Saturday, November 8, 2014

Life Imitates Art for Guest Blogger Kait Carson

I want you to meet my friend, Kait!

I was born in New Jersey, lived in upstate NY, southern Florida, St. Thomas, Sint Maarten, Virginia, Maine, the Florida Keys, and now central Florida. Talk about a geographic spread. I ski and scuba dive, run and swim. My husband is a pilot and we own a Cherokee 6 that we love to fly on research and marketing trips. We share our home with eight rescued cats, a cockatoo, conure, and a harlequin macaw. That's the gang of eight - and wings too.

You can visit her at

And now hear what she has to say about life imitating art.

-Kaye George

Life imitates art

Ernest Hemmingway said write what you know. Given the lives most of us lead, Ernest excluded of course, that would make for a boring book. I write mysteries. I’ve had my fair share of adventures. I’ve never found a dead body. My characters do all the time. They lay 120’ below the sea wrapped in an anchor line, hang in garages, and lurk in bathtubs.

Write what I know, not really. Write what my characters know. Now that’s a different topic.

My newest novel, DEATH BY BLUE WATER, released next week by Henery Press is the first book of a new series. It’s set in the Florida Keys and my heroine, Hayden Kent, is both a paralegal and a scuba diver. My day job—paralegal. My favorite hobby—scuba diving. Hayden and I are very different people. She is more methodical. Apt to make a list and check it twice. She’s also a lot more resourceful than I am. Whereas I’ll set out on a wing and a prayer, Hayden has a plan. Always. And she has a way better sense of humor.

I’ve never found a body underwater. To write the book, I needed to know the processes of that, recovery techniques, and how to investigate an underwater death. I also needed to learn how Hayden works at her job and how she dives. Our different personalities make for different strengths and weaknesses. What I know about Hayden’s profession and her hobby are not at all the same as what she knows. Hayden made it extremely clear that BLUE WATER was her story, and I was her typist.

My first series features Catherine Swope. It’s set in and around Miami, FL. Catherine is a woman with a past she’s trying to overcome. Former cop, she quit the force after she shot a teenager. He was shooting at her. It was justifiable. Catherine couldn’t forgive herself though. And she ended up doing some heavy drinking to try to forget. ZONED FOR MURDER starts when her life is getting back on track. She finds the Zoning Commissioner hanging in his garage. Circumstances and events lead to her being the prime suspect.

In MURDER IN THE MULTIPLES, Catherine has accepted that she will not
go back to law enforcement. I was disappointed. I wanted to write a police procedural. Catherine becomes a Realtor. Her first multimillion-dollar sale results in her finding the buyer dead in the bathtub on closing day. Drugs surround the buyer, and the evidence suggests the drugs were in the house.

I’ve never been a cop, never shot anyone, and never had a drinking problem, never been a Realtor, and never been involved with illegal drugs. Hum. Write what I know. No. Write what I research. Yes. Ask endless questions of friends who are in law enforcement. Talk to counselors who treat cops after they are involved in shootings. Talk to Realtors. Read the research and statistics. Once I’ve done all I can, Catherine takes over. The knowledge is hers. The stories are hers.

Write what you know – only if it’s an autobiography. Any writer who has tried to fit a character into a box will tell you, it doesn’t work. They fight back—and they win.


Morgan Mandel said...

Sounds like you and your hubbie are very adventuresome! I love that picture where you can look out the window while you're writing on your laptop.

Yes, it's very true that we can't control our characters. Inevitably, they control us!

Kaye George said...

I agree! From airplanes to diving, Kait and her husband are go-go-go. It's no surprise her characters want to go off on their own adventures.

Kait said...

LOL, thank you both. We have been a dynamic duo when it comes to adventure. I love that I can inform my characters with that one little detail that shows the difference between reality and research!

Kait said...

Stop the Presses Update - Life has imitated art once again in a tragic way. I opened my newspaper this week and discovered a story of a man finding a body in a house he just purchased. I've tried to find out details, no joy. Sounds like the story was ripped from MURDER IN THE MULTIPLES!

Kathleen Kaska said...

I enjoyed reading your post, Kait. I love it when those life experiences find their way into our stories.

Kait said...

Thanks Kathleen. Experiences enrich us, and our writing.