Posted by Barb, who’s on a quick turnaround from her vacation on the Jersey Shore to her vacation in Paris. Such a difficult life.
For the Wicked Cozy Authors, Kate Flora needs no introduction. As a former president of Sisters in Crime New England and Sisters in Crime, she’s been a mentor to most of us. As a writer, Kate has a resume that is both wide and deep. She’s written a strong female protagonist with her Thea Kozak series, brilliant police procedurals with her Joe Burgess books, and Edgar-nominated true crime with Finding Amy. She’s also the founder of the excellent Maine Crime Writers blog.
Recently, the ever-entrepreneurial Kate participated in a new venture–publishing her novelette “Girls Night Out,” with SheBooks. SheBooks describes itself as “a curated collection of short e-books written by women, for women.” It’s dedicated to advancing the cause of women in digital publishing and to paying real money to its authors, who share in the profits.
I caught up with Kate to find out what it’s all about.
Today, we’re talking about the recent release of your novelette “Girls Night Out” on SheBooks. What made you think it was the right venue for “Girls Night Out?”
It’s one of those “happenstance” stories, really. My husband and I were having dinner with his aunt Paulette in San Francisco, and one of the other guests at dinner was Peggy Northrop, who was at time in the process of setting up Shebooks. She was talking about her vision for the e-publishing project, and how they were publishing memoirs of particular interest to women. I told her about a memoir that my late mother, A. Carman Clark, had written about women seizing control of their lives and figuring out what they wanted to do when they reached sixty, called “Fourth Quarter Dividends.” Peggy was interested.
“Girls’ Night Out” was really an afterthought, something I mentioned in passing, and she asked to see that as well.
Why did I think Shebooks was a good venue for “Girls’ Night Out?” Well, Shebooks is a publishing venture by women for women. As a long time member, and former international president of Sisters in Crime, any venture that is about equality for women and getting them paid fairly for their writing is right up my alley. And “Girls’ Night Out” is a strong women’s story–a fascinating example of women taking matters into their own hands
“Girls Night Out” is categorized as a novelette? What is a novelette?
Seriously? I have no idea. I would have called it a novella, though it’s a bit short for that. Novelette is their term. It sounds rather like a French tart to me. And not of the pastry variety.
“Girls Night Out” raises some interesting moral questions. You’ve called it a story of revenge. In your opinion, is revenge ever justified?
In Girls’ Night Out, the justice system has failed the victim of a serial date rapist. When her friends see the damage that has been done to her, they decided the man must be punished before he does it again. The story stems from some research I did as background for Finding Amy, my true story about the investigation into the murder of a young woman named Amy St. Laurent. The killer in that book believed that he was entitled to have sex with women if that was what he wanted, and he used charm, alcohol, coercion, or drugs to have his way—whatever worked. In that case, his victims usually didn’t report it because they believed it was their own fault. Men like that leave a trail of damage in their wake, and the harm they cause doesn’t touch them.
In the course of that research, I found the work of David Lisak, Ph.D. and his interviews with college males who targeted innocent freshmen girls, got them drunk, and assaulted them. Their acts were deliberate, calculating, and ultimately indifferent to the harm they’d caused. It’s disturbing stuff, and it happens. See: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_iZCWfYZ9IU
Yes, it is a story of revenge, but it’s also a story of empowerment. And what happened to Jay Hanrahan, after all, he did to himself.
As for whether revenge is ever justified, I sometimes, when writing heroines who resort to uncharacteristic acts, imagine one of my children in danger or harmed. Would I resort to violence or revenge? You bet I would. Friendship is a powerful thing and a friend destroyed by a selfish act is a serous business.
You didn’t ask, but I have to add that I wrote the story to use as the basis for a screenplay. I’ve been on page 30 of that script for about three years.
What else do you have coming out soon?
I have two new books out this fall. In September, it’s Death Dealer, the true story of a murder in a small Canadian city where the victim’s hidden body was ultimately found by game wardens from Maine and trained cadaver dogs. It’s a story I was led to by the warden who organized the search that ultimately found the victim’s body in Finding Amy. I’m fascinated by the chance to go behind the investigation and see what’s really happening in an investigation.
In October, it’s And Grant You Peace, the fourth book in my Joe Burgess police procedural series which takes place in Portland, Maine. It opens with Burgess rescuing a very young mother and tiny baby from a locked closet in a burning mosque. His challenge then becomes one of working his way through a maze that involves a suspicious immigrant community, an outlaw motorcycle gang, a suspicious business man, and assorted other thugs and bad guys to learn the identity of the girl, and the reasons she and her child were in that closet.
What are you working on now?
I just finished the next Thea Kozak mystery, Death Warmed Over, which, if the editor likes it, will be out in the spring. Now I’m back to rewrite. For a couple years, I’ve been working with a retired Maine game warden on his memoir, and now that I’ve given it some space, I’m revising that. Then it’s on to another novelette in the women’s book club series. And then I have a long suspense novel to revise.
Award-winning mystery and true crime writer Kate Flora is the author of 14 books, including the true crime story Death Dealer and the novel And Grant You Peace, both forthcoming in the fall of 2014. Her book Finding Amy (true crime), co-written with a Portland, Maine deputy police chief, was a 2007 Edgar Award nominee. Kate’s other titles include the Thea Kozak mysteries and the starred-review Joe Burgess police series, the third of which, Redemption, won the 2013 Maine Literary Award for Crime Fiction.
A former Maine assistant attorney general in the areas of battered children and employment discrimination, Kate is a founding member the New England Crime Bake conference, a founder of Level Best Books where she worked as an editor and publisher for seven years and has served as international president of Sisters in Crime. When she’s not riding an ATV through the Canadian woods or hiding in a tick-infested field waiting to be found by search and rescue dogs as research for her books, she can be found teaching writing at Grub Street in Boston.