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Monday, August 8, 2011

Introducing Kaye George, 2010 Agatha nominee, and her new book, Choke

Kaye George, an Agatha nominated short story writer, is the author of CHOKE, published by Mainly Murder Press, as well as A PATCHWORK OF STORIES, a self-published collection of her previously published stories. FISH TALES: THE GUPPY ANTHOLOGY contains her story, "The Truck Contest.” She reviews for "Suspense Magazine,” and writes for several newsletters and blogs. She, her husband, and a cat named Agamemnon live together in Texas, near Austin.

Tell us about the genre of your work. 
Most of what I write is some sort of mystery. My new novel is amateur sleuth, but many of my stories are all over the map and some are even hard-boiled. I do not know why, but my shorter writing tends to be grittier. Just this year I have crossed over into horror. It does not seem that far from noir crime fiction. Just add a dash of paranormal and you have horror.
Why did you choose this genre?
I wrote "literary" short stories during my teens and twenties. When, a few years after that, I decided I really, really, really wanted to see something in print, it occurred to me that most of my reading was in the mystery genre. Since I knew the most about it, it made sense to start at novel length there.
What are some of your books, stories that have been published?
My debut mystery, CHOKE, came out in trade paperback in May of this year. I later put it out myself as an e-book. While trying for years and years to get a novel published, I started having success with short stories, for some reason, and have had a few of those accepted into print and online magazines. Since some of the venues have gone out of business, I decided to put out a volume of those stories myself, called A PATCHWORK OF STORIES. I also have stories available in FISH TALES: THE GUPPY ANTHOLOGY and one at Untreed Reads called THE BAVARIAN KRISP CAPER. There should be one at Sniplits soon, too, if it is not already there. That one is called RESCUE:2005 and is about the aftermath of hurricane Katrina.

Give a short description of each, and what is your newest book?
My newest, okay, my only book is CHOKE, ISBN 978-0-9827952-7-9, available at Mainly Murder Press ( Here is the teaser--
Twenty-two-year-old Imogene Duckworthy is waiting tables at Huey's Hash in tiny Saltlick, TX, itching to jump out of her rut and become a detective. When Uncle Huey is found murdered in the diner, a half-frozen package of mesquite-smoked sausage stuffed down his throat, Emmy gets her chance. Immy's mother, Hortense is hauled in for the crime. Unclear of the exact duties of a PI, Immy starts a fire in the bathroom wastebasket to bust Mother out of jail. On the run from the law with her mother and her toddler daughter, Nancy Drew Duckworthy, Immy wonders, now what?

THE BAVARIAN KRISP CAPER, ISBN 9781611870824, is only available as e-story. It is at:
Mandy adores Bavarian Krisp donuts. A nice day at Boston Common with her niece, Ella, turns ugly, though, when her quest for the goodies takes her down a dark path. Out of work and out of donuts. What lengths will she go to in order to satisfy her sweet tooth?

"The Truck Contest" in FISH TALES anthology, ISBN 978-1-4344-3081-9 comes in paperback

(It is also through Ingram and Baker & Taylor)
and as an e-book at

My story, from a review by Edith Maxwell on her blog, Speaking of Mystery, at
"The Truck Contest," by Kaye George, describes recreational activities on a lake in winter. I have been working on an ice-fishing story myself, so this was a fun read. The twist at the end was particularly satisfying.

"Twelve Drummers Drumming" is on the Dark Valentine blog
This is the last entry for the horror noir version of The Twelve Days of Christmas and takes place on an African safari led by a man who is not too careful about poaching regulations.

My foray into non-fiction is THE ROAD TO SELF-PUBLISHING, a short how-to book for self-publishers.

Description: A self-published guide to self-publishing. This booklet tells you how to get your eBook onto Smashwords and Kindle, including detailed instructions on creating covers. 

My short story collection, A PATCHWORK OF STORIES, is available as a paperback at
and as an e-book at

Nine previously published tales from sunny side up to over hard. Includes Agatha nominated short story of 2010.This collection includes the story nominated for an Agatha in 2010, a diet spoof, a Wal-Mart people short short, and much more. These stories originally appeared in Hard Luck Stories, Mouth Full of Bullets, Mysterical-E and others. 
How do you come up with the names of places and characters in your books?

Good question! When I make up place names, I try to stick closely to the actual name. I want the reader to know what area I am in, but I would like the freedom--when I do this--to put things where I want them and to stage murders in places that probably do not exit. Or cannot be identified anyway.  In CHOKE, I called Wichita Falls, a Texas town, Wymee Falls. I gave it the fake waterfall for which the town is named (which I think is hilarious), and the one shopping mall as in real life.

Many of my stories are set in actual places: Chicago, Boston, Detroit and all the places that I have lived or visited. I had specific reasons for the settings. The Detroit story uses the backdrop of the horrific local tradition of Devil's Night. The Boston story is about the local institution, Dunkin Donuts, disguised as Dandy Donuts. However, the Chicago story is dependent on the winter weather and the wind that comes off Lake Michigan to make my cop character's winter cold feel more real.

I love naming characters! I am always collecting names, off TV, out of newspaper stories and obituaries. I even save off the names attached to the spam. Yes, I look in that dreaded folder to get names. Many are misspelled, but there are lots I never would think of such as a contestant on Jeopardy a few months ago! He had an unusual last name, and he became a character in a short story I was writing at the time. However, with a different first name.

My favorite name, though, Imogene Duckworthy, appeared to me bit by bit. I knew I wanted an Inept Detective and imagined calling the series, I-something D-something, the Inept Detective. Therefore, I had the initials I wanted. I remembered a comedienne named Imogene Coca (I think); from a long time ago and I thought Imogene would be a good first name. There are not a whole lot of female first names that start with the letter I.

I was pondering a last name one night as we were driving past the Hutto High School football field, a local place whose claim to fame is that is was used in the opening shots to the TV show, Friday Night Lights. The Hutto football team is named the Hutto Hippos (for a pretty funny reason, in fact), and my mind wandered to the team name in the town where we lived, the Taylor Ducks. They were named partly because they had a coach named Mallard and partly because they played well for their first game, which took place in a downpour.

The name came to me--Duckworth. Duckworth was a good name, but somehow it seemed it would be funnier as Duckworthy. I could not find many people with that name when I Googled, so that was good (although there are people named Imogene Duckworth).  As soon as I had the name, Imogene Duckworthy, the character sprang to life in my head.

How did you develop the character of your protagonist in this book?

Imogene, as I have said, came to life when she had her complete name. I knew she was young and poor. She is naive and worldly at the same time. She has attracted to handsome men, well heck, to men. In fact, the father of her young daughter, Nancy Drew Duckworthy, was a trucker whose name she did not have a chance to get.  She lives in a single-wide because at least a third of the people in the real town that Saltlick is modeled after do. She fiercely wants to be a detective, mostly because her father was a police detective and was shot to death. Her mother, Hortense, a retired librarian, is her main obstacle to this, mainly because Hortense's husband was a police detective and was shot to death. Immy is willing to go up against even the formidable and controlling Hortense to make her dream come true. The kicker comes when Hortense is accused of murder and must depend on Immy to clear her of the charges.

What about an antagonist…is there a unique “bad guy” or a recurring nemesis of any kind?

I do not have a recurring bad guy, just a new hurdle for Immy, besides the solving of a murder, in each planned sequel.
What is your favorite thing about your book?
This series is a lot of fun to write! And people tell me its fun to read. My goal is laugh-out-loud humor and I have not had a reader yet say I have missed with that. I like the chance to illuminate a way of life that might be foreign to a lot of city dwellers and people who have not lived in the more remote parts of Texas. Before we moved there, I had no idea that men still made a living by being horseback cowboys for the boss ranchers. The smaller ranchers mostly work other jobs to make ends meet. It is very hard work, but they will not give up their cattle for anything.
How is writing in the genre you write, different than other genre?
Mysteries, to me and many other mystery writers, are about justice. They are a form of escapism where, in the end, the world is set right and bad actors get what they deserve. Perfect justice happens so seldom in real life, it does a body good to read about it. I want to brighten someone's day with my humor, and also to give them a sense of something accomplished, through the solution to the murder and the capturing of the bad guy(s).
Why and when did you begin writing?
My first stories were crayon drawings before I could write words, so I guess I have been writing almost as long as I've been alive. I did comic strips when I was in early grade school and wrote two pieces I called novels in 5th or 6th grade. I wish I still had them, but I doubt they were more than a few pages. In one, a little girl snuck out of her flat in Chicago and ventured into the world, observing people. Not much in the way of plot. In the other, though, Nessie, the Loch Ness monster, escaped via an underground stream and joined a group of plesiosaurs in the Atlantic Ocean. She had not realized that is what she was until she saw them. Maybe it was a coming of age story?
I wrote what I thought of as literary stories for years until I started writing mysteries, and now I am hooked on that.
What is your writing schedule?
When I am doing a first draft (and I have written many novels besides the one being published, so I almost have a rhythm down for a first draft) I can spend 3-4 hours on it a day. That is besides keeping up with my critique groups, working on short stories, and interacting online, which is where my real life is nowadays.
Once I was writing a bitterly cold winter scene. When I stood up from the computer, I wondered why it was so hot in the middle of such a terrible storm. I realized that, outside my story, it was summertime and the AC was running full time. What a surprise! My fingers and toes had been so cold.
What projects are you working on now, or plan for the future?
I've finished another Immy book and am working on a third. I have a couple other series I would like to polish up and get published, and ideas for many more series. I get ideas faster than I could possibly write them. I am also, always, scribbling down short stories.
The non-fiction booklet with tips on how to put a self-published book online is a work in progress. As writers buy it, some of them let me know what they would like to see added or expanded, so I make changes to that on an on-going basis. This little .99 cent, 9-page booklet is my attempt to give something back to the very generous writing community.
What kind of advice or tips to you have for someone who wants to write and get published?
I heard once that the only difference between a published writer and an unpublished one is persistence. That has kept me going. It took literally years to learn how to craft a mystery and to get it sold. There is no short cut, except maybe for a few special people. Most of us have to do it the long, hard way. If you quit, you will never know what might have happened in the next week or the next month. That might have been your break through. Don't quit! Moreover, keep trying to grow and improve as a writer. It never hurts to take a course on some aspect you have problems with in your writing.
Are there any other comments, advice or tips that you would give to beginning writers?
Find other writers. I know a lot of writers do not like to interact with others, but it is a lonely occupation and no one else will understand you. Only another writer will know what joy it is to finish a first draft, or what dejection the one-hundredth rejection brings. The cyber world has made this so much more possible than it used to be, I am sure.
The other important thing, that I think is almost too obvious to state, is that you must read. In order to write, you must read. A lot. And write. A lot. Moreover, not everything you write will be good. Nevertheless, you have to keep doing it if you are driven in that direction.
What do you do when you are not writing? 
Besides reading, I review for Suspense Magazine, but that is really writing, I guess.  I play violin and like to compose. My family is far flung and I spend time and money visiting them. I also love to travel just anywhere. Our family hosted two exchange students when my children were in high school, one from Sweden and one from Italy. We visit them, they visit us occasionally, and those are grand times!
What “Made It” moments have you experienced in life?
Years ago, I made phone contact with an agent who agreed to look at my manuscript. This was a while ago. I printed it out and drove to his office to deliver it. We chatted a bit and I had a very good feeling about everything. This was it! I was going to have an agent and be published! A few weeks later, his secretary called me and said I could pick up my manuscript, that he would not be representing me. I was dejected, but drove over and took the papers from her desk.
He would put a post-it note on the top that said, "Author will pick up." Author--he said "author!" I began to think of myself as an author. That was my very first "Made It" moment.
Kaye on the left and my friend and writer, Gigi Pandian beside her  at the table I hosted at Left Coast Crime Conference.(On the left.)
Kaye George and Kate Collins signing, and the panel (short story nominees last year) at Malice Domestic Short Story Award 2010. (On the right)

 Want to know more about the author?  Check out her website and blogs at: Her homepage is


Dee Hendershot Gatrell said...

Good interview! I'm reading Choke now.

Bonnie A Kelly said...

I'm not a big mystery fan, (I write westerns at Oak Tree Press) but I think I will take the plunge with your stories. You sound like someone who would be fun to know. Like a great person to chat with over coffee and a sweet roll. (The sweet roll makes it super special.)

Kaye George said...

Dee, thanks!
Bonnie, definitely include a sweet roll and I'll be there.
Sylvia, thanks so much for hosting me here. The interview is awesome.

Marilyn Levinson said...

Great interview, Kaye!

marta chausée said...

Great interviews, info and spotlights. Thank you!

Marta Chausée, author
Resort to Murder mystery series