I'm usually the one who interviews the authors, but now author Terrie Moran is interviewing me! Terrie is the author of the Read ’Em and Eat Mystery series and has just been selected to be the latest author, along with the inimitable Jessica Fletcher, to continue the MURDER SHE WROTE series.
TM: Hi Kathy, I am delighted that this is one of those “the shoe is on the other foot” situations. You have devoted a lot of time to interviewing authors so that your readers can get to know us better, but now, ~TA DA~ I get to interview you.
I have followed the Cozy Up with Kathy blog for years and your focus is clearly on cozies and traditional mysteries. So tell us why—what is it about those types of books that make them worth you investing so much of your time and effort in helping readers find books they will enjoy?
Kathy: Cozies and Traditional Mysteries are the books I enjoy most. I like to read books that transport me to places I'd like to visit with people I'd enjoy hanging out with. I am a former police officer and I currently work in the forensic unit of a psychiatric hospital, I have enough of the nitty gritty and prefer a nicer type of murder!
TM: Now that we have cleared that up, I am wondering what else you enjoy reading. I am a big non-fiction reader, especially American government and history, which seems to surprise everyone. Do you have a secret stash of reading material that would surprise us all?
Kathy: I have a hard time keeping up with all of the mysteries I want to read, but you'll find plenty of non-fiction on my shelves, primarily metaphysical or historical in nature. I have a huge interest in Utopian societies of the mid 1800s, funerary art, and you'll find books about those topics as well as books on various religions, mythology, and folklore. There's some fantasy-the Redwall series by Brian Jacques and classics including Steinbeck, Shakepeare, and Yukio Mishima. I also enjoy romance novels!
TM: You proudly display your Sisters in Crime membership as well as the logo of your local Western and Central NY SinC chapter which has a fabulous name—Murder on Ice. Please tell us about the chapter and your role in it.
Kathy: It was at a book fair in Austin, Texas that I learned about Sisters in Crime. I was a police officer working night shift at the time and joined the Deep in the Heart of Texas chapter. I was so thrilled to meet several published authors at those meetings. When I moved back to Western New York (I'm originally from Buffalo) I immediately looked for the local chapter, eager to join. Much to my dismay I learned that the nearest chapter was three hours away and required a border crossing! There was no way I could attend 7pm meetings in Toronto! I let my membership in National slide, but soon learned that several published authors lived in WNY and I thought about creating a chapter myself. Fast forward several years and I was supporting a fellow blogger at a book signing she sponsored in Erie, Pennsylvania. Unbeknownst to us, the young clerk told everyone coming in that it was a private party in the back-so no one came to the signing, but in that time I talked with one of the authors, Barbara Early who lived in WNY and we decided that we would start a local chapter. And a few years later, we did! As for the name, Murder on Ice, we wanted something to signify both thoughts of murder and the cold weather for which our area is known. I'm currently serving as President.
TM: Were you always a reader, even as a child? If so, what were some of your favorite books or authors while you were growing up?
Kathy: I was a reader even before I could read! My parents and their friends constantly read to me and once I learned to read I never stopped! It didn't hurt that my dad was the manager of a college bookstore and both my parents were avid readers. I don't recall the title of my first favorite book, but it was an oversized book with a brown cover about a castle. I'm pretty sure there was a dragon too. I'd constantly check it out from my school library. I adored THE SECRET WORLD OF OG by Pierre Berton, the Edward Eager series about children encountering magic, Mrs. Piggle Wiggle and her cures for children's bad habits, the Chronicles of Narnia, and while still in elementary school THE LAST TEMPTATION OF CHRIST by Nikos Kazantzakis and everything John Steinbeck. My dad shared his Hardy Boys collection, but it was my love of Alfred Hitchcock that led me to The Three Investigators Mystery series.
TM: And of course everyone wants to know what book you are currently reading? And how is it so far?
I'm currently reading WEDDING BEAR BLUES by Meg Macy. This book is the fourth in the Shamelessly Adorable Teddy Bear Mystery series. I'm enjoying it, but don't want to tell much about it here. Tomorrow it will be featured in my Currently Reading post and and you can read even more about my thoughts on it Friday when I'll post my review!
TM: Since I love to read (and write) short mystery fiction as well as cozy novels, I have to ask, do you ever read short stories? Don’t worry I won’t be offended if you don’t!
Kathy: I do periodically read short stories and have enjoyed several by Gigi Pandian. However, I really prefer the detailed atmosphere and multiple subplots offered in full length novels and novellas, so I don't seek out short stories.
TM: Of all the questions you ask the authors you interview, I am always most curious about what folks will answer to the food question, so I have to ask you to name four items that you always have in your refrigerator or pantry.
Kathy: champagne...well actually Andre Extra Dry Sparkling Wine, (but we always called it champagne). cheese-a variety of block cheeses, fancy cheese; pepper jack and brie are favorites, spaghetti-good to have as an easy dinner. I'm trying to be a bit healthier so use a both whole wheat and regular pasta, and snacks-I subscribe to Universal Yums and am sent snacks, both sweet and salty, from a different country each month. There's always an exciting variety of things to try!
TM: On a personal note, I was captivated by the pictures and comments you shared when you were able to visit Poland. In case anyone missed it, could you talk a little bit about the trip?
Kathy: In October of 2019 I went to Poland on my trip of a lifetime. I had said when I was 40 I was going to take a big trip, maybe Disney World. 40 passed by and I said 45 which also passed by. Then I said when I was 50 I'd visit my friend in Sheffield England, and 50 passed by. I had an excess of vacation time I needed to use and was messaging my cousin in Poland when I brought up a possible visit and she said I needed to come and see my roots. I knew if I didn't go then, I'd never go. Although she said spring was a better time to visit, I needed to go before the fiscal year ended at work, so I decided October would be perfect. (Thank God I did or COVID would have cancelled my trip.) So off to Poland I went, to meet family I'd never met. I don't speak Polish and they don't speak English-but we made it work and I had the most incredible time. My cousins live in Sandomierz, in the south east portion of Poland. I explored Old Town, cruised the Vistula River, went to a rock concert, and ate lots of great food. I also went to Krakow, seeing Wawel Castle and meeting its dragon, and took tours of the death camps of Auschwitz and Birkenau as well as the famed salt mines. I should have spend more time, there was so much more to see and do. One cousin told me I had to come back and stay a month. I would love to, but with my animals at home, travel is almost an impossibility, but I cherish the wonderful time I spent with my amazing family.
TM: This was so much fun. Thank you for letting me play interviewer, and a special thanks to you, Kathy, for all you do for the mystery community in general and the cozy community in particular.