Kathleen Kaska, author of the Sydney Lockhart mystery series and a series of Triviography books, talks about her approach to writing and her plans for the future.
Why do you write? Is it something you’ve always done, or always wanted to do? Or is it something that you started fairly recently?
I began writing later in life than most writers. It was something I always wanted to try my hand at doing. Once I left comfortable in the classroom, which took about seven years (I was a middle-school teacher), I began my writing career. I started by joining the Writers League of Texas and took advantage of their wonderful creative writing courses.
Tell me a little about your books.
I write two series, the Sydney Lockhart Mystery Series and the Classic Triviography Mystery Series. My three trivia books have been updated and just reissued by LL-Publications: The Agatha Christie Triviography and Quiz Book (originally title: What’s Your Agatha Christie I. Q.?), The Alfred Hitchcock Triviography and Quiz Book, and The Sherlock Holmes Triviography and Quiz Book.
Are there any authors who inspire you?
I read everything written by Martha Grimes, Elizabeth Peters, Anne Perry, Nevada Barr, Laurie R. King, and Carl Hiaasen, just to name a few. But I especially love the classic detective writers: Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, and Rex Stout. These guys are inspirational in writing my Sydney Lockhart series, which is set in 1952.
How do you write? Do you make yourself write a certain number of words per day?
I write everyday on whatever happens to need attention. I don’t worry about word count or number of pages. If I have several deadlines looming, I make sure I give time to what is most pressing. I put in at least four hours a day, usually more.
What goals have you set yourself? Do you want to sell a certain number of books in 2012? Is there some way you measure success, on your own terms?
I set several writing goals each year depending on what I have coming up. This year is a big year for me. Not only have my three mystery-trivia been reissued, my third Sydney Lockhart mystery is finished and will soon be released. Then the most ambitious writing project I’ve ever undertaken will come to fruition this year. It is a biography published by University Press of Florida entitled The Man Who Saved the Whooping Crane: Robert Porter Allen’s Odyssey. It’s the story of Audubon Ornithologist, Bob Allen, who devoted most of his life in an attempt to keep these majestic birds from going extinct. His life story reads like an Indiana Jones novel; it’s one harrowing adventure after another.
How have you marketed your book(s)? Have you used social media (Twitter, Facebook etc)? Have you paid for any advertising (Facebook Ads, Google Ads etc)? And how did it go?
In this day and time, authors are expected to market using social media. I market through my blog, author and personal Facebook pages, Twitter, Goodreads, and several online writers’ groups I belong to.
I also spend a great deal of time over the phone booking speaking or teaching engagements. These usually work a lot better than the traditional book signings where authors set at a table at the front of a bookstore and hope someone stops by and buys a book. Presenting a program at a bookstore, library, or to a civic organization gives the audience something they can take with them even if they chose not to buy a book at that time. With a program, I at least had their attention for a while.
I’ve paid for magazine ads before, but couldn’t see any benefit to that form of advertising.
Do you worry about Amazon gaining a monopoly in the ebook market?
I try not to worry too much about things I have no control over. In today’s market of bookselling, with all the changes occurring, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. I try and stay abreast of what is going on and look for ways I can benefit from these changes. I must add that I am all for supporting Independent Bookstores. I visit the Indie in my town, but whenever I travel, I make a point of stopping the local bookstores. You can’t hang out at amazon and enjoy a cup of coffee while you read a book you’ve just purchased.
What’s next? Are you working on anything at the moment?
I’m working on a couple of travel articles, my fourth Sydney Lockhart mystery, (all take place at historic hotels and this one is set at the Driskill in Austin, Texas), another trivia book, and a screenplay.