Friday, December 13, 2013

The Ten Spot: Kaye George

Tell us about your most recent release.

My most recent release is a short story. It’s an illustration of persistence, which I think is a most important quality for a writer wanting to be published. This story was turned down for an anthology that was the second in a series. My story for the first one was accepted, so I was greatly disappointed when this one wasn’t. I sent it out elsewhere, though. Untreed Reads wanted some changes, which I’m sure made the story better and it’s out a A Fine Kettle of Fish.

What else do you have coming out?

I’m working very hard on a series for Berkley Prime Crime. It will debut in September of 2014 and will be the first of three in a cozy series called the Fat Cat Mysteries. They will feature the pudgy, but adorable, Quincy. He’s a clever tabby who is frustrated because he’s been put on a diet. He’s able to escape from anywhere, and does! His forays take him to the locations of murders and clues. This puts his owner, Chase Oliver, in a bad situation as the principal suspect in the first book.

I would like to put out sequels for the two novels that are supposed to be the first of a series, as well as a fourth in my three book series. The first Cressa Carraway Musical Mystery, EINE KLEINE MURDER needs a sequel, as does DEATH IN THE TIME OF ICE: A People of the Wind Mystery. This last one is my Neanderthal mystery. There are three books in my only self-published series, the Imogene Duckworthy humorous Texas mysteries: CHOKE, SMOKE, and BROKE. STROKE is waiting in the wings.

Are the names of the characters in your novels important?

They’re VERY important to me. I can’t make the character come alive if he has the wrong name. Ann, in EINE KLEINE MURDER, was a problem, lying flat on the page and inspiring nothing until her name became Cressa Carraway. That’s obviously who she wanted to be, because I could work with her then. It’s also important to me to try for names that are easy to remember, so not too common, but not too out-there either. It’s a challenge. I’m constantly collecting names and I have lists of them--somewhere.

Are there any occupational hazards to being a novelist?

For me there are, and they’re mostly physical. Sitting for long stretches is not what the human body is good at. It’s not the best way to stay in shape. Also, after years of pounding a keyboard, first as a computer programmer and now as a full-time writer, my wrists and fingers are beginning to suffer. I’ve staved off carpal tunnel, tendonitis, and the pain from lack of cartilage in my thumb joints with occasional cortisone injections, ice packs, and most recently an ergonomic keyboard that I hope will stave off surgery on those dang thumbs.

What are the most important attributes to remaining sane as a writer?

I think writers should associate with other writers often. Not so often as to interfere with the work, but often enough to get affirmation that you’re not crazy and there are others like you. For a murder mystery writer, there’s nothing better than discussing poisons, or autopsies, or places to hide bodies, or unusual ways to kill people over lunch or dinner. You can only do that with other mystery writers, of course. Otherwise the other person can’t finish the meal with you.

What was the greatest thing you learned at school?

I was lucky to have a good public school education. I didn’t grow up with much money and went to school in a factory town. There was no such thing as segregation, so I grew up with kids of all colors. The teachers in my first few years were excellent. They were older women who had been teaching for years and loved doing it. Every single kid in first grade learned to read, some better than others, but we all learned to read. The most valuable thing I learned in public school was how to get along with all sorts of people. I truly think that a good social education is just as important as a good academic one and I’m so fortunate to have had both.

What are books for?

As a mystery writer, this is something I often ask myself. Why am I writing about such a horrible subject? The truth is, this is a self-indulgence. After much research, courses, conferences, conventions, and readings, I still don’t exactly know what brings a person to think that killing another person is the solution to a problem. I may never fully figure this out, but I’m still trying. While I’m doing it, my intention is to entertain my readers, to take them out of their world, to another one. I want them to be able to escape for a few hours to a place they might want to return to, if I’ve painted it well enough.

How do you feel about being interviewed?

I much prefer it to having to come up with a topic by myself. A skillful interviewer can even make me discover things about myself and my work. I think the best interviewer I’ve ever had was Hopeton Hay, a radio personality in Austin Texas. There’s a recording of his interview on my webpage tab, Appearances. This was done after my first novel was published. He had done a lot of research of me and my work! He has also done library appearances with me and other authors and they’ve always been a huge success because of his ability to connect with the audience.

Is there anyone who you love or loves you?

I’m so fortunate to have the most lovely family on the planet. I have a husband who is a genuinely good man and who loves me as much as I love him. All of our children are good-looking, intelligent, and socially well-adjusted. Sounds boring, right? I used to think a person had to have an unhappy childhood to because a good writer. I hope that’s not true, because I didn’t have one! My husband and I are gratified that our children all like each other, too. So as not to sound too sappy, there have been rough times. I think we have weathered them because we do all want to remain close and all like each other.

If today’s the end of the world, what’d you do?

Great question! I had the opportunity to answer that in story form for an anthology that was released in December on the last day of the world, according to one interpretation of the Mayan Calendar. Remember that? The stories in the anthology (Nightfalls) were to deal with what a person would be feeling if he or she knew this was the last day on earth. First, I had to figure out how the world would end. I’ve had this uncomfortable feeling for a long time about all the waves that go through our bodies every day: radio, television, phones. All those signals that you can catch wherever you are, those are going through our bodies. So my story, The Last Wave, had the world end as they get out of control, collide, and wreak havoc. It’s the only story I’ve ever written like that and I had a lot of fun with it.

Kaye George is a short story writer and novelist who has been nominated for Agatha awards and has been a Silver Falchion finalist. She is the author of four mystery series: the Imogene Duckworthy humorous Texas series, the Cressa Carraway musical mystery series, the FAT CAT cozy series (coming in 2014), and The People of the Wind Neanderthal series.

Her short stories can be found in her collection, A PATCHWORK OF STORIES, as well as in several anthologies, various online and print magazines. She reviews for "Suspense Magazine," writes for several
newsletters and blogs, and gives workshops on short story writing and promotion. Kaye lives in Knoxville, TN.


  1. Great interview. I linked to it on my Facebook page.

  2. Thanks, Kathy. It was a fun set of questions.

  3. I agree with your most important attributes to remaining sane as a writer. Loved reading Eine Kleine Murder. "Pinned" your novel on my Pinterest site page.