Interview with K.D. Hays, author of 'Roped In'

Kate Dolan began her writing career as a legal editor and then newspaper columnist before she decided she was finally ready to tackle fiction.  As the author of more than a dozen novels and novellas, she writes historical fiction and romance under her own name and contemporary mysteries and children's books under the name K.D. Hays.  When not writing, she enjoys volunteering as a living history interpreter and riding roller coasters with her daughter. 

Her latest book is the cozy mystery, Roped In.

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About the Book:

Title: Roped In
Author: K.D. Hays
Publisher: K.D. Hays
Pages: 140
Genre: Cozy Mystery

Life has settled into a more stable pattern for fledgling investigator Karen Maxwell of DS Investigations, but that stability is precarious. At work, she has an uneasy truce with Rodney, the “office maximizer” hired by her brother to do some of the administrative work she used to do. Her brother has not assigned her any real cases and she thinks it's because he doesn’t trust her after she was fired from her last major assignment.

But she soon gets her chance. The firm's insurance agent calls in a favor and asks them to investigate whether a valuable parrot was killed as a result of snowfall damage to a house. Karen is pretty sure Dave will assign this to her, since the investigation will involve no money or prestige. But it may help earn back his confidence.

Then Gina Callaghan hires DS Investigations to find out who sabotaged her daughter Hayley’s rope at a jump rope competition. Hayley competes in power jumping events, and she failed to make the top four in the regional tournament. If Karen can prove that one of those top four jumpers behaved unethically, then Hayley, (who was fifth) will have a spot at the national competition, and a chance to go to the World tournament. Dave assigns Karen the lead role in this case, so now she has a chance to prove to her brother that she can conclude an investigation before the client is ready to pull the plug.

Karen bribes her son to take a jump rope class on the day when the jumpers she needs to watch have their practices. Initially, Hayley Callaghan does not want the matter investigated so Karen has to be a subtle as possible. Meanwhile, in the parrot case, Karen's investigation seems to indicate that the parrot's owners are telling the truth and not trying to defraud the insurance company. But the picture they offer as proof somehow arouses Karen's suspicion.

At jump rope practice, she finds a lot of masked hostility and a host of possible suspects, but no one who saw anything. Then Hayley's sister steps forward and admits that she saw someone rummaging through her sister's rope bag. Circumstances point to two possible suspects, in addition to the sister herself. But Karen can find no proof of wrongdoing and thinks the break was most likely an accident. Then Hayley changes her position and urges Karen to follow through with her initial suspicions. She immediately wonders why.

But she doesn't have time to wonder. Her brother insists that she stop working on the insurance case and her client insists that she write up suspicions against one of the other jumpers so they can file a complaint with the national sanctioning commission. Working against the clock, Karen finds proof that the picture is fake, proving that the insurance clients were trying to defraud the agency. But time runs out on the jump rope investigation—once again the dissatisfied client fires Karen before she solves the case. This time, she knows an innocent girl is going to face blame and could be banned from the sport she loves. So she digs on until she uncovers the truth —and possible destroys a family in the process.

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  • Roped In is available at Amazon.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.

Q: Welcome to The Writer's Life!  Now that your book has been published, we’d love to find out more about the process.  Can we begin by having you take us at the beginning?  Where did you come up with the idea to write your book?

I was lazy and desperate and looking for a topic that would be easy to research. My editor had approved three plots for a series of mysteries and when I got to book three, I realized I'd need a PhD in biology to write it beliveably. Research is easier in the Information Age, but it wasn't easy enough, so I proposed an alternate plot. It got rejected. I proposed another alternate and that didn't work either. My daughter had recently joined a jump rope team so I thought maybe I could write a story about someone sabotaging a jump rope competition because then I'd have easy access to parents and coaches to interview about the sport. And my editor accepted that idea. I wrote the outline and first three chapters and then after all that, the publisher cancelled the mystery series. So the book went into computer hibernation for years.

Q: How hard was it to write a book like this and do you have any tips that you could pass on which would make the journey easier for other writers?

In one sense, this was one of the easiest I've ever written (it's my tenth) because by the time I went back to finish it, my daughter and I had lived the life of some of the characters in the story.  I didn't need to ask questions about competitions because we'd experienced years of training, workshops, regional competitions and even national competitions. In fact, my daughter developed a certain expertise in the particular event that was the subject of the alleged sabotage in the book. I could have never foreseen any of that back when I wrote the outline. Of course, any time I try to write about events I've experienced, I find that I can sometimes feel tied to reporting what actually happened, rather than what makes the most sense for a fictional story. In this case, fortunately, I had my plot and characters already outlined before we went through those years of training, so there was no temptation to match anything too closely to real life. I don't recommend this approach, however —it's not terribly practical to outline a story and then spend years researching the details before finishing the book. But if life happens to hand you research that fits a story you've set aside, I definitely think you should consider going back to finish it.

Q: Who is your publisher and how did you find them or did you self-publish?

Roped In is my first self-published book. I didn't think any publisher would be all that interested in picking up book three of a series, but to be honest, I didn't look.

Q: Is there anything that surprised you about getting your first book published?

I was unpleasantly surprised to realize (not as soon as I should have) that I was not any better just because I was a Published Author. I entered contests expecting to do well because I was Published and it meant I was Good. I was Not. Or at least not any better than I was before publication. Like anybody honing any skill, I had to keep working to improve mine and I still do. The day I feel that I can't improve is the day I should quit.

Q: What other books (if any) are you working on and when will they be published?

I have a number of works in progress, but the one I plan to turn to next is Christian urban fantasy book I started for my daughter years ago when she ran out of Harry Potter books. I later asked for her feedback and recently I realized that I should take the opportunity to get some more help from her on this before she heads off to college next fall. After that I have some historical stories I'd like to explore.

Q: What’s your favorite place to hang out online?

 I prefer to hang out in real life, but when that's not feasible, my "go to" place is Facebook.

Q: Finally, what message (if any) are you trying to get across with your book?

 I don't think I set out to deliver a message, but I see one in the story anyway - it's a warning for parents. We need to let our kids choose what they want to do and be. To a certain point we can guide them but then we need to step back support them for what they are, not we had hoped to mold them into.
Q: Thank you again for this interview!  Do you have any final words?

Hmmn, that sounds a little ominous. Do you know something I don't know? I guess my parting thought is that I greatly appreciate it when people take the time to read anything I've written, whether it's one of my stories, a blog post, or this interview. We are all so busy and our time is under constant demand that I am grateful when anyone choses to spend some of that precious time with me either in person, or on the page.
So thanks for reading!
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