Please welcome Kathi Daley to Cozy Up With Kathy. Kathi writes the Zoe Donovan Mystery series and the Tj Jensen Paradise Lake Mystery series. Kathi's newest mystery, Haunted Hamlet, the 9th Zoe Donovan mystery, was just published July 31st!
Kathy: You have a tag line "Come for the murder, stay for the romance". Do you consider your books more mysteries with romance or romances with mystery?
KD: I think they are more mystery than romance but each series has a romance element. While each story is a stand alone mystery to be solved I think it is the ongoing saga of Zak and Zoe and Tj and her own romance drama that keeps the readers coming back.
Kathy: The Zoe Donovan Mystery series is set in Ashton Falls while the Tj Jensen Paradise Lake Mystery series is set in Serenity, Nevada. How did you decide upon the locations?
KD: I live in Lake Tahoe. Initially the Tj Jensen series was going to be set in Lake Tahoe but I didn’t want to deal with the limitation of using a real location. Anyone who is familiar with the area knows that Paradise Lake really is Lake Tahoe and Serenity really is Tahoe City. As for Ashton Falls, I used another mountain location since mountains are what I know but the location is a lot more vague.
Kathy: Zoe and I are both big animal lovers. I trust you're an animal lover too. Will you tell us about your furry family?
KD: I currently have two Bernese Mountain Dogs named Echo and EZ. In the past I have had cats, dogs, rabbits, hamsters, and even a horse, but now that my children are gone and my husband and I travel quite a bit I find that less is a bit more doable. I do miss having a kitty on my lap at times so maybe…
Kathy: I love mysteries set during the holidays and see that most of the Zoe Donovan books take place in the midst of one. What made you decide to have a holiday theme to these books?
KD: I use the holidays as a backdrop because I love the holidays and I like spending time experiencing everything that goes with the holiday season. I am the type of person who does holidays BIG. I start early and get everything that I can out of them. Of course it can get tricky. I wrote Haunted Hamlet in June and Christmas in Paradise in July which put me in the holiday spirit so I started talking to my husband about putting up our lights and my grandkids about Halloween costumes months before it was really time.
Kathy: In Haunted Hamlet, a ghost hunter is found dead in a haunted house. Have you ever been part of a paranormal investigation? What do you think of them?
KD: I have not been part of a paranormal investigation but I am fascinated by the whole thing. When I started doing research for the book I found that there is a real paranormal program at Edinburgh University in Scotland where you can get a Ph.D. in paranormal psychology. I thought that was awesome for two reasons. One is that the University of Edinburgh is the 11th ranked university in the world giving the program genuine authenticity, and two my son is currently attending the university working on his own Ph.D. in another subject.
Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?
KD: That is a good question. I had never even read a cozy mystery until I wrote one. Initially I wanted to do a YA mystery series, sort of a Nancy Drew meets Gossip Girls. I actually wrote 5 books in a series with a teenage protagonist. I sent them to an editor to look at and he said that there really wasn’t a market for a YA mystery series but suggested that I try writing cozy mysteries. I had no idea what those were but I read a couple of authors and became hooked.
Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?
KD: I have a stand alone mystery/romance, Road to Christmas Past which I love. I’d like to do additional books of this type if I get the time.
Kathy: Tell us about your series.
KD: Both the Zoe Donovan Series and the Tj Jensen Series are set in small alpine towns which border a lake. In both series there is an emphasis on the relationships between the characters. Both series involve animals and food.
TJ is a bit more serious with more of a family element since she lives with her grandfather, dad, and two half sisters. Her best friend is married with two daughters of her own. The books are longer and written in the 3rd person.
Zoe is single and hangs out with other single friends. The stories are shorter (45-50K), written in the first person, and have more of a comic element.
Kathy: Do you have a favorite character? If so, who and why?
KD: I don't know that I have a favorite character but I will say that I find Zoe to be the most fun to write. She is such a perfectly imperfect person with flaws and deep feelings she can’t always control. In other words she is a loveable spaz.
Kathy: Did you have a specific inspiration for your series?
KD: I wrote the first Zoe Donovan book on a whim. I was on Facebook and I found myself thinking about sharing a Facebook page with my dog.
I jotted down the paragraph which says: My name is Zoe Donovan. According to my Facebook page, which I share with Charlie, my half terrier/ half mystery dog, we’re in a relationship with our two cats, a huge orange tabby named Marlow (after detective Phillip Marlow) and a petite black beauty named Spade (named for Sam Spade and not the playing card suit.) We are avid joggers and mystery buffs who work for the Ashton Falls branch of the Timberland County Animal Shelter. When we aren’t rescuing animals and placing them in homes around the community, I volunteer at the senior center, where I horn in on their book club, and Charlie volunteers at the hospital, where he’s a therapy dog. I like to wakeboard in the summer and snowboard in the winter, while Charlie prefers chasing a Frisbee on the beach or hiking the miles of unmarred forest around the lake. We both like to relax by curling up in front of the fire with a good book in the converted boathouse we call home.
I just kept writing and a week later I had a book. I put it on Amazon and the rest is history. Halloween Hijinks is actually the first book I published although I wrote Pumpkins in Paradise first.
Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?
KD: Honestly? A whim? Is that a wishy washy answer? I ‘m not one of those people who always wanted to be a writer and I didn't decide to write until a couple of years ago. After it was suggested to me that I do a cozy mystery, I wrote Pumpkins in Paradise. I actually worked with a developmental editor on that book. While I was waiting for other people to do their thing I got the idea for Zoe and jotted down Halloween Hijinks in about a week. I knew people self published so figured ‘What the heck?’ I made a cover and put it on Amazon. It did so well that by the time I got Pumpkins In Paradise back from the editor I decided to just self publish that as well and skip the whole mainstream publishing thing all together.
Kathy: If you could have a dinner party and invite 4 authors, living or dead, in any genre, who would you invite?
KD: I thought about this for a long time. Joss Whedon, Debbie Macomber, Marie Ferrarella, and Barbara Delinsky.
Kathy: What are you currently reading?
KD: I’m reading Dead Wrong, a Blackmore Sister Mystery by Leighann Dobbs. I just started it but so far I like it.
Kathy: Will you share any of your hobbies or interests with us?
KD: Living in Tahoe I like to be outdoors. I like to wakeboard, hike, and bike in the summer, and cross country ski and snowshoe in the winter. I also have a large yard which I like to spend time puttering around in and I like to cook and develop new recipes when I have time.
Kathy: Name 4 items you always have in your fridge or pantry.
KD: Chocolate, wine, cheese, and fruit. Throw in an occasional pizza and I am all set. Oh and coffee. Can’t forget coffee.
Kathy: Do you have plans for future books either in your current series or a new series?
KD: I have tons of plans. I will continue with the Tj Jensen and Zoe Donovan Series in 2015 and will do a minimum of 4 Zoe and 3 Tj. Maybe more depending on the time commitment of the other series I am working on.
I am also currently writing the first book in a new series set on the San Juan Islands. The book will appeal to cat lovers since the protagonist runs a cat sanctuary. She also helps her brother with whale watching tours so I am thinking of using “A Whales and Tails Mystery” as the subtitle.
I also plan to write a Zoe on location from Alaska with the idea of doing a spinoff series about a search and rescue team who all hang out at the rustic bar one of the members owns. I think there is a certain appeal to the idea of a small Alaskan town where a group of friends are linked by the isolation of their local as well as the day to day risk they take while working with the search and rescue team. And yes there will be an awesome search and rescue dog and plenty of romance as well.
Kathy: What's your favorite thing about being an author?
KD: I am never bored and can write from anywhere. I like to travel so it works well to simply write a book on location. I am going to Alaska in September to write a Zoe Donovan Episode on location.
Kathi Daley writes, "As a cozy mystery writer the hardest thing I deal with is creating a small town that everyone would want to live in which also happens to have a murder every month. I would love to do a series which is a cozy in every way but instead of a murder every episode there are other types of mysteries to solve as well. Maybe one book would be a murder but the next would be something like tracking down the story behind letters found in the attic of a deserted house. That type of thing. Would there be a reader market for a mystery series where the mystery is not always a murder?"
For a chance to win Haunted Hamlet as well as a fantastic Haunted Hamlet mug leave a comment on this post answering Kathi's question-"Would there be a reader market for a mystery series where the mystery is not always a murder?" Leave your comment, as well as your e-mail address (so I can contact you should you win) by 11:59pm Saturday, August 16, 2014.