Posted in Author Spotlight, Blog Tour, Mysteries

Author Spotlight of Stephen Kaminski, Author of An Au Pair To Remember, A Male Housekeeper Mystery

I’m pleased to have author Stephen Kaminiski from Arlington, Virginia here to chat about his writing and his cozy mystery, An Au Pair to Remember, that’s on blog tour with Escape with Dollycas into a Good Book.

How long have you been published? What titles and/or series have you published and with which publisher? Have you self-published any titles? Please give details.

I’ve been published since 2012.

 It Takes Two to Strangle, A Damon Lassard Dabbling Detective Mystery (Cozy Cat Press, 2012)

 Don’t Cry Over Killed Milk, A Damon Lassard Dabbling Detective Mystery (Cozy Cat Press, 2013)

 Murder, She Floats, A Damon Lassard Dabbling Detective Mystery (Cozy Cat Press, 2014)

 An Au Pair to Remember, A Male Housekeeper Mystery (Cozy Cat Press, 2019)

Nice. Tell us a little bit about your books — if you write a series, any upcoming releases or your current work-in-progress. If you have an upcoming release, please specify the release date.

Between 2012-2014, three books in Damon Lassard Dabbling Detective series were published.  In January 2019, I just launched a new series—the Male Housekeeper Mysteries, focusing on charming characters, snappy dialogue, eclectic murders, and cunning confidence schemes.  Here’s a brief overview of the series backdrop and of the first book—An Au Pair to Remember.

To his mind, Cam Reddick has failed—as a husband, as a father, and as a professional. After recognizing that his vanilla credentials didn’t stack up in a big city brimming with overachievers and toiling in drudgery for half of a decade, an emotionally raw Cam returns to his childhood hometown—the quaint and quirky village of Rusted Bonnet, Michigan. He’s determined to resuscitate relationships marred by youthful immaturity, most importantly those with his ex-wife Kacey Gingerfield (who doubles as the village’s Deputy Chief of Police) and their first grader, Emma. Armed with striking looks and an endearing proclivity for mixing metaphors, but saddled by “momma’s boy” tendencies, Cam takes the helm of his mother’s housekeeping business—Peachy Kleen. Access to homes across the village facilitates Cam’s penchant for amateur sleuthing as Kacey’s aide-de-camp. Surrounded by Kacey, his sophisticated mother Darby, garrulous senior housekeeper Samantha, and recuse fish cum confidant Bait, Cam’s circuitous journeys to solving murders and unravelling complex cons hasten his struggle down the path of self-healing to self-respect. And there’s hope that—just maybe—he can rekindle the romance he once had with Kacey.

In An Au Pair to Remember, Cam’s plan for a quiet return to Rusted Bonnet is dashed when a beautiful German au pair, Greta Astor, is found dead in Dutch McRae’s foyer with all signs pointing to a hastily disassembled trip wire at the top of the stairs. When Kacey learns that Cam was cleaning the McRae home the previous afternoon, she confides to him that Chief Bernie Leftwich is set on arresting Dutch for the murder—either alone or in tandem with Greta’s bartender boyfriend. But she worries that Bernie’s been duped. And later, when his mother Darby becomes a suspect, Cam inserts himself into the investigation and stumbles through a series of ostensible incongruities—a thief swallowing a cache of stolen diamonds, a snack food distributor laundering money, and a Cash-for-Gold scam. Meanwhile, Peachy Kleen’s young African housekeeper has disappeared with one of the company vans. All the while, Cam finds himself flirting with his new neighbor and struggling with his complicated feelings for Kacey.

Your new series sounds like it’s off to a great start.

 Describe your goals as a writer. What do you hope to achieve in the next few years? What are you planning to do to reach these goals?

My goals are to excite and entertain.  My writing is light and I simply want readers to enjoy themselves.  In the next twelve months I’d like to finish the next book in my Male Housekeeper Mystery series.

Excellent!

What type of reader are you hoping to attract?  Who do you believe would be most interested in reading your books?

Anyone who enjoys quick-witted dialogue and a lighthearted approach to murder will enjoy my books—basically the antithesis of hardboiled crime.

There’s certainly an audience for that among cozy readers.

What advice would you give other authors or those still trying to get published?

Write and submit, write and submit, write and submit.  Then take constructive criticism to heart and follow advice that publishers offer.

Good advice.

What particular challenges and struggles did you face before first becoming published?

I think the biggest challenge was figuring out my style.  My first manuscript for It Takes Two to Strangle (in 2012) was about 30,000 words longer than what eventually was accepted for publication.  I was trying to mold my writing into what I saw most often on library and bookstore shelves without realizing that a shorter and snappier version of my writing style was perfect for the cozy genre.  Thankfully, Cozy Cat Press saw my potential and took the time to and work with me.

It takes time for authors to develop their special style of writing. I’m sure it was helpful to work with your publisher to develop it.

Do you belong to any writing groups? Which ones?

Unfortunately, not—between a demanding full time job, child care responsibilities, and writing, I haven’t been able to participate in any groups.

I can understand that.

What are your hobbies and interests besides writing?

When I’m not writing, I’m typically reading, cooking (but not baking!), exercising, and playing the vital roles of chauffer and wallet-on-legs for my teen-aged daughter.

Lol. I know what you mean about wallet-on-legs for teenagers. I have a 14-year old daughter.

What do you like most and least about being an author? What is your toughest challenge?

What I like most is the sense of calm it brings me.  My favorite time to write is very early in the morning with a cup of black coffee in hand and a blanket on my lap.  Quiet evenings with a candle or two and a glass of red wine or three are almost as rewarding.  I also enjoy writing things that I think will make readers laugh or bring them a sense of joyful bewilderment as they twist and turn through the plot.

I can relate. I get a lot of enjoyment from my writing, and I also like to write early in the morning before work.

 The toughest challenge is getting stuck.  All writers get stuck at times and it’s very challenging to work through.  For me, it often happens when I need to get “from A to B,” but I can’t figure out a way to do it in a way that’s engaging to the reader.

I find that often happens midway in a book, but then if you take a break and go back, something fresh usually pops up to add to the story.

What do you like about writing cozy mysteries?

I can be corny and cheeky, which fits my personality well.  I can spin the plot lines in a manner that’s sends a reader every which way, but then all comes together at the end.  I can create some characters who are clever and others who have their heads-in-the-clouds.  And in all of my books, in addition to the murder, I embed a number of clever cons for the reader to sink her or his teeth into.

Sounds interesting.

Can you share a short excerpt from your latest title or upcoming release?

Leaving Samantha with her suppositions at the Laundromat, Cam took a detour past Becka Blom’s living quarters—the basement apartment of a historic Victorian. The red-, green-, and white-colored home featured a striking array of dormers, gables, and turrets. Cam stepped onto the portico and rang the bell.

A gray-haired man sporting an Einstein-inspired mustache and a knit sweater fraying at the cuffs opened the door.

“Good evening, sir,” Cam said. “Is Ms. Blom home?”

“I wouldn’t know for certain,” the man said convivially. “She has a separate entrance around the back. But I haven’t seen her car all day.”

“It’s at my office.” Cam explained that Becka worked for his cleaning company and hadn’t been seen since early in the morning.

“That doesn’t sound like Becka. Come on inside. Let me get my wife and see if she’s spoken with her.”

Cam followed him into a formal living room decorated in a French provincial style. While the man went off to find his wife, Cam looked down at his sweatshirt and jeans, feeling out of place.

“Please sit down,” a woman’s voice commanded with the authority of a general.

The mustachioed man immediately sat on a sofa.

“I wasn’t talking to you, Reg,” she said sternly and extended her hand toward a high-backed chair. Cam sat as directed.

She introduced herself as Diane Archambault. Pronounced Dee-Ahn, she was as put together as her husband was disheveled. “Reg tells me that Ms. Blom works for you. Is that correct?”

Cam nodded. The mistress of the house stood over him, her sapphire blue eyes piercing his.

“I heard her car back out of the drive at seven thirty this morning,” Diane said crisply. “I assumed she was going to work. Did she arrive?”

Cam told her she had, then ran off in one of his cleaning vans and hadn’t returned any of his messages.

“That certainly is worrisome.” Diane took a step back. “The girl came to the United States four years ago,” she offered. “Just she and her father. He was a shipbuilder from South Africa.”

“Why did they move to Rusted Bonnet?” Cam asked.

“I don’t know,” Diane said. “Ms. Blom’s father passed away two years ago. That’s when she moved in here.” She paused, then added, “I thought she worked for a woman.”

“That was my mother,” Cam explained. “I took over when she retired.”

Diane folded her hands and sat on the edge of the sofa next to her husband. Her fingernails were flawlessly manicured.

Suddenly a clank came from directly below the living room floor. Cam’s eyes shot open wide and he jumped to his feet.

“Sit back down,” Diane ordered sharply. “I don’t have her locked up in the basement. The girl has a cat, always knocking about down there.”

A disturbing thought flashed into Cam’s head. Becka was twenty-four, almost the same age as Greta. Was this mismatched couple sitting in front of him murdering young women in the village?

But Reg Archambault mitigated his fears by asking, “Should we call the police?”

“My ex-wife is the deputy chief here in Rusted Bonnet,” Cam said. “I spoke with her earlier this evening. She told me that the police don’t spend time looking for adults who leave under their own power.”

“Too bad,” Reg said. “Why don’t you try that friend of hers?”

“Missy?” Cam asked. “I’ve tried.”

 Reg stifled a sneeze. “Sorry, darn moustache hair is always getting up in there.”

Diane shook her head with apparent disgust. “That’s the only one who comes around now and again.” She stood and motioned for Cam to rise and take his leave. At the door, Diane added, “I won’t say that Ms. Blom is like a daughter to me, because we don’t have that kind of relationship. But I certainly hope she hasn’t run off. She’s a good tenant and a proper young lady.”

Cam returned home, then laid awake all night, envisioning Becka Blom tied to a chair in the Archambaults’ basement.

Great excerpt.

Is there anything else you’d like our readers to know about you or your books?

I think your mystery-loving readers might be interested to know that in my professional life I handle all things poison!  I’m the chief executive of the association that represents the country’s poison control system—55 centers made up of medical professionals who answer about 3 million calls to poison control every year.  While our centers regularly handle opioids abuse and accidental ingestions of household products, if there’s ever a place to expertly advise on hemlock, strychnine, or belladonna exposures, it’s our centers and their toxicologists.

Very interesting. I’m sure that helps you planning some of your murder mysteries.

Thanks for chatting today, Stephen, and best wishes with your new release and series. I’m sharing your blog tour below.

An Au Pair to Remember:
A Male Housekeeper Mystery
by Stephen Kaminski

About the Book


An Au Pair to Remember: A Male Housekeeper Mystery
Cozy Mystery
1st in Series
Cozy Cat Press (January 27, 2019)
Paperback: 260 pages
ISBN-10: 1946063703
ISBN-13: 978-1946063700
Digital ASIN: B07NCBZ23L

From the author of the award-winning Damon Lassard Dabbling Detective series comes the Male Housekeeper Mysteries, focusing on charming characters, snappy dialogue, eclectic murders, and cunning confidence schemes. To his mind, Cam Reddick has failed—as a husband, as a father, and as a professional. After recognizing that his vanilla credentials didn’t stack up in a big city brimming with overachievers and toiling in drudgery for half of a decade, an emotionally raw Cam returns to his childhood hometown—the quaint and quirky village of Rusted Bonnet, Michigan. He’s determined to resuscitate relationships marred by youthful immaturity, most importantly those with his ex-wife Kacey Gingerfield (who doubles as the village’s Deputy Chief of Police) and their first grader, Emma. Armed with striking looks and an endearing proclivity for mixing metaphors, but saddled by “momma’s boy” tendencies, Cam takes the helm of his mother’s housekeeping business—Peachy Kleen. Access to homes across the village facilitates Cam’s penchant for amateur sleuthing as Kacey’s aide-de-camp. Surrounded by Kacey, his sophisticated mother Darby, garrulous senior housekeeper Samantha, and recuse fish cum confidant Bait, Cam’s circuitous journeys to solving murders and unravelling complex cons hasten his struggle down the path of self-healing to self-respect. And there’s hope that—just maybe—he can rekindle the romance he once had with Kacey.

In An Au Pair to Remember, Cam’s plan for a quiet return to Rusted Bonnet is dashed when a beautiful German au pair, Greta Astor, is found dead in Dutch McRae’s foyer with all signs pointing to a hastily disassembled trip wire at the top of the stairs. When Kacey learns that Cam was cleaning the McRae home the previous afternoon, she confides to him that Chief Bernie Leftwich is set on arresting Dutch for the murder—either alone or in tandem with Greta’s bartender boyfriend. But she worries that Bernie’s been duped. And later, when his mother Darby becomes a suspect, Cam inserts himself into the investigation and stumbles through a series of ostensible incongruities—a thief swallowing a cache of stolen diamonds, a snack food distributor laundering money, and a Cash-for-Gold scam. Meanwhile, Peachy Kleen’s young African housekeeper has disappeared with one of the company vans. All the while, Cam finds himself flirting with his new neighbor and struggling with his complicated feelings for Kacey.

About the Author

Stephen Kaminski is the author of An Au Pair to Remember, the first installment of the Male Housekeeper Mystery series. He also writes the award-winning Damon Lassard Dabbling Detective books. Stephen is a graduate of Johns Hopkins University and Harvard Law School and serves as the Chief Executive Officer of the trade association representing the United States’ poison control system and its fifty-five centers. He lives with his daughter and rescue kitty in the Washington, DC area.

Author Links

GoodReads – https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/43834065-an-au-pair-to-remember

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/DamonLassard/

Purchase Links – Amazon KindleAmazon Paperback

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TOUR PARTICIPANTS

March 18 – fundinmental – SPOTLIGHT

March 18 – Read Your Writes Book Reviews – CHARACTER INTERVIEW

March 19 – Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book – REVIEW

March 19 – I’m All About Books – SPOTLIGHT

March 20 – Celticlady’s Reviews – SPOTLIGHT

March 20 – Babs Book Bistro – SPOTLIGHT

March 21 – Brooke Blogs – SPOTLIGHT, EXCERPT

March 21 – StoreyBook Reviews – REVIEW

March 22 – Cozy Up With Kathy – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

March 23 – Readeropolis – SPOTLIGHT, EXCERPT

March 23 – The Broke Book Bank – REVIEW

March 24 – My Journey Back – REVIEW

March 25 – Ruff Drafts – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

March 26 – Books Direct – SPOTLIGHT, EXCERPT

March 27 – The Pulp and Mystery Shelf – AUTHOR INTERVIEW

March 28 – Devilishly Delicious Book Reviews – REVIEW

March 28 – Island Confidential – SPOTLIGHT

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Author:

I'm a librarian at a public library and author of the Cobble Cove mystery series and other novels, short stories, articles, and a novella. My books include CLOUDY RAINBOW, REASON TO DIE, and the 4 books of my Cobble Cove cozy mystery series: A STONE'S THROW, BETWEEN A ROCK AND A HARD PLACE, WRITTEN IN STONE, and LOVE ON THE ROCKS. I've also written a romantic comedy novella, WHEN JACK TRUMPS ACE, and various short stories of different genres published by Solstice Publishing. I have also completed a standalone psychological thriller, SEA SCOPE that will be published in May 2019 by Creativia and THE CASE OF THE CAT CRAZY LADY, the first of a new cozy series, for which I am currently seeking representation. I am a member of Sisters-in-Crime, Long Island Authors Group, International Thriller Writers, and the Cat Writer's Association. I live on Long Island with my husband, daughter, and 3 cats.

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