Kathleen Marple Kalb talks about A Fatal Finale and A Fatal First Night
Welcome to Writer and Radio Announcer, Kathleen Marple Kalb!!
grew up in front of a microphone, and a keyboard. She’s now a weekend morning anchor at 1010 WINS New York, capping a career begun as a teenage DJ in Brookville, Pennsylvania. She worked her way up through newsrooms in Pittsburgh, Vermont and Connecticut, developing her skills and a deep and abiding distaste for snowstorms. While she wrote her first (thankfully unpublished) historical novel at age sixteen, fiction was firmly in the past until her son started kindergarten and she tried again. She, her husband the Professor, and their son the Imp, live in a Connecticut house owned by their cat.
What would you say are your strengths as an author?
Creating characters that become readers’ friends and people they care about. The whole reason I started writing series mysteries, after reading them for most of my life, is that I love spending time with the characters in my favorite series. And, after a career of writing news headlines, I’m also good at the occasional very memorable, often slightly snarky, line. A favorite example from A FATAL FIRST NIGHT: Ella, speaking of one of her vile stage-door admirers: “…holding out a bouquet of red roses in hands with a distinct and disturbing resemblance to charcuterie. Small sausages.”
How often do you write, and do you write using a strict routine?
Every day. But routine is just a fantasy for me. I’m a weekend radio news anchor, weekday mom, and now, virtual elementary teaching assistant, which means that I write whenever I have five minutes and a flat surface for the laptop. My only rule: one project per day. I don’t want to find myself writing Ella Shane in someone else’s voice.
Five years from now, where do you see yourself as a writer?
Hopefully well into the Ella Shane series, with a second successful series underway too. I’ll write the Ella books as long as people keep reading them…and I have a few other ideas, including a contemporary series set at a small Vermont radio station, inspired by my first on-air job.
If you could offer once piece of advice to a novice writer, what would it be?
Do. The. Work. Everything else flows from that. Get your manuscript in the best possible shape. Learn and follow the rules for querying and submission. Know how to present yourself and your work to the greatest advantage. Don’t ever give anyone a reason to weed you out. And most of all, don’t give up. You may have to move on to a new project, or try a new approach, but if you quit, you’ll never know what you could have accomplished. (Said the woman with 200+ rejections for the two failed projects before the Ella Shane series.)
What would you consider to be the best compliment a reader could give your book?
I love these characters…and I want to keep coming back and spending time with them.
What are you working on now?
The next Ella, among other things. Let’s just say that Ella and her readers will get exactly what they’ve been hoping for, in the last way they expect it to happen. I’m also working on other mystery series ideas. Plus, in September, I started a series on Channillo: ON THE SIDE OF THE ANGELS is my guilty pleasure project, the (very darkly comic) tale of a nice suburban mom who is also an assassin. New chapters every Monday: https://channillo.com/series/on-the-side-of-the-angels/
WHERE TO FIND ME:
A FATAL FINALE (out now!) introduces swashbuckling Gilded Age diva Ella Shane, best described as part Beverly Sills, part Anne of Green Gables, and part Errol Flynn. Ella, an Irish-Jewish Lower East Side orphan made good, is singing Romeo when her Juliet dies onstage. The girl’s cousin, a genuine British Duke, comes to New York to investigate and immediately insults Ella – who schools him in a fencing match. Soon, Ella, her “confirmed bachelor” former boxing champ cousin Tommy, and the colorful cast are looking for a killer…and the Duke is hooked. No spoiler (just tease!) it all culminates in a catwalk duel with the killer – with Ella handling swordplay while the Duke waits in the wings.
FATAL FIRST NIGHT (coming 4/27/21) opens with a murder in Richard III’s ressing room after the premiere of the Ella Shane Opera Company’s new production, The Princes in the Tower. Ella and friends aren't at all sure about their colleague's guilt -- even though it seems obvious. Meanwhile, newspaper reporter Hetty MacNaughten has finally escaped hats to cover a sensational murder trial. Before it’s over, the cast will have to sort out several interlocking mysteries, welcome an unexpected visitor…and find another Richard III. Will everyone survive to the final curtain?