Following the recent release of her first novel, MURDER ON VANCOUVER ISLAND, and with her second, MURDER AT LAKE ONTARIO, on pre-order now, we caught up with Kathy Garthwaite to find out more about her. Kathy has lived on Vancouver Island for many years, has a background in journalism and horticulture and a keen interest in golf. She has two lovebirds named Daisy and Fritz and she once lived on a sailboat!
TBF: What inspired you to write your first book?
KG: My first book came after a decade of writing for magazines. The thought was always there to write a book but the task seemed insurmountable. Then it became a dream to chase it.
TBF: Please tell us a bit about your background and how your past experiences in these roles have helped or impacted on your current writing? From horticulture to crime novel – that’s an interesting leap!
KG: I started out in fashion design and switched to horticulture when I realized how much I liked being outdoors. As a lover of gardens and design, landscape descriptions wound their way into my book easily.
TBF: Do you have your own garden?
KG: My yard is a wooded lot with fir and cedar trees, so I designed my garden accordingly with rhododendrons, spireas, ferns and weeping Japanese maples. I adore roses but so do the deer! So I planted my favourite climbing rose, ‘New Dawn’, just out of their reach.
TBF: Let’s talk about your book, Murder on Vancouver Island. We really enjoyed meeting the lead characters: DI Gibson, his reliable work partner Scottie, and also his wife, Katherine, who is suffering the affects of a previous abusive marriage. Can you share a little about how you create the characters in your writing? Are they based on real people?
KG: The characters in my books are based on my encounters with others, not on any one person that I know. We all share the same human strengths and weaknesses: failures, successes, fear, courage, sorrow, joy, limitations and disappointments. I draw from these until each character I create becomes real to me, and I can imagine what they might be thinking or feeling.
TBF: Are you particularly fond of a character that you have portrayed in your writing?
KG: Katherine. I wanted her to be courageous, in spite of her limitations, with just enough vulnerability to be relatable to most.
TBF: What was your starting point when first drawing up ideas for Murder on Vancouver Island? And what did you find was the hardest part of writing the book?
KG: The villain! What has he done? Who is affected by his actions? Everything followed from there.
Each stage of the book had its moments. But stopping myself from getting up in the middle of the night to write something was a challenge. So I left a pen and paper on the counter to jot down random thoughts if I found myself wandering around in the kitchen in the dark.
TBF: What is it about crime fiction that particularly interests you? As an author and as a reader?
KG: To me, crime fiction yields insights into our aspirations, our conflicts and our emotional struggles. It is not only the crime but the interconnecting relationships that interest me as an author. As a reader, I sink into the story as an observer. I enjoy it when justice triumphs.
TBF: The sequel is set in Ontario. What’s your connection with that area? Can you tell us a little about living in Canada in general, and how the locations and atmosphere contribute to your writing?
KG: I grew up in St. Catharines not far from the Welland Canal. There was never a conscious thought about where I lived. Life was safe and fun in Canada. Although I reside on Vancouver Island now, I have great memories from there. Niagara Falls was a place to hang out as a teenager, but it is actually a spectacular sight to see. A real force of nature. I make every effort to let my readers see what I see.
TBF: If asked for an interesting or quirky fact about yourself, what might you say?
KG: Quirky? Maybe. Lived on a gulf island, built a 42 foot sailboat and lived on board.
We had the hull and cabin built professionally on a gulf island. Then we trailered it over to Vancouver on a British Columbia ferry. We did the rest of it ourselves – engine, steering, wiring, plumbing, interior, woodwork…
The boat was launched in the Fraser River in Vancouver a year later. I lived on board there for a while before moving back to the gulf islands and then, eventually Vancouver Island. A total of eight years onboard.
TBF: Final question, Gibson finds relaxation when he is out kayaking. Have you ever been kayaking? What do you do for relaxation and fun?
KG: I have engaged in most water sports – rowing, sailing and water skiing. Kayaking is next on my list. I like to golf and go on long hikes through the many forested trails nearby. And of course, a murder mystery novel to relax at night.
Kathy’s MURDER ON VANCOUVER ISLAND is available to buy now on Kindle and paperback.
MURDER AT LAKE ONTARIO is available on Kindle on pre-order and will be released on April 30th, worldwide.
Both books are currently priced at 99p/99cents on Kindle. Act quick before the price goes up!