Q&A with author Katherine Hall Page! - Dark Streets
Katherine Hall Page was born and grew up in New Jersey, graduating from Livingston High School. Her father was the Executive Director of The Kessler Institute for Rehabilitation and her mother was an artist. Page has an older brother and a younger sister. Her her first mystery, The Body in the Belfry, 1991 was an Agatha Award winner for Best First Mystery Novel. The fifteenth in the series,The Body in the Snowdrift , won the 2006 Agatha Award for Best Mystery Novel. Ms. Page was also awarded the 2001 Agatha for Best Short Story for "The Would-Be Widower" in the Malice Domestic X collection (Avon Books).
I enjoyed reading her books and hope this interview will give you an insight to a fabulous author and whet your appetite to try her novels!
Tell us a bit about your Faith Fairchild series and the latest entry? Where did the idea come from?
My husband, who is a professor, took a sabbatical and I wrote The Body in the Belfry on a manual Underwood friends loaned me the year we were living in France. I had always wanted time to write the kind of mystery I liked to read—a good puzzle, suspense, a little comic relief, and plenty of food. My ideas come purely from my own imagination. Madeleine L’Engle’s description of writing as “taking dictation from one’s imagination.” sums it up for me. The Body in the Wardrobe is the 23rd book in the Faith Fairchild mystery and Sophie Maxwell, a character I introduced in the last book, The Body in the Birches, is back. Faith travels to Savannah where newly wed Sophie is living. Lots of mysterious happenings as befits that city, as well as terrific low country food.
How do you feel about receiving Malice Domestic’s Life Achievement Award?
Stunned, thrilled, proud, amazed—repeat roughly a hundred times and it may come close to how I felt when I got the news and continue to feel.
How do you “get to know” your characters before and while you’re writing the books?
One of the delights of writing a series, especially one as long as this, is that my main characters have been with me for the duration. They are truly embedded in my mind at this point. I should point out that it wasn’t until my editor asked my agent “When can we expect the next book in the series?” after she accepted Belfry that I had any idea I was off and running on a series. Had just thought it would be the one book.
How do you construct your plots? Do you outline or do you write “by the seat of your pants”?
Never have been a “winging it” person so, yes, I do plan each book. I start by writing a synopsis, which changes as I write the book, but I know whodunit. I also start each workday by rewriting what I have written the day before. A kind of jump-start. My editor doesn’t see the manuscript until it’s done, but we talk about the synopsis at the start-where the book will take place, what perils Faith will have to endure yet again.
Which do you consider more important, plot or character?
This is like having to choose a favorite child! Both!
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced as a writer and what inspires you and keeps you motivated?
The greatest challenge is to keep the series fresh and at the start I alternated the books so an “Aleford”—the fictitious town west of Boston where Faith lives—is followed by a “someplace else” book. These locales have ranged from places in Europe to the coast of Maine, Vermont, and now Savannah. Writing is hard work, as Mary Roberts Rinehart titled a book on her craft, but it’s something I have always loved to do. No better motivation than that. It’s also how I earn my living too, of course.
What are you working on now and what are your future writing plans?
I am doing research for the next book, out in 2017, The Body in the Casket. It features a Broadway producer, so I am having fun reading biographies, autobiographies, and accounts of how shows make it to the Great White Way.
What question do you wish interviewers would ask? (And what’s the answer?)
It’s a question I’ve heard asked of various chefs: What would your perfect meal be? (We don’t have to say it’s the last!)
Answer: To start, an assortment of small plates covering a wide range of cuisines: gravlax with mustard/dill sauce, hush puppies, deviled eggs, Chinese steamed soup dumplings, caviar on brioche toast points. More, but have to save room for butter poached Maine lobster with steamed fresh asparagus and thickly sliced Jersey tomatoes with fresh basil leaves. A cheese course: runny St. Marcellin, Sunset Acres fresh chevre, and Brebis (sheep) from Spain with 2 kinds of bread-a basic baguette, then a whole wheat with walnuts. For dessert an assortment of fruits in season and if I can possibly eat another bite: Faith Fairchild’s chocolate bread pudding. And only a very cold, dry champagne to drink
Where can we learn more about you and your books?
I have a terrific website: www.katherine-hall-page.org thanks to my IT son and I am on Facebook. I miss getting snail mail letters from readers, but happily people get in touch on FB and the site, which has a contact page where you can send as long a note as you wish!
Columnist: Toni LoTempio
Born in New York City, T. C. LoTempio is the national bestselling author of the Nick and Nora Mystery series. She has been a staff reporter at the young adult magazine Susabella Passengers and Friends for more than a decade. When she isn’t reporting or writing novels, she and her cat Rocco fundraise for Nathan Fillion’s charity, Kids Need to Read. Visit her at www.tclotempio.com or at www.catsbooksmorecats.blogspot.com