Reviews Published

Friday, September 06, 2013

Interview With Kay Kendall

Yvonne: Welcome, Kay! Please tell us the title and genre of your book and its tagline.

Kay: Desolation Row—An Austin Starr Mystery. In 1968 a young bride from Texas uses her CIA-honed skills to catch the real killer when her husband lands in a Canadian jail for murdering the draft-resisting son of a United States senator.

YW: Who is your intended audience and why should they read your book?

KK: My primary audience is female baby boomers—readers drawn to mysteries set in a tumultuous era they
lived through. Also, younger readers are having fun learning about hippie times. On the cover of my
book is a recommendation from bestselling thriller author Norb Vonnegut, who said “Kay Kendall is one author who knows how to burrow into your heart.”

YW: How did you come up with the title of your book?

KK: My amateur sleuth Austin Starr is a fan of Bob Dylan’s music so each mystery featuring her has a title that comes from one of his songs. The titles do double duty. To those who know the music from that time the titles signify the era without having to say something dull like – “a mystery from the sixties,” or some such. Future titles are Rainy Day Women and Tangled Up in Blue.

YW: Tell us about your cover art.

KK: When I brainstormed with my publisher and publicist at Stairway Press, we wanted an image to connote the time of the Vietnam War without being too hard-edged. I didn’t want to use peace signs or protest scenes because I thought those would be a turnoff and also they didn’t represent what the book is about. Really, this mystery is propelled by a love story. A young recently married couple far from home is pulled apart by mistakes of the American and Canadian authorities.

We decided to show a young woman with a slightly hippie vibe and I found the photo. Everyone loves the
cover, and I’m very pleased with it. One of the benefits of working with a smaller press is that an author gets much more input into all aspects of the publishing process than she would have at a huge publisher.

YW: Give us an interesting fact about living during the Cold War.

KK: The Cold War was the background theme of my childhood.  An intercontinental ballistic missile was housed in a silo on the outskirts of my hometown, and I thought that was very exciting. I took entrance exams for college during the Cuban Missile Crisis, and I remember driving to the tests thinking it wouldn’t matter if I bombed on them or not, since the world could blow up the next day. It was so surreal that I didn’t expect it but I did think about it. War was everywhere, and the mass media was still uncovering facts about World War II, and almost all our fathers had fought in that huge conflict. I went straight from reading Nancy Drew mysteries to suspense stories set during World Wars I and II. On the Beach was required reading in my high school English class. Published in 1957, the novel was a bestseller for a decade afterwards. Its subject was nuclear annihilation, with only parts of Australia had survivors, but they were doomed too. This was all thrilling to me, and I wasn’t scared as many said they were. It was too terrible to have happen so I treated it all like fiction.

YW: Do you have any unique hobbies?
KK: My husband and I have house rabbits—five of them currently. We belong to an organization in Houston, Texas, called Bunny Buddies. This is a rescue organization that saves at-risk rabbits that get abandoned and taken into shelters. We’ve had bunnies for almost twenty years now, and they are charming pets. The one that I hold in my author’s photograph is Dusty, and the other four are jealous. He was chosen
because he could hold still for a pose the longest. We also have a Cavalier King Charles spaniel named
Wills, but he doesn’t get to play with the bunnies since he’s too frisky. Rabbits are very nervous since they are preyed on by almost all other creatures. They have been called “the cheeseburger of the forest” to illustrate that they are snacks for all other animals. It’s terrible but true.

YW: How can we contact you and find out more about your book?
KK: You can email me at and I’m on Twitter @kaylee_kendall.  My website is and find me here too –

YW: What can we expect from you in the future?
KK: Desolation Row will soon be available as an audio book, in addition to paperback and E books. Online sales will be by,, and iTunes. The narrator is Tatiana Gomberg, an amazing young actress in New York City. She does a fabulous job, especially with all the different accents in my book—like Texan, Scottish, Russian, and New Jersey! I’m also working on the second mystery in the series, Rainy Day Women. It’s set in rainy Vancouver, Canada, in 1970. This time murder takes place in a women’s liberation group, and Austin’s best friend is the prime suspect.

YW: What can readers who enjoy your book do to help make it successful?
KK: Great question! Readers who enjoy my book can leave reviews on the usual online spots—like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and Goodreads. My page on Goodreads has lots of information about my book and about me. I’m pleased to say that at this point in time my average rating out of five stars is 4.8. Also, multi awardwinning author Hank Phillippi Ryan says about my book, “Deception, intrigue and authentic sixties nostalgia.  Those who remember this turbulent time-gone-by will connect with the tension and conflict of the passionately anti-war generation that hoped to give peace a chance, but in this entertaining mystery, wound up with murder instead.” I hope my new readers will like Desolation Row just as much as she did.

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