governor. Maynard needs their help because Tatum is hanging out with the wrong crowd and jeopardizing his chances for winning the election. Before Sydney can finish her first martini, a gunshot sounds and Leland Tatum is found murdered in a suite down the hall.
Kathleen Kaska writes the award-winning Sydney Lockhart mysteries. Her first two books Murder at the Arlington and Murder at the Luther, were selected as bonus-books for the Pulpwood Queens Book Group, the largest book group in the country. Kaska also writes the Classic Triviography Mystery Series.Her Alfred Hitchcock and the Sherlock Holmes trivia books were finalists for the 2013 EPIC award in nonfiction. Her nonfiction book, The Man Who Saved the Whooping Crane: The Robert Porter Allen Story (University Press of Florida) was published in 2012.
You can check out Kathleen’s blog at http://www.kathleenkaska.com