How did a nice girl like me end up killing people?
Whenever I do a public appearance, the audience questions surprise me. Audiences are a bloodthirsty bunch. In my first live chat, I did a ten-minute talk about the writer’s life, and then opened the floor to questions. I expected the ever popular, “Where do your ideas come from?” and I was prepared to answer that. Nobody asked. Instead, a lovely white-haired lady in a power blue pants suit (she made an impression on me, can you tell?) raised her hand and asked, “Why do you kill people?” Reeling a bit, I opened my mouth to answer, but she wasn’t done. “Never mind that,” she said. “What I really want to know is how you figure out who needs killing?” Then she leaned forward eagerly and waited for my answer.
Who needs killing? Nobody ever asked me that question before. I started out writing romances. Sweet romances with happy-ever-after endings. Oh, there was pain and strife along the way. The emotional deaths that have to happen so the protagonists can grow. But murder? Real live dead bodies? No. Not in my romances. Now here was this woman wanting to know how I picked my victims.
The truth is, I don’t pick my victims, they pick me. When I start a book, I know two things: the protagonist and the victim. That’s it. The protagonist is easy. I write two series – Catherine Swope, a Realtor based in Miami, Florida, and Hayden Kent, a SCUBA diving paralegal based in the Florida Keys. If the death is on land, it’s Catherine’s mystery; underwater, then Hayden gets the call. The victims are a different story; sometimes I don’t even know how they died. My first victim died of hanging. If you’d asked me when I opened the blank page on the computer, I would have stated gunshot wound. To the head. Oh, how little we writers know. I didn’t even get his name right. Not until the second draft.
One school of writing advises mystery writers to pick someone they hate, then kill them off in the worst way they can think of. Frankly, I don’t hate anyone that much. In fact, I can’t imagine hating anyone that much. Well, wait. Maybe a former boss. Yeah, there’s a real possibility there, but except for disgruntled employees, I don’t know who would kill him, or how. Flogging seems so yesterday. Okay, I’ll let him live.
My style of writing favors a more psychological approach. The seeds of someone’s death, for me, always lie in their lives. No one is as straightforward as they seem. Everyone has secrets. And there is no such thing as a harmless secret. If there were, you wouldn’t keep it a secret. The first character sketch I do is the victim sketch. I want to know all about him (or her, not being sexist here), from his first steps to his last breath. The victim has a fatal flaw. Once I know that, I stand in his shoes and look around. Whom do I know? Whom do I like? What am I afraid of? Why? What is my last thought before falling asleep? Once I have the answers to those questions. I know why he needs killing, and I know how and why he dies.
The next bit of the puzzle is figuring out who killed him. That’s something else I don’t know, sometimes until the third draft. Only once the entire story is down on paper and I’ve framed my first suspect can I follow all the threads. It’s not until the end that I can see who gains the most by the victim’s death. The obvious answer is rarely right. It would be wonderful to follow the money and discover the murderer. It’s usually not about the money. Instead, it’s often emotional.
In Death by Sunken Treasure, the newest Hayden Kent book, the victim is a man going through a rough patch. It’s hard to feel too sorry for him. He’s just discovered a sunken treasure ship and he’s managed to oust his partners before they know the full extent of the treasure. Suspects and motives multiply when the man signs two wills with different sets of beneficiaries on the same day . . . the day he dies in one hundred thirty feet of water. What really happened deep below the sea in the Florida Keys? What clues did Mike Terry leave behind to tell the real story of his death? Why did he need killing? How did he learn that underwater, no one hears your screams?
One lucky blog reader will win an e-copy of both books in the Hayden Kent series, Death by Blue Water and Death by Sunken Treasure. Entering is easy: simply leave a comment on this post with your name and email address and tell us: is there anyone in your life you would put in the role of murder victim?
Winner will be drawn March 31, 2016 and will be notified via email.
When Hayden Kent’s mentor and friend discovers her son Mike’s dead body, dressed in full scuba attire, washed up on Pigeon Key, she needs Hayden. Her paralegal and dive skills may help unravel the tragedy of Mike’s last days. He’d recently discovered a sunken Spanish galleon and rumors that he hit the mother lode ran through the Keys like wildfire.
Hayden’s dive on the treasure site uncovers gold, and clues that Mike’s death was something far more sinister than an accident. When two different wills, both signed the day Mike died, are delivered to the courthouse, the suspect list grows, as do the threats against her. The danger escalates as she tries to save herself, discover the motive, and find the killer.
About the Author
Kait Carson spent a lifetime living and working in the tropical paradise of south Florida. She opted for a day job as a paralegal practicing in the world of high-end estates and probate litigation. Legal pads give way to a keyboard in the evening and Kait spins tales of murder and mayhem set in the steamy Florida heat. Like her protagonist, Hayden Kent, Kait is an accomplished SCUBA diver. She lives with her husband, six rescue cats and three tropical birds at an airpark in Florida. Not too far from the water.
March 16 – Author Annette Drake – GUEST POST
March 16 – Paranormal and Romantic Suspense Reviews – SPOTLIGHT
March 17 – Musings and Ramblings – GUEST POST, GIVEAWAY[Kait Carson] – e-book set of Death by Blue Water and Death by Sunken Treasure
March 18 – A Blue Million Books – INTERVIEW
March 19 – LibriAmoriMiei – REVIEW, GIVEAWAY[Kait Carson] Signed Death by Sunken Treasure
March 20 – Cozy Up With Kathy – INTERVIEW
March 21 – Brooke Blogs – GUEST POST, GIVEAWAY[Kait Carson] e-book of Death by Sunken Treasure
March 22 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – REVIEW, GIVEAWAY[Kait Carson] Death by Sunken Treasure T-Shirt (all are size Large)
March 23 – Read Your Writes Book Reviews – INTERVIEW
March 24 – Island Confidential – GUEST POST, GIVEAWAY[Kait Carson] Signed copy of Death by Sunken Treasure
March 25 – 3 Partners in Shopping, Nana, Mommy, & , Sissy, Too! – SPOTLIGHT, GIVEAWAY[Kait Carson] Death by Sunken Treasure coffee mug
March 26 – The Girl with Book Lungs – GUEST POST, GIVEAWAY[Kait Carson] e-set of Death by Blue Water and Death by Sunken Treasure
March 27 – deal sharing aunt – INTERVIEW, GIVEAWAY[Kait Carson] Death by Sunken Treasure T-Shirt (all are size Large)
March 28 – Babs Book Bistro – SPOTLIGHT, GIVEAWAY[Kait Carson] e-book Death by Sunken Treasure
March 29 – Back Porchervations – REVIEW
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