Kathy: The Kenya Kanga Mystery series is set in Africa. What made you decide to set your mystery series here?
VT: I lived in Kenya for 8 years with my family. My husband was working in a small market town called Nanyuki, three hours north of Nairobi, the capital of Kenya. This is where Fowl Murder is set. Our boys were young when we moved and there were no toddler groups, indoor activity centres or play parks to entertain them. I immersed myself in the local community, finding friends with similar aged children.
I met some amazing people and was blown away by the cheeriness of the majority of the Kenyans, despite most having so little and earning an average daily wage of $3.50. I wanted to portray how it felt to live in Kenya where despite the constant uncertainty about food, health and the provision of basic amenities, such as water, and for those lucky enough to have it, electricity, the majority of the people are friendly and happy.
I rarely came across jealousy and resentment of others for what they had, despite there being a huge divide between the rich and the poor. If a family member attained a place at university or required an operation, the extended family rallied round to contribute to the cost. The atmosphere felt inclusive rather than exclusive and as long as I was willing to join in and contribute to the community I was welcomed with open arms.
Kathy: Rose Hardie is a semi-retired vet. Did you ever want to be a veterinarian?
VT: I did when I was at school, but veterinary friends of many parents put me off as the grades needed to attend university were high. Perhaps I should have tried as I achieved the grades, but by then I was on a different path. I worked in the building and construction industry and when we moved to Kenya I set up a café and then a farm shop.
Kathy: What is your favorite animal of the savannah?
VT: Whilst it was always a treat to see a cheetah or leopard, and I rarely did, giraffes are my favourite wildlife animals as no two are the same and they always appear inquisitive and slightly bemused.
Kathy: Why is it important to make readers aware of poaching?
VT: Poaching is a huge issue in Africa which could lead to the extinction of iconic and lesser-known animal species. But it is happening far away from the western world and the people with the funds and interest to tackle it. I am surprised, and appalled, that after my Kenyan friends have read the book and my free novella, they tell me how much they enjoyed being told about wildlife and areas of their country they had not visited. Conservation and wildlife is not taught in local schools and many Kenyans do not have the opportunity, or transport, to visit wildlife reserves. We also have many wildlife programs on the television, but similar shows have only recently been introduced to Kenya.
Kathy: What first drew you to cozy mysteries?
VT: I have been reading cozy mysteries since I was introduced to Agatha Christie in my teens. I’ve been drawn back to them in my 40s as a charming escape from the real world. There is a puzzle and interesting, and often eccentric, characters who grow through a series. The current Covid-19 situation has further highlighted the need for light relief and whilst cozies usually have a murder or two, there is no graphic violence or distressing scenes.
Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?
VT: This is my first book and I have more planned in the series. I am moving to Sarajevo in Bosnia in September and there will be much to write about, from the shooting of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, which ignited the first World War I, to the Balkan conflict in the 1990s. There are some harrowing stories from the latter, told by people who lived through them. I would like their voices to be heard, so I may write them in a different genre but it is too early to tell.
Kathy: Tell us about your series.
VT: Fowl Murder is the first book in the Kenya Kanga Mystery series, which propels Rose Hardie into the role of amateur sleuth. The books in the series will evolve around events which actually took place, and follow the characters as they grow, change and, for some, die. Wildlife, conservation and the daily challenges Kenyan people face will be at the heart of the series. Tusk Justice, book 2, is currently being edited for release in October and I have a free novella for those who sign up to my mailing list at www.VictoriaTait.com.
Kathy: Do you have a favorite character? If so, who and why?
VT: I don’t have a favourite character although I am surprised that minor characters in Fowl Murder are elbowing their way into more prominent roles in the books to follow.
Kathy: Did you have a specific inspiration for your series?
VT: Life in Kenya is my inspiration for the series: the sights, experiences and people. My main character, Rose Hardie, is based on a friend who showed me great kindness and who had the same courage, moral compass and forthrightness as Rose.
Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?
VT: If I am going to do something then I want to do it well. After leaving Kenya I have 10 years ahead of me moving around the UK and abroad with my husband’s job in the British Army. Setting up a physical business will be impossible so I looked for something I could do wherever we are based as a family. Writing developed as my interest in what motivates and affects people has grown with age and the issues I have had to face. But I need to make it pay which is why I hired professional editors, cover designers and attended writing courses to improve my writing. Fingers crossed I will have some success as a published author.
Kathy: If you could have a dinner party and invite 4 authors, living or dead, in any genre, who would you invite?
VT: I would like to give an intellectual answer inviting important dead authors, but the truth is I would like to cook for, and thank, the indie authors who have helped me get to the point of publishing my book. I have been blown away by the camaraderie within the indie publishing community. To thank everyone I would need to host a cocktail party, but for a more intimate meal I would invite Sara Rosett, Jami Albright, Joanna Penn and Julia Golding. I met Julia by chance at a children’s book festival in Devon. She writes YA and, under the pen name Joss Stirling, psychological thrillers. She suggested an Arvon writing course (a UK charity which organises writing courses and retreats) which really set me on my way with my writing craft.
Joanna Penn was one of the first authors I found when initially researching a writing career and she was the primary reason I chose the indie author route. She writes thrillers but also provides fantastic resources to empower authors and I continue to listen to her podcasts. Sara Rosett and Jami Albright host a fantastic podcast called “Wish I’d known then…for writers” where writers are interviewed about the mistakes they made and what they have learnt during their author journey. Jami, a romantic comedy author, provided suggestions and a plan for launching Fowl Murder and Sara Rosett, a fellow cozy mystery author, has provided advice in many areas, from craft to marketing.
Kathy: What are you currently reading?
VT: Anthony Horowitz’s The Sentence is Death. My family is having an Anthony Horowitz binge. We watched the new Alex Rider series, so my boys are now reading those books. I have been catching up with a British TV series he wrote called Foyle’s War and I read the prequel to my current book, The Word is Murder. I like the way he walked through the clues at the end of The Word is Murder, which also helped me as a writer.
Kathy: Will you share any of your hobbies or interests with us?
VT: During the pandemic I have been trying to maintain a level of fitness, limit the weight gain and keep mentally healthy with jogs and runs (I am too impatient just to walk) and mountain biking. I was brought up with ponies and rode a lot in Kenya, including some small competitions, but I no longer have a horse. There isn’t much horse riding in Bosnia, where we are moving to, but there is skiing: I learnt the basics in my twenties and hope that I can get going again in my forties!
Kathy: Name 4 items you always have in your fridge or pantry.
VT: During the pandemic I have been frantic about keeping the fridge fully stocked so I can feed the family if we have to isolate for 14 days. The most important items are copious amounts of milk for my younger son ,who drinks at least a litre and a half a day, British cheddar cheese for my husband and for sandwiches, omelettes etc. I like lots of fresh salad and fruit and of course a bottle of white wine or prosecco!
Kathy: Do you have plans for future books either in your current series or a new series?
VT: Book two, Tusk Justice is being edited now and will be launched in October. I have started planning Rhino Charge, book 3, which I will write once we are settled in Bosnia and release in January or February.
Kathy: What's your favorite thing about being an author?
Receiving emails from readers who have finished either my novella, Grevy Danger, or Fowl Murder and who tell me how much they have enjoyed the book. I knew there would be people who wouldn’t like what I write, but I didn’t know if I would find readers who did. I am still blown away by some of the comments I have received and I’ve even had people asking for French and Spanish translations.
Fowl Murder: A Cozy Mystery with a Determined Female Amateur Sleuth (A Kenya Kanga Mystery) by Victoria Tait
About Fowl Murder
Cozy Mystery 1st in Series
Publisher: Kanga Press (July 21, 2020)
ebook, 190 pages
A shooting on the savannah. A tragedy she’d rather forget. When past and present collide, will she survive to see her future? Kenya, 2016. Semi-retired vet Rose Hardie just wants to enjoy her golden years and care for her disabled husband. But her peace of mind shatters when a forgotten confidant returns and reopens a case where Rose pulled the trigger. With her memories of the poacher’s shocking death flooding back, she barely catches her breath before her childhood friend is brutally murdered.
Braving blackmail and entrenched corruption, the tireless woman dives headfirst into helping the victim’s son solve the crime. But when the lead suspect is killed, Rose’s plans for a peaceful life end up dead and buried…
As her own traumatic history unravels, can Rose catch a killer before she becomes the next victim?
Foul Murder is the first book in the compelling Kenya Kanga Mystery series. If you like determined heroines, unpredictable twists and turns, and vivid African settings, then you’ll love Victoria Tait’s pulse-pounding tale.
About Victoria Tait
Victoria Tait is an exciting new author launching her Kenya Kanga Mystery series. She’s drawn on 8 years living in rural Kenya with her family to transport her readers to a world of curiosity, community and conspiracy. The Kenya Kanga Mystery series brings to life the beauty of the Kenyan landscape, the magic of its wildlife and the warmth of its people.
You can find Victoria at https://www.victoriatait.com/ or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/VictoriaTait
Purchase Links - Amazon - B&N - Kobo -
a Rafflecopter giveaway