Kathy: Was there a specific inspiration for Homicide in the House?
CJS: The eeriness of the Madison Building at the Library of Congress during the 2013 federal government shutdown gave me the idea. Hallways were empty, offices were largely shuttered, and tensions on Capitol Hill ran high. It’s a perfect setting for a murder!
Kathy: Clarence the beagle mix is trying to win Capitol Canine. Is Clarence based on a real dog, or is he pure fiction? Is there really a contest for Capitol Canine?
CJS: Clarence is the only character in my books that is based on an actual living being. The inspiration for Clarence is our dog Conan, a feisty beagle mutt we adopted from a local rescue. There is an annual contest on Capitol Hill every year for the “top dog.” Conan entered a few years ago and was voted “most likely to succeed.”
Kathy: Are you able to share any future plans for Kit Marshall?
CJS: I’m working to finish the third book in the series, which is tentatively titled Calamity at the Cosmos Club. In this installment, Kit takes a break from politics but not murder. Meg, Doug, Clarence, and Trevor are on board again to help figure out whodunit.
Kathy: When it comes to writing I understand there are 2 general camps-plotters, who diligently plot their stories, and pansters, who fly by the seat of their pants. Are you a plotter, a panster, or do you fall somewhere in between?
CJS: I fall more into the “plotter” camp. I work a busy, full-time job at the Library of Congress. Most days, I can only devote an hour to my writing. When I sit down to write, I need to know where the story is headed. It helps me work more efficiently and reduces the amount of time I need to spend editing or changing the story after the first draft. I’m amazed at writers who don’t use outlines. I wouldn’t be able to keep the details of my story straight if I didn’t have most of the details worked out before I start writing.
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