Breakfast with Stairway Press: A Talk With Kay Kendall

By - August 23, 2013

It's been six hours, and some people might just be waking up!  But we're still here, and I'm thrilled to continue the Breakfast with Stairway Press segment by posting my fun interview with International Thriller Writers' Debut Class Member and fellow Stairway Press author, Kay Kendall!  Don't forget to check out the bottom of this post for details on how to win Kay's giveaway, as well as an additional giveaway from me, myself, and I!

Now, I'm pleased to welcome Kay Kendall!

CM: When did you start writing?

KK: I began writing fiction twelve years ago. My first manuscript was a literary novel that I worked on forever and put aside when I failed to get an agent. That was important seven years ago, much less so now under different publishing conditions. But I found I still was compelled to write so I immersed myself in crime fiction, let the patterns of the genre seep into my head, and then began to write my mystery.

CM:  What made you decide to write?

KK: Gloria Steinem said it best: “Writing is the only thing I do that I don’t feel like I should be doing something else.”

CM:  What excites you about your genre?

KK:  Within the mystery genre, historical fiction is what I like to read best. Many authors locate their sleuths and their spymasters during the great wars of the twentieth century. The two world wars and Cold War are amply represented in mysteries and spy fiction. The Vietnam War is comparatively not “taken.” Besides it is the era I grew up in. I decided it was an historic niche that needed filling and that I was the one to do the filling.

CM: How did you incorporate these things into Desolation Row?

KK:  I wanted to show what life was like for young women of that era, the late sixties—not the type who made headlines, the Angela Davises and Hanoi Janes, but the moderates who nonetheless got swept along by the tides of history during that turbulent time. All that turmoil lends itself to drama, intrigue…and murder.

CM:  How long does it typically take you to finish the first draft of a manuscript?

KK:  Because I revise compulsively while I write a first draft, it is tough to say how long it takes. One of my first drafts is more like my fourth. That said, the answer is probably something like 15 months. I hope to shorten that for my next book, to quit revising quite as obsessively.

CM:  What’s something readers would be surprised to know about you after they read one of your books?

KK:  I really did interview with the CIA. When offered a position, instead I chose to attend graduate school and study Russian history. Just as my protagonist Austin Starr did. 

CM:  What’s your favorite book you’ve ever read and why?

KK:  It’s hard to pick only one, but if pressed, then I’d have to say Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. It has everything—mystery, thwarted romance, a feisty heroine, and good repartee between Jane and Mr. Rochester, who is no saint.

CM:  If your house caught fire, what are other things (apart from people) you’d save?

KK:  First, the family zoo. That consists of one cavalier King Charles spaniel and five house rabbits. So the zoo has to count as one unit or otherwise one of those precious furries gets left! The other three things would be pieces of furniture that I have inherited from both sides of my family. My cousins know I am the only one keen on history and family pieces so I end up with treasures that are old and unwanted by other family members. I’m lucky.

CM:  What is your favorite time of day to write/why?

KK:  I wish I could say that I write in the morning almost as soon as I get up. I do aspire to that because it seems the most efficient. But it rarely happens. Things need to be taken care of, and if I don’t tidy up, they “call” to me during the day. So I end up usually writing from early afternoon through early evening, at which point my husband sticks his head in the door to my writing room and asks when we’re going to eat supper.

CM:  What is your favorite word?

KK:  Love.

CM:  What is your least favorite word?

KK:  Fear.


***Kay is giving away a signed copy of Desolation Row to one lucky commenter. So, don't forget to comment!***

ABOUT KAY:  Kay Kendall is an international award-winning public relations executive who lives in Texas with her husband, five house rabbits, and spaniel Wills. A fan of historical mysteries, she set her debut mystery during the Vietnam War, a key conflict of the last century not already overrun with novels. Find out more at


With An Additional Giveaway From



***Another lucky commenter will win an autographed copy of The Trade by Colby Marshall!***

ABOUT THE TRADE:  A brilliant and ruthless surgeon is providing infants to be sold on the black market and leaving helpless women to die. Meanwhile, five New Yorkers crash toward each other, unaware that only the collision of their five lives can bring down the city’s black market baby trade.


Comment for your chance to win both Kay's and Colby's giveaways!


What is your favorite mystery book?


  • 8/26/2013 - 1:08pm Colby Marshall says
    *****WINNERS!***** Here are the giveaway winners for this post. TO CLAIM YOUR PRIZE, winners must e-mail colby [at] colbymarshall [dot] com and provide a shipping address for their items by Mon., September 2, 2013 (7 days following notification). If winner does not claim prize by this date, another winner will be selected at random from the original contest entrants. KAY KENDALL's giveaway goes to Tina Meyers. Colby Marshall's giveaway goes to Jim.
  • 8/23/2013 - 7:08pm Jim says
    Sounds interesting! I love CIA/cold war era fiction. I'll have to check this one out.
  • 8/23/2013 - 6:51pm Danielle says
    I don't really have a favorite mystery yet - I only really started reading mysteries this past year. I read The Jewel That Was Ours by Colin Dexter years ago for a linguistics course, and I really liked it, and I've re-read it several times, so that's as close as I get.
  • 8/23/2013 - 6:49pm Tina Meyers says
    I, too, grew up in the Vietnam era. What I remember most about it was my brother being over there and his steadfast refusal to this day to discuss it. He was the sole survivor of a group of men doing communication in one of the battles. I look forward to reading your book and expanding my knowledge to unexplored areas of that time
  • 8/23/2013 - 6:47pm Shera says
    I love Patricia Cornwell's novels and am excited about having some new mysteries to read!
  • 8/23/2013 - 7:47am Colby Marshall says
    A big thanks to Kay for being a part of this day! Readers, continue to comment throughout Friday to have a chance to win these giveaways!

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