My October guest is Kathleen Marple Kalb. Welcome to By the Letter, Kathleen, and thank you for being here.

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An award-winning weekend anchor at 1010 WINS Radio in New York, Kathleen is the author of several mysteries, and as Nikki Knight she writes the Vermont Radio Mysteries. Find out here how this prolific author fits all of that into her life.

Tell us where you live and what a typical day might look like for you.

I like to call myself an author/anchor/mom…not in that order. Most weekdays, I’m the stay-at-home mom of a tween in suburban Connecticut. Weekends and holidays, I anchor at 1010 WINS, New York City’s #1 all-news radio station. Writing? Whenever I have five minutes and a flat surface for the laptop!

What kind of writing do you do and what led you to that?

Mysteries, long and short, historical and contemporary. As a working journalist, I’m very familiar with crime and the evil humans can do…and writing light (I call them modern cozy) mysteries enables me to take what I see at work and turn it into something fun, with a happy ending. Therapy, much?

My historical work is set in the late 19th-early 20th century, because it’s a time period that’s recognizable to modern readers, but still very different. And because it interests me. A lot of my “research” is just fun reading. Some fun facts end up in the contemporary Old Stuff mysteries, like this one: men often didn’t wear actual underwear in the 17th century, but long shirts that they just tucked in around everything. (To quote my main character: Ick.)

In the early days of writing, were there authors whom you consciously modelled yourself on?

Elizabeth Peters and Janet Evanovich were (and are) big inspirations. But I learned pretty quickly that I’m not as brilliant as Peters or as fabulous as Evanovich and it was better to just be me.

What is the most essential aspect of the story? The characters, the settings, or the plot?

Characters, all the way. You can have the twistiest plot ever invented, but if the reader doesn’t care about the people involved, they’re not going to stay.

What challenges face you when writing, from finding time through to any case of writer’s block? And are there techniques you have to overcome them?

I’m a working journalist. I’m not allowed to get writers’ block! Sometimes it’s tough to find time to write, but I’ve learned to just scribble ideas whenever I get them, and clean them up later. And, yes, honestly, even we big tough news folk get stuck sometimes. A stretch, a cup of coffee, or maybe a walk is usually enough to clear it.

What is your most recent book about? What inspired this particular story?

My new series debuts this fall – the Old Stuff Mysteries, featuring Christian Shaw, an expert on 18th and 19th century household goods (stuff!). In THE STUFF OF MURDER (coming from Level Best Books) Christian is consulting on a movie in her little Connecticut town when the star drops dead. It’s a fun way to use all those interesting facts from my historical research, and these characters are really special.

Are you close to other writers and how does that help you?

Absolutely! Writers need writers. Even if you’re blessed with a supportive partner and family (I am!), they just don’t get some things. Writer friends understand just how much rejection stings, and will parse plot points that make other folks’ eyes cross. Really important!

What do you like to read yourself?

Everything! A lot of history, especially Alison Weir’s wonderful biographies of Tudor-era women. Classic mysteries – Dorothy Sayers is my favorite – and modern new ones too. Cookbooks. Travelogues. Sports sagas. Genre doesn’t matter to me; I’m here for interesting people, a compelling story and good writing.

What are your future writing plans and especially, when can we expect a new book from you?

I’m always writing! There are more Vermont radio short stories in the pipeline – and hopefully someone will buy them! THE STUFF OF MURDER, the first Old Stuff Mystery, is due this fall…and there are at least two more to come in 2024 and 2025.

Find Kathleen here

Content for both author brands created, curated and maintained by me.

As Nikki Knight (Pen Name for Vermont Radio Cozy Mysteries)
YouTube: Nikki Knight’s Radio Storytime Kathleen Kalb – YouTube

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