Sunday, January 19, 2014

Two Kaminskis - Interview of a Kaminski by a Kaminski - No Relation

I'd like to welcome Stephen Kaminski to Cozy Up With Kathy. Stephen writes the Damon Lassard Dabbling Detective Mystery series.
Kathy: I must admit I was excited to interview you as we have something quite personal in common...our surname. Yes, I am also a Kaminski!
SK: Hi, Kathy, It’s a pleasure to meet a fellow Kaminski!

Kathy: I'm quite proud of my Polish heritage. Do you follow any specific Polish traditions?
SK: I’m proud as well.  One Polish tradition my family follows happens during the December holidays—passing the oplatek.  Oplatek is a traditional unleavened wafer that symbolizes family unity.  We stand in a circle holding hands, express our gratefulness for being together as a family during the holidays, break off a piece of oplatek and pass the remainder around, and culminate the process with hugs and kisses.  Another Polish tradition I follow is eating paczki on Paczki Day (also known as Fat Tuesday).  

Kathy: Damon Lassard is the head of Hollydale's citizens association. Have you ever held such a title? If not, would you want to do so?
SK: I haven’t been the head of a local citizens association.  It’s largely a thankless position and one I’ll definitely save for retirement.

Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?
SK: I’ve always been a mystery lover, because I’m particularly drawn to complex plotting. What led me to the genre of cozies is the focus on witty dialogue and character development over the course of a series. I’d much rather focus on plotting, twists and turns, and snappy repartee than overt violence.   

Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?
SK: I don’t.  I have a full time position with a national non-profit organization so I have to focus my writing time on a single series.

Kathy: Tell us about your series.
SK: The Damon Lassard Dabbling Detective series features amateur sleuth Damon Lassard.  Damon recently returned to the United States after a stint in the Japanese professional baseball league.  He moves to the Hollydale community of Arlington, Virginia, just west of Washington, DC to live near his twice-widowed mother, Lynne. Damon spends his days volunteering as Hollydale’s citizens association president, at the local branch library, and with a community crime solvers tip line – giving him just enough free time to solve the pesky murders that seem to keep popping up. 

The cast of characters is a loveable one: Damon’s mother Lynne has a wicked sense of humor, Mrs. Chenworth is the local gossip who adores pushing Damon into corners, Rebecca (Damon’s best friend) and the breathtaking Bethany Krims add complicated twists to Damon’s love life, and Damon’s next door neighbor who is going through a mild depression allows Damon to demonstrate his compassionate side.  

Cozy Cat Press has published two books in the series thus far: It Takes Two to Strangle (2012) and Don’t Cry Over Killed Milk (2013). 

Kathy: Do you have a favorite character? If so, who and why?
SK: My favorite character is Mrs. Chenworth, the town busybody.  I use Mrs. Chenworth to impart physical comedy into my books.

Kathy: Did you have a specific inspiration for your series?
SK: Just personal satisfaction and the joy of being able to bring a good story to others.

Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?
SK: I’ve always been an avid reader and for quite some time wanted to try my hand at writing.  Once I started, I couldn’t stop.  Then, I wanted to share my stories with others and had the good fortune of finding a wonderful publisher in Cozy Cat Press.

Kathy: If you could have a dinner party and invite 4 authors, living or dead, in any genre, who would you invite?
SK: F. Scott Fitzgerald, Agatha Christie, James Madison (solely in his capacity as the principal author of the U.S. Constitution), and Ayn Rand (to query her on the handling of the recent financial crisis).

Kathy: What are you currently reading?
Winter of the World by Ken Follett and An Unsuitable Job for a Woman by P.D. James.

Kathy: Will you share any of your hobbies or interests with us?
SK: When not writing, reading, or working, I spend the majority of my time playing with, and shuttling around, my seven year-old daughter.  I also enjoy playing soccer and cooking (but not baking).

Kathy: Name 4 items you always have in your fridge or pantry.
SK: Kosher baby dill pickles, Swiss cheese, blueberries, and red wine (mainly Malbec and Shiraz).

Kathy: Do you have plans for future books either in your current series or a new series?
SK: I’m working hard on a third book in the Damon Lassard series and hope to have it ready for publication in the fall of 2014.

Kathy: What's your favorite thing about being an author?
SK: Writing and editing. I truly enjoy spending an early weekend morning with multiple cups of strong black coffee and my characters.  I love the feeling of writing something and knowing that six to eight months later, someone will read it and laugh out loud or say to themselves, “that was totally unexpected.”

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