Tag Archive for: Bob Dylan

If Austin Starr Could Talk to You *

By Kay Kendall

dear friend Larissa is in big trouble. She just called me long
distance to say she’s a suspect in a murder case. Good grief, it’s only been a
year since my husband David was suspected of murder, and now it’s Larissa. This
is too much. I’ll need to get a
trench coat and fedora—pretend I’m a private eye—if I keep getting pulled into
these cases on a routine basis. 

            Larissa wants me to fly across the continent
to give her moral support. The Mounties say she’s the one who killed the leader
of her women’s lib group. Of course she didn’t do it. The idea is ludicrous.
And, I know I owe her, big time, and want to help her, but I don’t see how I
can. Believe me, I’d leave right now if I could. But things have changed since we

life-changing event is, well, I’m a mother now. Wyatt is three months old and
cute as can be. I can’t possibly take him with me because last time I went
sleuthing around, I was almost killed. However, I can’t go alone and leave Wy
at home either. David would have a perfect fit
if I asked him to babysit. Of course I
juggle Wyatt’s child care with my own courses work, but that’s expected. After
all, I mean, gosh, I’m the mom. Dads don’t do things like that—not much anyway.


Still, I cannot leave Larissa in the lurch. She’s the only real friend I’ve
made since I pulled up stakes and left my home and family in Texas to join my
new husband up here, in the Great White North, Canada. You know, it really was
kinda neat—how Larissa and I clicked right away. Usually I avoid anyone who is
petite like she is. They make me feel like such an oaf. Here I am at five feet
eleven, and Larissa is a good ten inches shorter. But she is so much fun, and smart
too. The two years difference in our ages seems like nothing. She just turned
twenty-one and is still an undergrad.

            I tell Larissa everything. For
instance, she’s the only one who knows I was being trained as a spy by the CIA
right before I married David. But I could never tell him that. He would not
approve, that’s for sure. But Larissa knows and keeps all my secrets. Here’s a
funny thing, though. Why didn’t she
confide in me she joined a women’s
lib group?

my gosh, the more I think about it, I must
fly out to be with her during her time of trouble. I’ll have to put a plan in
place. She’ll call me back in an hour and ask if I’m coming.

maybe you can help me out. What do you
think I should do?

* Austin Starr is the amateur sleuth in Kay Kendall’s two mysteries. Here Austin sets out on her second murder case, Rainy Day Women, the sequel to Kay’s debut Desolation Row. Both are
published by Stairway Press.

Meet the author                                                                 

Kay Kendall is a long-time fan of historical
novels and now writes atmospheric mysteries that capture the spirit and
turbulence of the sixties. A reformed PR executive who won international awards
for her projects, Kay lives in Texas with her Canadian husband, three house
rabbits, and spaniel Wills. Terribly allergic to her bunnies, she loves them
Her book titles show she’s a Bob Dylan buff too. Rainy Day Women  won two Silver Falchion Awards at Killer
Nashville in 2016.
Visit Kay at her website  http://www.austinstarr.com/
on Facebook 

How Mad Men in the Not-so-good-ole Days Made Women Mad Too

By Kay Kendall

advent of Mad Men on television marked
the return of the 60s to the popular consciousness. Before that, the tumultuous
decade of the 1960s had a bad rep. It was a divisive time, and people were sick
of it. The go-go economy of the 1980s buried “radical chic” in piles of money, and
even some famous 60s activists switched to making a buck, big time.

Mad Men on TV was soon followed by fashion trends. Today retro-hippie
clothes and accessories are back with a vengeance. I’ve purchased three items
with long suede fringe—stockpiling against the day when fringe falls out of
style again.

it’s not just 60s fashion that lures me in. I am a fan of that benighted
decade. Even before Mad Men hit TV in
2007, I was writing my first mystery set in the 60s. I was following that old
maxim, “Write what you know.” As a child of the 60s I had stories to tell.

I also
believe that an author should write what she loves—and my favorite books are
historical mysteries. I chose my time period guided by the many authors who
locate their sleuths and spymasters during the wars of the 20th century. The
two world wars and the Cold War are overrun with novels. The war in Vietnam,
however, was such a debacle that few want to see it on the big or little screen
or read about it in books. Still, it was a comparatively empty niche that I
thought needed filling with mysteries. My books show the life of a young woman
named Austin Starr—not the radical type who made headlines, the Hanoi Janes or
Angela Davises—but a moderate swept along by history’s tides. All that turmoil
lends itself to drama, intrigue, and murder.
Rainy Day Women is set in August 1969, in the days between the
Charles Manson killings in Los Angeles and the big rock festival in Woodstock—one
she had hoped to attend. Instead, Austin flies to the West Coast, where she pursues
her knack for solving mysteries, built on her CIA training and inspired by countless
Nancy Drew books she read as a child. Austin tries to absolve a dear friend
accused of killing a feminist leader and is drawn into the movement. As she
learns about it, she learns more about herself.
feminism is the backdrop for the story, and Rainy
Day Women
is set against the historical details of the period. Though that
time is long gone, I “bring it all back home” again.* Some details are technological—the
endless searching for a much-needed payphone, the need to solve a crime without
using CSI-style techniques—and establish how much change our everyday lives
have witnessed. Other details are astonishing yet real—notably the casual but
overbearing sexist attitudes of way too many men in the book. But that
particular kind of madness led to rising anger among women. And then to a whole

Joan Baez and Bob Dylan, ca. 1965

Bringing It All Back Home is a Bob
Dylan album from 1965, including such masterpieces as “Subterranean Homesick Blues,”
“Mr. Tambourine Man,” and “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue.” Some literary critics
compare Dylan to Shakespeare. I don’t go quite so far but am a staunch fan.
That’s why I name my mysteries after his song titles. His work is so vast
in scope that his song titles cover every eventuality in fiction
that I could ever dream up. His attitudes toward women as portrayed in his
lyrics are sexist—true—but he was a man of his times. That’s the best excuse I
can make for him, and he certainly fits my material.

Kendall lives in Texas with her Canadian husband, three house rabbits, and spaniel
Wills. In her former life as a PR executive, Kay’s projects won international
awards. And she studied lots and lots of history in school, and loves it still!


I’d Rather Be Writing

By Kay Kendall

When USA Today bestselling author  Lois Winston
invited me to participate in her new cookbook adventure, I jumped at the chance.
After all, the title captured my feelings exactly—WE’D RATHER BE WRITING, subtitled 88 Authors Share Timesaving Dinner Recipes and Other Tips.
You can pre-order the eBook for 99 cents
and receive it on October 30. A portion of proceeds will be donated to No Kid Hungry.
Most of us authors juggle day jobs and
family responsibilities along with our writing. Because we need to find time to
write, we search for ways to save time. And cooking takes up such a huge chunk.

However, you don’t need to be a multi-tasking
author to need time-saving recipes and tips, so in our new cookbook you’ll find
easy, nutritious recipes for meat, poultry, pasta, soup, stew, chili, and
vegetarian meals. The recipes require a minimum of preparation, freeing time to
do other things—to read, exercise, garden, craft, write, spend more time with
family, or whatever.

The 88 participating
authors make up a varied group, writing a wide range of fiction—everything from
mystery to romance to speculative fiction to books for children, young adults,
and new adults—and some who write nonfiction. Some write sweet; others write
steamy. Some write cozy; others write tense thrillers. Some are debut authors
with only one published book; others are multi-published and have had long
publishing careers. And, while some are even New York
and USA Today bestselling
authors, even they still need to perform feats of juggling

We like to think
of ourselves as a rather creative and resourceful bunch when it comes to
carving out time from our busy lives. So in addition to timesaving recipes, we
have added timesaving organizational tips too.

Check this list of
contributing authors to see whose names your recognize: Lisa Alber, Reggi
Allder, Judy Alter, Krista Ames, Rose Anderson, Cori Lynn Arnold, Judy Baker,
Beverley Bateman, Donnell Ann Bell, Paula Gail Benson, Kris Bock, Maureen
Bonatch, Ava Bradley, Susan Breen, Lida Bushloper, Michelle Markey Butler,
Ashlyn Chase, Judy Copek, Maya Corrigan, Mariposa Cruz, Melinda Curtis, Lesley
A. Diehl, Conda V. Douglas, Nancy Eady, Helena Fairfax, Jennifer Faye, Flo
Fitzpatrick, Kit Frazier, Shelley Freydont, Mariana Gabrielle, Rosie Genova,
Marni Graff, Joanne Guidoccio, Margaret S. Hamilton, L.C. Hayden, Linda Gordon
Hengerer, Heather Hiestand, R.Franklin James, Kathryn Jane, M.M. Jaye,
Elizabeth John, Stacy Juba, Gemma Juliana, Carol Goodman Kaufman, Melissa Keir,
Kay Kendall, A.R. Kennedy, Lynn Kinnaman, Marie Laval, B.V. Lawson, Claudia
Lefeve, Alice Loweecey, Cynthia Luhrs, Sandra Masters, Lisa Q. Mathews, J.M.
Maurer, Sandra McGregor, Kathy McIntosh, Claire A. Murray, Ann Myers, Tara
Neale, Stacey Joy Netzel, Jayne Ormerod, Alice Orr, Laurel Peterson, Irene
Peterson, Pepper Phillips, Caridad Pineiro, Kathryn Quick, Renée Reynolds,
Josie Riviera, Elizabeth Rose, C.A. Rowland, Cindy Sample, Sharleen Scott,
Terry Shames, Susan C. Shea, Judy Penz Sheluk, Joanna Campbell Slan, Karen Rose
Smith, Lynette Sofras, Kaye Spencer, Skye Taylor, Lourdes Venard, Lea Wait,
Regan Walker, Lois Winston, and Aubrey Wynne.

We’d Rather Be
is available on
Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Wed-Rather-Be-Writing-Timesaving-ebook/dp/B01638N5PO

Part of proceeds will
be donated to No Kid Hungry <


Kay Kendall is a long-time fan of
historical novels and writes atmospheric mysteries that capture the spirit
and turbulence of the sixties. She is a reformed PR executive who lives in
Texas with her husband, three house rabbits, and spaniel Wills.
allergic to her bunnies, she loves them anyway! Her book titles show she’s a
Bob Dylan buff too. RAINY DAY WOMEN published on July 7. It is
the second in her Austin Starr Mystery series.

Why I Love to Read

By Kay Kendall

I can’t recall a time when I didn’t love to lose myself in
books. Reading is so much a part of me that I take it for granted—like breathing,
sleeping, eating.

If you take something for granted, then you usually never
stop to question why you are doing that activity. Certainly that was true for
me and my passion for books for the longest time. Lately, however, I’ve
wondered why I developed this habit of avid reading. Why books and not
something else? And to say merely that I ENJOY books and that’s why I read begs
the question.
Then the question becomes this instead: Why do I enjoy
Some people have calm, placid minds. I do not. My mind hops
around from subject to subject, questioning what it notices, absorbing everything
and wanting to learn more. When nothing is going on around me, then I spin
stories. This also was true for me as long as I can remember.
I was an only child and had to run outside to find
playmates. As a member of the baby boom generation, I had plenty of other children
nearby and was fortunate in that regard. However, when I was forced to take an
hour-long nap every afternoon during the summer, I never slept. I was always so
bored and entertained myself making up stories to while away the time.
Compared with diversions available to children these days, I
didn’t have many. My home lacked a television set until I was eight years old.
However, there were plenty of books. My parents read constantly and gave me books to
read. I suppose my mother must have read to me initially, but I must confess
that I can’t recall back that far. Both sets of my grandparents gave me books,
but as to which came first, those gifts or being given books because I showed
interest in them, I cannot say. The Carnegie Library was my home away from home.
What I do recall is escaping into other worlds
when I read. I consumed books like candy. I was hungry for escape and
entertainment and learning. I have always loved learning new things—mostly about
people, not so much about science and technical things. I wanted to learn about
all the people in the world and how they differed and what made them so.
My Kansas hometown of 12,000 people was too small for me. I
wanted to learn about the whole wide world. By default, Dallas, Texas, became my
mecca as we motored there several times a year to see my paternal grandparents.
They were also keen readers. Perhaps reading was a part of my DNA. My Texas grandparents kept every issue of The National Geographic that entered their home over the course of many decades, and their set of Harvard Classics lives today in my own living room.
Some of my childhood friends still love to read too, but others
never did and don’t now. This difference puzzled me for some time, but these
days, when I look at next-door neighbors and see how little the parents read, I
surmise that their children won’t become readers either. I don’t see magazines
or books in their home, and I’ve been going over there for more than a decade,
so I should know. The two children appear to read only when they’re doing their
homework or playing games on iPods. They get lost in their digital world the
way I used to get lost in my literary one and still do.
Maybe that is the reason for the big difference right there.
What your parents do informs who you are. For example, my son and his wife (an
English major in college and now a technical editor) are raising my two
grandchildren in a home stuffed with books. My daughter-in-law read to their
first child almost from the moment he was born. He taught himself to read by
the age of four and now at age seven tears through at least three books a week.
To protect the family budget, an E-reader was purchased in order to keep the
costs down of supplying my grandson with books to read. His online wish list
always holds at least twenty books.
In the end, I am not sure I have answered my own question—why
I love to read—but I am sure of one thing. This love of mine has already gone
on to the next two generations. And I am content.
(In my next piece on the Stiletto Gang blog, I will consider
why “experts say” reading is good for us.)

Kay Kendall is a long-time fan of historical novels and writes atmospheric mysteries that capture the spirit and turbulence of the sixties. She is a reformed PR executive who lives in Texas with her husband, three house rabbits, and spaniel Wills. Terribly allergic to her bunnies, she loves them anyway! Her book titles show she’s a Bob Dylan buff too. RAINY DAY WOMEN published on July 7–the second in her Austin Starr Mystery series. The audio-book will be out soon. 



Maybe It’s Normal, but I Don’t Have to Like It

By Kay Kendall

This month I’m putting
final touches on my second mystery, rushing to meet a self-imposed deadline and
trying to make up for time lost with my spouse’s recent illness. The waiting
period before my editor’s comments arrived was agonizing. That was when I drummed my fingers on the table instead
of pounding keys on my PC.

What will my editor say?
Is my second book junk compared to my first one? Is it a hopeless mess? Have I
lost my touch—that is, any talent that I had to begin with? 
The days passed. The clock
ticked. I chewed my cuticles. I waited. 

All authors who address
the agonies of the writing and publishing process

mention that there are always
down periods when they doubt themselves. Even those who routinely issue
bestselling novels confess to having these feelings.

Okay, so misery loves
company. I admit that their angst makes mine lighter by seeming normal. Usually
that kind of reasoning works for me.

However! This week while
I waited for my editor’s next round of revisions, I decided this was no fun at
all. I didn’t care if it was normal. I didn’t care if others felt the same way.
I didn’t feel good about anything, and my nerves were shredded.

Yesterday when the long-awaited
documents hit my inbox, I opened them immediately, read through the general
comments, and scanned the three-hundred-page manuscript that will become RAINY
DAY WOMEN, the further exploits of my intrepid amateur sleuth Austin Starr.

After thirty minutes of
reading, I realized I had slid into a comfortable groove. I’d been here before
with mystery number one, DESOLATION ROW. I recalled enjoying this part of the
process—the to and fro with my editor. She’s a good fit with me. We happily spend time choosing the right synonym or arguing about the proper way to spell
whiskey. Or whisky, depending what country it comes from. Yes, I had worked through this once with the first book. You bet I could do it again. 

Since I have persevered,
not given up, not thrown in the towel, I have moved on to this delicious stage
of preparing my manuscript for publication. If it weren’t for the too-tight
deadline, I would be having a blast. I cannot burn the midnight oil as I once
did—never mind at 30. How about back when I could really tear up the track—when
I was 50? <Note to Editor Beth: Yes, I’ve indulged my flaw–a fondness for cliches–but I usually mean them tongue-in-cheek. I’ll enjoy them here all the better to rip them from the ms.>

And so it goes, as my
manuscript, my editor, my publisher Stairway Press, and I tramp ever onward to that hallowed
publication date. Please mark your calendars, my friends. RAINY  DAY WOMEN sees the light of day—despite its
title—on Tuesday, July 7.

Kay Kendall set her
DAY WOMEN shows her amateur sleuth Austin Starr
proving her best friend didn’t murder women’s
liberation activists in Seattle and Vancouver. A fan of historical
mysteries, Kay does for the 1960s what novelist Jacqueline Winspear
accomplishes for England in the 1930s–present atmospheric mysteries that
capture the spirit of the age. She is also an award-winning international PR
executive who lives in Texas with her husband, three house rabbits, and spaniel
Wills. Terribly allergic to the bunnies, she loves them anyway! Her book titles
show she’s a Bob Dylan buff too. 


By Kay Kendall

A few times during my
many years, I’ve reached a level of calm stability. My home life and work are
nicely balanced. My near and dear ones are healthy and reasonably happy. All
seems well.
When I realize I’m in
this condition, then I think, ah, this is
. Once this stability becomes stasis, however, I get a little bored. And
then things* change, and the hits
just keep on a’comin and they don’t let up. At this point, I long to
be bored again.
Last August I‘d reached the
point of stasis. However, by then I’d learned enough to fear what lay ahead. And,
boy, was I right.
>My elderly mother-in-law declined,
and my husband spent a month in her faraway city tending to her. She passed on. 
>He immediately was diagnosed with a bad illness and went into gruesome
>My daughter-in-law had a
strange illness that no doctor could fathom.
>A dear friend was
diagnosed with terminal cancer. She proceeded to have two strokes. I visited
her today in the nursing home.
>My writing had to give way for three months.
>My hairdresser of 22 years retired. 
In short, the roof fell in.                                              
And then the house next
door was torn down. See photo.
Now, here’s a funny
thing. That house was the worst on our block and had been deteriorating visibly
for twenty years. We waited and waited for someone to buy it, to tear it down
(this being Houston, after all, and everything gets torn down), and to rebuild.
I dreamed of when we’d live beside a McMansion, and our
home’s value would soar.
When all that finally,
finally began to happen, did I rejoice? No, I did not. Instead, I worried. The
jackhammers tearing up the cement would hurt our foundation. Our house would
develop cracks. The new neighbors would be dreadful. Things, in short, would
all go to hell. Or so I worried.
I have discerned a
pattern in myself regarding change. After I look forward to—even long for—change,
then when it finally arrives, I am displeased. Well, perhaps I do exaggerate.
I’m upset a little, and then I do adjust. But not until I have gone through a
period of great gnashing of teeth and ranting and raving.
Thank heavens that upset stage
has shortened over the years. These days I tend to get on with doing what I
must until, one day, I look up and see that everything is all right with my world
again. I used to fear I’d get stuck on a cycle I abhorred. Now I know that’s
not true. Things do change, whether you really want them to or not. They
My husband’s illness has
taught me to stay in the half-full position. I eschew the half-empty one. That
way happiness does not lie. His condition is dangerous…it could be so much
worse. The doctors are fabulous in my large city. He will get well. So the
treatment is tough. He will get well. He is lucky. I am lucky.
I now apply this
half-full approach to everything I can think of that torments me. I haven’t become a Pollyanna. I don’t think everything
works out for the best
. Instead, I’ve learned good things can grow out of
bad. If you only let them.
While all this may not make
sense to you, it does to me, and it took me a while to arrive at this
philosophical state. I celebrated a major birthday this week, by the
way. As my friend (since kindergarten) likes to say, we are still on the right side of the grass.

Once I thought her saying
was gruesome. I don’t anymore. It’s accurate. I know I’m lucky to be achieving
this large number of years. Some people never do. I’m one of the lucky ones.
Tell yourself that, too, no matter what. It can always get worse. Enjoy what
you have….By the way, I gave myself a new nickname. You may call me Zen. Or at least…Zen-esque
* For brevity’s sake, I
use the inexact term things to cover
a multitude of events, conditions, situations, settings, etc. etc 
Kay Kendall set her
DAY WOMEN (June 2015) shows her amateur sleuth Austin Starr proving
her best friend didn’t murder women’s liberation activists in
Seattle and Vancouver. A fan of historical mysteries, Kay does for the 1960s what
novelist Jacqueline Winspear accomplishes for England in the 1930s–present
atmospheric mysteries that capture the spirit of the age. She is also an
award-winning international PR executive who lives in Texas with her husband,
three house rabbits, and spaniel Wills. Terribly allergic to the bunnies, she
loves them anyway! Her book titles show she’s a Bob Dylan buff too. 

Where I Live Now—AKA What I’ve Learned on Facebook

By Kay Kendall

If you watched me go
about my life these days, you would think you know where I live. You would say, why, that’s
a snap to answer. She lives in Texas. Look, there’s her house on that Houston
street. You can look her up on Google Maps.
Yet, strangely, you would
only be partly right. In fact, only one-third correct in your answer—to be
Sure, there’s my normal
life and it’s lived in Houston. But to that you must add the year 1969. Living
in that year makes up the second third of my life these days. That’s when my
work-in-progress takes place, Rainy Day
. I’ve been living in that world for more than a year now. Moreover, for
two years prior, I was living in 1968—the year when my debut mystery is set, Desolation Row. Hence, I have been
spending lots of time in the late 1960s for many years now. In fact, I’m going
deeper and deeper into the detailed past the longer I write about the late
(I have a vivid
imagination and a good head for detail. I’m surprised when people don’t
remember things as I do. Some get downright anachronistic, wanting to put cell
phones into a plot where they don’t belong. Boy oh boy, can technology change a
story—or ruin it if it’s done incorrectly. But, I digress.)
The third and final piece
of my life is now lived online. I’m a gregarious person and as my career as an
author has solidified, I’m staying put in my writer’s lair more often than I
used to. My husband and I are living a quiet life. So, to reach out to other
people, I go to social media several times a day. The majority of that time is
spent on Facebook.
Kay says CHEERS to Facebook!
Many of my Facebook
friends are boomers, as I am. I can start up a thread on a hot topic from the
1960s or 1970s and watch folks chime in. Then they share my head space with me.
I enjoy that a lot. This week’s subject has been what people remember about the
Watergate saga. Some of the answers have fascinated me. One man had a neighbor
who was one of the good guys attached to the Watergate investigation. Another
woman worked for a polling firm in Washington DC that compiled data for the infamous Committee to Re-Elect the President (later nicknamed CREEP, no kidding). She recalled going to the airport to pick up documents and delivering them to the office of the special prosecutor for Watergate…and found it a fascinating time to live in the national’s capital. Since I’m a history
buff, I would have loved that too, although I’m sure many would disagree.
The great crime writer
Tim Hallinan began a thread on his Facebook page a few days ago that asked his
friends to nominate their favorite rock albums. Well! You can imagine how
cantankerous that got, with many responders irate that their faves didn’t win.
My pick did not win—it was a Dylan album, naturally—Blonde on Blonde. I was not
irate, however, since I won a free copy of one of Tim’s mysteries. Since the
only other thing I’ve ever won in my life was a flashlight, I was thrilled
beyond words.
On Facebook I’m drawn to
historical detail, interesting trivia, and those silly BuzzFeed quizzes. On the
most recent quizzes, I scored ten out of ten for world history, found out that
the classic novel that best fits my personality is Pride and Prejudice, and was told that among Jungian archetypes I turn
out to be the sage.
Two fascinating posts
hooked my interest over the past week. First, one FB friend had discovered a
parakeet in her backyard. She wasn’t able to find the owner but did turn up a
neighbor who had also lost her parakeet. The neighbor agreed to take the bird,
vowing to search for the real owner and if s/he wasn’t found, then she would
adopt the lost bird. People commented on this, explaining similar situations.
This was fun and interesting. Sadly, a second Facebook friend lamented that her
sister who suffered from angina had died. The sister had forgotten to carry her
nitroglycerine tablets. When she had an attack, no one could revive her. That true
story devastated me.
I guess I’ve always lived
in my head. As an only child, I read a lot, as many potential writers do. I
just didn’t know that at the time. First it was horse stories and fairy tales,
then Nancy Drew and Little Women,
followed by the grand Jane Eyre. After
that it was more and more classics. Someone told me I should read all the
classic novels in order to be prepare for my SAT tests, and boy, did I go at
it. At sixteen I was far too young to appreciate the finer points of Anna Karenina, but I could tell you the
plot of it and dozens of other great novels.
Last summer I went back to
Kansas for my high school reunion. Along with a few dear, long-time friends I
trotted around our old high school building and reminisced. Pal Nancy could
tell each of us where our lockers had been and where our homerooms were. Most
of us had no idea, although I was more clueless than most. I’m guessing I was
lost in my head back then too. Nancy, however, must have been fully present in
order to recall all that detail of her life in high school.  
Do you live in your head
a lot, like me? Do you enjoy Facebook? Do you have another favorite among the
social media types? Or do you loathe the whole scene?
That’s all I’ve got for
now, my friends. I feel the comments on Facebook tugging at me. Excuse me while
I succumb to their sirens’ song.
 Kay Kendall set her debut novel, Desolation Row—An Austin Starr Mystery,
in 1968. The Vietnam War backdrop illuminates reluctant courage and desperate
love when a world teeters on chaos. Kay’s next mystery, Rainy Day Women (2015) finds amateur sleuth Austin Starr trying to
prove a friend didn’t murder women’s liberation activists in Seattle and
Kay is an award-winning international PR executive living in Texas
with her Canadian husband, three house rabbits, and spaniel Wills. Terribly
allergic to bunnies, she loves them anyway! Her book titles show she’s a Bob
Dylan buff too.

Stories—Tell Me Yours

By Kay Kendall

I write historical murder
mysteries, and my chosen time period is the turbulent era of the 1960s. My work
in progress is set in 1969, entitled Rainy
Day Women
. This time my amateur sleuth, Austin Starr, gets drawn into a
murder investigation when her best friend, Larissa Klimenko, is suspected of
killing a leader in the women’s liberation movement. The action takes place in
those notoriously rain drenched cities of Seattle, Washington, and Vancouver,
British Columbia.

Like my debut book, Desolation Row, this second one takes
its name from the title of a famous Bob Dylan song. Dylan’s oeuvre is so vast
and so comprehensive that I can find almost anything I need to illustrate among
his song titles. Luckily for me, titles of creative works are not covered by copy
write law. When members of the boomer generation see the titles of my mysteries,
almost all of them will know that the books will either take place in the
sixties—or at minimum evoke them.

If you are reading this,
you may scoff when I say that what I write is historical fiction. It’s not that long ago, you may think.
Why, perhaps you yourself lived during that time. That cannot be history.

But, no, it is history.
That time is dead and gone. Five decades gone.

Last week I spoke to
classes at a community college in Alabama. Only about two in one hundred
students had heard the name of Bob Dylan. Moreover, none of them knew why the
United States was drawn into fighting a war in Vietnam. And none of them had
ever heard of the “domino theory.”

Yep, stick a fork in the
sixties. They are done.

One reason I choose to
write about that time period is to describe its importance to those who know
nothing about it. Reading fiction is an easy way to learn about history.

The other reason is to
commemorate and revivify a part of American history that has had far reaching effects.
Societal upheaval was so intense in the 1960s that the aftershocks still are
felt today. We have only to watch TV news to see the rage called forth by the
changing, broadening roles of women to realize that these ideas are not yet

While Desolation Row looks at the consequences of the Vietnam War, the
anti-war movement, and personal outcomes from military service…in Rainy Day Women, I explore the hopes for
female improvement held by early members of the women’s liberation movement.

Participating in that
movement was one of the most important intellectual endeavors I ever undertook.
The magnitude of changes that the movement made in me cannot be underestimated.
In my daily life, I speak occasionally about this, but I seldom hear others do

I know that there are other women whose lives
were changed as mine was. I would love to hear your stories.

In my first book I used one
real military tale from World War II. I felt it was almost a sacred experience
that I didn’t want to disrespect by making up events…although I certainly fictionalized
them enough so that no one can tell whose stories they were.

Similarly, in my new
book, Rainy Day Women I would like to
include a few real memories from real women who participated in women’s
liberation groups.

Whatever you’ve got to
share, I am eager to listen. Rest assured, I will not incorporate your words
into my writing without asking your permission. I hope you will let me hear
from you. 

Kay and her bunny Dusty
 is an international
award-winning public relations executive who lives in Texas with her husband,
five house rabbits, and spaniel Wills. A fan of historical mysteries, she wants
to do for the 1960s what novelist Alan Furst does for Europe in the 1930s
during Hitler’s rise to power–write atmospheric mysteries that capture the
spirit of the age.

Discover more about her at