Monday, May 7, 2012

FAST FIVE Author Interview with Kate Fellowes

This week’s FAST FIVE Author Interview spotlights Kate Fellowes, author of the novel Thunder in the Night. I am a member of Sisters in Crime, Inc. (SinC) and Sisters in Crime Hawaii Chapter (SinC/Hawaii). Earlier this year, via Internet, I joined Kate’s Wisconsin chapter, WISinC. When Kate asked for “any mystery/suspense/romantic suspense authors among the group” willing to participate in the book launch of her latest novel, Thunder in the Night, I thought of Doc Holliday in the movie, Tombstone, when he said, “I’m your Huckleberry.” Kate graciously agreed to an interview. 

FAST FIVE: Welcome, Kate. Thank you for offering to give us a preview of your new novel, Thunder in the Night. Rather than the 140 characters we’ve grown accustomed to on Twitter, can you share with us a more detailed account of the novel and your research for Thunder in the Night?

KATE FELLOWES: Thunder in the Night is my fifth romantic suspense novel and it's a launch title for the new Crimson Romance ebook line, debuting June 4th.

My heroine is writer Allison Belsar. She's on a trip to Belize with a group of local zoo supporters. The tour is supposed to be an educational adventure, but almost immediately Allison can sense all is not as it seems. The zoo director and his assistant don't get along on nearly every level and it becomes obvious they are both keeping secrets. Of course, this is bait to Allison, who is eager to do stories with more substance than the chatty travel bit she's been assigned.

Mart, the assistant director, is more than willing to answer her questions--to a point. Over the course of those tropical nights, the attraction they feel for each other sparks and then flames. Allison finds herself hoping it will be more than just a holiday romance. When she suffers a fall in the ruins of Tikal and that very night her room is broken into, Mart takes her into his confidence. Her earlier hunch was on the money--something is very wrong on the zoo trek. But as things turn out, it isn't what either of them anticipate.

Intrigue follows them home and once they are back in the States, events escalate, culminating at the zoo's biggest fundraiser, the Mardi Gras ball. Working together, they unmask a killer and help break up a ring of criminals who prey on the most innocent of victims.

I love to read romantic suspense and am especially fond of those writers who represent, for me, the golden age of the genre: Phyllis Whitney, Barbara Michaels, Mary Stewart. One thing you find with their books is you always come away from the story having learned something. I love that, too. With my own work, this book and others, I like to sprinkle in a few facts or interesting tidbits that enhance the action of the story. This book, with so many environmental aspects, made that part--researching and sprinkling--even more fun.

I'm an information gatherer and I've worked in a library most of my adult life, so doing background research on Belize and Mayan ruins was all in a day's work. Now, with the internet making armchair travel so easy, I was able to virtually fly in a helicopter over the rainforest and ride a zipline through the jungle. Someone who read the novel asked me when I was there and I'd have to say that was on my lunch break a few months ago!

FAST FIVE: Your “visit” to Belize and the Mayan ruins is incentive for aspiring writers to dig deep when developing the setting for their characters. In Thunder in the Night, your protagonist is a writer for a local magazine involved with a group of local zoo supporters. Is “the job” the most important part of Allison’s life?

KATE FELLOWES: Allison's career is very important to her, even more so now, because she is coming off a bad marriage and has recently been a casualty of staff cuts at her previous position. Her father is her role model--his example and advice are touchstones for her. She is resilient, able to adapt to changes and meet challenges. She's smart and independent and unafraid.

Allison will look you in the eye and ask the uncomfortable question, then not look away until you answer it. She has a geniune curiosity about the world and a genuine sympathy for others. She doesn't put on any airs and graces, and that draws people to her. If you met her at a party, Allison would set you instantly at ease and you would feel as if you'd known her for years rather than minutes.

FAST FIVE: The Mystery/Suspense genre is the focus of Fast Five interviews, but what unique twist makes your novel stand out?

KATE FELLOWES: Thunder in the Night has a love story at its core, combining an exotic setting with adventure, intrigue and betrayal. The crime that drives the mystery, motivates the murder and ultimately draws Allison and Mart together is a global one but, once they fly home, it's taking place on a really local level. That's always a fascinating concept: what is going on in your own backyard, right under your nose, so to speak, and you don't even have a clue? Luckily, Allison and Mart do have the clues--and, of course, they have each other.

FAST FIVE: How does your main character’s profession draw her into suspenseful situations, (murder, for instance?)

KATE FELLOWES: Allison is now writing for a local magazine after being downsized from a big newspaper. Her goal is to be an investigative journalist, ferreting out injustice and abuses of power, so she's frustrated having to do this travel piece on the trip to Belize. As soon as she realizes there's trouble on the trek, her reporter instincts kick into high gear. I think wherever she goes, Allison will always be looking for the Real Story. In Belize, she definitely finds it!

FAST FIVE: Is Thunder in the Night part of a series, and are you working on a sequel?

KATE FELLOWES: This book is not part of a series, Allison and Mart will be happy, ever after! I'm currently shopping around a cozy mystery series (I have two titles written, so far) and am looking forward to beginning a new novel over the summer, which is always such a good time to write. But then, so is winter..... :)

FAST FIVE: Thank you for visiting today, Kate, and for the revealing look at your protagonist Allison. I look forward to the June 4th release date of Thunder in the Night and will keep an eye out for that Cozy Mystery series. This last is not a Fast Five question, more an “if/then” scenario: If Paris is not an option, then where would you most like to spend your time writing and why.

KATE FELLOWES: I have two favorite places to write. The first is under the apple trees in our backyard on a summer afternoon. That's one of my favorite places to read, too, so you can always find me there, deep in one book or the other!

The second place is in the stacks of the library at my alma mater, Alverno College. If I want to really concentrate on my writing and come away with good material, I hop in the car and go back to school. Up in the stacks, I'm totally undisturbed. No phones ringing, no chores beckoning, no time clock to keep an eye on. Because I studied there so much back in the day, I remember the library being a place to do real work, so that's what still happens! Hours pass and I'm always smiling as I leave because I've had another great day of writing. Even though I don't get there nearly as often as I'd like to, I always do make it a point to get there. Every one of my novels has been written, in large part or small, in the stacks at school.

Where to find Kate Fellowes on the Internet:!/katefellowes @katefellowes


  1. Research is much more fun these days and faster. Your book sounds interesting, Kate.

    I, too, have fond memories of reading at the library in our town. The building was marble and cool inside, a good place to hide and read.

    Good luck, Kate!

  2. You are right, D.G., the internet offers a myriad of search options for researchers. It becomes a matter of determining when enough research really is enough.

  3. Hi Gail .. apologies you posted on my first Castle and then I've ignored you! Remembered I had to go back and find commenters .. Castling carried me away rather ..

    I must say Kate is the 2nd person I've come across to research via the net in that part of the world ...

    Her murder-mystery-romance sounds fascinating .. one I'd like to read .. cheers for now - I'm going to scan your A - Zs .. Hilary

  4. Hilary, thanks for visiting to read about the release date of Kate's new book! Another novel I read that related to Mayan civilization was by author Lyn Hamilton. Fascinating history. I am looking forward to Kate's novel.


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