Tuesday 16 January 2018

Interview: Kate Birdsall

This morning I'm absolutely thrilled to be welcoming the charming Kate Birdsall to The Writing Greyhound! Kate is here to chat about her life, her writing and, of course, her latest novel The Flats, the first book in her gripping new police procedural series.

Firstly, tell me a little about yourself and your background.
Here’s my bio - Kate Birdsall was born in the heart of the Rust Belt and harbours a hesitant affinity for its grit. She's an existentialist who writes both short and long fiction, and she plays a variety of loud instruments. She lives in Michigan's capital city with her partner and at least one too many four-legged creatures.
How did you first become interested in writing?
In the third grade, my reading teacher identified that I loved to write. She tasked me with writing an illustrated story about my experience in elementary school, and the rest is history. Honestly, it’s always been something that I’ve done, in addition to various other creative pursuits.
the-flats, liz-boyle, kate-birdsall, book

Tell me about The Flats.
It’s the first in the Liz Boyle series of police procedurals. It opens with the death of a child, which is especially difficult for some readers but that needs to be addressed as a societal problem, and takes us through twists and turns until we found out whodunit - and why. It’s set in Cleveland, which to my mind serves as the perfect, gritty backdrop for murder mystery.
Did you have to do a lot of research during the writing process?
Oh, yeah. I’m pretty sure my search history would send a red flag to law enforcement, and I also got some pretty creepy books out of the library. I’m fortunate to have a friend who is a cop, and she helped me with some of the procedural details.
What draws you to writing mysteries?
Two things. One, they’re cerebral. There’s a kind of thrill, as a reader, in following along and trying to piece it together. Two, it’s a hopeful genre - in most cases, the social order is restored in the end, which is awfully optimistic in a chaotic world.
What’s your writing process?
It’s a mess (ha!). I start with an idea, and then I start writing. I’m much more of a cook than a baker - what I mean by that is that cooking is “a little bit of this and a little bit of that” until it tastes good, whereas baking requires a recipe. This makes revising more difficult, but I find that I have all kinds of stories in my brain that I just need to let out onto the page.
What’s the hardest thing about writing?
Everything about writing is hard. I’m only half-kidding. In mystery, plotting is challenging, because it has to be TIGHT. I write character-driven books, and knowing the characters is the easy part - moving them through a murder investigation is much more challenging.
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What’s your all-time favourite book?
This is an impossible question! I read and write for a living, so it’s too hard. But if I have to narrow it down, I’ll say The Handmaid’s Tale, by Margaret Atwood. It’s an absolute classic in speculative fiction.
What are your ambitions for your writing career?
I’d like to gain readers. I don’t plan on becoming rich and famous - though I certainly wouldn’t turn down fame and fortune. I really just want to know that people are reading my work and appreciating it.
What are your interests outside of writing and reading?
Well, I’m a writing teacher, so there’s a lot of writing and reading. I’m a big, big music person, and I watch all kinds of shows on Netflix. I like spending quiet time at home, too, and exploring my neighbourhood with my dogs.
What are you currently working on?
The second Liz Boyle mystery! Stay tuned.
What are you reading at the moment?
I just finished The First Bad Man by Miranda July. I liked it a lot.
The Flats is available to buy now.

Will you be reading the book? Let me know in the comments below!

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