by Barb, who confesses to being wildly inspired by Kathy Lynn
Gentle readers, our guest today is Kathy Lynn Emerson, who, as Kaitlyn Dunnett, writes the Liss MacCrimmon Mysteries set in Moosetookalook, Maine. As it happens, today is the publication day for Ho-Ho-Homicide, the eighth book in the series, and Kathy Lynn’s 50th traditionally published book!
In honor of this amazing achievement, Kathy Lynn has offered to give a free copy of Ho-Ho-Homicide to one lucky commenter below.
Kathy Lynn and I blog together on the Maine Crime Writers blog. She really is from Maine, and she and her husband run a Christmas tree farm and Ho-Ho-Homicide is set on a Christmas tree farm. We thought this launch was a great excuse to have a nice chat.
About the book: In Ho-Ho-Homicide, when an old friend asks Liss MacCrimmon Ruskin and her husband Dan to spend a week on a Maine Christmas tree farm, evaluating its potential as a profitable seasonal business, Liss thinks they’re in for an idyllic vacation. Boy is she wrong! Between a missing person, an unidentified body, a mysterious maze, and a series of “accidents” there’s no time to relax. To add to the pressure, the deadline to open a cut-your-own operation at the Christmas tree farm for the current season is fast approaching. And then there’s that other matter, the very personal one that Liss hoped she and Dan would have time to talk about once they were away from their usual busy routine. The novel is set five years after the end of the last entry in the series (Vampires, Bones and Treacle Scones). Liss hasn’t been involved in solving a single murder in the interim and is hoping her luck will hold. Not a chance!
Barb: Oh, I didn’t realize. I love it when series take a leap forward in time. (Or when they go back and fill in a blank space.) Now I really can’t wait to read this. Ho-Ho-Homicide is your fiftieth book and the eighth book in your Liss MacCrimmon Mystery series. We have several Wicked Cozies who are working on their fourth books and one on her third. What advice would you give us for keeping a series fresh?
Kathy Lynn: What works best for me is to take a break and write something totally different in between each of Liss’s adventures. By the time I reach a good stopping point in that project, I usually have a stack of notes about new ideas to incorporate into the next Liss MacCrimmon mystery. This plan falls apart, of course, if deadlines are too close together. I try to give myself deadlines way in advance of the real ones so that I have a sort of built-in buffer zone.
Barb: Your fifty-first book will come out in November in the UK and in March in the US. Tell us about Murder in the Queen’s Wardrobe, and why the UK first?
Kathy Lynn: Murder in the Queen’s Wardrobe is the first of the Mistress Jaffrey Mysteries set in Elizabethan England. It is also the eleventh novel to use characters from the Face Down series (Face Down in the Marrow-Bone Pie, the first, came out in 1997) That series featured Elizabethan gentlewoman, herbalist and sleuth Susanna, Lady Appleton, an expert on poisonous plants. Rosamond Jaffrey is the illegitimate daughter of Lady Appleton’s late, unlamented husband, Sir Robert. The original series often featured a spy subplot, and in this new one Rosamond is asked to enter the household of the queen’s cousin, Lady Mary Hastings, who is being offered up as a bride for Ivan the Terrible of Russia, to keep an eye on things for the queen’s spy master, Sir Francis Walsingham. Despite the espionage angle, this mystery still fits neatly into the historical cozy subgenre. As for the earlier UK publication, that’s because my publisher, Severn House, is based in the UK. They have an amazing list of American and British authors, including my fellow Mainer, Dorothy Cannell.
Barb: Not only are you published in romance, mystery, historical fiction and historical mystery, you also write short stories. Tipping it a bit, your story, “The Blessing Witch” will appear in Best New England Crime Stories 2015: Rogue Wave. The story takes place in the sixteenth century and is about a woman who may be a witch, but who solves a mysterious death using other abilities. Where did “The Blessing Witch” come from?
Kathy Lynn: Okay—confession time. This was supposed to be a scene in an “Elizabethan thriller” my agent suggested I write. I tried. I really did. But I’m a cozy writer, not a thriller writer. I developed the characters and their background, wrote about 100 pages, and realized I didn’t have a clue where I was going with the story. Besides, I really wanted to go write what became Murder in the Queen’s Wardrobe. So, never being one to waste anything, I looked for pieces of that 100 pages that could be recycled and as a result rewrote two small sections into short stories. I’ve also set aside a larger chunk that, considerably revised, may just reappear as a chapter or two in the third Mistress Jaffrey mystery.
Barb: What are you working on now?
Kathy Lynn: I’m taking a break before revising the current draft of the second Mistress Jaffrey mystery (Murder in the Mercery) and the outline for Liss #10 (tentatively titled Kilt on the 4th of July) isn’t due until December 1st, so I’m spending a little time on shorter fiction. In the past, it always seemed to take me longer to whip a short story into shape than it did to write an entire novel, but since “The Blessing Witch” turned out so well, I’ve been revising a story I wrote a long time ago (would you believe 1987?), finishing another story I started in March 2013 that stalled on page six, finishing a third I began earlier this year, and working on a fourth that uses a secondary character who appears in Liss #9 (the 2015 book) and who might one day have the potential to become the sleuth in a series of her own.
Yes, I am a compulsive writer. No, I have no “real” life. When I’m not writing fiction I’m working on my online “A Who’s Who of Tudor Women” or expanding the family genealogy or doing jigsaw puzzles or reading . . . unless it’s a Monday or Tuesday evening. Mondays I’m in front of the TV watching Dancing with the Stars and Castle. Tuesdays it’s Marvel: Agents of Shield.
Readers, please join me in congratulating Kathy Lynn on the achievement of her 50th published book, and remember one lucky commenter gets a free copy.
Bio: Kathy Lynn Emerson writes in a variety of genres and under several names. As Kathy Lynn Emerson, she is best known for two historical mystery series. In the Face Down series, featuring Susanna, Lady Appleton, sixteenth century gentlewoman, herbalist, and sleuth, the most recent entry is Face Down O’er the Border (2007). The Diana Spaulding 1888 Mysteries feature a late nineteenth-century American journalist. Lethal Legend (set in Maine) follows Deadlier than the Pen (set in Maine), Fatal as a Fallen Woman (set in Colorado), and No Mortal Reason (set in rural New York State). As Kaitlyn Dunnett, Kathy pens the contemporary Liss MacCrimmon Scottish-American Heritage Mysteries, set in the fictional Maine town of Moosetookalook. As Kate Emerson, Kathy writes non-mystery historical novels set in the sixteenth century. Kathy lives in Wilton, Maine with her husband and assorted cats. She is also the author of the Agatha-award-winning nonfiction book, How to Write Killer Historical Mysteries: The Art and Adventure of Sleuthing Through the Past.
Kathy returns to historical mysteries and using her own name with a spin-off of the Face Down series featuring Lady Appleton’s late husband’s illegitimate daughter, Rosamond, as the sleuth. The first entry, Murder in the Queen’s Wardrobe, will be in stores in the U.S. in the spring of 2015. It is set in 1582-3. She is currently working on the second book in this series for publication in 2016.
Kathy also maintains a series of mini-biographies of sixteenth-century women—over 2000 of them! To find out more about A Who’s Who of Tudor Women, click on the quill:
Kathy and her husband Sandy live on a Christmas tree farm, which means she doesn’t get much writing done between Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve. You can visit there by going to Mystic Valley Christmas Tree Farm. Sandy is also a custom woodworker, specializing in jigsaw puzzle tables in various sizes. The rest of the family consists of three cats, Bala, Nefret, and Feral.