Thursday, June 25, 2015

Kate Flora

Award-winning mystery and true crime writer Kate Flora is the author of 14 books, including the Agatha and Anthony nominated true crime story Death Dealer and the novel And Grant You Peace which is a 2015 Maine Literary Award finalist. Her book Finding Amy (true crime), co-written with a Portland, Maine deputy police chief, was a 2007 Edgar Award nominee. Kate’s other titles include the Thea Kozak mysteries and the starred-review Joe Burgess police series, the third of which, Redemption, won the 2013 Maine Literary Award for Crime Fiction.

A former assistant attorney general in the areas of battered children and employment discrimination, Kate is a founding member the New England Crime Bake and Maine Crime Wave conferences, a founder of Level Best Books where she worked as an editor and publisher for seven years. She has served as international president of Sisters in Crime. When she’s not riding an ATV through the Canadian woods or hiding in a tick-infested field waiting to be found by search and rescue dogs as research for her books, she can be found teaching writing at Grub Street in Boston.

What are your ties to Maine or the Boothbay Peninsula?

Ties to Maine: Born in Maine, went to school in Maine, worked for the Maine Attorney General after law school, and spend 5-6 months a year in Harpswell

Ties to Boothbay? My brother John Clark was, for several years, librarian in Boothbay Harbor, and my niece worked for the Boothbay Register. Part of my first Joe Burgess mystery, Playing God, takes place on the Boothbay penninsula

What is your favorite thing about writing in Maine?

Things, I’d say. First, Maine is so full  of characters that a write can just sit back and collect them. Second, Maine is great for solitary work because we have such a strong tradition of minding our business and leaving people alone. Third, I find endless inspiration in the landscape, the weather, and the wildlife.

What are the most important themes in your work?

Poverty, and the contrasts between haves and have nots; the edgy way we feel about people from away. The way that necessity and fear can drive people to crime. And because of my legal background, I am always fascinated by good and evil, and what makes people decide they’re not bound by the social contract to do no harm.

Tell us about the books you will be signing at Books In Boothbay this year?

My two new books are a true crime involving Canadian police and the Maine Warden Service, called Death Dealer: How Cops and Cadaver Dogs Brought a Killer to Justice and my fourth Joe Burgess police procedural, And Grant You Peace, is about the challenges of investigating a murder in Portland’s immigrant community.

What do you hope readers will discover in your latest book?

Both books can be called “police procedurals” though one is real and one is fiction. I try to take readers inside the police officer’s lives to show their process, their dedication, and how hard they try to get justice for victims.

If you have attended Books In Boothbay in the past, please tell us what you enjoyed about it?

There are so many things I like about Books in Boothbay. It’s such a great opportunity for Maine writers to get to know each other and spend time with each other. I also love seeing the organizers every year, and how generous they are to us. It’s a very special event for Maine writers.

What do you feel about the future of our local libraries?

Gosh…as the sister of a librarian and the daughter of a library trustee, and someone whose first job, at 11 ½, was as the local librarian’s assistant and now spends her life in libraries…I just have to hope libraries, which in Maine are such a vital resource, will survive.

Recently, I heard someone on NPR pontificating on the question: In the age of Google and Amazon, do we still need libraries? Obviously, this man had never been in a small town library and see the many, many ways they serve the community. Not only in providing books, audio disks, music, and movies, but in providing internet access, access to job applications and tax forms, assistance in dealing with those forms, and providing a place for teens, tweens, young moms, and others to get together. I fear that many people don’t realize how much a library does for the community or how far their limited funding has to stretch.

Come meet Kate Flora and many other Maine authors at Books in Boothbay on July 11!

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