Kate Dolan began her writing career as a legal editor and then newspaper columnist before she decided she was finally ready to tackle fiction. As the author of more than a dozen novels and novellas, she writes historical fiction and romance under her own name and contemporary mysteries and children’s books under the name K.D. Hays. When not writing, she enjoys volunteering as a living history interpreter and riding roller coasters with her daughter.
Her latest book is the cozy mystery, Roped In.
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About the Book:
Life has settled into a more stable pattern for fledgling investigator Karen Maxwell of DS Investigations, but that stability is precarious. At work, she has an uneasy truce with Rodney, the “office maximizer” hired by her brother to do some of the administrative work she used to do. Her brother has not assigned her any real cases and she thinks it’s because he doesn’t trust her after she was fired from her last major assignment.
But she soon gets her chance. The firm’s insurance agent calls in a favor and asks them to investigate whether a valuable parrot was killed as a result of snowfall damage to a house. Karen is pretty sure Dave will assign this to her, since the investigation will involve no money or prestige. But it may help earn back his confidence.
Then Gina Callaghan hires DS Investigations to find out who sabotaged her daughter Hayley’s rope at a jump rope competition. Hayley competes in power jumping events, and she failed to make the top four in the regional tournament. If Karen can prove that one of those top four jumpers behaved unethically, then Hayley, (who was fifth) will have a spot at the national competition, and a chance to go to the World tournament. Dave assigns Karen the lead role in this case, so now she has a chance to prove to her brother that she can conclude an investigation before the client is ready to pull the plug.
Karen bribes her son to take a jump rope class on the day when the jumpers she needs to watch have their practices. Initially, Hayley Callaghan does not want the matter investigated so Karen has to be a subtle as possible. Meanwhile, in the parrot case, Karen’s investigation seems to indicate that the parrot’s owners are telling the truth and not trying to defraud the insurance company. But the picture they offer as proof somehow arouses Karen’s suspicion.
At jump rope practice, she finds a lot of masked hostility and a host of possible suspects, but no one who saw anything. Then Hayley’s sister steps forward and admits that she saw someone rummaging through her sister’s rope bag. Circumstances point to two possible suspects, in addition to the sister herself. But Karen can find no proof of wrongdoing and thinks the break was most likely an accident. Then Hayley changes her position and urges Karen to follow through with her initial suspicions. She immediately wonders why.
But she doesn’t have time to wonder. Her brother insists that she stop working on the insurance case and her client insists that she write up suspicions against one of the other jumpers so they can file a complaint with the national sanctioning commission. Working against the clock, Karen finds proof that the picture is fake, proving that the insurance clients were trying to defraud the agency. But time runs out on the jump rope investigation—once again the dissatisfied client fires Karen before she solves the case. This time, she knows an innocent girl is going to face blame and could be banned from the sport she loves. So she digs on until she uncovers the truth —and possible destroys a family in the process.
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What made you decide to become a published author?
I couldn’t find a job as a professional roller coaster rider, so I picked the next best thing.
In all honesty, I don’t know. I think I crave change and writing is the fastest way to immerse myself completely in another place, time or personality.
Would you consider your latest book, Roped In to be one of a kind?
For starters, it’s about competitive jump rope, a sport most people have never heard of. I’m collecting footage now to create a book trailer because the skills these athletes exhibit is truly amazing. Another thing that makes Roped In unique is that it’s a cozy mystery where the only dead body is 18 inches tall and covered in feathers. My mysteries don’t involve murder. I figure that it’s pretty unrealistic to have my heroine, who’s a suburban soccer mom, intensely involved in a modern forensic crime scene. There are other mysterious circumstances in life that be explored without making everyone in town a murder suspect.
What’s one fun fact about your book that people should know?
My daughter is the cover model. She did the artwork, too. This is my tenth book and it’s my first venture into self-publishing, so I had full control over the cover and that was very satisfying.
Did any real life experiences find their way into your book?
Funny you should ask, because this book has more of my life experiences than all of my previous nine books combined. At the time I wrote the outline, I was looking for a plot that would satisfy my editor, because I needed to change the plot she’d originally approved. I wanted something that would be easy to research. My daughter had just started jumping rope with a local team, so I interviewed some of the parents of jumpers who had lots of experience and had competed and local, national and even international tournaments. Then after I wrote the first three chapters of Roped In, the publisher cancelled the series and I went back to writing historical books. Fast forward several years and my daughter was competing in the same events that were in that outline. And I was coaching practices and judging competitions. We were living the story, in a sense. So I had to go back and finish it! The only trouble was that I felt I had to be very careful to make sure that none of the characters were too close to any of the actual jumpers or their parents.
Aside from writing, what’s your passion?
History. I love learning about what happened in different places in the past, so my favorite thing to do is visit historical sites and museums. I’m one of those tedious people who reads all the displays – in fact, I frequently take notes and write blog posts about what I’ve learned, even if I don’t think I’ll ever use it in a book. I also like to participate in living history events, where we try to dress and do things the way someone from a past time period would have done it. Except we do cheat and use conveniences like matches and toilet paper. My experience of the past doesn’t need to be 100% accurate.
What’s next for you?
I’ve gone back to another project I set aside years ago. This was an urban fantasy I started writing for my daughter when she ran out of Harry Potter books to read. I think she was in third grade when I started and she’s a senior in high school now. I want to finish it before she leaves for college, because she can help me with it. She’s much more imaginative than I am. I might try to think outside the box, but she doesn’t even see the box. We co-wrote an earlier book together (Toto’s Tale) and that story is so much stronger because of her input.
Thanks for having me here today. I love to connect with people on Facebook or through my website – hope to see you in cyberspace somewhere down the line.