Welcome Kathleen Kalb and a #giveaway

Hi all. I’d like to introduce author Kathleen Marple Kalb, whose debut historical mystery, A Fatal Finale, Ella Shane Mystery #1, releases on April 28. Our publisher, Kensington, is giving away a hardcopy edition of A Fatal Finale to one lucky commenter below.

Here’s the description.

On the cusp of the twentieth century, Manhattan is a lively metropolis buzzing with talent. But after a young soprano meets an untimely end on stage, can one go-getting leading lady hit the right notes in a case of murder?
New York City, 1899. When it comes to show business, Gilded Age opera singer Ella Shane wears the pants. The unconventional diva breaks the mold by assuming “trouser roles”—male characters played by women—and captivating audiences far and wide with her travelling theatre company. But Ella’s flair for the dramatic takes a terrifying turn when an overacting Juliet to her Romeo drinks real poison during the final act of Bellini’s I Capuleti e i Montecchi.

Like most authors, Kathleen’s taken an interesting road to her fiction debut and she’s here to tell us about it. Take it away, Kathleen!


Or, Who’s that Lady in the Pickup Pen?

Okay, so I’m not quite a secret agent. But I’m definitely not your usual suburban mom. The other ladies (and gents!) waiting to pick up their kids probably didn’t spend the weekend telling the good people of New York about the latest stupid criminal caper in the subway…and they sure aren’t thinking about selling a book. They do, however, probably think that I’m at least a little impaired every once in a while. Sleeping on trains, never mind plotting fictional death by nicotine poisoning, will do that.

My typical Saturday starts on Friday evening. I light Sabbath candles with the family, then sleep until 9:30 pm, get ready for work, drive to the train station for the last train out at 11:30 pm, and sleep until we get to Grand Central at 1:45 am. Grab a cab, get to the 1010 WINS newsroom by 2:00 am. Write – hard news, not mysteries – until showtime: five o’clock. A half-hour on, half hour off until 11:30 am. Walk back to Grand Central, catch a noon train, doze and work on my current fiction project, then drive back to the house – home by 3:30 pm. Then: mom stuff with the Imp while the Professor gets a nap…bed at 6 pm – and at 9:30, the alarm goes off for rinse, repeat and Sunday. Sometimes Monday, too.

 That’s pretty much been my life since the Imp was born. It sounds brutal, but it’s really a blessing. I get to be both a stay-at-home mom, and a hard-core professional newswoman. I live in two completely different worlds, and I usually code-switch pretty well. So far I haven’t used newsroom language on the playground…but I came close the day a bully chased the Imp.

I’ve always felt like I had a secret identity. And then I started writing mysteries…and it got really interesting. Now I look at my colleagues and friends as inspiration for potential characters. I’m sure that the very nice grandma over there has no idea that I consider her a perfect candidate to poison her snippy daughter-in-law. Or that every once in a while, I think about killing one of my editors. Because they’d make a perfect victim, not because I don’t like them.

I’m still safe, because my debut is an historical series.  We don’t need to tell anyone that a few of the folks in Ella Shane’s Washington Square borrow from my friends in the pen…

Photo by Steve Kalb

About the author: Kathleen Marple Kalb grew up in front of a microphone, and a keyboard.  She’s currently a weekend morning anchor at 1010 WINS New York, capping a career she began as a teenage DJ in Brookville, Pennsylvania. She, her husband, and son live in a Connecticut house owned by their cat. You can visit her website at http://kathleenmarplekalb.com/

Readers: Do you ever feel like you have a secret life on the weekends? Are you a weekend ballerina or movie critic or chef? Comment on the blog to be entered to win a copy of A Fatal Finale. (Kensington will send the book as soon as the publicists can get into the office to mail it!)

Buy Links:


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Your local independent bookstore

76 Thoughts

  1. I wish I had a secret identity life but, no, just the usual boring me.
    The book sounds terrific!

    1. Thank you SO much for your encouragement on the book. And I bet you already know that no one is really boring…

  2. Welcome to the blog, Kathleen! Were you really Miss Marple before you married, or has that always been your middle name? Either way, I’d say you were destined to write mysteries. Tell us how you got the idea for the series, and why historical?

    When I still had my day job writing software manuals, writing mysteries was my secret weekend life!

    1. I really was born Kathleen Marple. My agent wasn’t sure I should even use the Marple because it was too “on the nose,” but ultimately agreed to go with it because I’d been using it on the radio since I was a teenager. I’ve always been a history nerd, and loved two periods: British Renaissance, and Victorian…and walking to work through what became Ella’s neighborhood was a big inspiration. As for Ella’s profession, anchors are more like opera singers than you’d think: there’s a strong performance component to the job, and there are an extremely limited number of places you can do the work and make a living. I’m not the first person to compare 1010 WINS to the Met.

      And I think you’re really on to something — I bet a lot of mystery writers look at the work as their secret life!

  3. Congratulations on the upcoming release of “A Fatal Finale”!

    Several years ago just before retirement, we bought a Honda Goldwing trike. We also had a custom made sidecar with windshield made for our little chihuahua and we rode as a family. Weekends were our chance to be explorers taking off for new adventures seeing new places and sights. Maybe we were family members of Indiana Jones. 🙂

    After retirement, we got to take those adventures at our beck and call or when the weather was advantageous to do so. Now a few years older and with more aches, pains and medical issues, the rides and adventures are fewer and further in between. We’ve even contemplated selling the vehicle of adventure. I’m sure now I’m more of a comical show if folks see me getting on and off and our little boy is now 15 with failing eyesight so he’s not a riding companion any more. We did take 90 mile ride on Tuesday to celebrate hubbies birthday (which was Wednesday but they had forecast rain). It was fun to take that adventure and for a few hours be young again. That is until I tried to get off. 🙂

    Can’t wait for the opportunity to read this fabulous sounding book and to read all about Ella Shane in a wonderful time period! Thank you for the chance to win a copy. <3 Shared and hoping to be the extremely fortunate one selected.

    Have a great day. Pray you stay safe and healthy!
    2clowns at arkansas dot net

    1. Thank you for all the good wishes! Sounds like you had many wonderful adventures — it’s always great to go on the road with good companions!

  4. Welcome, Kathleen!

    Like Edith, writing mysteries IS my secret life, since I still have a day-job as a tech writer. Well, it was my secret life until my co-workers asked my why I always brought my personal laptop to work and tapped away during lunch. 🙂

    1. Thanks, Liz! Writing was my secret life for a long time, too! I finally told a few co-workers when I was finishing my first project, terrified that they’d think I was a fool or a fluffball. Instead, they turned out to be my best beta readers and my backup through what turned out to be a very long journey to publication. I really hope you are equally blessed in your colleagues!

  5. I would like to say yes, but no. In my head I absolutely have a secret life where I get to do a number of things…. but in realty no. My two and five year require 7 days a week.

    1. A lot of writers will tell you that’s how they start…with stories in their heads that eventually make it to paper. I know I did a lot of that while my little fella was small; I didn’t start seriously writing again until he was in kindergarten. It’s so intense when they’re tiny, but it doesn’t last as long as it feels like it will!

  6. Welcome to the Wickeds, Kathleen! And super congratulations on your new release! I love the premise of it!

    I think all fiction writers have multiple secret identities. After all, we need te be able to imagine being so many different characters throughout the course of writing a novel! For me, I work more on my writing during the weekdays so my weekends are about my personal life.

    1. Thanks, Jessie! You’re absolutely right! We do have to be able to “live” in someone else’s body and life while we write…and sometimes it’s a great escape from the real world.

  7. Welcome to the blog, Kathleen! And huge congratulations on your debut. I love that time period, and your premise sounds wonderful
    I cant wait to read it!

    Your news career is so interesting. I’ve often thought about how the timing of working the early shift must impact a person’s life. It sounds like you’re managing it all.

    Congratulations again!

    1. Thank you, Julia! The time shifting does make us a little weird — all of my colleagues have had a “Which Four O’clock is it???” wakeup. Not to mention bouncing out of bed on an off day convinced that we’ve fallen asleep in the studio!

  8. I have no counterpart of me on the weekends. The weekend is just a continuation of my week. Cook, clean, garden, read, sleep are my daily duties. All in the name of being a wife, mother, cook, maid, laundress, gardner, etc. This is the life I have chosen and mostly love.

    1. That’s a bunch of lives at once! And I bow to you — I can’t grow anything. Every year, my husband buys me a tomato plant, and every year I somehow manage to kill it.

  9. I love that this new book and author is going to be on my reading list. I also traveled on the trains 🚂 when I lived in Manhattan I would go from the city to upstate NY and often wondered about the people running thru Grand Central. I love that you picked a great time for the story

    1. Thanks, Kerry! When you were going through Grand Central, did you ever get that dislocating feeling that you might just run into yourself dashing to your next train?

  10. Welcome to The Wickeds! I used to do stock market reports on the radio and that was just once a week! I always felt that I was the real me when i was off at writing conferences. There I lost the label of wife and mother. Great post — thanks for joining us.

    1. Thanks, Sherry! Nice to meet another broadcaster! You’re so right about the label — people have a particular mental picture of a mom…not that any of us really fit it.

  11. First congratulations on your debut! It sounds like something I would love to read!
    As for as a secret weekend , not really anything. I’m semi-retired. So, I do a little of this and that. I’m thinking about going back to work after this crisis is over. So again congrats and I live in a house owned by the cutest Basschshund! A Dachshund/Bassett-hound mix.

    1. Thank you for your interest, Nancy! I LOVE Basschund — that’s so perfect! My son, the Imp, is the one who told me to say the house is owned by the cat.

  12. Sounds like a great book! I used to feel like I lived in two worlds – biotech professional M-F, country girl S/S and always regretted Monday arriving. Fortunately a career change made it possible for me to work from home M-F so I’m a country girl all the time now! Thanks for the chance and looking forward to reading the book whether I win it or not!

    1. Thank YOU, Jill! You nailed it — it does feel like being in two worlds!

  13. I’m just boring ol’ me. I think I’m boring so I think everyone else thinks so too. 🙂

    I might like to be sleuth, and I often figure out the solution, or whodunit, to the mystery on film or in books. Hubby says I should write a book; but that’s never been an aspiration of mine.

    Weekends, before the pandemic, consisted of ‘breakfast club’ (daughter, granddaughter, 5-year-old great-grandson, a friend of our daughter’s and her 2 boys – we go out to breakfast, trying different places) on Saturdays. And then church for hubby and I on Sunday. He has come out of retirement to take a church nearby, so even with the pandemic, we still go to the church building and live-stream a worship service.

    Boring or not, life is good!

    1. Your definition of boring and mine are a little different! It’s great that you’re live streaming services during the pandemic — people really need spiritual comfort, whatever their faith, right now.

  14. My husband (who was in broadcasting for 50 years) and I owned a small radio station for 14 years until we retired. It was always his dream, but something I had never aspired to. However, I learned the trade and did very well at it. It was no secret where we lived, but it something not many people where we lived now know about. Any relation to Marvin?

    Your book sounds fascinating and I would love to win a copy to add to my TBR stack.

  15. Wow! That Saturday schedule sounds brutal. But I’m glad it works so well for you.

    My only secret identity is my reviewer identity. But that’s an open secret.

    Congrats on the books. (And I don’t have a copy yet, so feel free to enter me.)

    1. Thanks, Mark! I think you have a much harder road — somebody’s always got something to say about a review. I only get scorched on Twitter when I give the time check wrong (yes, really happens!)

  16. Thanks, Ginny! Where was your station? I worked at two different small stations, in Pennsylvania and Vermont early in my career — and always loved the way people really prize local radio. No relation that I know of — maybe somewhere back in my husband’s family tree — the Professor likes to say: “we’re all Kalbs together.”

    1. It was in the northwest part of PA, in Kane. Yes, local, local, local was the way to go. We were really quite successful and prized.

      1. People really love their local stations! Some of my best radio memories are of working in Springfield, VT — even if I couldn’t go to the grocery store with wet hair without hearing about mispronouncing the name of a lake that morning.

      2. My voice was so well known that people would holler hello from the next grocery aisle. Yep, no privacy.

  17. Kathleen,

    Congrats on the book and good luck with the series!

    Most people would be amazed if I had any kind of life on the weekends really, secret or otherwise.

    And though I do write reviews of books, concerts and CDs that’s not exactly secret since I promote my articles heavily when they go online.

  18. Congratulations on your upcoming release, it sounds right up my street! I’m an aspiring writer who watches their neighbours intensely because the longer you watch people the weirder they get, it makes for great characters! In my secret life I am the star of my very own musical, although I cannot sing a note I still screech out my entire life when I’m alone! I’m not sure the dogs enjoy it as much as I do!

    Thank you for this wonderful giveaway!

    Jerra x

    1. Thanks, Jerra! I LOVE the idea that you’re the star in your own show! You’re lucky you have dogs. The cat nips my ankles if I’m fool enough to sing around her! And you’re absolutely right — people watching does make for great character inspiration.

      1. My chickens join in if I sing to them but the neighbours aren’t too keen?! Maybe your cat is just giving you love bites?! X

  19. No secret life for me on the weekends. Same as any other day in the week. The book sounds like a great read. I like The Gilded Age setting and I’m looking forward to reading the book.

    1. Thanks! The Gilded Age is a fascinating period, isn’t it? Recognizably modern in some respects, and yet still so very different from our high-tech lives.

  20. No secret life here. I’m pretty boring. Thank you for the chance to win. The book looks awesome and right up my alley.

    1. Thank YOU for your interest, Daniele! I’m really enjoying engaging with the commenters today!

  21. No secret life sounds interesting to have one though. Thank you for the chance congrats on the book it sounds amazing!

  22. I’m not exciting enough to have a secret life. I guess I get all my excitement from living vicariously through books, which suits me just fine. Ella sounds like a fabulous character, and I love the idea of her filling “trouser roles”!

    1. Marla, so glad you are interested in Ella! The trouser role idea really appealed to me because I could write a woman who does all of the things swashbuckling male heroes do. I loved Regency romances and costume dramas growing up, but it never seemed fair that the men did all the swordplay while the women watched from the balcony.

  23. Congrats on up coming release. I wish I had a secret identity to perk up my life on the weekend. Thanks for this amazing giveaway.

    1. Thank YOU for your interest, Linda May! This has been just an incredible day with the blog community!

  24. No secret life. As a retiree, weekends are pretty much the same as any other day. Your book sounds interesting.

  25. My co-workers would never believe what I do outside of work. I’ve been in a couple local independent movies. I’ve been writing since I was young and have finally decided my latest might be worth pursuing publishing. Only 2 or 3 of my friends/family knows about my writing so everyone at work would definitely be surprised if it happened.

    1. That’s so exciting, Alicia! You should definitely think about going forward with the writing — I started writing at sixteen, but didn’t get serious until my son was in kindergarten. And it took me 200+ rejections across three different projects before I found my wonderful agent, who found Ella a perfect home at Kensington. Someone once told me you have to write your way to a saleable book — and I sure did!

  26. THANK YOU all so much for the opportunity to post, and the warm welcome! I really appreciate it!

    1. Linda, you are forcing me to use my favorite Queen Mary quote: Her Majesty is never bored. I genuinely don’t think there is any such thing as a boring human being!

  27. I had a secret life while rearing my children. I, too, was the mom in the pick up lane who went home to write mysteries. But then my children grew up and, worse, my husband retired! Now, I seem unable to find any time for my secret self.

    1. Lisa, you hit on something I’ve been wondering about as my only child gets older –what I will do when I only have to be one thing…or when everyone knows all of the different things I am. Thanks for the insight!

  28. Kathleen,
    Congratulations on your upcoming book and series. I can’t wait to read them!

    I have no secret life… unless not being a senior citizen but living in assisted living with 125 seniors! Every body says that I need to write a book about my experiences living with seniors to share the funny things that have happened.
    Congratulations from a self professed Nerd/GEEK who loves to read.
    Susan Gingerich

    1. Thanks, Susan! My mother works at an assisted living complex in my town, and she always has better stories than I do!

  29. No secret weekend life for me. I spend the weekends recovering from the week.
    I love historical mysteries and added your book to my “Want to Read” list.

  30. Thanks for adding me to your list, Keara! Recovering from work is no joke! I spend Monday and Tuesday recovering from lack of sleep on the weekend…and I’m absolutely sure that some of the other parents who don’t know me well think I have some kind of very nasty habit because I seem at least a little impaired on Mondays!

  31. I’m a pretty what you see is what you get kind of girl, no secret life here lol! Your new book sounds great, congrats! Historical fiction is my jam and fave genre. Thanks for the giveaway, fingers crossed!

    1. Thank YOU! Hope you enjoy going back in time to hang out with Ella and the gang as much as I enjoy writing them!

  32. I’m not leaving a comment to enter the giveaway – but just wanted to say I found you on this website while doing research before I wrote my own post, and I was so intrigued I decided to download the audiobook. I’m currently listening to it and really love it. Found a great new cozy on this site. Love the historical setting of the mystery! For lovers of Rhys Bowen and Tasha Alexander’s mystery series!

  33. Thank you SO MUCH for taking the time to post! I really appreciate it — it’s so good to hear that people are enjoying the book. You made my day!

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