MLC: Do you remember the first mystery you ever read? If so, what was it, and what pulled you into it?
AUTHOR: Oh now we’re going way back, aren’t we? I mean, that would have to be a Nancy Drew book, I imagine.
MLC: When did you first decide you wanted to write a mystery, and what led you to that decision?
AUTHOR: Well, I read more mysteries after Nancy Drew, and the more I read, the more I wanted to write one. And, as my romance novels often contain a mystery, it would seem I had a natural ‘bent’ toward such books. But, truthfully, in the end it was the idea that put me in mystery, even as bookstores continued to stock my mystery series in the romance section, unfortunately.
MLC: Do you write in any other genres? If so, which ones?
AUTHOR: I’ve been writing romance novels, historicals and contemporaries, since 1980, as well as a non-fiction about our oldest son’s first kidney transplant, written a long time ago. At last count I am at over 100 books in print—but who counts, right?
MLC: Which comes first for you, the plot or the characters?
AUTHOR: You know, some day I’m going to write it all down, just as everything strikes me. At least that’s what I keep telling myself. Because I don’t know—I honestly don’t. At the moment, I’m wrapping up a seven book historical romance series (the Beckets of Romney Marsh), very intricate, and I don’t have the faintest idea what came to me first—the plot, the people, whatever. I think, like Topsy, my books just sort of … grow.
MLC: When you are all wrapped up in the story, do you feel like you could solve the crime, or maybe even solve all the world’s mysteries?
AUTHOR: Oh, yes, definitely! I’m the world’s worst, watching tv mysteries, movies, etc, dating all the way back to the drive-in movie where my husband and I were watching the original Planet of the Apes, and before Charleton Heston and his gal pal could ride around the rocks on that horse I said to my husband, “The Statue of Liberty is going to be sticking up out of the sand – betcha!” I thought he’d make me walk home. It’s sometimes sad, being able to ‘see’ a lot of the endings before I actually get there, so when an author keeps me guessing, I become that author’s slave for life (and all of his/her backlist).
MLC: Do you write every day, or what kind of a schedule do you have? Do you write fulltime, or do you have a “day job”?
AUTHOR: I write all day, sometimes seven days a week. Why? Because I have yet to learn how to say “no.” I have more deadlines than sane people ever take on, but at the same time there are a lot of people out there who wish they had the same problem, so I can’t complain. I do not wait for the muse, because my mortgage company, for instance, doesn’t understand muses. I love to write, but writing is also my job. And I’m a nasty, demanding boss!
MLC: Other than your writing, what do you enjoy doing? What is the most important thing to you in your day-to-day life?
AUTHOR: : Oh, wow. I don’t know whether to be flippant or try to be profound on this one. Here’s flippant: I love the nickel machines at the Borgata Casino and Spa in Atlantic City. Love them! I can zone out, do nothing but watch spinning reels, let my mind go blank. It’s heaven after weeks of sitting at the computer, beating my brain ten hours a day. But the most important thing in my day-to-day life? My family, husband, kids, grandkids. I haven’t ever found any ‘bennie’ that replaces the love of family.
MLC: Who are your favorite mystery authors? Do you try to emulate them in your own writing?
AUTHOR: So many favorites! Jonathan Kellerman, Harlan Coben, Lee Child, Michael Connolley, Carl Hiaason, Tess Gerritson, Lisa Scottoline -- on and on and on. And on! I used to read more cozies, but not lately, probably because I’ve now got my own ‘thriller’ idea rattling around in my head, and want to work on that. I don’t try to emulate other authors. I try to enjoy them…but write my own books in my own way.
MLC: In your present book, is this part of a series, or is it a standalone book?
AUTHOR: Bowled Over is the sixth and, unfortunately, the last book in the Maggie Kelly Mystery Series. Title changes, format changes, bookstores insisting on shelving the books in the romance section because of my reputation as a romance writer -- so many factors entered into this, but the publisher has decided that this one, due out in October, will be the last. I’m seriously bummed, as I love the series, the characters, and have at least 20 more ideas I wanted to write about…
MLC: If you are doing a series, do you see an end to it sometime, or do you plan to go on for several years with it?
AUTHOR: Guess I already answered that one…
MLC: Do your characters ever drive you a bit crazy by going off in their own direction? If so, how do you rein them in, or do you just let them run off on their own?
AUTHOR: I’ve often looked at a line of dialogue I’ve just typed and said, “I didn’t know that!” So I just let them go, because they seem to know more than I do.
MLC: Do you pattern your sleuths after yourself or someone you know? If so, do you let that person know they were your “pattern”?
AUTHOR: I patterned Maggie Kelly’s writing habits around mine, her desk around my desk, etc, because I figured that old adage is right: write what you know. I know I eat M&M’s all day when writing, etc. But Maggie does things I’d never dare to do, which is why I love her. But I’ve never consciously patterned a character after anyone I know…except a local tax collector, once. I killed him in Chapter 8, I think…
MLC: How long did it take you to get published? How many rejections did you have to suffer through first? Were you ever tempted to give up? What do you think made the difference when it was accepted?
AUTHOR: I wrote my first book, a Regency historical, and sent it off to Avon Books. It was rejected during the nine months I was carrying my 4th child and doing home dialysis on my oldest son, then eight years old. A few months after his first transplant, I acquired an agent, trying to sell a story about my son. I sent her the Regency, too, and three weeks later she sold it – to Avon Books. So my very first book sold – just in a very strange way. This is also why I always say that everyone should have an agent. It was the same book, word-for-word, but she got it to a ‘higher’ reader, who bought it.
MLC: Do you ever attend any conferences? If so, which ones?
AUTHOR: RWA, Novelists, and, this July I’m going to my first International Thriller Writers conference. I intend to sit quietly, learn as much as I can because I don’t believe you’re ever too old, or published too many books, to not have more to learn, and most probably drool as some of my favorite authors walk by…
MLC: Do you have to promote your own work, or does your publisher do that for you?
AUTHOR: Sticky subject! I have done self promotion, and my houses have done some promotion. I’d like a world where we both do what we do best --- I write the books, and the houses sell them. I’d also like world peace and non-fat Dove bars, but you know how it is…
MLC: If you have to do marketing, what methods have worked the best for you?
AUTHOR: Again, sticky subject. We all just do what we do and hope for the best. If we all knew what worked best, we’d all do it…and then it wouldn’t work anymore.
MLC: Do you have any idea how your book is selling?
AUTHOR: Only when the royalty statements come or I make a list. Pub houses treat sales as state secrets most of the time.
MLC: What has been the best review you have gotten, and why?
AUTHOR: The one I liked best was my first starred review from Publishers Weekly. They’ve given me two more (and a few slams from time to time), but that first starred review stands out, definitely. Why? Because the reviewer truly loved my characters and my writing style.
MLC: Have you won any awards, either as an author or for your books? Please tell us about them.
AUTHOR: A few. A RITA, a Waldenbooks award, a Bookrak award, and several very nice awards from RT Bookclub.
MLC: Is there any one certain thing that a reader has written to you that made you just want to jump up and shout “Yes!!!!”?
AUTHOR: Well, I can’t say just what, because that sixth Maggie Kelly book isn’t out yet, but I dedicated that book to a reader who said something that sparked an idea in me, an “Oh, yes!” moment….and I thank her very much!
MLC: What is your next project, and when will it be out?
AUTHOR: Again, in mystery, Bowled Over, in October of 2007. In total with some reprints, I’ll have 9 books out in 2007…which is why I spend so much time at the computer! The books this year are: A Most Unsuitable Groom, A Reckless Beauty, The Return of the Prodigal, and Becket’s Last Stand – all from the Beckets of Romney Marsh series – three reprints of Regency historical single titles, The Bride of the Peacock, The Passion of an Angel, and The Secrets of the Heart (that first PW starred review book), and the paperback edition of a Maggie Kelly Mystery, High Heels and Holidays … and, lastly, Bowled Over.
MLC: If you could write anything at all, ignoring what editors and publishers say they want, what would it be?
AUTHOR: That changes, day to day. I love humor. I love mystery. I love history. Like any ‘comic,’ I occasionally want to write ‘dark,’ be taken seriously (although nothing is much more serious than good comedy). So, right now I want to write this thriller idea that slapped me in the head the last time I was staring blankly at the nickel slots. When that’s written, who knows what next will slap me in the head…
MLC: Do you have any words of wisdom for aspiring mystery authors?
AUTHOR: The same as for any aspiring writer: write what you like, read, read, read, and never, never, never give up!
MLC: Do you have any teasers for your readers and fans about the next book?
AUTHOR: Bowled Over has Maggie Kelly trying to clear a murder charge against her father….which sounds very serious until Maggie and her fictional hero come to life, the Viscount Saint Just, put their own special spin on the investigation. I had a blast writing this book, knowing it was the last one in the series. Sort of one of those ‘let it all hang out’ books…and my editor let me keep every word of it, even some not really nice words about the publishing world (Maggie is a writer). So it’s a fun book…and if I’m lucky and the sales and feedback are good, maybe not the last one in the series. Stranger things have happened…
MLC: If a genie suddenly appeared and said they would grant you just one wish for your books, what would you wish for?
AUTHOR: Well, I’m not proud…I’d like the NYT. But, hey, who doesn’t want the NYT, right?
MLC: Please give us your website url and your email address where people can contact you.
AUTHOR: www.kaseymichaels.com People can contact me via that website.
MLC: Thank you so much for giving us a little glimpse into your books and your life. We look forward to a lot more books from you.
AUTHOR: Thank you so much!