Kathleen Kaska is the author of the Classic Triviography Mystery Series, which includes The Alfred Hitchcock Triviography and Quiz Book, The Sherlock Holmes Triviography and Quiz Book, and The Agatha Christie Triviography and Quiz Book. Kathleen also writes the award-winning Sydney Lockhart mystery series set in the 1950s. Her first two mysteries, Murder at the Arlington and Murder at the Luther, were selected as bonus-books for the Pulpwood Queens Book Group, the largest book group in the country. Her third Sydney Lockhart mystery, Murder at the Galvez, will be out soon.
I’m so pleased to welcome Kathleen
to Buried Under Books to answer a
few questions about herself
and about Sherlock.
cncbooks: What made you decide to write trivia and quiz books about such iconic entertainment figures?
Kathleen: When I first began writing, I knew I wanted to write a mystery series. I hadn’t a clue how to begin, so I enrolled in creative writing classes. In the meantime, I read in a writer’s magazine that trivia books were becoming popular, and since they were nonfiction, a writer could sell a book with a proposal. I had the entire Agatha Christie and Sherlock Holmes collection on my bookshelf and decided to give mystery trivia a try. Six months later, I had a proposal, a New York agent, and a contract. One trivia book became three. So, I got off track for a while, but what an education that was.
cncbooks: Do you make deals with yourself when you’re writing, i.e., if you finish X number of pages you get to eat ice cream?
Kathleen: I might have to try that. I don’t so much make deals as I set goals for the day. When I accomplish those goals, the satisfaction I feel is usually reward enough. Who am I kidding? The martini is chilling in the fridge as I write.
cncbooks: What is the last book you read purely for pleasure?
Kathleen: You won’t believe this, but it was the Sherlock Holmes novel, A Study in Scarlet. We have a new Holmes society in town, The Dogs in the Nighttime, and this was the book we chose to discuss. It had been way too since I’d read it. I guess you’d call me a Sherlockiac.
cncbooks: If Sir Arthur Conan Doyle were shipwrecked on an uncharted island with no hope of rescue, who is the one person he would want with him and why?
Kathleen: Certainly not Holmes. I believe there was an unspoken rivalry between the two. Maybe Harry Houdini since they were close friends and Conan Doyle believed Houdini had a direct connection to the spiritual world. Conan Doyle often tried to connect with his dead relatives by holding séances often with Houdini present.
cncbooks: Same question for Sherlock Holmes?
cncbooks: Why do you think Sherlock Holmes is such an enduring fictional detective?
Kathleen: That’s a good question, and I’ve been asked that many times. I’d say his intellect, self-absorption, and exciting life style. His life is full of adventure, he’s rarely wrong, he’s not caught up in emotions, and he pretty much does what he pleases. Except for the self-absorption, wouldn’t we all like to posses those traits . . . at least sometimes?
cncbooks: What do you think of the radical changes in the upcoming TV show, “Elementary” and do you believe rabid fans of Sherlock will accept these changes?
Kathleen: I’ve come across two basic types of Holmes fans: the Holmes purist, who believes that any pastiche should stick to the original canon, and Holmes fans who want and enjoy anything “Holmes.” I know Watson is portrayed as a woman in “Elementary,” but look at the different portrayals of Holmes. Holmes as a teenager, Holmes as a married man, Holmes as a Jack Russell terrier, and Holmes as a person who isn’t Holmes, but thinks he is. I’m looking forward to watching the series and seeing how Lucy Liu pulls it off.
cncbooks: You’re heading for a week-long solitary retreat. Other than writing tools, what are the five items you simply must take with you?
Kathleen: I’m assuming I have to leave my husband at home. That said; I would take a strong bag of coffee, my pillow, my collection of 5 favorite books (Nine Horses by Billy Collins, The Great Gatsby, To Kill a Mocking Bird, Essay of E. B. White, and the ACD Sherlock Holmes Canon), a good bird book, and a photo of my husband. Don’t ask me to choose just one book. I’d short circuit.
cncbooks: What’s more fun to write, fiction or nonfiction?
Kathleen: That’s an easy one to answer. For me it is much easier to write fiction. My protagonists in my two mystery series are like old friends. We get together, talk (actually, they do most of the talking), and write. The ideas flow, characters appear, problems arise, and we’re off and running. Writing nonfiction is work, not that it’s not enjoyable, but the research takes so much time.
cncbooks: Do you find it difficult to write for more than one publisher?
Kathleen: No, because they publish different genres. LL-publications published my Classic Triviography Mystery Series and my Sydney Lockhart Mystery Series. University Press of Florida just published my nonfiction book: The Man Who Saved the Whooping Crane: The Robert Porter Allen Story.
cncbooks: Do you think social networking, blogging, tweeting, etc., are worthwhile promotional tools for authors or do they steal too much time away from career writing?
Kathleen: Social networking takes a lot of time, but it is necessary in today’s world. Publishers expect their authors to promote as much as possible. I have to make sure my writing time is balanced.
cncbooks: What is in store for you? What’s happening next?
Kathleen: This has been an incredible year for me. My three out-of-print mystery trivia books were picked up by LL-Publications and updated and reissued in May. My whooping crane book, which was six years in the making, will be released on September 16. And my third Sydney Lockhart mystery, Murder at the Galvez, will be out before the end of the year. That’s five books in one year. I’ve been promoting all five with blog posts, book signing, library presentations, Audubon presentation, etc. My head is spinning, not that I’m complaining.