by Sandra Murphy
This week we have a review of A Fatal Fiction by Kaitlyn Dunnett along with an interesting interview with Kaitlyn. Details at the end of this post on how to enter to win a copy of the book, and links to purchase it.
A Fatal Fiction: A Deadly Edits Mystery By Kaitlyn Dunnett
Review by Sandra Murphy
Mikki Lincoln works as a freelance editor to supplement her retirement funds. She was asked to edit a book from a former client who died but turned down the job, saying it needed more than edits. It needed a fresh start and a ghost writer. That didn’t go over well with the widower, Greg Onslow, used to getting his way, and already remarried.
That led to a yelling match between Greg and Mikki at the gas station. Usually Mikki can hold her temper, but once in a while, a trigger remark will let loose her inner Hulk. Greg gets in his car and roars off, Mikki is hoping that’s the end of it.
But no—as can be expected in this electronic age, someone has captured the argument on a cell phone and posted it online. When Greg’s body turns up at a construction site, Mikki finds herself a real suspect.
Greg’s wife, formerly considered to be of the trophy sort, has taken the reins of the company. Greg’s reputation was not a good one. He thought up great schemes, raised capital, and bugged out just before a major flaw was found, leaving investors holding the bag. His enemies list can go on for pages.
Also on the suspect list is Mikki’s cousin. She’s protective of him and wants to find out why he’s not talking. However, Mikki’s nephew, coincidently (sent by his mother) comes for a visit and is her constant shadow unless she takes drastic measures. At seventy-years-old, some of those measures are more drastic for her than for a woman half her age (escaping over the rooftop would be just one).
Of course, work must go on. There’s a racy memoir to edit, current projects to finish, and clues to follow.
A feisty woman, Mikki is used to taking care of herself. The irony of her overprotective attitude toward her cousin but annoyance with her nephew for his dogged determination to do the same for her is apparent to her but still a pain in the patoot. Mikki is one of my favorite characters. She knows what she wants, makes a plan to get it, and knows how to protect what’s hers. Her story is a darn good mystery too.
This is book three of the Deadly Edits series. Dunnett also writes the Liss MacCrimmon mysteries (13), set in the Scottish Emporium. Read one, want them all.
Interview with Kaitlyn Dunnett:
KRL: How long have you been writing?
Kaitlyn: I started writing with the goal of publication in mind in 1976
KRL: When did your first novel come out, what was it called, and would you tell us a little about it?
Kaitlyn: 1985, The Mystery of Hilliard’s Castle. It was a mystery for ages 8-12, set in Maine and published by a regional press. The “castle” of the title was a real house with a tower from my hometown in New York State. I transported it to the area where I now live in rural Maine to give it an appropriately spooky setting.
KRL: Have you always written mysteries/suspense and if not, what else have you written?
Kaitlyn: I’ve written in several genres over the last forty-four years. Although the majority of my novels have been mysteries, written under the names Kaitlyn Dunnett and Kathy Lynn Emerson, I’ve also been published in category romance, historical romance, historical novels that are neither romance nor mystery (as Kate Emerson), novels for middle grade readers, and nonfiction. I’ve also had two collections of my short stories published.
KRL: What brought you to choose the setting and characters in your latest book/series?
Kaitlyn: My Liss MacCrimmon mysteries is set in the mountains of western Maine, which is where I live with my husband and cat. I invented both the town (Moosetookalook) and the county (Carrabassett) where the stories take place, but I can put myself in the scene simply by walking out my front door. The latest one, A View to A Kilt (January 2020) is set in the winter, and a body is found in a snowbank. That was particularly easy to relate to. The character of Liss MacCrimmon, a professional Scottish dancer forced to give up her career after a knee injury, was inspired by having personal experience with both dancing and knee surgery.
My “Deadly Edits” series is set in a fictionalized version of the town where I grew up, a one-time tourist mecca in what was known as the Borscht Belt, the Sullivan County Catskills region of New York State. Having my sleuth, Mikki Lincoln, who is my age, return there in her retirement after fifty years away, lets me use my memories of being born and bred in that area and also have Mikki see the changes. A Fatal Fiction is the third book in the series (July 2020) and the idea for the plot came directly from the demolition of an abandoned resort hotel in my home town. The hotel, with a body added, has been relocated to my fictional Lenape Hollow.
KRL: Do you write to entertain or is there something more you want the readers to take away from your work?
Kaitlyn: Entertainment is key, although on occasion a current social issue will creep in. Without planning it, my villains (although not necessarily the murderers) in several books have been evil entrepreneurs, conniving businessmen, and/or charismatic con men.
KRL: Do you have a schedule for your writing or just write whenever you can?
Kaitlyn: What has always worked best for me is to write in the morning and do other writing-related things in the afternoon. If I’m working on a new book or doing a complete revision, I try to work on that project at least a little each day, seven days a week, to keep the momentum going.
KRL: Do you outline? If not, do you have some other interesting way that you keep track of what’s going on, or what needs to happen in your book when you are writing it?
Kaitlyn: I would love to be able to outline an entire book in advance, but I can’t think that far ahead. It’s only when I’m actually writing that I figure out where the story is going to go next. I do, however, make a chapter outline as I go along, noting down when and where it takes place, who appears in it, and what takes place. I can usually project a few chapters ahead, but even that much planning is likely to change as I go along. When I revise, I often add scenes or move them around, but until I have an entire draft, I can’t really tell what needs to be fixed.
KRL: If you had your ideal, what time of day would you prefer to write?
Kaitlyn: First thing in the morning. When I was younger, I used to grab a cup of coffee and take it straight into my office. These days it takes me longer to get going, and I check email, read a couple of blogs I like, and take a quick look at Facebook while I drink that first mug of coffee and eat two my usual slices of toast.
KRL: Did you find it difficult to get published in the beginning?
Kaitlyn: It’s always difficult to get published, but back in the early 1980s, before there was an Internet and before most writers organizations had been founded, it was even more of a challenge. Everything had to be done by snail mail and the waiting seemed endless! I wrote five great long historical novels those first few years, none of which ever found a home. My first sale was a nonfiction book using some of the research.
Kaitlyn: That first book to be published! I collected forty-seven rejects before it finally found a home with a small scholarly press. I signed the contract in 1980 and it came out in 1984. Some version of it has been available ever since. The current one, much updated and expanded from the original, is currently online at TudorWomen.com.
KRL: Do you have a great rejection/critique or acceptance story you’d like to share?
KRL: Most interesting book signing story-in a bookstore or other venue?
Kaitlyn: I think I’ve done too many of these over the years as they all blur together. I will say that I always enjoy the events that are group signings more than going solo. There was an independent bookseller in Belfast, Maine, The Fertile Mind, that used to do Valentine Day signings every year with local mystery and romance writers. Those were always great fun. We not only got to sell books and meet readers, but in between customers we could chat among ourselves. The other local writers included folks like Tess Gerritsen, Dorothy Cannell, and Lea Wait.
KRL: How fun! Future writing goals?
Kaitlyn: At the moment I’m working on getting the rest of my backlist online in e-book format, but I have a new historical mystery, The Finder of Lost Things, coming out in October from Level Best Books.
KRL: Writing heroes?
Kaitlyn: Elizabeth Peters, Joan Hess, Dorothy Cannell, and Margaret Maron for mystery. Dorothy Dunnett for historical novels. I chose my Kaitlyn Dunnett pseudonym in her honor.
KRL: What kind of research do you do?
Kaitlyn: For the contemporary mysteries, I have an in-house expert, my retired law-enforcement officer husband, to consult on questions of law and procedure. A View to A Kilt concerns a company wanting to buy local water rights, so I had to read everything I could find on how that works, especially in Maine. For historical novels, I limit myself to writing about the two historical periods I’ve been studying for decades – sixteenth-century England and the 1880s in the U.S. I have accumulated tons of notes and a substantial at-home library which I supplement with primary resources that are available online and books borrowed through inter-library-loan.
KRL: What do you read?
Kaitlyn: When I read, other than for research, it’s for pleasure, so I choose mostly escapist fare and often reread favorite authors. Most of the books on my keeper shelves fall into the categories of traditional or cozy mysteries (too many authors to name), romantic suspense (Jayne Ann Krentz, Nora Roberts), paranormal (Jim Butcher, Charlaine Harris, Kim Harrison), and historical romance (Mary Jo Putney, Lauren Willig).
KRL: Favorite TV or movies?
Kaitlyn: I find I’m not watching much that’s current. I have a lot of older TV series and movies on DVDs, and stream others. In the last year I’ve binge-watched Stargate: SG1, all of the Midsomer Murders episodes in order, and all seven seasons of The West Wing. Movies I’ve watched multiple times include Marvel’s The Avengers, First Wives Club, Grease, Independence Day, Mama Mia, Romancing the Stone, Serenity (and the Firefly series), Shakespeare in Love, Tremors, and Twister.
KRL: Any advice for aspiring or beginning writers?
Kaitlyn: Write the best book you can, which will probably mean going through multiple drafts. Don’t get discouraged if not everyone loves it as much as you do, and while you’re trying to sell that first one, start work on another. You’ll know you’re meant to be a writer when you realize you can’t NOT write.
KRL: Anything you would like to add?
Kaitlyn: Just that I hope everyone is staying safe. About the only advantage to so many people having to self-isolate is that some of them have finally found the time to tackle their TBR piles.
KRL: What is something people would be surprised to know about you?
Kaitlyn: I don’t know if it would surprise people or not, but the truth is that I lead such a boring life that social distancing didn’t make much difference in my daily routine! I go into town for the mail twice a week now instead of every day and wear a mask when I’m out in public. Other than that? Not a lot has changed.
KRL: Website? Twitter? Facebook?
Kaitlyn: I’m on Facebook as Kaitlyn Dunnett. My websites are www.KaitlynDunnett.com and www.KathyLynnEmerson.com. A third, at A Who’s Who of Tudor Women, contains over 2000 mini-biographies of sixteenth-century Englishwomen.
To enter to win a copy of A Fatal Fiction, simply email KRL at krlcontests@gmail[dot]com by replacing the [dot] with a period, and with the subject line “fiction,” or comment on this article. A winner will be chosen August 22, 2020. U.S. residents only, and you must be 18 or older to enter. If you are entering via email please include you mailing address in case you win, it will be deleted after the contest. You can read our privacy statement here if you like. BE AWARE THAT IT WILL TAKE MUCH LONGER THAN USUAL FOR WINNERS TO GET THEIR BOOKS DUE TO THE CURRENT CRISIS.
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