THE CRAFT OF WRITING — SEPTEMBER 2023
The CRAFT OF WRITING BLOG continues in September with its 2023 focus on authors who write series. This month, the tables are turned, and I’m being interviewed about my series, The Watch Mysteries, by my good friend and colleague Debbie Burke.
Did you notice the pen in the image with the books? That’s the magnificent “Beginning of Time” pen that was hand-crafted by my good friend, author and craftsman, Steve Hooley. Inspired by the theme in The Watch Mysteries, the pen is built on 1870 Clocktower Pine, covered with black-as-night-sky dye, then coated with golden-stars glitter paint, and finally coated with a wet-gloss finish.
Here’s your chance to win the pen. The name of each person who enters a comment today will be put into a drawing, and I will post the name of the winner after 9 o’clock pm CDT tonight. So join the conversation and earn a chance to win. Many thanks to Steve for donating the pen for today’s post.
Former winners are excluded from the drawing. (But not from commenting!)The fascinating subject of time. An interview with Kay DiBianca about her series, The Watch Mysteries. And a chance to win the beautiful Beginning of Time pen. Click To Tweet
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Now here’s Debbie:
I met Kay several years ago when she submitted an anonymous first page for critique at The Kill Zone. Her story featured two young wannabe detectives who charmed me and made me laugh. That promising first page turned into the book Time After Tyme. Kay and I have since become trusted colleagues and good friends. I’m honored to interview her today.
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Time is a major theme in your “Watch” mystery series. What inspired you to explore that topic?
I was out running when I decided to write my first novel. I was jogging past a long fence at the time, and I thought I could begin the novel by having the main character find a mysterious object on a fencepost while she was out running. (Ha!) I can’t remember why I decided on the watch as the “mysterious object,” but it may have been a subconscious desire to delve into my fascination with the subject of time.
From the perspective of writing, mysteries are usually a race against time. Find the killer before he/she can kill again. To emphasize that, a timepiece is always central to the stories.
What did you learn about time while writing your books? Are there insights that you hope readers will realize?
I’ve read some good books on the subjects of clocks, watches, and time. One thing I had fun learning about was the need for a reliable clock that could be used aboard ships so that the early explorers could pinpoint their position at sea. It’s a fascinating story told by Dava Sobel in her book Longitude. I wrote a post for the Kill Zone Blog on the subject.
As for insights, I’ve come to appreciate the fact that time is an equal-opportunity dimension. Rich or poor, everyone gets 24 hours in a day, and the way we choose to spend those hours is up to us. Although we may have constraints (jobs, family, obligations), our individual responses to the demands of time belong to each of us. Only we can decide.
Do you plan to continue the “Watch” series? Want to give readers a hint about what might be ahead for Kathryn and Cece?
Although I took a break for the last year or so to pursue a couple of other writing projects, I do plan to continue the Watch series. I think the main characters, half-sisters Kathryn and Cece, have a few more adventures to work on before I let them go. (And I want to know where they end up in their relationships with Phil and Ben.)
I’ve been playing with a few possible plot ideas. Maybe you or the folks who read this can help me think through them: 1) I’ve thought about sending the two young women off to Scotland when Kathryn is informed she’s one of the beneficiaries of a will left by a Scottish relative where some old mystery is smoldering. 2) Another idea is to have Kathryn run a marathon in an interesting world city where a murder happens during the course of the race. 3) A third possibility is to have Kathryn and Cece involved when a book reviewer is murdered after writing a scathing review of a mystery by author Purity Carp. Let me know which one you think would be most interesting in the comments!
The two young detectives in Time After Tyme stole the show, earning an award for “Young Adult Fiction.” When you wrote the book, did you have a YA story in mind or did it evolve into that? Does the book have a crossover audience of both adults and young readers?
I had wanted to write the young girls, Reen and Joanie, as secondary characters to add spice to Time After Tyme, and they were very good at their job! They had me laughing every day with their crazy antics in an attempt to “help” the police solve a murder mystery. I only entered it as a YA book in the Memphis Awards contest because I had friends who were entered in the Adult Fiction category, and I didn’t want to compete against them. I was truly surprised when the presenter called my name, but I think it’s confirmation that a book can straddle categories and appeal to a wide audience.
Do you have future plans for Reen and Joanie in upcoming books?
Shortly afterTime After Tyme was published, I was encouraged by several of my writing colleagues to start a middle-grade series featuring the two young girls. The result is the first-in-series novel The Other Side of Sunshine: A Reen and Joanie Detective Agency Book. I hope it will be published early in 2024.
You’re a licensed pilot and your upcoming book is about a female pilot who solves mysteries. How long have you been flying? What is the most thrilling experience you’ve had in the air? What is the scariest?
Lacey’s Star: A Lady Pilot-in-Command Novel is the story of Cassie Deakin, a young woman pilot who lands in the middle of a mystery with every flight. I’ve enjoyed getting to know Cassie and Deputy Frank White, a man she doesn’t trust, but whom she has a strong attraction to. I’m hoping it will be published later this year.
I received my pilot’s license in 1995. When I told my husband I was going to take flying lessons, he wasn’t exactly enthusiastic. But since then, he got his license in sailplanes (gliders), and we’ve had some good times flying together.
Our most thrilling experience was when we went to Nevada on a “flying vacation” around the year 2000 and I piloted a small aircraft out of the Carson City airport and over the mountains surrounding Lake Tahoe. It was an absolutely gorgeous trip in perfect weather.
The scariest experience was on the same trip. I always file a flight plan or request flight-following from Air Traffic Control when I fly. As we were flying around the mountains, ATC in Reno contacted us to say they couldn’t follow us on radar because of the mountains, so we went VFR (Visual Flight Rules). I think we were somewhere over Pyramid Lake when I looked out the right side of the plane and spotted another light aircraft flying directly toward us. We were never in any danger – I immediately turned and descended to a lower altitude – but it wasn’t an experience I’d ever want to repeat.
Recently you attended the Killer Nashville writing conference. What were the most interesting and/or important takeaways from that event?
Killer Nashville is a conference that focuses on mystery, thriller, and suspense writing that I’ve attended several times. One of the great things the conference offers is a group of Agent Roundtables where authors can have the first two pages of their work-in-progress read in a small setting of five authors and one agent. Each author receives feedback from the others, and if you’re lucky, an agent will request your manuscript.
I presented the first two pages of The Other Side of Sunshine at one roundtable and Lacey’s Star at another one. I was fortunate that two agents showed interest in the books.
Where can readers find your books?
Each of the individual ebooks is on sale for 99¢ on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple, Kobo, and Google Play. The virtual boxset of the three books is also on sale for $1.99 on all of the same sites. Click on each image at the bottom of the page to go to the Amazon detail page.
Is there anything else you’d like to share that I haven’t asked you about?
Just to say many thanks to you, Debbie, for interviewing me. It’s interesting to sit on this side of the desk for a change. Also, equal thanks to Steve Hooley for supplying the gorgeous Beginning of Time pen for today’s post.The fascinating subject of time. An interview with Kay DiBianca about her series, The Watch Mysteries. And a chance to win the beautiful Beginning of Time pen. Click To Tweet