Interview with Kathy McIntosh

Imagine my horror when I rose from two bouts of illness in December to discover that the interview with Kathy McIntosh, author of Mustard's Last Stand that I reviewed on December 2nd, was not online as I had thought. They're right! Drugs are bad for you. My abject apologies to all of you who searched for it, but didn't find it. It is, as you will see, a delightful conversation with a funny woman.

1. Tell us about yourself.
I am an escapee from the high tech industry, in marketing and technical support. I now write fiction and a column on words and business writing for the Statesman’s Business Insider. I edit fiction and non-fiction and speak about words and writing. I’ve always loved mysteries and in fact was a co-founder of Murder in the Grove, a conference here in Boise for mystery lovers.

2. Are you an Idaho native?

No, but our daughter was born at St Luke’s. Does that count? I’ve lived in Idaho for a total of nearly 35 years. I graduated from the College of Idaho after escaping the California smog. I left Idaho and moved around the country, then returned in 1972 for a decade. Left for a decade but returned in 1992 and have lived here since.

3. Is this your first book?

I was a co-founder of Healthwise way back in the 1970s. I co-wrote their first book, THE HEALTHWISE HANDBOOK. So I would call that my first book. This is my first published novel, however.

4. What has been your writing path?
Oh, my, it has been more a hike than a path! I left HP in the nineties, certain I’d become a published novelist in no time. After all, I could spell. I discovered that casting a spell over readers takes a lot more than I’d naively anticipated. More than a decade passed before MUSTARD’S LAST STAND was released this fall.

5. Mustard’s Last Stand has some seriously quirky humor, is this your personality or did you have to stretch to write it?
It is a stretch for me to write without humor. I am afraid I have a somewhat warped sense of humor. I blame it on my Scots ancestors. Or the dog.

6. Did you find it hard to find a publisher for your book?

Excellent question! Shall we move on? Seriously, I wrote three earlier novels that could not find homes outside my closet. Given the fast-changing nature of publishing, for this one I sought an independent publisher and was successful. But the path there was long and arduous.

7. Do you have any other writing plans besides sequels to Mustard’s Last Stand?

I am writing some short stories, a couple featuring Roadkill, a character from the novel. I also started another novel featuring a woman in her fifties, but realized I’d better continue with folks from Hancock for now. I actually had one published recently in HAUNTINGS FROM THE SNAKE RIVER PLAIN by Idaho publisher The Other Bunch. It was about a dog. A dead dog, which is how it got into a book about ghosts.
I also hope to consolidate the articles I’ve written about words and writing into a book.

8. To support you in your writing endeavors, who is your friend who cheers you on?

My friend and fellow writer Conda Douglas often reassures me that I’m not a one book pony. A friend in Hawaii bought 17 copies of my novel! I call that a rousing cheer. My husband is generally cheery about my writing, as well.

9. Do you belong to any local writing groups?

I’m a member of Partners in Crime, The Cabin, the Idaho Writers Guild and the Pixie Chicks.

10. How did you keep all those characters in the book straight and how did you make sure that all their stories intertwined at precisely the right moment?

What a lovely question! A friend asked me if I created a database of my characters. She’s so funny! Generally, I start things like spreadsheets of characters and character arcs (what will happen to the character and how they’ll change or be changed in the book) but then the story takes over and we just tool along together and see what happens. Then I do a few more drafts.

11. When can we expect to see a sequel?

I promised my publisher I’d send her the sequel at the beginning of next year. My, time flies! I’m working on a novel about one of the characters. I hope it will be out before the print on the first one fades and cracks. (2014?)

12. When you’re not writing, what would we find you doing?
You would find me reading, walking my dog, napping with a cat or two in my lap, editing others’ words, speaking to others about words and writing, baking, or traveling, wondering why I didn’t set my novel in Europe, Hawaii, or the Caribbean.