Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Friend and Fellow Author, Kit Sloane




Kit Sloane and I met at a mystery conference, not sure which one, but we got together at several others after that as well as at the L.A. Times Book Festival at UCLA. I've read all her books and followed along with her career, and now we share the same publisher, Oak Tree Press.

Marilyn: Tell me a bit about your background and personal life for starters.

Kit: I've always been a "reader," including reading mysteries from a very young age. Much, much later I was a research assistant for a bunch of historians (that's where I met my husband!) and then I became a medical office manager for many years when we had children PLUS husband in college and needed the money. When my husband finished his Ph.D at age 50, I decided to take a year off from work to see if I could write a book, just for fun. Little did I know what was to come!

Marilyn: Have you always wanted to be a writer?

Kit: I've always written; poems, short stories, long letters to my family. (As a "Navy wife," I was usually 3,000 miles away!) Writing and reading have always been a big part of my life. My mother was an editor for a large newspaper and writing and editing and laughing about typos were continuing parts of family conversations.

Marilyn: How did you first get published?

Kit: fter five agents (none of whom sold a word), I became first fiction editor for Futures Mystery Magazine that Babs Lakey published. This had begun as the newsletter for the Guppy newsletter, the Sisters in Crime chapter for "pre-published writers." (Babs and I called the Guppies "the great unpublished," but that created some ire).

Through the magazine I met a lot of terrific people, all of us working at getting published. But it was the Internet and email that allowed us to utilize NETWORKING, at last! I sent a short story to Margo Power who was then publishing Mysterious Intent Magazine. She accepted the story but stopped the magazine publication before it ever came out(!) in order to start her too-short-lived small independent
publishing company, Deadly Alibi Press. I submitted the first 4 of my series to her and she eventually published all four. The first one was delivered to my door on my 60th birthday. What a thrill!

Marilyn: Tell me about your series and how it came about.

Kit" Earlier, I had done another series that my agent was unsuccessfully trying to sell. She finally gave up and suggested I start a new series. A rather daunting thought! My best friend was studying film editing in Berkeley and I'd meet her for lunch at the studio. I saw the other editors, all women, who were rather shy, reserved, and far from the glitz of Hollywood working in their quiet editing spaces. I thought those self-effacing characteristics would be interesting for the protagonist in a mystery story and Margot O'Banion was born.

My daughter Annie (who does my covers) is an art director in Hollywood and her significant, Marc, is a production director. (They just returned from 4-months on location in Georgia, the nation, not the state!) I listen to them talk about what they do, what they want to do, the obstacles in their way, and the people they work with. Fascinating conversations that trigger my imagination! Marc's story of "where the money goes" on a drive to Hana, Maui, became number 6, LOCATION LOCATION.

Marilyn: What is the latest book and what gave you the idea for it?

Kit: My latest (number 7 in the Margot & Max series) is titled THE FAT LADY SINGS. I've always been a big fan of Gilbert & Sullivan operettas and thought how fun if I could maneuver Margot into directing one and then I could take the group to England. Having Margot and Max as film people is a real asset to my series. I can logically take them absolutely anywhere, and I have!

Marilyn: Where is the book available?

Kit: FAT LADY is available online at all the usual places, from Ingrams and from Barnes and Noble orders direct, and also from Oak Tree Press at http://www.oaktreebooks.com

Marilyn: Do you have a website?

Kit: Yes, I've had a webpage for years. Lisa Logan is my webgal and she is
so fun to work with. We try to change it monthly, and keep it nice
and updated. She's full of good ideas. The URL is http://www.kitsloane.net

Marilyn: What kind of promotion works best for you? Describe some of
your favorite book events.

Kit: My favorite book events are speaking engagements. I really enjoy interacting with audiences. My least favorite are bookstore signings. I had a high-powered PR gal when the 5th in the series, EXTREME CUISINE, really took off. None of us could figure why, but it sold a lot. But after a year of doing everything possible booksigning-wise, we couldn't see that those gigs had anything to do with the sales.

The book just kind of took off by itself. So I stopped doing the signings! It seems to me that unless you have a VAST extended family and hundreds of faithful friends and are truly famous, most booksignings tend to be small affairs (not counting the ones you see in the movies or if you're the 5% of mystery writers who actually make good money for their books!) My middle publisher used to refer to my readers as my "cult fan club," meaning small, but loyal.

Marilyn: Is there anything else you'd like my blog readers to know?

Kit: I've read reviews of my stories where they're labeled "off-beat." That's fine with me and certainly the reason I've always been with Independent publishers. Independent publishers want a good story, not a formula, which is a plus since a couple of my stories don't actually contain a murder, or even a body.

I feel that suspense can be created by good characterization of problematic people and good description of marginal events. I am not a fan of "the body in the first chapter" sort of plot, or any other contrivances that some agents/editors suggest.

After all no one KNOWS what will sell. And with that in mind, I encourage writers to write the story THEY want to write. Following a trend will get you nowhere since the writing and publishing take so long, the trend will be over with by the time your book comes out! Just write a terrific story!

Marilyn: Thank you so much, Kit, for telling us about yourself, your books, and giving us some terrific insights. Hope I run into you again sometime soon so we can share a good laugh.

http://fictionforyou.com

7 comments:

Dana Fredsti said...

Hi, Kit and Marilyn!

I recently discovered Kit's Margo and Max series, although to my chagrin, out of chronological order (I ordered Location, Location, thinking it was the first in the series...) . Love it!

I look forward to doing one of those speaking engagements with you down the road, Kit, if we can get the Napa Library to cooperate... :-)

Kit Sloane said...

Hey Dana!

All my books are "out of order." Seriously, they're all standalones since I, personally, dislike wading through pages of explanations of what happened last time!

We'll get together yet!

Sunny Frazier said...

What a fascinating career path you describe! I got a story in before Murderous Intent folded, there have been so many lost venues in the mystery genre. Looking forward to meeting you and welcome to the Oak Tree Press family.

Kit Sloane said...

Thanks for the comment, Sunny. I think we'll finally meet at Left Coast Crime this year! Looking forward to it!

Marilyn Meredith a.k.a. F. M. Meredith said...

I won't be at LCC unfortunately, have too many conferences I'm going to already. Have a great time!

Nancy Bailey said...

How great to see this interesting interview with Kit. She is as fascinating in person as her characters are in print.

Mystery novels are my favorite and Kit's are never disappointing. She has the unique ability to keep the reader in a heightened state of suspense from the first page to the last. I have yet to understand why the mystery book market is so often overlooked.

This venue for discussion is exciting and I look forward to more discussions. Thanks for featuring Kit!

Beverlyalauderdale said...

Thanks to Sunny's e-mail, I read Marilyn's excellent interview with Kit. I especially liked the question and answer dealing with successful promotion.