It is a pleasure to welcome Kathryn Bax to my blog today! Not only is she a true crime author writing under the name Kathryn McMaster, she is also the founder of One Stop Fiction, a website designed to help readers discover reasonably priced books of all genres.
Take a moment to learn more about Kathryn’s books, her extensive travels, expat life, her farm in Tuscany, and the inspirations behind her true crime series.
Please tell me a little bit about yourself, your books and writing career.
Where do I start? I lead a very busy life. I am one of those people who have to be doing something. So if I am not writing then I am canning, making jam, butchering chickens, spinning and weaving wool from my sheep, making soap, gardening, planting, weeding…the list goes on.
I started off my career in Education, then left briefly to work for the government. However, it wasn’t long before I went back into Education and for the five years before I retired I was in management for adult education in the United Arab Emirates. I have lived in 6 different countries around the world, including far flung places like Papua New Guinea. Each move has brought with it both challenges and rewards, and I have met some wonderful people along the way.
When I am not writing I am faming our 30 acres in Tuscany, Italy. Living here is not the ‘dolce vita’ as some may think and there have been many trials and tribulations, and learning a foreign language at 50-something is not easy. Now I just shout a little louder!
I have always written, for as long as I can remember, but once I retired I was able to dedicate more time to this passion of mine. I write true crime stories and help readers discover reasonably priced books of all genres through our company website www.onestopfiction.com.
If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
I have always enjoyed travelling. The world is so diverse and you don’t have to venture too far before you find different cultures, heritage, architecture, languages and food. I would really like to go to Japan next. It has long fascinated me and would love to visit the snow monkeys in Sapporo.
Why do you write the kinds of books you do?
I write true crime stories based on murders around the world under the name of Kathryn McMaster, McMaster being a family name. My father was not a reader but he did have a large collection of true crime books and it was the only genre he would read. I discovered these in the home library at an age where I should really have been reading Nancy Drew. Immediately, I was morbidly fascinated by just how depraved humanity can be. I then went on to study psychology and later criminal profiling and criminal investigation inspired by what I had read. Now I cover the cases to make sure the victims are never forgotten. So often the victims become lost in the noise once the perpetrator is found. I write to humanize the victim and to give them and their families a voice, but at the same time highlighting the dark minds that commit such atrocities.
Tell me something about yourself that has nothing to do with writing?
When I am not writing I farm. I am as passionate about clean food and organic farming as I am about my writing. As such, I grow olives and stone fruit. I also grow veggies free of chemicals, many of which are growing using aquaponics. I keep several beehives for honey and raise sheep, goats and chickens. My husband continues to work away in foreign countries (currently he is in Nigeria) and so while my existence can be lonely at times, it does afford me to the time to potter, do my research for my next case, and to write when I get the time.
What is your usual writing routine?
I would like to say that I am a 9-5 writer, but honestly, my life is so busy it is impossible to find the time to do this every day. So, I have to confess that I have no writing routine, per se. When I have a spare moment I open up the computer and tap away or do some more research. This can be well after midnight some nights or early in the morning. I do manage to get 5 or 6 books out a year and hope to keep this up.
What motivates you to write?
I write for a number of different reasons. First of all, I write because I enjoy doing so and my interests are numerous and varied. It is probably why I own five different websites besides my author website where I talk about organic homesteading, traveling around Italy, quick and easy healthy recipes, home remedies and selling books. So, most days I am writing something but not always for my true crime books. Secondly, I do so to keep the memory of the victims alive but to also highlight the depravity of humanity. Finally, I write because I need to be pragmatic. Time is marching on, and I will need some money for my retirement in the not too distant future and writing has brought in a steady income for me. However, if you don’t keep bringing new books out regularly, that income does fall off. So, you just have to keep writing! In today’s crazy world, as a crime writer, there is no shortage of material for me to cover.
Why have you chosen to write a series? Do you know how many books will be in it?
My latest books are all part of one series, or another. There are two series out at the moment: “Kids who Kill” and “Couples who Kill”. Series are popular with readers because if they have enjoyed one book they will usually buy the rest. In addition, I try to keep them fairly short (under 300 pages) which satisfies those looking to read the case but not getting bogged down by legal speak.
Writing a series also helps to keep me focused as I can be a bit flighty and undisciplined; always rushing off to do something else before I have finished something already started. As a case comes up that is of interest to me, then I add it to the series list and start researching. I am currently covering the Jessica Ridgeway murder in Book 6 of the “Kids who Kill” series, and I am sure there will be many more added in the future.
What kind of research do you do before writing your books?
I do a lot of research for my books. More time can be taken up with research than actually writing the book. I am meticulous in my sources, accessing court records, transcripts, affidavits, confessions, etc. where I can. After that, I read complimentary books if there have been any written, rely on investigative journalism, and try and interview people close to the crime.
How do you create a realistic setting in your novels?
When I wrote my debut novel, “Who Killed Little Johnny Gill?” and followed that up with the Madeline Smith scandal, “Blackmail, Sex and Lies”, both novels were set in the Victorian Era. In order to recreate the era I did a lot of research covering all aspects of Victorian life: clothing, transportation, food, working conditions, occupations, housing, disparities between the rich and poor, industries, distances between important landmarks, street names, sayings of the times, swear words… The list goes on. I may not have used all of what I researched, but it gave me a solid start to then take the murder cases, access the resources, and then as accurately as I was able, place the characters into a realistic Victoria era setting.
However, my latest books being of the true crime genre, the setting is already there. I just need to make sure that I have uncovered all the pertinent facts.
Many thanks to Jennifer for the opportunity of talking about my books.
Thank you, Kathryn! You lead a fascinating life; I enjoyed learning more about you and your books.