Kaye D. Schmitz is a mystery author who lives at World Golf Village in St. Augustine. Her first novel, “The Consort Conspiracy, A Covington Family Mystery,” was released in 2017. Her next book, “The Revealing Room,” is coming soon.
What inspired you to become an author?
I don’t know that I was inspired to write as much as the fact that I just always did it. My first publishing experience came at the age of 10, when my poem, “The Garden,” was published in our local newspaper. My early writing consisted of poetry and short stories, and I found I had a way with words. When I finally decided to take writing seriously and do something about it, I began taking classes and letting the stories come to me. One of my favorite things is to allow my characters to take over my head and tell the story for me.
What makes mystery your favorite genre to write?
I think I enjoy writing mysteries because I love reading mysteries. I also enjoy hearing from my readers that they thought they had my story figured out and then bam, I threw them a twist they didn’t see coming. Along with the mystery, my stories are also about families and their relationships — often including family relationships from the past. And there is normally history thrown in, too — with real people from the past acting as some of my characters.
What’s the premise of “The Consort Conspiracy, A Covington Family Mystery?”
For almost 200 years, an ancient cemetery, deep in the lowlands of Georgia, has protected the identity of an infamous, brutal murderer whose act of betrayal changed the course of the town’s history and catapulted the family’s descendants into the nation’s highest political office. Thirty-one-year-old Kate Covington, downsized from her corporate position and desperate for work, calls in her last favor to land a film documentary job designed to boost the president’s ratings and travels to his family home in Georgia. But her research unearths clues in the ancient cemetery that prove his entire political career rests on 200 years of murder and betrayal — knowledge that forces her to fight for her life.
What can you tell us about your next book?
My second book is finished and awaiting a publishing date. The title is “The Revealing Room,” and it takes place in the fictional town of Sinclair Station, east of Asheville. The entire description is available on my website, but the synopsis is that a small North Carolina town, founded by the wealthy Sinclair family, is selected as the site for an International G7 Summit. But local Summit Coordinator Mattie Maguire, whose working-class family has been intertwined with the Sinclairs for four generations, uncovers a plot by Russian resources that threatens not only the Summit, but also the lives of her family. To save them, she must find the Sinclair heir, missing for decades, and then fight for her own life.
Do you speak or present at any conferences or events?
Yes. It’s one of my favorite things. Earlier this year I taught a three-hour writer’s workshop in Midway, Georgia — the site of “The Consort Conspiracy” — followed by a book signing. I’ve also spoken at several book clubs and would love to do more. Recently, since my book was accepted in the Local Author Collection of the Jacksonville Library System, I did an “Author Talk” at the Southeast Regional Library and have been invited to teach a writers’ workshop there later this year. My favorite talk was as a panel member at the International ThrillerFest in New York in July. My panel included members from all over the country, South America and the Mediterranean.
What’s your best advice to someone who wants to become a better writer?
First, keep writing. When I initially met with publishers, the editors always congratulated me for finishing my novel. They told me that 80 percent of would-be novelists never finish their manuscripts. Even my agent has said that fewer than 20 percent of the writers she invites to submit pages ever do so. Second, don’t be afraid to totally take your work apart and rewrite. Writing is rewriting — it’s simply a part of the process. But, three, NEVER throw away words. In my newest book, I deleted half the chapters when I rewrote, but I saved everything since something may come in handy for another book. And fourth, I believe we all have a story to tell, so believe in yourself and tell yours.
What do you like to do in your free time?
I love to garden … my yard is filled with hundreds of flowers. My husband and I also have a standing Monday night movie date if we’re both in town. In addition, we’ve been season ticket holders and sponsors of The Broadway Series in Jacksonville for more than 10 years. We also saw three Broadway shows when we were in New York. In addition, we both still love rock and roll and go to as many concerts as possible. We have tickets to see Queen with Adam Lambert in Las Vegas. And, of course, I love to read.
What do you enjoy most about living on the First Coast?
I love the weather, of course — going outside in January without a jacket — something I couldn’t do in my Maryland hometown. And I also love having my children and grandchildren close by. I enjoy being near the ocean and being a Jaguars fan. I think this is our year!