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Writing Crime

Q&A: Kaitlyn Dunnett, A FATAL FICTION
By Kathryn Gandek-Tighe
Posted on 7/7/2020 10:03 AM
Kaitlyn Dunnett's (also known as Kathy Lynn Emerson) newest continues the adventures of Mikki Lincoln and draws inspiration from the demolition of the real life Grossinger's Catskill Resort.

How would you describe the plot of the book to your faithful readers?


A Fatal Fiction continues the adventures of Mikki Lincoln's, now age seventy, as she accustoms herself to life in Lenape Hollow, the town she grew up in, after spending the last fifty years with her late husband in Maine. A retired schoolteacher, Mikki's second career as a book doctor, taken up to pay for repairs on her childhood home, puts her in conflict with local entrepreneur Greg Onslow when she is hired to edit the memoirs of eighty-six year-old Sunny Feldman, last survivor of the family that once owned the world-famous Feldman's Catskill Resort Hotel. Onslow is the current owner of the property, and he's about to demolish the derelict buildings that remain on the site. Complicating Mikki's efforts to prove herself and others innocent of Onslow's murder, is the arrival of her nephew, a young man who worries just a little too much about Aunt Mikki's tendency to meddle.   

What was the a-ha moment that made you write this story?


I heard about imminent plans to demolish the remaining buildings at Grossinger's Catskill Resort Hotel, the iconic Borscht Belt landmark located on the outskirts of my real home town, Liberty, New York. Closed down in 1986, it had become an eyesore and an embarrassment to the community, but I was still sad to hear the news. My second thought, however, was "what a great place to hide the body!"

Who is your favorite character and why?


Aside from Mikki, to whom I have given many of my own memories of growing up in the Borscht Belt in the 1950s and early 1960s, I am especially fond of Darlene Uberban, her old friend from school and her present-day sidekick in the crime-solving department. I gave Mikki my hearing aids and glasses, but I stuck Darlene with my osteoarthritis. Before you say "poor Darlene," let me assure you that she copes, and that she, like Mikki, is good at turning negatives into positives. She also gets to use her expertise as a retired librarian to help Mikki delve into the background of their suspects.  

What was the most interesting thing you learned writing the book?

Because the story is set, in part, during a week in 2019 that included Passover, Easter, and Maine's Patriot's Day, I had to refresh my memory about Passover customs. I probably knew quite a lot about them when I was growing up in Liberty, where many of my classmates were Jewish, but it was fascinating to discover how much I had forgotten and how much I hadn't known in the first place.  

Were there indispensable people without whom you couldn't have written the book?

My classmate from Liberty, Sharon Zamansky Kushner, was a huge help explaining Passover customs, and the "People Who Come from Liberty, NY" Facebook group provided tons of useful information about how the demolition of Grossinger's was progressing, what was going on in the village (on which Lenape Hollow is loosely based), and even on the weather. I could have made a lot of that up, but it was more fun, and hopefully made the story more realistic, to take inspiration from the hundreds of small details shared on the group's page.

A Fatal Fiction is Agatha award winner Kaitlyn Dunnett's  sixty-second traditionally published book. She writes the Liss MacCrimmon Mysteries and the "Deadly Edits" series as Kaitlyn. As Kathy Lynn Emerson, her standalone historical mystery, The Finder of Lost Things, will be published in October.
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