Greetings from Sarah Sundin in California! Today I’m visiting with my Tennessee friend, multi-published author Kathy Harris, who made a “divine detour” from her career in the music industry to writing novels. Come and see how her fascinating background plays out in her writing!
Welcome, Kathy! Please tell us about your new book, Deadly Connection.
After fending off a would-be abductor, 27-year-old singer-songwriter Hannah Cassidy hides behind a car in the half-empty parking lot behind Pancake Pantry in Nashville. From there, she watches in horror as her attacker grabs another woman and pushes her into a nearby car. Within seconds, the vehicle speeds away.
TBI Special Agent Jake Matheson may have planned a quiet day off and a date with Shannon―the only name her online profile revealed―for an introductory lunch, but after pulling into a parking space on 21st Avenue South, he hears a scream. He races to the back of the building and finds a frightened young woman bent forward and gasping for breath.
Thrown together by uncanny circumstances and driven by the whys and what-ifs of secrets yet to be revealed, Hannah and Jake set out to find the connection between them before it becomes deadly.
Sounds thrilling! What inspired you to write this book?
I had a general idea about where the story was going and wrote the first scene. Then I put it aside for a while. When I finally returned to it, I had only a few months to finish the manuscript. That’s when the story began to take shape. I’m not typically a seat-of-the-pants writer, but that’s what happened with this book.
For an outlining novelist like me, that sounds rather alarming. Did you have any other surprises while writing this book?
Before I started researching, I knew that human trafficking was prevalent in the US. More prevalent than most people know. What I didn’t know was that human trafficking occurs in every city, every county, and every zip code in Middle Tennessee (https://www.endslaverytn.org). And, of course, it’s not just in my home state. It’s in all fifty states. And it takes place in small towns, big cities, and rural areas. Human trafficking may, literally, be as close as your next-door neighbor or the family living around the block.
Oh my. I’m glad you highlighted this in your novel. What else do you hope readers will take away from this book?
I hope there are a lot of takeaways. I want readers to come away with a better understanding of human trafficking. But this story is also about the power of faith over fear. And of overcoming loss. I tackle the concept of grief head-on in this story. It’s the part of the book that comes from my personal experience, that of being widowed and working my way through loss. I also hope readers will be entertained! There are some fun characters in this story.
What would be your ideal writing place? And…what’s your actual writing place like?
Ideal would, of course, be the beach or a cozy cabin in the mountains. Ha! But, because that’s not readily available . . . In the past I’ve written in coffee shops. Since 2020, I’ve written from home. Sometimes at my desk, but most often sitting in my favorite armchair. A writer spends a lot of time in a chair, and it needs to be comfortable.
Indeed it does. So, when did you first recognize God’s call to write for Him?
I knew as a child that I wanted to write books. In college, I majored in communications (journalism and advertising) and minored in English. After college, I freelanced a lot—writing entertainer bios, writing and ghostwriting articles and columns for music publications, and writing advertising copy. When I turned fifty, I realized that it was time to write the books I had always wanted to write. I recommitted my work to God and since that time He has blessed me with the realization of my childhood dreams.
That’s fantastic! So what led you to write romantic suspense?
I have always read a lot of suspense and romantic suspense, but my first published novel, The Road to Mercy, was women’s fiction, and I thought that was my niche. Then, one day at a writer’s meeting, my agent and my editor both said, “You should be writing romantic suspense.” That conversation eventually resulted in a three-book contract for The Deadly Secrets series. This book, Deadly Connection, is the second book in the series.
Do you have a “day job” or a previous career? Does it influence what or how you write?
I’m a marketing director in the Nashville music industry. My music career is the foundation for my stories, but it’s not the primary focus. The Deadly Secrets series focuses on three men who are special agents with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and the women they love, all with diverse careers and all strong women.
I’m sure the music industry thread will draw a lot of readers too. Now, all writers start as readers. Do you have a favorite library memory?
When I was in college, I worked in the card catalog division of my school library. I loved it! Of course, the digital filing system is much more efficient now, but I miss the old card catalog files.
Me too! Talk about a dream job for an aspiring writer. So, what’s next for you? Please tell us about your next project.
Deadly Conclusion, which is Book 3 in The Deadly Secrets series, is set in the quaint little town of Leiper’s Fork, Tennessee, which is about thirty miles southwest of Nashville. The heroine is a search and rescue dog trainer. The hero is a special agent with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. Together, they investigate a decades old murder—and their conclusion is not only shocking, it’s potentially deadly.