Author K.D. Hayes talks about her mystery series starring Karen Maxwell. The series kicks off with
George Washington Stepped Here (Spyglass Lane Mysteries): Did the father of our country vandalize furniture and unwittingly create a valuable artifact or is the story about George just an elaborate hoax?
Q: The Spyglass Lane Mysteries all have elements of romance,
faith, and suspense—which of those facets was hardest for you to write? Which
was the easiest?
The suspense was probably the most difficult. When I first set out to write the
story that eventually became George Washington Stepped Here, I had this
dark, revenge-oriented very suspenseful plot in mind. But my investigator
heroine had entirely the wrong voice—lots of sarcastic mom humor. So murder
and revenge weren’t working for me and I set the story aside. Years later I
decided maybe I could make the mystery less serious and then it just seemed to fall
into place. I don’t think I can convincingly write a dark story, and most tales
of suspense have a dark side.
As for the easiest facet, in these stories it was the faith.
My heroine is really in the beginning of her journey, moving from the
institutional concept of “church” as she remembers it from childhood to the
realization that she can have a personal relationship with God. It was easy to
write because I vividly remember being in that stage—some days I feel like I
Q: As a whodunit writer who is a Christian, in what ways did your faith
impact how you write a murder mystery?
I literally couldn’t do it—I think the Karen Maxwell mysteries are the only Spyglass Lane
stories with no dead people in them…although the next book in the series was
scheduled to include a dead parrot. To
be honest, though, I have to admit that the lack of dead people has as much to
do with wanting to avoid police procedure as it does my faith.
Q: Tell us about your sleuth.
Karen Maxwell is a divorced mother of two who works as an
administrator in her brother’s private investigation firm. When his partner
retires, her brother offers Karen the chance to go out on an undercover
assignment and actually do her own investigative work. She’s thrilled until she
learns that he’s just giving her the case because he thinks it’s a lot of
Q: Do you base your characters on people you know or are they totally made
I don’t have a good enough imagination to totally make up anything, including
characters. They are all based on bits and pieces of people I know, starting
with myself. At least, that’s where I get the inspiration for all of their good
Q: Who are the authors that inspire you as an author?
That changes all the time. Right after I finish a good book, the author of that
book inspires me to take the qualities I enjoyed and translate them into my own
work. Lately, I have not been productive at all, so the authors that inspire me
the most right now are the ones who are disciplined about writing almost every
day. It doesn’t even matter if the
writing is “good” (an impossibly subjective term) or not. Bad writing can be
revised and a flawed plot can be repaired.But a blank page is just paper.
Right now I have too much paper sitting in my office.
I need to get to work!