Interview with mystery author Kathryn Orzech

Mystery
author Kathryn Orzech is here today and we’re
talking about her new dark suspense, family saga, historical, thriller, romance,
Asylum.
Bio:
Kathryn
Orzech writes mystery, suspense, and thrillers set in “New England and other
exotic locations.” A seasoned world traveler, she’s anxious to share her
“exotic” experiences with readers. An avid film fan and self-proclaimed news
nerd, other interests include history and geopolitics, society and culture;
archaeology, psychology and science; and parapsychology, leaving few subjects
off her literary table.
She
developed and manages DreamWatch.com, true paranormal experiences of ordinary
people, online since the late 1990s with visitors from every state and more
than 50 countries.
Kathryn
is a member of Sisters in Crime (SinC), Connecticut Authors & Publishers
Assoc. (CAPA) and professional groups: APSS, IBPA, IPNE, RWA.
Please
tell us about your current release.
On
an innocent day in 1899, while her father travels abroad, twelve-year-old
Maggie Delito, daughter of the wealthy industrialist, witnesses a shocking
scandal. The next day, she’s dragged from her family’s estate and locked in an
asylum, along with the shameful secret. Beneath the noted asylum’s polish of
respectability, a wicked villainy hides in dank shadows—and Maggie fears she
will be its next victim.
Seventy-five
years later, Laura “Del” Delito inherits more than ancestral assets when her
prestigious family’s mysterious past comes knocking. After sacrificing an
independent career on the brink of success, she assumes control of Delito’s
failing jewelry business while daring to expose its ghosts—a strange old woman,
cryptic messages, backroom betrayals, and a rare antique key that might unlock
the truth. As she pursues clues from the Northeast to North Africa, she fails
to see the danger looming close to home.
A
book club favorite, Asylum is set in
New England during periods of transition with the rise and fall of
manufacturing, changing mores and folkways, and struggles for basic and equal
rights. Asylum prompts discussion of
social and economic issues that continue to resonate.
What
inspired you to write this book?
Mere
blocks from Mark Twain’s Asylum Hill neighborhood in Hartford, Connecticut, I
attended a friend’s dinner party. A guest who worked in a one-hundred-year-old
hospital claimed she’d seen a ghost in the hallway outside her upper floor
office. I invited myself to a private tour the very next week, sparking an
interest in its history during the 1890s, a period to which I had a lifelong
attraction. Images stirred in my imagination and Asylum was born.
Excerpt
from Asylum:
~
1974 ~ October
Margaret
Rosa Delito should have known the day would come to a grim end. She had a sense
about things like that, important things, life and death things.
She
lived a deliberate life centered on one purpose—to erase the memories of her
dark days.
From
the second floor of Delito, Inc.’s home office, Rosa descended the grand
staircase with quiet grace, like she had nearly every day at 5:20 p.m. for more
than sixty years. She paused at the atrium, sighing with a hypnotic stare
through the lobby’s wall of glass.
Her
fingers tightened around the scrap of paper clenched in her disfigured hand.
The newspaper masthead dated 1900 had been left on her desk during the night …
a cryptic message from someone connected to her past, someone employed at Delito.
Secrets were bound to surface. Something wicked was sure to follow.
She’d
sent her granddaughter to a meeting at their New York sales office and wondered
how she fared. She had hoped to protect Laura, but if someone at Delito knew of
its tarnished past, of the family’s complicity and the source of her shame, she
had to tell her everything. And she would. Tomorrow.
Rosa
stashed the torn newspaper into her purse before buttoning her favorite
cashmere coat. Outside, dried leaves clattered across the sidewalk in a gusty
wind. The American flag fluttered like a beating heart, like her heart, pumping
faster in a rhythm gone bad. Pressure in her chest forced the wind from her
lungs like when she slammed to the ground that day long ago, that day when it
all began.
As
her heels tapped across the lobby’s white marble tiles, Rosa’s recall skipped
through memories of those times, in that place, that had tormented her life and
haunted her dreams, like a phonograph needle scratching across damaged vinyl …
walk cold … cold … cold …
My
feet walk cold stone floors. I wear no shoes.
I
feel my way along a wall and sense a tunnel though I see nothing but darkness.
I
sneak toward a distant line of light where a door is cracked open. Voices
inside. Moaning. Fear tightens its choking grip as I stand alone, knowing I
must look into that room.
A
chill crawls the back of my neck. Cold. My hands tremble. My knees weaken as I
creep toward the door to see … Oh God … Oh God …
Be
silent. Mustn’t scream.
Gray
ghosts … Gray ghosts …
Shhh
… They’ll see you.
What
exciting story are you working on next?
Several.
Counting Souls is a contemporary mystery set in a quiet valley town that seems
to be the target of an enigmatic serial killer—but not one body has been found
at the bloody crime scenes. Citizens are frightened. Police are frustrated.
Detectives are baffled. Only two sisters see the signs in ancient writings the
killer left behind. (My sister wants to be characterized in a book.)
I’m
also pulled towards a prequel and sequel to Premonition of Terror. I love those
characters. Ideas to develop that Premonition trilogy are in my head, but
writing won’t begin until my sister is placated with her starring role in Counting
Souls.
When
did you first consider yourself a writer?
Excitement
grew during the months preceding Liberty Weekend, July 1986. Celebration
organizers expected millions of New York visitors, but what would they eat? Hot
dogs! I learned a nearby wholesale grocery company had been contracted to
supply packets of mustard, ketchup and kraut. Fascinated and amused, I
contacted the business for details and wrote a article for The Waterbury
Republican American, an area newspaper with a solid reputation. My headline
read: Five Million Hot Dogs To Go. The editors changed it to a Feeding Huddled
Masses theme, but loved the idea, sent a photographer to the plant, published
my story in the Financial section, and sent a check for $35. It was official. I
was a writer. That’s also when I decided newspapers didn’t pay enough to hold
my interest. However, valuable lesson learned: If something quirky interests
me, it will likely interest others.
Do you write full-time? If
so, what’s your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how
do you find time to write?
Retired
from a graphics career, I write full-time. When I’m deep into a book and the
characters take over, I might write from 6 a.m. till 9 p.m. That would be a
productive and satisfying day. Most days are interrupted by marketing and
promotion duties, so to jumpstart a writing routine, I might go dark for a
while.
What
would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I
must have a visual bond to a scene’s location. A psychiatric hospital. A shop
in Morocco. A cow barn. I once lived in a converted Victorian mansion so for Asylum,
it was effortless to imagine the fictional Delito family’s bigger, more
luxurious estate. My other book, Premonition of Terror, was more difficult. I
was stuck on a crucial scene that needed a body-dump site in Boston, at water’s
edge, not far from a warehouse near railroad tracks. I searched Google
satellite images for days until I found the perfect spot. I remember saying
aloud, “There you are!” The scene came alive and I was in it, on the
ground—easily defining positions and interactions of the characters for a
realistic and emotional scene.
As
a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I
had a long list of what I didn’t want to be. In the final semester of high
school’s senior year, I had to choose something, so I looked at my grades and
picked a subject with high marks. The winner was Art. My dad acquiesced,
abandoning his dream of a nurse in the family. Following commercial art school,
I worked as a jewelry designer, then ad agency Art Director (think Mad Men),
then freelance, which afforded the freedom to travel. I say I wouldn’t change a
thing, but often wonder, with different opportunities or encouragement, would I
have excelled in Intelligence work? I think, yes, probably a career in the U.S.
Navy.
Anything
additional you want to share with the readers?
Thank
you, Lisa, for sharing this space, and a special thanks to your readers for
their time and support of authors. I hope they realize how much we value them.
When I’m writing, I’m not thinking about publishing a book, I’m doing my best
to shape a fascinating story to tell a friend.
Links:

Thank you for joining me here today, Kathryn!

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