Let’s start with your mysteries. You have two series, Havoc in Hancock (humorous suspense) and Adventure Calls (mystery). Tell us a little about each of these series including the settings, main characters, themes.
I began the Havoc in Hancock novels while living in Idaho.
I’d always loved Carl Hiaasen’s novels, so I set out to be the Carl Hiaasen of Idaho. His books, set in Florida, are generally about wacky characters trying to save endangered species. I enthusiastically recommend them, particularly his earlier books.
It happens also that at that time, protesters were fighting the establishment of canned hunts, where captive elk and other animals were hunted by sportsmen the grounds of the “hunt.” I switched zebras, water buffaloes and a former zoo lion for actual Idaho wildlife.
Roadkill gets help from four pregnant women and a recently fired Sears security guard on the hunt of a pill addict.
Once again the themes of environmental issues and family helping (or hindering?) family arise.
Environmental activists often use “forest names” when they don’t want to use their birth names. I chose Feather because in the first novel, she’s very pregnant and definitely not feather-like. The character is also a bit whimsical and rash at times, a bit like the flight of said feather.
I set the books in northern Idaho, in the fictional town of Hancock. One of the nicest compliments I had was from a reader who said Hancock reminded him of the town he grew up in, in northern Idaho!
I read the first in the Havoc in Hancock book, Mustard’s Last Stand, which I found very amusing. Do you find humor difficult or easy to write?
I tried to write a serious book, but the humor kept popping in when I least expected it, so I gave up and allowed entry. That sounds as if it’s easy, but when my critique group suggests I add “a bit more humor” at a certain point, I find it very difficult. That’s when it seems forced rather than with the flow. I do think certain characters create their own humor, with their appearance, dialog, attitudes and behavior, but I have to be careful not to create stereotypes or rely on pranks or pratfalls too much. Finding the right balance in humor isn’t easy.
In April, I’m giving a talk on Zoom about humor in mysteries through Friends of the Kirk-Bear Canyon Public Library here in Tucson. So right now I’m exploring more about how others view and write humor in fiction. And I definitely am seeking out suggestions of favorite humorous mystery writers!
Mustard’s Last Stand also had a deeper environmental theme. Is environmental conservation a strong interest of yours?
All my books have an environmental bias. Conserving our environment is a strong interest of mine, something my parents instilled in me—a gift I’m grateful for.
You’ve contributed to anthologies for writers about the writing process. Tell us a little about that.
I edit fiction and non-fiction to support my fiction writing, and I’m passionate about words and language, so I happily contribute to such anthologies when I can. My best piece of advice is to get your butt in the chair and get words out. Next best? Be sure to move around every half-hour so you don’t wind up with bursitis or other health issues!
You also seem to have a strong interest in cooking and recipes, and you’ve contributed to books about food. Tell us about that, too.
Confession: I’m even more interested in eating than cooking, and love to find new restaurants (pre-pandemic). However, I do enjoy trying out new recipes and sharing the good ones. Some of the cooking anthologies I’ve contributed to give the profits to charity, which is a way of giving back I’m happy to support.
The most recent cookbook my recipes are in is Recipes to Kill For, A Desert Sleuths Cookbook.
We’re in a difficult time now because of the covid-19 pandemic. I enjoyed your January 2021 newsletter titled “Hope in 2021” which explored your insights into a trip to South Africa you and your husband took and what that had to do with the hope you experienced there. Can you give us some information about that as well?
In the Cape Town Flats, an extremely poor community outside Cape Town, I learned that people can surprise us with their kindness. That gives me hope for America’s future, as well. I also talked about a graduate of Caring Hearts High School, in Kenya, who wants to give back some of the blessings she received. That’s exactly what the founder of the school, Vincent Kituku, hoped when he started it: creating a community of educated young people who might one day make changes in their country.
(Above right) Students from Caring Hearts High School working in a trash clear-up day at Tala, a small town near the school. Kathy and her husband are school donors.
I also wrote about some innovative approaches to water conservation being undertaken in Cape Town, South Africa, a town that in 2018 faced terrible drought. You can find my recent blog post on that subject on my website, www.KathyMcIntosh.com The post is https://kathymcintosh.com/hope-in-2021/
What’s up next for you? Do you have another book planned or underway now?
I’m thrilled that the audio book of Murder, Sonoran Style, will be out this spring. I’m finishing up book two in the Adventure Calls series. This one features a secondary character from the first book, guide and chef Madrone Hunter, and is set in northern Arizona, in the town of Cottonwood. The title will be Murder, Cottonwood Style. I’m also bringing Roadkill into this book, to link the two series together. And because Roadkill was a favorite with readers of the first series.
Mustard's Last Stand: https://www.amazon.com/Mustards-Last-Stand-Havoc-Hancock-ebook/dp/B00GK73FC2/
Foul Wind: https://www.amazon.com/Foul-Wind-Hancock-Humorous-Suspense-ebook/dp/B015VNN31I/
Murder, Sonoran Style: