Meet Kathy Manos Penn

In my last post, I presented a number of books with a Halloween Theme and next month I will do the same for books with a Christmas Theme. I hope you’ve had the opportunity to down load a couple and start reading. But now I want you to get the know the authors behind the stories. A few of these wonderfully talented wordsmiths have written books for both holidays! Are you ready to meet our first author?

Kathy Manos Penn with Banjo

Kathy is a long-time columnist and award-winning author. Her books are in the KU (kindle unlimited) program. You can find all her books on her Amazon Author Page, connect with her on her Facebook Author Page and find out even more from her Website!

I asked each of our authors to select questions from a list to answer (you’ll find out more below) and ask all to answer this…

Why did you write a holiday theme mystery?
The Halloween book simply grew out of the fact that book one was set in September and had ended with a costume party at my main character’s cottage. That was so much fun, I wanted to continue the costume theme with the characters dressing in costume for a Fall Fete in their Cotswolds village.
I LOVE Christmas, and like my main character, I decorate our home to the hilt! Given that Leta has been a widow for 18 mos, her emotional growth and how she deals with the holidays seemed a natural next step.

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How long have you been writing?
I’ve been writing cozies only since late 2019 and released Book One in my series in February 2020. For almost my entire corporate career, I was called upon to write. Funny that my fellow bankers, whom I thought brilliant at analysis and numbers, seemed to think the same about my ability to craft a complete sentence, a speech, a how-to guide, or a training course. Long before my official job was communications, I was the go-to person for writing.
As a side job, while still a banker, I began writing weekly columns for a local paper and enjoyed it so much, I also started writing a blog. When I retired, I published a book of my columns, and then my dog Banjo got in on the act. He got all fired up when I had his DNA done and we discovered he’s part Great Pyrenees.  Did you know that Louis XIV declared those majestic animals the Royal Dogs of France? Once Banjo heard that news, he demanded I take dictation and produce a small book in his voice about a year in his life.  He says Lord Banjo the Royal Pooch is NOT fiction, but we have a difficult time convincing readers of that.
It was only after I’d appeased the boy that I could think about what I might want to write.

What is the significance of the title?
Since Dickens & Christie, the dog and cat in my books, are important characters, I find myself wanting to include a pet-oriented word in each title.  Hence, the first book was Bells, Tails & Murder and this Halloween themed book is Pumpkins, Paws & Murder with a fall fête central to the plot.

What book is currently on your bedside table?
Love Saves the Day by Gwen Cooper. A friend recommended I read it because a cat tells the story. She wasn’t quite sure she was going to enjoy reading my books where Dickens & Christie converse with their pet parent, but after one book, she was hooked. She went in search of other books where the animals talk or at least write and found Love Saves the Day!
And on my Kindle, next up is The Silent Woman by Terry Lynn Thomas. I’m an Anglophile through and through, so you can almost always find me reading a book set in England. This one is set just before WWII.

What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why?
As an avid reader, I love writing the book club scenes included in each of my books.  The chosen book is always in some way connected to the plot and is always a book I’ve read. I enjoy mentioning books throughout my stories, though I must admit I haven’t read every single book I mention—most of them, but not all. Leta, my main character, was an English major and briefly an English teacher before moving on to corporate America, and her best friend Wendy taught high school English for thirty years. It’s only natural that they talk books.  And guess what, I too briefly taught English, and I’m forever talking books with my friends.

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Is writing your full-time career? Or would you like it to be?
My friends would tell you it is, that writing has become my full-time second career and that I never really retired. I call it my passion. I find myself going into withdrawal when I don’t write every day.  Fortunately, I continue to write weekly newspaper columns, so when I’m not deep into writing the next book, I can get my fix with a column.

What do you like to do when you are not writing?
Read!  I must read every night and now that I’m retired I stay up way too late doing that.  When I worked, I made myself turn out the bedside light by ten. Much as I say about Leta in my books, I turn into a pumpkin by that time. And so you know I’m not a complete couch potato, I work out several times a week and walk with my sister too. Times were I rode bicycles with my husband, but his health has taken that activity off the table, and I don’t much enjoy cycling by myself. You’ll notice in my books that Leta rides a bicycle.

Where do you draw inspiration from?
I followed the adage to write what you know, so my pets are the inspiration for the personalities of Dickens & Christie. Banjo and Puddin’ hang out with me in my office—Banjo snoozes at my feet and Puddin’ is either demanding treats by leaping on the desk or she’s snoozing in my desk drawer. As does Dickens, Banjo loves belly rubs and is always scarfing his feline sister’s wet food. Puddin’? She’s a demanding little thing who rules the roost and thinks she “owns” both me and my husband.
Leta, my main character, is a transplanted Atlantan and is Greek. I only wish I were a transplanted Atlantan!  I doubt I’d ever have the gumption to leave friends and family behind and move to England, but I AM Greek. Leta is known among her new British friends for her Greek salad, as I am here among my Atlanta friends. You can find her salad recipe in Book One and two additional Greek recipes in Books Two and Three.
Beyond that, my bucket list trip to England in 2018 inspired the Cotswolds village setting and much of the literary plot for the first book in the series. In book two, the ladies take a trip to Dartmouth and Agatha Christie’s summer home because I’d visited both. One thing leads to another as I research ideas on the internet, and things move along from there.
Because I took yoga for years, there’s a yoga studio in Astonbury and Leta takes a class several times a week. I’ve long had it in the back of my mind to include a yoga retreat in one of my books. I only need to figure out who gets murdered and why! This idea could show up in book five. You never know.

Well, I hope you’ve enjoyed our first “Holiday Author”! I know I have. And I’m now in the mood to start reading holiday books.

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Don’t forget, you can get my books at a discount when you buy direct from my website. And to help you start start preparing for the holidays, check out the cute designs below!

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