If you are a mystery lover, sit tight! Today our guest is Kelly Miller, author of the thrilling Kate Springer Detective series (Book #1: Dead Like Me, Book #2: Deadly Fantasies). I received a copy of her second book through a giveaway and I can assure you that the author delivers exactly what she promises in her website: “detective novels with as much emotion as fast-paced plot“
So, without much ado, let’s get behind the scenes of what mystery writing entails with the lovely Kelly Miller!
Have you always wanted to write mystery? If you were to write in any other genre, what would it be?
Kelly: I’ve always been intrigued with the mystery genre, not only in books but in television and movies. For years, I’ve soaked up everything I could—how to hook an audience, what makes a good story, why a reader keeps on reading. I’ve absorbed it all, mulling it over in my brain for a couple of decades, and then one day I just sat down at the computer and let it all out.
If I were to write in any other genre, it would definitely be paranormal. I’m intrigued with all things supernatural, everything from ghosts to psychics. I’ve considered writing a paranormal mystery but so far no story idea has come to me. Maybe one day . . .
Tell us about your next book, Splintered. Any release date yet?
Kelly: Here’s the book blurb (still a work in progress) for my third book which is the first in a new series:
Life turns from bad to worse when Maddy Eastin’s impulsive plan to win back the loving attention of her absentee father backfires. Word of her failed scheme quickly spreads and when mockery escalates to cyberbullying by abusive classmates, Maddy and her failed stunt become headline news. But the worst is yet to come . . .
When Hank Fry sees Maddy Eastin on the evening news, his already fractured psyche completely splinters. He finally surrenders to his true nature—a moral code molded by a sadistic father who taught Hank that girls need proper training to become the perfect subservient woman. When Maddy vanishes, she’s labeled a runaway even though her mother believes she was a victim of foul play. Will detectives discover Maddy’s in trouble before it’s too late?
One of the things I love most about Splintered is that it’s written from the viewpoint of five very different and extremely flawed characters. So readers not only get a glimpse into the heroine’s state of mind, but they also get to see how the story unfolds through other’s eyes.
Once the edits are done (hopefully by the end of September), I’m hoping to get the book published through Amazon’s crowdsourcing imprint, Kindle Scout. This is a great new pilot program where authors put their book’s cover and first chapter online at https://kindlescout.amazon.com/ and readers can vote for their favorite story (you only get 3 votes). Amazon editors then read the books that are Hot Trending and decide if they’d like to publish it. If my book is chosen, all those who voted for it will receive a free e-copy! The best way fans can find out when voting opens for Splintered is to sign up for my newsletter at www.kellymillerauthor.com.
What are you currently working on? What is next for Detective Kate Springer series?
Kelly: Right now I’m diligently working on editing my third novel, Splintered. But once that’s done, I’m going to start a third Detective Kate Springer book.
I’ve missed the characters in that series, and I’m ready to see what’s in store for them next. This book will be unlike the previous two because I always want to give my readers something fresh. At the end of the second book, Deadly Fantasies, Kate and her best friend Lucy were on the outs because of Kate’s meddling in Lucy’s romantic relationship with Charles Kent. Anyone who knows Kate well will understand that she can’t just walk away from the friendship. So the third book will be the adventure the two ladies go on to solve an old case while Kate tries to mend their friendship. The story will take them to Lucy’s hometown in Ohio to delve deeper into Lucy’s history of how her younger sister was murdered.
Tell us about the research that you do for your books.
Kelly: I love the research phase! It’s a chance to get out from behind my computer and visually picture my characters in a setting. It’s very inspiring to my writing process. My latest novel, Splintered, is set it in a small city adjacent to Tampa called Temple Terrace. I spent an afternoon at the police station which is located on the third floor of City Hall. I spoke to quite a few officers and detectives to really get a feel of how their force is run. Every police force has their own little nuances, and I wanted to get a feel for theirs.
I also spent an afternoon riding along with an officer in the marine unit on the Hillsborough River. I took pictures and video along the way all while questioning the officer who was kind enough to be my tour guide. A big part of Splintered takes place on the Hillsborough River, and it really helped me to see the location so that I could expertly craft the scenes. I love highlighting different locations in and around Tampa. Each book in the Springer Series is set in its own unique place. This makes it extra special for my local fans as many know the spots they’re reading about.
What do you think is the most important element in a mystery novel?
Kelly: You have to have an intriguing story as your foundation. An author must have an idea that makes the reader want to know more and will make them willing to stick around to the end. At the core of Splintered is a single idea I had years ago. What would happen if a girl who makes up a story about almost being kidnapped ends up actually being kidnapped in the same exact way she cried wolf. That was the foundation for my book and everything sprang from that one seed.
Having published two books, does the process of writing/editing/publishing the next get any easier?
Kelly: No. If anything, it gets harder. When you’re a newbie—you don’t know what you don’t know. Ignorance is definitely bliss. Then the more you write, the more you learn, and the more you realize you don’t know as much as you thought you did. And I want to make sure all my novels are different. I hate how some authors who’ve been writing for years become so formulaic. Each of their books contains the same plot with just new character names. I think it’s happening more and more these days because of the pressure publishers put on authors to get as many books out as they can in a year. I want to make sure my readers get something new with each story. Yet, the downside is that takes time, so I only publish about once every year and a half.
You have written your books while being a full-time mother. Has there ever been a time when you felt you were neglecting family or your craft?
Kelly: Both. All the time. When my focus becomes too set on one thing, all other areas in my life suffer. It’s a constant juggling act. I find when I do drop one of the balls, that is when it’s time to reevaluate.
Have you ever read your books to your kids? How do they feel about their mother being an author?
Kelly: Since my books deal with adult themes, none of my children have read them, and I won’t let them until they’re sixteen. My middle son is my biggest supporter and salesman. He tells complete strangers that his mom is an author. I’ve gone to speak to his class through the Great American Teach-In program for the past three years. He loves it. I talk about the writing process and how when the kids write a paper for class it’s really no different than what I do for a book. Mine’s just done on a bigger scale. I always ask the kids to guess how many times they think I revised my book. The answers are usually no more than ten times. I love to see their eyes grow wide when I start pulling out reams of paper from a big storage bin that holds all my edits from my first book. The papers stand about 3’ high. Then I explain that’s just how many times I made changes on paper, there were numerous more times I made edits reading from the computer screen. This example helps keep things in perspective for the kids when their teacher asks for only one revision on an assignment.
The one thing that I loved about your writing is the vibrant dialogue. Any tips for our readers on how to write catchy dialogue?
Kelly: Read. Read. Read. Then it simply takes practice to find your own voice and to put everything you’ve learned into action. For the last twenty-five years, I’ve read as much as I can, soaking up the best parts from authors who are masters in their field. The author who I think writes the best dialogue and who I’ve learned the most from is Dean Koontz. Read any of the books he’s written during the middle of his career and you’ll see how his dialogue shines. The quick wit and brilliant patter back and forth between characters just has me in awe.
Last words for our readers.
Kelly: If you’re an author, write the book you’ve always wanted to read. If you have a passion for your subject, your love of words will shine through and will be contagious to your readers.
If you’re a reader, support authors that you like with a review. In this hectic world we live in, it’s hard enough to break through the noise to get a reader’s attention much less persuade them to take a chance on your book. So do them a favor, write a review. Also mention the name of the book and author on your social networking sites. One favorable word can go a long way!