By Kate E. Stephenson
In this first week of October 2012, I hereby call to order the 7th meeting of the Kate-Book.com Book Club. Every week, we shall be reading a tome either (a) penned by an author named Kate or (b) that includes a character named Kate. If you missed last week’s meeting, here’s what went down.
Club members, this week meet KATE BRADY.
Kate Brady’s writing career began in the closet, where—thankfully—her first several novels remain. She worked as a fulltime choral conductor and assistant professor of music education, and writing fiction was a hobby… a passing phase, she thought. Then the needs of her small children became her focus. For the first couple of years as a mostly stay-at-home-mom, it was all she could do to complete the metamorphosis from domestically-challenged career woman to culinary-queen and housework goddess. (Okay…Some transitions are never fully realized.) But later, when the kids got in school, the characters in her head found time to come out again. Murderers, cops, victims, lovers. Now, Kate leads a double life—teaching by day and chasing villains by night (on her laptop).
So what does she do when not creating music teachers or psycho murderers? With a husband, two teenagers, and way too many furry, feathery, and scaly things, there isn’t a lot of time left. It’s enough to keep up with the jobs, the house, the yard, and the family schedule, and hope no one on her laptop gets murdered when she’s not looking.
The 2010 Rita Award Winner for Best First Book and Finalist for Best Romantic Suspense for her book One Scream Away followed with the second in the Sheridan series Last to Die. Her new book Where Angels Rest hits shelves November 20th! To reach out and touch Kate, hit her up on email and check out her latest happenings at her blog.
Who named you Kate and why?
I’m actually a “Kathleen,” so the nickname was sort of a natural thing. It didn’t really start sticking until college, but all my buddies from that period of my life still call me Kate.
When it came time to choose a pseudonym, the first name was a no-brainer. The last name, Brady, is a long story and requires a beer. And a different website.
How did you become an author?
People ask me this all the time and I wish I had a clean, discernible answer.
But the truth is, I sort of stumbled into it. The Reader’s Digest version of the story is that my right brain was apparently crying out for freedom while I was writing my doctoral dissertation, and when I hit a stopping point on that thriller, I digressed into writing a novel—just for the heck of it. I found that I loved writing fiction (no footnotes!), and went on to complete a handful of novels over the next few years (as well as my dissertation). But no one knew about the novels; fiction-writing was a strictly-clandestine hobby.
Then I moved to Atlanta, started a new job, bought my first place, got married, had two kids, and didn’t think about writing for a while. When time allowed, I got back to it, wrote another couple books, and finally started feeling a little foolish for spending so much time on a hobby even my friends didn’t know about. So, I came out of the closet, joined a writers’ group, and decided to see if anyone besides me might be interested in my books. I got lucky and landed a superb agent, and the rest is— well, you know the rest.
What was the muse for your first completed/published book?
I have no idea. Honest. I’ve never really known what prompted me to try to write a novel. I hadn’t ever thought about being a writer before; truth is, I wasn’t even a reader, at least, not of fiction. I know it’s not a very satisfactory answer, but there it is. I just tried it one day, and was hooked!
What are you currently working on?
Currently, I’m in the midst of a new trilogy of romantic suspense novels for Grand Central Publishing. The first book in this set, Where Angels Rest, comes out this November.
What is your greatest accomplishment to date?
My kids, of course.
What’s your favorite word?
“End.” As in, “THE end.” But only because I’m scrambling to get to that point with my current manuscript!
What’s your least favorite word?
Any form of the infinitive “to be.” They are such dangerous words for writers—always trying to sneak in…
Who’s your favorite literary character?
Whoever I’m currently reading!
What’s your favorite quote?
“Be kinder than necessary to everyone you meet, for everyone is fighting some sort of battle.”
If you weren’t an author, what profession would you like to try?
I’m only an author part-time, and the rest of my professional life is as a musician. I’m a professor of music and conductor, so that would have to be my other beloved career!
If you could do one thing in your life over, what would it be?
I would have been kinder to everyone I met, since life has taught me about all those battles. (Not that I was ever mean, mind you…)
And now is time to read! This excerpt is from Kate Brady’s upcoming novel Where Angels Rest:
Midnight, a sliver of moon hanging over the rooftops and a couple of chimneys breathing into the air. It was a settled neighborhood, the kind grown comfortable with squeaky screen doors and broken sidewalks. The kind that leeched kids into the streets on Saturday mornings and where folks let themselves into the house next door to borrow an egg. The kind whose residents would be seen on tomorrow morning’s news, white-faced, saying, “We never thought something like this could happen here…”
The Angelmaker sat in a new Ford F-150, keeping track as the last few night owls turned in. A couple of houses down the street, the Richardsons’ front door cracked open to swallow a howling cat. A half-block behind the truck, the lights of Yaeger’s television snapped to black. And at the end of the street, where a single light burned in the front window, Rebecca Engel stepped out onto the porch.
The Angelmaker straightened. Rebecca.
She dropped down the front porch steps, hunching into her coat and throwing a scarf around her face to ward off the sleet. She climbed into an old Camry and headed east, then north out of town. The Angelmaker followed, headlights picking out thin veins of fog. Easy, now. No need to hang too close—there was no doubt where she was going. She’d be headed to Ace Holmes’s place, twenty miles out on County Road 219, just over the Hopewell County line. The middle of nowhere.
Rebecca’s car led the way for fifteen minutes then the Angelmaker hustled around back roads and jumped ahead, got back on 219 and nosed the big Ford halfway across the double yellow line. Parked and popped the hood to wait. Two minutes after the truck was in position, the Camry’s headlights pierced the mist.
Rebecca neared, slowing her car. Blood rushing now, the Angelmaker got out and circled the truck, exhaust fumes rousing a cough. It was a nice touch: A lone driver stranded at night in the cold, hacking up a lung…
The Camry rolled closer, unable to pass, and the driver’s side window cracked an inch. The Angelmaker’s fingers tightened a stun gun, a surge of power flooding in.
“Rebecca.” Use her name, take away that edge of natural fear.
Her window slid open a little further—just a few inches, but enough for the stun gun. The Angelmaker stepped closer. “Rebecca, I need help. I need a phone. Do you have a phone?”
“What?” she said. Cautious, but not overly fearful.
“Rebecca. P-please, a phone.”
“Hold on.” She twisted toward the passenger seat to find her phone and the Angelmaker reached in.
Pzzt. The stun gun sizzled against her shoulder. Rebecca collapsed.
Now time surged forward, racing as if God had pushed a button on a remote. Move, move. Ditch the car, get the truck turned around and get Rebecca home and into the workshop. So much to do—the transformation, the possession, the preservation—and the clock started running from the first shock of the stun gun.
The Angelmaker opened the driver’s side door and Rebecca lolled sideways, hanging half out onto the pavement. A click of the seat belt released her and she tumbled to the ground, a baffled uhhhh vibrating in her throat and the scarf dragging from her face. She was a pretty girl, but wore too much makeup. Always caked on like—
The Angelmaker froze. What? The girl’s face glowed in the truck’s headlights.
No. Not Rebecca.
Panic leaked in. This wasn’t right, this wasn’t right. Who was this girl? Not Rebecca. This girl was a stranger, a nobody. She was nothing.
Shock hardened to sheer rage. Stupid, stupid girl. Goddamn, stupid bitch, pretending to be Rebecca—
Her arm moved, trying to fight the leaden state brought on by the stun gun. No. The Angelmaker hooked a foot beneath her ribcage and shoved. Her body rotated half a turn, again and again, and five kicks later, gravity took over and rolled her into the gully along the road. She groaned and the Angelmaker followed, dropped a knee into the middle of her back and straight-armed her face—that wrong face—into the mud, pressing down on the back of her head and neck. The girl who wasn’t Rebecca sucked rain and wet clay into her nostrils, her lungs seizing. She made a series of wet, rasping sounds, then went limp.
Bitch. Stupid girl. Wrong girl…
So much to do.
Talk about mistaken identity… right now I am extra glad to be a Kate and not Rebecca. But why is this Angelmaker after poor doomed Rebecca? I’m off to find out. ’Til next time, Book Clubbers.
Kate’s Book Club is a column on Kate-book.com featuring interviews with authors named Kate, as well as reviews of books starring Kate characters. It runs on Kate-book.com every other Wednesday at 10:30am, and is written by the self-admitted bibliophile Kate E. Stephenson, who you should follow on Twitter here. Oh, and write to Kate to suggest authors and books we should read for future columns.