Wednesday, March 8, 2023

Kathleen Kaska - Murder at the Pontchartrain

March 22 2023

Our first author interview for 2023 features Kathleen Kaska and we are more than pleased to have her with us as she prepares for the publication release of her newest book - Murder at the Pontchartrain - available this June (details to pre-order further below)

There's a story behind those red boots - read on!

Kathleen is a multi-faceted woman! We've known her for a few years within our writing community and continue to be amazed by the diverse and passionate intererests she has.

As an author she may be best known for her award-winning Sydney Lockhart Mysteries, as well as her Kate Caraway Animal-Rights Mystery Series. But she didn't stop there. She also authors The Classic Triviography Mystery Series. And anything she doesn't know about Sherlock Holmes would probably fit into the bowl of one of his pipes.

But wait, there's more! In addition to her writing, which she blogs about, she's also branched out as a writing coach, and edits manuscripts. Who better to share and mentor others than this author who never stops learning!

We also enjoy her blog series "Growing Up Catholic in a Small Texas Town". 

Wow, Kathleen. When do you get a chance to breathe? And how do you relax or wind down from all these activities?

Sometimes I have to remind myself to breathe. Meditation early in the morning helps. A glass of wine in the evening also does. But the best way for me to unwind is to run, a habit I picked up in college. Running keeps me fit and provides an excellent time for my brain to relax, allowing my imagination to flow. I can plot my mysteries and figure out how to tie up loose ends. This is also when my characters talk to me, and new characters introduce themselves.

Your latest book (which I eagerly anticipate), “Murder at the Pontchartrain” is number 6 in the Sydney Lockhart Mystery series. How did the theme of hotel murders, in the 1950s, come to you?

The idea came to me one Thanksgiving weekend when my husband and I checked into the historic Arlington Hotel in Hot Springs, Arkansas, for our annual vacation. Our room was not ready, and we had to wait several hours. That wasn’t a problem because being in the hotel lobby was like stepping back in time. My mind started to wander, and I began to imagine reasons for the long delay. The answer was given to me when we were finally allowed into our room. I was unpacking when a woman came out of the bathroom complaining there was a dead body in the tub. That woman was Sydney Lockhart. I told her I would help her find out who killed the guy, but she’d have to agree to accompany me to other historic hotels (I was already making a list) where she would encounter more murder victims. A wicked smile spread across her face, and she agreed. We’ve been partners ever since.

Why the 1950s? Sydney not only stepped into my world but also out of the 1950s, the decade I was born. It just seemed natural, and I didn’t question it.

I love it! As authors, ideas can come from anywhere! Can you give us an overview of this new book?

To do that, I’ll mention the previous book, Murder at the Menger, set in San Antonio, Texas. The plot centers around horseracing, but in the 1950s, horseracing wasn’t allowed in Texas, so I had to develop a few scenes in New Orleans, which meant a research trip was in order. That’s when I discovered the Pontchartrain Hotel and used it in book number six. The Pontchartrain was built in 1927 and opened as a luxury apartment building. It was turned into a hotel in 1940. Its rich history just begged to be written about. Signing the register were notable guests Cole Porter, Evelyn Waugh, Richard Burton, Rudolph Nureyev, and Rita Hayworth. Tennessee Williams lived there while writing A Streetcar Named Desire. My character, Ruth, Sydney’s bubbled-headed blonde cousin, had a lot to say about Williams and the title of his play, something she couldn’t get her pea-brain around.


What's the official launch date for Murder at the Pontchartrain?

Kathleen: The book will be released June 15 2023, and is up for preorder from my publisher, Anamcara Press

I enjoy your blog “Growing Up Catholic in a Small Texas Town.” Big families and relationships are so important to a good story. Will you write a book with all those stories of your Czech relatives as characters?

Funny, you should ask. I am working on a new mystery set in my hometown of West. Locals like to refer to it as West (Comma) Texas to let people know that West is the town’s name and not the state’s region. Adding the comma to the name has become so popular that the local high-school football team has jerseys that read The Comma. The story is set in curtain time with another cast of crazy characters. I’m having a blast writing it; many of the scenes will come from actual happenings. However, I’ve never based my characters on real people. Since I am related to half the town, I have to be careful because folks naturally look for themselves in books.

When I write my “Growing Up Catholic” blog, however, I often write about my relatives, but I always warn them ahead of time; actually, I ask their permission. I've never had anyone tell me no; they are usually flattered to end up in my blog.

Who influenced you in your early days of writing and why?

The authors who influenced me early on were Arthur Conan Doyle and Agatha Christie. I read all the Sherlock Holmes stories and novels and everything Christie wrote. When I started to write the Sydney Lockhart mysteries, Janet Evanovich, Carl Hiaasen, Elizabeth Peters, and Martha Grimes were my inspirations. They all write or wrote zany mysteries with quirky characters.

I cut my reading teeth with Sherlock and  Dame Agatha as well.  It’s obvious you care about animal rights – is there anything in particular you’d like to say?

My first series was the Kate Caraway Animal-Rights series. I was influenced by Nevada Barr, who set her mysteries in national parks. I love the outdoor setting and the environmental messages the stories convey. They inspired me to write a mystery with a cause, and the cause became animal rights. While living in Austin, Texas, I was a member of Wildlife Rescue, which cared for orphaned and injured wildlife. Most of the wildlife I took in were birds. It was such a satisfying feeling when I released an animal into the wild.

I’d love to know the story behind your red boots – if there is one?

Yes. It was cool in the 1950s for kids to dress up like cowboys and cowgirls. Hopalong Cassidy, Roy Rogers, and Dale Evens, and the Lone Ranger filled the airwaves and TV screen. When I was little, my parents gave me a cowgirl outfit, complete with red boots, for my birthday. The rest is history.

Will there be another book in Sydney Lockhart's 'Murder at the...' series? And if so, can you tell us a little about it?

I’m just getting started on a new Sydney mystery. I can tell you that Sydney is back in Texas, but my chosen hotel will remain a secret for a while.

Tell us a little about your coaching program? Is this suited more for beginners and debut authors?

My business, Metaphor Writing Coach, is geared toward helping new authors write, complete, polish their books, and sometimes find a publisher. But I also work with published authors who need someone to edit their manuscripts. My experience comes from being a publishing company’s marketing director and editor. Before I started writing, I taught school. Teaching is in my blood; I love doing it.

Liz: Anyone who is interested in Sherlock Holmes would love to hear about your Sherlockian pursuits. How did your passion for this classic detective begin? How can someone wanting to learn more contact you?

My second trivia book was about Sherlock Holmes. While writing it, I learned about Sherlock Holmes societies, groups of people who gather regularly to discuss the Great Detective. There are more than 500 societies worldwide, and I joined the Waterloo Station Society in Austin. When I moved to Anacortes, Washington, I founded The Dogs of the Nighttime, a scion of the Baker Street Irregulars organized in New York City by Christopher Morley. When we first started meeting, there were only four members in our group, but over time we've grown to about forty. During the pandemic, we started meeting virtually. Now we are a hybrid group, meeting in person and virtually. We have folks joining us from all over the U.S. and Canada. The Dogs been meeting once a month for about twelve years. We discuss the original Conan Doyle stories, but also movies, TV shows, pastiches, and anything dealing with Holmes. We’re an informal group. The public is welcome to attend any time.

Anyone can visit my author website: and my coaching website: I welcome emails at:

Thank you, Kathleen. We truly appreciate the time you've spent with us today and hope our readers will become new fans! We wish you much success with the newest book in your series. 

If you wish to learn more about Kathleen here are links to explore:

Tuesday, January 31, 2023

Blog-Letter February 1 2023

 February 1 2023


"Keep your face always toward the sunshine - and shadows will fall behind you." 

Walt Whitman

Will he - won't he - see his shadow? The groundhog of course.  Or does it even matter. Some would say we'd be lucky if there were only 6 more weeks of winter! January 2023 in southern Ontario has been particularly dreary and sunless this winter. 
For those new to our newsletter, did you know Jamie Tremain is not one, but two authors? Pam Blance and Liz Lindsay write together as "Jamie Tremain"


From Pam:

I’m not a winter person by any stretch of the imagination. My idea of winter is sitting by the fire with a good book. Or in the car with the heated seats warming me like toast. I never want to leave. Best invention ever!

The snow is lovely when it’s falling and I can see the joy it brings to kids and dogs. Never knew a dog that didn’t like snow, but as for skiing, skating, snowmobiling and all things to do with snow…not for me. Skiing I’ve not tried. I’d most likely break my neck. Never been on skates but I do enjoy watching the dance skaters.

I tried snowmobiling many years ago and I have to admit it was fun, but as it was New Years day I probably had enough Dutch Courage in me to keep me warm. 

When the kids were young we would join a party of friends for a winter barbecue at a conservation area.The kids would play hockey on the frozen lake and loved to toboggan. I even tried snowshoes. Disaster!

Where I live, near Lake Ontario, it tends to be milder and although the weather forecasters keep predicting wild weather patterns and heavy snow storms it doesn’t always materialize. Road conditions are another matter. Freezing rain and snow squalls are not for driving in. I cancelled lunch with friends because of the ice on the roads. Even though the sun came out by noon and it was probably fine to drive. Better safe than sorry.  

Having noted all my dislikes about winter, one of my favorite books and movies of all time is Boris Pasternak’s ‘Dr. Zhivago’. I read the book in the sixties and have watched this movie at least a dozen times. The scenes with the house in Varykino, frozen in time, is a classic.

You’ve guessed it. I like to watch the winter from my comfy chair either looking out the window,  watching movies or preferably lost in a book.  When I wrote this the sun was out, and the snow is melting. I can’t wait for Spring but it’s like wishing one's life away.

Busy February is coming up. Liz and I are about a third of the way writing book number four in the Dorothy Dennehy Series -   Cultivating the Truth Other projects are also in the works.

Oh, bring on the snow! I’m hibernating at my computer while I wait on Liz’s next chapter. Maybe I’ll watch Dr Zhivago again or dig out the book. It’s in my bulging bookcase somewhere. 


From Liz:

Book Review -  The Newlywed by Anna Willett


I love fictional cold case stories and this latest by Anna Willett checks all the boxes. The Newlywed is a perfect blend of cold case detective work, complex characters, and human emotions. For me a bonus that it’s set in Australia – a setting I always enjoy!

Why did Jane Wilson vanish shortly after her marriage? How is her husband’s twin brother involved? What is causing her so much unease to return as a newlywed to the small seaside town of Seabreak, where she vacationed as a teenager?

Years after Jane’s disappearance, and assumed murder, D.I. Veronika Pope leads a new investigation. Coincidences are not her thing, and the clues mean more questions, especially when similar disappearances are discovered.

Anna Willett has created believable, and likeable, characters with D.I. Pope and her team. The tension and suspense that builds towards the conclusion are brilliantly woven. I cannot wait to read more of this series and would love to see D.I. Pope come to life as a television series.

If you’re a fan of good detective work, police procedurals, and an engaging mystery, read “The Newlywed” – it won’t disappoint!

Jamie Tremain News

As mentioned last month, our Genre 5 Writer Group Christmas get together was postponed courtesy of Mother Nature. But it was worth the wait when we gathered early in January. Over a delicious meal and cozy time by the fire, we enjoyed laughter and also found time for those serious topics that good friends can easily discuss. Did we solve the problems of the world? That would be telling - what gets discussed in our gatherings stays there. The headbands were an extra bonus!

Pam   Gloria   Donna   Liz   Donna

Wishing everyone a Happy Valentines, or Galentine's Day (Feb 13). The idea of this day, first originated with one of Liz's favourite shows, Parks and Recreation - the holiday focuses on the declaration of love and affection to the gals who make up our support system.  The above picture is a perfect example for the day!

And  Remember -

Kindness is more than deeds. It is an attitude, an expression, a look, a touch. It is anything that lifts another person.


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