Kate is my guest today! That's Kate George, Kate with a T. As opposed to me, Kaye George with a Y. Confused? We are. We, ourselves, even send emails to the wrong person sometimes. By the most bizarre coincidence, we have even both landed at the same publishing house, Mainly Murder Press. What are the odds?
Kate's first mystery was MOONLIGHTING IN VERMONT, which won a FIRST PLACE Daphne for excellence in mystery/suspense! It introduced readers to Bella Bree McGowan, an appealing heroine. Bree, as she's called, ventures all the way to the west coast in her second outing, CALIFORNIA SCHEMIN', although she's reluctant to do so. This book is out March 1st and, if I were you, I'd run out and get a copy.
Kate, where did the idea for Bree come from? Are you in there somewhere?
Hi Kaye, thanks so much for having me here. I love to visit.
Bree is who I might have been when I was thirty, if I had been living the life I wanted. And if I'd been a little bolder. She's kind of a cross between me, Miss Marple and Miss Congeniality. I've been told that some of my readers see Sandra Bullock in the role of Bree. She looks more like Rachel Ray to me, but Sandra's on screen personality in her funnier movies works quite well.
Bree is a Vermont girl, through and through, while I'm a Californian, but we do have quite a bit in common. Dogs, for one thing, and horses. Guys. We both like men a little more than we should.
Why give her such a lovely first name and then use the middle one? (Although it's a good name, too.)
Bree's name evolved. I couldn't think of a name I felt fit for her character so I used Bree as a place marker. But both my beta readers and I got used to her being Bree. I added Bella for some reason or other - I don't even remember now! I think I thought she needed more of a name and I didn't want her to be Brianna.
Bree's Dad called her BB and that stuck for a long time. It was high school before people started calling her Bree instead of BB. The teachers started calling her Bella but she didn't like that - she was going through a rebellious stage - and she insisted on Bree if they wouldn't call her BB.
I know from your webpage, http://kategeorge.com/, that you have wildly varied job experiences. Do any of your actual on-the-job experiences figure in either book? Or can you even tell us that without killing us?
Well it is top secret, but I can tell you that I have worked as both a turn down maid in a ritzy hotel, and a motorcycle safety instructor. I was a jack-of-all-trades at a weekly magazine, doing paste-up and designing ads. I trained police dogs and worked closely with cops for several years. I knew an FBI agent who's job was to protect the Reagans. My roommate in my twenties was a shape shifting alien. All the normal stuff.
That stuff leaks out into my books. It's so much easier to write about occupations I have experience with, rather than going out and doing research. And I've had so many that I could write for a long time without running out. Need a foreclosure officer? Done that. Answering service operator? Yep. Actress, dog trainer, assistant to the dean of a medical school? Been there. I have a very short attention span!
How long have you been writing?
If I told you that I'd would have to kill you. Didn't your mother ever tell you it wasn't polite to ask a woman's age?
How did you learn to polish your writing? Courses or critique groups?
How did you learn to polish your writing? Courses or critique groups?Both! In fact my critique group grew out of the courses I was taking at our local writing center. I love courses,they are invaluable for developing craft and keeping me writing, but it's my critique partners that really help me. They are deadly honest and aren't afraid to argue amongst each other about what's best. It makes for some really interesting conversation and ultimately all our work improves.
What has kept you going in your search for publication?
Denial. I completely ignore the realities of publishing and press on regardless how many rejections I garner. And I always remember that several bestselling novels were rejected many, many times before someone saw the genius in the book.
I have absolute faith in my books - It isn't until after they've been published that I realize how bad they are!
Do you have any advice for new writers?
I subscribe to the ABC method of writing. Apply Butt to Chair. You can't be a writer if you don't write. The more regular you make your writing schedule the more likely it is you'll finish your book. And set yourself a daily goal. My daily goal fluxuates depending on what's going on in my daily life, but my word count ranges from 250 to 5000 words a day. Even a page a day will get you a book in a year.
What's in store for Bree next?
Ah, well that would be telling! You can have a hint, though. Bree's hairdresser finds a dead body in her shop. The Feds get involved because there seems to be some connection to organized crime. Hammie will be back, and Moose. Probably Madison as well. Of course the regulars; Meg, Tom, Beau, James, Miles will all be there.
There will be a man in her life that finds her absolutely frustrating, but can't seem to stay away. And Bree can't stand him either, but she can't seem to wash him out of her hair...