Monday, January 10, 2011

Guest Blogger: Kath Russell

Please join me in welcoming author Kath Russell as the special guest blogger here at Thoughts in Progress today as she makes a stop on her first virtual book tour.

Kath’s latest release is A POINTED DEATH. Here’s a brief blurb about it: When techno genius Nola Billingsley finds her former employee, an amoral creep who stole secrets, murdered, she doesn’t exactly shed tears. Instead, she begins a flirtation with the inspector assigned to the case. With her shorthaired pointer Skootch watching her back, Nola and her group of techno pals try to help solve the murder, bringing into play Nola’s feisty feminism and idealism, and putting both her life and her love affair at risk. Finding a link between the Chinese government and American thieves, she bands with a group who believes that biotech people should protect their industry from any evil abusers. Could there be a government plot afoot, and can she save the world even as she tries to salvage her love life?

Smart, witty, and playful, A POINTED DEATH looks at the biotech industry with a decidedly feminine slant. The writing is edgy and full of humor, and the plot twists and turns with surprise after surprise. A breathtaking thriller with a unique background, A POINTED DEATH announces the debut of an enormously talented new writer to watch.

Kath joins us today to talk about “a mystery menage a trois.”

I know there are mystery purists out there. My cousin is one. She likes her closed room mysteries. When she reads my stuff, I get the eye roll. My work is mostly mystery with large doses of romance and humor thrown in, the menage of the headline. I think it works well. Also, my mysteries, perhaps because they are set in the biotechnology industry, have a soupçon of thriller about them. I can't help it. I can't put my plots in a straightjacket or on a diet so I only have the pure unadulterated murder plot on the page. Such works, although clever and hugely entertaining, read like puzzles to me, not real life. Life is messy. You take wrong turns. You fall flat on your patootie. Your soar, only to land on your chin.

So, in A POINTED DEATH, my main character, Nola
Billingsley, a consultant who helps biotech clients communicate effectively about their science, has a messy life just like the rest of us. Despite her business success, she is a forty-something single woman living with her mother. Her mother, a Southern transplant to Nola's San Francisco digs, takes a dim view of Nola's work schedule, her choice of attire and her approach (or lack thereof) to the opposite sex. Nola's dog, Skootch, is loyal, steadfast . . . and flatulent. Nola's friends are loyal, steadfast, not flatulent, and definitely not successful at keeping Nola out of trouble. Nola's clients are, well . . . I expect many of you out there have worked as consultants, legal advisors or agents of some kind (public relations, advertising), coaches (relationship, speech) or trainers. You know that clients can be good, bad and/or uber ugly. Clients often excel at NOT taking your advice, but blaming you for the outcome anyway. Nola's has some dream clients and some nightmare clients. I can't say more than that. You'll just have to read the book.

Now, as to Nola's love interest, Inspector Bob Harrison. Bob is attractive, sexy, interested in Nola, GIB, and has a mysterious past. But perfect, he's not! How many perfect men have you known in your life? I'm still waiting to exhale. Nola and Bob have commitment issues in their relationship, an all too common problem in contemporary romance. Their professional spaces also are in conflict, another factor that has taken on increasing importance as women have broken the glass ceilings in more and more workplaces. Dealing with these issues within the story, helps me create what I think is an authentic world.

Janet Evanovich helped legitimize the hybrid mystery. It was not an easy struggle, but Janet is, if anything, persistent. She has helped make it okay for the rest of us to blend genres in new and exciting ways. I hope readers continue to embrace innovation in their favorite genres and support writers who have the temerity to experiment with characters, settings, plots and structure and to leave predicable formulas behind.
Kath, thanks for guest blogging here. I, for one, enjoy the blend of mystery, humor and romance. I’m glad authors take these chances.

Now for some background on Kath. She enjoyed over thirty-five years in marketing and communications management in the biotechnology industry. She was an executive with one of the first genetic engineering companies. Kath also was president of Russell-Welsh Strategic Life Science Communications, Inc., and founder and chief executive officer of an ecommerce company offering services for mature companion animals and veterinarians. She received her bachelor’s degree from Northwestern University, her master’s degree in journalism from Boston University, her master’s of business administration from the Kellogg School of Management, and earned her certificate in creative writing from the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program.
To find out more about Kath or to learn more about A Pointed Death visit or

What are your thoughts on mixing romance, humor and mystery all in one story? If you are a writer, do you blend genres or stay strictly in one area?


  1. Kath, thanks for guest blogging here today. Your book sound quite intriguing and I love the cover. Wishing you much success with it.

  2. I think that genre blending opens the door to new readers who might not ordinarily pick up a mystery. Writing a book with crossover appeal seems to be becoming increasingly important. Best wishes for Kath's new release!

  3. Mason - Thanks for hosting Kath.

    Kath - Thanks for sharing A Pointed Death with us; I wish you much success. There's nothing at all wrong with cross-genre appeal. After all, in real life, detectives fall in love, laugh, etc.. So why shouldn't there be romance and/or humour in a crime fiction novel?

  4. I like the notion of reading a mystery with romance and humor. Isn't that what life is?

  5. I like the idea of blending genres. It has a way of bringing a fresh spin to books. And as a writer, what a great way to experiment with and grow the genre we write in ...

  6. I love the term hybrid mystery. It's what I write, too. Have a great time with your blog tour.

  7. I mix all three into my book. A good mystery needs romance. Any good book needs some kind of relationship stuff. And humor is a must. I use humor. Its not on every page, but humor has to be there for balance.

  8. I would love to say I'm a mystery purist but I'm not. I love my mysteries with little bits of romance and thrills thrown in. I'll check out your book.

  9. Enjoyed getting to know you, Kath, and your book sounds like a great read. One more to add to my wish list. It keeps growing, and growing, and growing.... LOL

    I think what you and other writers are doing is in a way just beefing up the sub-plots that are usually in a mystery, letting the romance and other elements have more time in the story. I have not done that very much in what I write, but I do enjoy more depth in what I read. I will have to consider stretching my sub-plots a bit more.

  10. Thanks for having Kath, Mason.

    Kath, I love blending styles as well. Good luck with your tour and your book. It sounds like an awesome read.
    N. R. Williams, fantasy author

  11. A mix is good - I mixed!
    Ignore your cousin and keep writing what you love, Kath.

  12. I love mysteries of all kinds and this type just hits the spot at times. I'm intrigued and will be looking for this one. Thanks for sharing, Kath, and Mason, thanks for hosting!

  13. I like to read books that blend genres and this one sounds really good. It is now on my want-to-read list.

  14. Thanks, Mason and everybody, for being supportive of hybrids. I am working on the next in the series, entitled, POINTING THE ZINC FINGER, and it encourages me that people are not put off by my throwing a bit of everything in the stew!


I'd love to hear your thoughts on today's post. Thanks for dropping by.