Sunday, December 05, 2010

The Killing Storm: Interview with Mystery Novelist Kathryn Casey

Kathryn Casey is an award-winning, Houston-based novelist and journalist, the creator of the Sarah Armstrong mystery series and the author of five highly acclaimed true crime books. SINGULARITY, the first in the Armstrong series, debuted in June to rave reviews. It was a Deadly Pleasures magazine Best First Novel of 2008 selection, was included on Vanity Fair’s Hot Type page, won stars from Publishers Weekly and Booklist, and the Tampa Tribune said: “Not since Patricia Cornwell’s POSTMORTEM has a crime author crafted such a stellar series debut. Kathryn Casey hits the right notes.”

The second in the series, BLOOD LINES (2009) was called a “strong sequel” by Publisher’s Weekly, and was included in a Reader’s Digest condensed books edition for fall 2010.

The Killing Storm, Katherine’s latest, has been chosen as a Mystery Book Club selection, and Publisher’s Weekly labels it “the best in the series so far.” Library Journal awarded the book a star, and Kirkus calls it “pulse-pounding.”

In addition, Ann Rule has called Casey, “one of the best in the true crime genre.” Her non-fiction books all published by HarperCollins include: A WARRANT TO KILL, (2000); SHE WANTED IT ALL (2005); DIE, MY LOVE (2007); A DESCENT INTO HELL (2008), EVIL BESIDE HER (2008), and SHATTERED (2010). Three were Literary Guild, Mystery Guild, and Doubleday Book Club selections.

You can visit her website at www.kathryncasey.com.

Q: Welcome to The Writer's Life, Kathryn. Can you tell us how long you’ve been writing and how your journey led to writing your latest book, The Killing Storm?

For a couple of decades, I was a journalist, writing for Rolling Stone, Texas Monthly, MORE, Reader’s Digest, Ladies’ Home Journal, and other magazines. In the mid-nineties, I started writing true crime books, six so far. Then, in what felt like a natural progression, in about 2004, I began working on a mystery series centered on a Texas Ranger/profiler I christened Sarah Armstrong. The Killing Storm is the third book in the series.


Q: I love your title…can you tell us why you chose it?

I wrote this book not long after Hurricane Ike pummeled my hometown, Houston. In The Killing Storm, a hurricane named Juanita plays an important role. It’s the clock, propelling the action, and the storm is also a character, a force Sarah has to conquer to save a missing child.

Q: Why did you believe your book should be published?


It’s a good read. It’s fun. It’s exciting. What I hear most from readers is that the book is hard to put down. I was thrilled in November when Library Journal included The Killing Storm among its picks of the best books of 2010, one of only five mysteries on the list.

Q: We all know that publishers can’t do all of the publicity and that some lies on the author. What has your publisher done so far to publicize the book and what have you done?

St. Martins has a public relations person assigned to my book, and I believe she’s sent out releases and books to reviewers. I have, however, done a lot of my own promoting. In early November, right after The Killing Storm came out, I did a blog tour, writing guest posts for various mystery sites. It was fun and great exposure. I’m also on facebook, where I post reviews as they come in. I’d like to say I’m a Twitter expert, but I’m not. I do, however, frequently tweet about the new book. In addition, I hired a private book promotion agency to increase the book’s presence on the Net and generate interest in reviewing the book beginning in December.

Q: What book on the market can it compare to? How is it different? What makes your book special?

Library Journal compared The Killing Storm to a J.A. Jance novel. After more than two decades working as a journalist, much of it covering sensational crimes, I believe I bring realism to my fiction. I’ve been a frequent observer in courtrooms, and I’ve interviewed attorneys, victims and victims’ families, investigators, and forensic experts. I’ve been behind prison walls questioning those convicted of terrible crimes. In hindsight, my years as a journalist have been something of a crime school, and I’m now drawing from all of those experiences to write fiction.

Q: Open to a random page in your book. Can you tell us what is happening?

I flipped the book open, and it parted on page 25, in a section where my protagonist, Texas Ranger Sarah Armstrong, is being drawn into the case of a missing four-year-old. She’s worried about the kid. She’s a mom, and cases involving children hit her hard. On this page, she’s at the site of the abduction, a park, deciphering clues. At the same time, she’s lamenting the state of her life, how the demands of her job, raising a twelve-year-old daughter, and trying to have a personal life too often collide.


Q: Do you plan subsequent books?

I’m currently writing a true crime book. Once it’s done, I have more fiction planned, including a stand-alone I’d like to start early next year.


Q: Thank you for your interview, Kathryn. Do you have any final words?

Earlier you asked how I promote my books. The truth is that the best advertising is word of mouth, a suggestion from one reader to another. This type of grassroots attention is absolutely essential to a book’s success. So thank you to everyone who’s enjoyed my books and taken the time to recommend them to others.

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