Feminist, Fictionista, Foodie, Francophile

Friday, July 21, 2017

Author Interview...Kristin Kisska

Kristin Kisska used to be a finance geek, complete with MBA and Wall Street pedigree. A member of the International Thriller Writers, James River Writers, and Sisters in Crime, Kristin is now a self-proclaimed fictionista.

Her short mystery story, “The Sevens” was included in the Anthony Award-winning anthology, MURDER UNDER THE OAKS (2015). “A Colonial Grave,” which is a murder mystery set in Colonial Williamsburg, was included in Virginia is for Mysteries, Volume II (2016). She was excited that her jewelry heist short story, “Wine and Prejudice” set in Savannah was included in Fifty Shades of Cabernet (2017). And, she contributed her psychological suspense short story, “To the Moon and Back” to the eclipse-themed anthology, Day of the Dark (2017).

When not writing suspense novels and historical thrillers or blogging for Lethal Ladies Write, she can be found on her website~, on Facebook @KristinKisskaAuthor, and Tweeting @KKMHOO. Kristin lives in Virginia with her husband and three children.

On your website, you describe yourself as a “finance geek” complete with an MBA and a Wall Street pedigree. Does that background figure into your fiction?

            Thank you for hosting me on your blog, Katherine! It’s truly an honor.
No, I haven’t written any finance stories yet; perhaps I overdosed on corporate financial statements and stock prices when I wore my investment banker hat. That said, someday I hope my muse will inspire me with a chilling MBA-themed suspense or mystery plot.
So far my published stories have involved a secret society (“The Sevens”), a cold case murder (A Colonial Grave), a jewelry heist (“Wine and Prejudice”), and with Day of the Dark, a mother-daughter bond (“To the Moon and Back”).

I had to laugh when I saw you had a story in an anthology called Virginia is for Mysteries. I used to work for the Virginia Chamber of Commerce and had the original “Virginia is for Lovers” t-shirt. (And yes, many people asked me if my name was Virginia.) What took you from Virginia to Prague?

I’m a first generation American from then-Czechoslovakia.  A few years after the Iron Curtain fell, I decided it was finally time to explore the country of my dad’s birth and meet my family members. I bought a one-way ticket to Prague—my parents thought I was nuts.  After three years living in the *Paris of the East*, I returned to the States, but Prague is still the city of my heart (it’s the setting of both a new short story and the novel I’m currently writing).

Your short fiction has won awards and been collected in numerous anthologies. Are you finding it hard to write longer form?

Yes. Sometimes I’d rather just have an appetizer than a three-course course meal.  Same with books. With short stories, writers (and readers!) get to jump into an intense, intimate moment and experience a complete plot in a bite-sized chunk of time.  But I’m working on my second novel now and cooking up outlines for my third and fourth stand-alone suspense novels.

Are you a member of a writer’s group? Do you belong to Sisters in Crime? Have you ever been to a writer’s convention?

I’m a member of Sisters in Crime, International Thriller Writers, and the James River Writers (a local writing group in Richmond, Virginia).  I try to attend at least once conference annually: Bouchercon, Historical Writers’ Association, and James River Writers’ conference.  This autumn, I’ll be speaking on a mystery author panel at Fall for the Book conference in Fairfax, Virginia.

Who are your favorite writers (not necessarily mystery writers)?

Suspense (especially domestic/psychological) and women’s fiction appeal to me the most. The intersection of both genres is my sweet spot. My favoritest—yes, I made that word up—author is Mary Kubica. I read everything she publishes hot off the press. Some of my other go-to novelists are Liane Moriarty, Emily Giffin, Dan Brown, John Grisham, Adriana Trigiani, and Michelle Gable.

How would you describe your story (“To the Moon and Back”) in the Day of the Dark collection?

This short story is my debut psychological suspense. On the surface, “To the Moon and Back” is a mother-daughter road trip to view the upcomiing total eclipse from Greenville, SC. But circumstances surrounding this trek deconstruct as they approach their destination. 

Have you ever seen a total eclipse? Will you be able to see this one?

I’ve never seen one before, but my family is planning to road trip to Greenville, SC to see this one.  Can’t wait to be in the *path of totality*.  I’ve even ordered our eclipse glasses!

You’re married with three children. That has to be a balancing act. Are you a morning or night person and when do you write?

While I’m a morning person, my productivity is driven by caffeine.  During the school year, I write during the day, but during summer break, I’m all about the pre-dawn hours. There’s a writerly support group on Twitter called #5amwritersclub. We commiserate over limited sleep, words, and coffee.

Do you have a critique group? Who’s your first reader?

Actually, I have quite a few layers of early readers to vet my stories.  First I circulate my story through several critique partners and then a round or two of beta-readers.  Once I’m confident in my story, I have my sister Kathryn read it.  Her test-of-strength is critical to my polishing process—she has a sixth-sense for under-developed plot twists.  Finally, I circulate my story to a few fresh-eye beta-readers I reserved for the final polishing.
In all, a dozen people will read my story before I consider it finalished. And that doesn’t include the professional editing once it’s found a publishing home!

Do you listen to music while you work? If so, what?

No, I need absolute quiet to write. That’s not easy with 3 kids and a husband!

What’s next in your writing queue?

I hope to publish another short story (historical suspense set during the Prague Spring invasion) soon. Now it’s high time I finish writing my second novel.

Connect with Kristin on social media:

Twitter - @KKMHOO


  1. Thank you for the lovely interview!

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