Rad-Reader:  Was there any reason you chose Cape Cod for the place of this story to take place?

Kathryn:  Thank you so much for having me here!  I live on Cape Cod, and a number of my books are set here, so in part, it was "write what you know".  For this setting, I invented a fictional town on the Cape that resembles my own town.  I wanted to keep certain characteristics (the beaches, the acres of conservation land, the small population) but also have the liberty to take a literary license when needed.

Rad-Reader:  Was Malorie based on someone you know or just some character you came up with?

Kathryn:  She's very much a character who just developed in my imagination, but I often take traits or hobbies of people I know and use their input to flesh a character out--in this case, one example is the competitive gymnastics Malorie participated in during high school.

 Rad-Reader:  At the beginning of the story you mention Malorie should have taken Brady (her dog) to obedience school when it took off.  Was that your way to make dog owners responsible?  LOL 😊

Kathryn:  I forgot I wrote that, lol!  Actually, I think the purpose of that line was two-fold: I wanted to show readers again how busy Malorie's life in London was, and also ramp up the tension of the situation by making it clear Brady wasn't likely to return on his own.  But I think it was also a subconscious dig at myself since Brady is very much based on my dog, Otis.  We love him dearly but he does have some behavioral challenges--like taking off when he finds a chance--that I could have probably worked on more diligently over the years.  Thankfully he always returns, and to my knowledge, he's never unearthed a dead body!

Rad-Reader:  Was it always your plan to have Malorie and Dean meet the way you had then meet?

Kathryn:  Actually, no...I write a lot of paranormal romance, and I originally wrote the first chapter with them meeting on the beach at night, after Malorie sees an eerie figure that disappears and screams as she realizes it was a ghost.  It was going to be the victim's ghost, but I decided later on, as the story developed in my head, to make it instead of a Romantic Suspense without paranormal elements.  There was already a lot going on in the story and adding a supernatural subplot would have been too much.

Rad-Reader:  Was it difficult to write one story and then a second story about a killer?

Kathryn:  It was difficult, especially trying to get into the mind of a killer and tap into that kind of thinking and behavior.  Disturbed characters need motivation for their actions just as much as other characters, even if their motivation and justification only make sense to them.  To prepare, I read a few true-crime novels detailing the lives and crimes of these types of predators, and I did research online as well.

Rad-Reader:  Did you write it all as one story - together or separately in regards to the killer?

Kathryn:  I did write it all in one story, but I had done all my reading and research for all the characters already by that point.  What I usually do is find the inciting incident for the story and write the first chapter or two based on that.  Then I have a better idea where things are going, and I leave the writing piece behind for a little while to prepare an outline.

Rad-Reader:  When or how did you decide in the story to add those parts because they really added to the suspense?

Kathryn:  Thank you!  I always try to add both internal and external conflicts into my books, to create suspense and help keep the narrative drive strong.  When I decided to take out any supernatural suspense, I knew I'd want to inject the story with external danger in another way--and I needed something that brought the two main characters together initially and resulted in the final climactic scene.  That gave me the idea for a killer and the discovery of a body.  

Rad-Reader:  Was Sharon being pregnant always part of the original story?

Kathryn:  If not right at the beginning, it was definitely part of the plan from early on, once I realized it would help solidify a number of plot points.

Rad-Reader:  You really touch on tow topics in the news right now.  Oxy addiction and mental health.  Was that planned on your part?

Kathryn:  The part about Oxy addiction wasn't planned from the beginning, but it's so topical now, and the Cape has been hit especially hard.  There was a big television documentary on opioid addiction here a few years ago, and it stuck in my mind as something that could become an important part of the story once the plot really began unfolding toward the finished product in my mind.  On the other hand, the mental illness piece was absolutely planned from the very beginning and was really one of the main building blocks of the story.  It's tragic that there's such a stigma attached to mental illness, and treatment can be so difficult to find.  Like any disease, it also affects the friends and families of those that suffer, but there's also the added weight of that stigma that sadly brings shame and reluctance to address it openly.

Rad-Reader:  When and how did you come up with Cherry?

Kathryn:  I really like Cherry, despite her issues.  She arrived in my mind fully-formed in a scene in my imagination that didn't make it into the book.  But that scene did help construct the backstory that helped develop all the characters' pasts.  

Rad-Reader:  Was she someone that was always part of your original plan in the story?

Kathryn:  The idea of her developed when I first was imagining a prom disaster as part of a book, but I didn't have a name or visual image for her until I came up with Dean.  Then she just sort of popped up as his close friend, someone he grew up with and was always around because of their neighborhood and their family friendship. 

Rad-Reader:  How do you as an author come up with such a simple in as “If she were to stand next to Cherry, she’d look like the no-non sense assistant to the edgy Rockstar?”  That so describes for me (the reader) the difference between Malorie and Cherry?

Kathryn:  To me, it seemed like the best way to "show" the reader how Malorie compares herself to someone as bold and uninhibited as Cherry was to get right into Malorie's mind and listen to what she'd be thinking.  Malorie has some confidence issues, and she's always felt a bit intimidated by Cherry, so that's what came to me.  Glad it worked!

Rad-Reader:  I got how Malorie’s father protected her the day after the prom, any father would.  But it seemed later in the story he was the one that was making her feel like her mother, instead of a father.  Why the shift?

Kathryn:  I think a lot of the shift had to do with first asserting control over Malorie to get her to do what he wanted her to do, and then beginning to realize what the stakes were if she began showing symptoms.  Then when he had his sons, he knew he didn't really need her to be the heir apparent anymore.  While he loves Malorie, the reputation he's built, and the business he's successfully grown, are of utmost importance to him.

Rad-Reader:  Once you get to 52%-53% you find out that Malorie’s mother has schizophrenia.  As a parent with children with this disease, your description of her mother’s action when she was off her medication was good.  Is this something you experienced or did you speak to someone or a mental health professional?

Kathryn:  I am very sorry to hear this--it can be such a difficult illness to treat, and I do know some people affected by it.  One of my good friends has a parent with it, so I have seen firsthand some of the behavior associated with being off medication.  I also saw some of the unpleasant side effects of being on the medication, so I understand the desire to stop taking it.  In addition to that experience, I did quite a bit of research, and I read a book called "Growing Up With A Schizophrenic Mother", which compiled stories and interviews from over 40 adults who grew up with mothers diagnosed with schizophrenia.  It was very informative, and I drew a lot from the experiences discussed in the book.  It's a serious and sensitive topic and I'm glad I portrayed it accurately.

Rad-Reader:  Later in the story when you speak of attempted suicide-yes crazy my wife and I have dealt with this as well.  Again, something you have or did you research?

Kathryn:  Unfortunately, I do have some experience with this, in terms of both suicide attempts and suicide by people I care about.  But I did do research on the subject in order to make sure I approached it with care and accuracy.  

Rad-Reader:  When you begin your story do you already have an idea how it will end, or do you just see where it leads you?

Kathryn:  I do always have an idea of how it will end because I'm a planner in most aspects of my life.  I did write one novel without a plan for the end, and halfway through I thought I wasn't going to be able to come up with something that worked for a climactic scene.  Thankfully, I worked it out--with my husband's help, as he's often my sounding board--but the panic of thinking I'd spent so much time on a story I loved and didn't know where to go with wasn't a great feeling!

Rad-Reader:  Your story of the Prom and how it did not work out.  Was that just a story or was there more to it?

Kathryn:  That situation was part of a different story I'd been thinking of writing, well before I started this one.  That story never came to fruition, but I thought the scenario of such a terrible and confusing night would make a great backstory for a second chance romance in the future, so I hung onto it, but it was just something that popped up in my imagination.

Rad-Reader:  Do you use an outline or just freestyle it when you write?

Kathryn:  I'm what's called a "Plotster" - I do have to have a plot outlined before I begin--at least in my mind.  I have to know I have a full story arc that will work.  That said, things have a way of changing as I go, and characters sometimes do things I hadn't planned.  But I find that in writing suspense, I have to keep track of the pacing of twists and reveals, so I usually have notebooks full of lists and reminders by the time I'm even a quarter of the way through.

Rad-Reader:  If your book was made into a movie who would you want to play?...

Malorie:  Danielle Panabaker

Dean:  Ryan Paevey


Kathryn:  I think those choices are pretty perfect!  It's always hard for me to "cast" my characters since I know exactly what they look like in my mind.  But I do keep inspiration boards on Pinterest for all my novels.

Brady:  My dog Otis lol 

Rad-Reader:  What song or songs best describes your two main characters and their relationship or your story as a whole?

“Let Me Love You Baby – Stevie Ray Vaughan”
When the two of them get together.

“Beautiful Crazy – Luke Combs”
The way he sees Malorie.

“Tell Her I belong to You - Beth Hart”
The way Malorie him always going to Cherry.

I love these!  Beautiful Crazy gave me chills.  One song that really inspired me is Ho Hey (I belong with you, You belong with me) by The Lumineers.  The lyrics not only speak to two people who belong together but also remind me of Dean's struggle to always do the right thing.  Also, I thought for a long time they were saying "And Malorie, she'll be standing next to me" but it's "Bowery" - a street name as in..."Canal and Bowery" 

Then there's Romeo and Juliet, by Dire Straits.  It's a song about star-crossed lovers and it also references West Side Story ("There's a place for us, you know the movie song...when you gonna realize, it was just that the time was wrong?").  The whole song reminds me of their separate struggles, promises they made and broke, and their desire to find their way back to each other.

Finally there's Desperately Wanting by Better Than Ezra, which makes me think of Malorie's sudden disappearance, the family illness, and of both their past as love-struck teens and how they finally start to trust that they can overcome all the obstacles in their way "Take back your life, let me inside, we'll find the door, if you care to anymore."

Rad-Reader:  How long did it take you to write this story?

Kathryn:  This story took a really long time to write.  Not just because of the research, but because of some personal things I went through at the time.  My father was diagnosed with aggressive cancer while I was writing this one and I just stopped writing.  He passed away a few months later, and cancer had already taken my mother decades earlier.  I simply couldn't write for almost a year.  But I missed it, and I wanted to tell Malorie and Dean's story.  I had to force myself to get back into it, but it felt so cathartic when I did.  So overall, this book took over two years to write.

Rad-Reader:  What made you want to write this story?

Kathryn:  I really enjoy reading second-chance romances myself--I think there's something really special about first love, too.  So, the idea of a teenage couple falling for each other--against the odds, outside of their usual social circles--and then finding their way back to each other after being torn apart really appealed to me.  The issues they end up facing make it unique and also touch on important topics.  Plus, the characters definitely wanted their story told, and my mind was full of scenes.  But as I mentioned above, some serious writer's block set in that made me fear I wouldn't finish this one...or write another.  The thought of that made me very unhappy, and I also had readers asking me when my next book would be available.  So, I did eventually manage to get back into it, thankfully.

Rad-Reader:  What gave you the idea to have a story within a story?

Kathryn:  I tend to do that in most of my novels...I usually have one or two subplots that come together with the main plot by the end.  I think it helps drive the suspense.  This one in particular really did entail two very different plotlines, but I thought allowing the reader into the killer's viewpoint would heighten the tension and allow them to experience things the two main characters knew nothing about.

Rad-Reader:  How much prep goes into your writing of any story?

Kathryn:  A lot!  I do tons of research, including extensive reading and visiting locations.  Then there are timelines, character pages, outlines, and a list of reveals to fit in.  Because I almost always write from several points-of-view, I also have to keep careful track of who knows what at what point.  Thankfully I have a fantastic Beta reader who then goes over each chapter when it's finished, looking for any mistakes I made with any of those things.

Rad-Reader:  What made you want to be a writer?

Kathryn:  My love for reading made me want to be a writer, along with my active imagination.  I was an early reader and my parents struggled to borrow or purchase enough books to keep up with my demand.  If I was doing something that didn't allow reading, like riding my bike or walking to school, I was making up stories.  Getting lost in a good story is one of my greatest pleasures and the best way I've found to relax, and my hope is that I can do that for others.

Rad-Reader:  When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

Kathryn:  I decided I had to try when I had the entire plot of my debut novel, Silver Lake, completed in my mind, and every character in the story was like a friend to me at that point.  My husband urged me to write it all down, and I started in the spring of 2007, in a notebook.  

Rad-Reader:  What is your next project and when is it coming out?

Kathryn:  My sixth novel, The Haunting of Hillwood Farm, recently released, so I've been working on promoting that title and giving my mind a chance to recharge.  I also have two audiobooks in the works, so that's taking up a bit of my writing time at the moment.

Rad-Reader:  Where can our readers buy your books?  Links

Kathryn:  All my novels are available on Amazon as either Kindle books or in print, and two titles are currently available as audiobooks as well, with two more in production.  Most of my titles are also available on the Barnes and Noble site, in the iTunes and iBooks stores, and on Kobo.  I've put the links to my author profile or to one of my titles on each site below.

Rad-Reader:  Where can our readers find on the Web?  Links

Kathryn:  Thanks again for having me here and thank you to visitors stopping by to learn more about my novels!  Author links are below

Thank you for being with us.  For taking the time to answer all of my questions.  We know you had to take time away from your writing and that does mean a lot.  Thanks.
Pat & Char


  1. Thank you so much for having me, and for the in-depth questions! I hope anyone who gives my books a read enjoys the story!

  2. Excellent interview. I loved hearing about your process. You've given me a few ideas on how I can improve my own.

    1. Thank you Sandra, I agree we can always learn from each other to figure out what works for us! It's such a crazy journey and I love that we can all support each other. I so appreciate your coming by and commenting :)

  3. Great interview! And I love stories set close to where I live. :)

    1. Hi Jean! Thanks so much and I love that too...familiar settings are so fun to read. I appreciate your stopping by!


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