Friday, January 24, 2014

Please Welcome Mystery Author Stephen Kaminski

Omnimystery News: Guest Post by Stephen Kaminski
with Stephen Kaminski

We are delighted to welcome mystery author Stephen Kaminski to Omnimystery News today, courtesy of Great Escapes Book Tours, which is coordinating his current book tour. We encourage you to visit all of the participating host sites; you can find his schedule here.

Stephen's second mystery to feature the dabbling detective Damon Lassard is Don't Cry Over Killed Milk (Cozy Cat Press; August 2013 trade paperback and ebook formats).

We asked Stephen to tell us more about his series, and he's titled his guest post, "Do I Write What I Read?"

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Stephen Kaminski
Photo provided courtesy of
Stephen Kaminski

I had the privilege of being interviewed by Omnimystery News last November. One of the questions asked was "What did you read when you were young?" A simple enough question, but it made me think: Does my writing run toward or away from the books I enjoy reading for pleasure?

If I look objectively at my personal reading history, I can break out four distinct categories, all of which intersect with the others to a certain extent, both thematically and temporally. First, as a teenager, when my love for reading took shape, I was enthralled with British intrigue and espionage thrillers, with books by Ken Follett and Jeffrey Archer topping the list. During college — but prior to attending law school — I was enamored with legal thrillers. As an adult, I read a lot of classic fiction, with F. Scott Fitzgerald as my favorite. Finally, we get to classic mystery novels which I've loved for years — those by Agatha Christie, M.C. Beaton, Ruth Rendell and P.D. James (all British writers) as my favorites alongside American writers Lawrence Block and John Sandford.

I've been writing cozy mysteries (which I define as a cocktail of heavy dialogue, an amateur sleuth, and no graphic sex or violence — just innuendo) for close to three years, and now is the first time I've truly assessed the impact of my reading history on my writing.

While British thrillers are no longer my go-to cup of tea, both Follett and Archer have shifted gears in the later stages of their careers and I still read all of their offerings. Ken Follett's masterpiece, The Pillars of the Earth, remains my all-time favorite book. From these authors, I've taken the good sense of having interesting back stories for my characters as well as plots that are more than skin deep.

Legal thrillers are fairly easy for me to compartmentalize. After graduating from law school, I cut out my consumption of legal fiction cold turkey — books, television, movies. I just don't enjoy the genre any longer, though I do enjoy my profession as an attorney (I won't try to analyze the logic behind this personal peculiarity). Despite not being a criminal lawyer, having a basic understanding of criminal law helps my writing in that inevitably, there are a handful of police and prosecutorial procedural necessities that show up in my books.

I started reading classic fiction when I had a full-time position that required a forty-five minute daily commute in each direction. My wife likes to say that I wasn't really "reading," but was just "listening," because during that time I was borderline addicted to books on CD. However it's characterized, countless ageless stories became embedded in my mind. For my writing, I've appropriated the structural backbone to good writing and an obsessive compulsion for grammatical accuracy.

Finally, we come to mysteries. With the exception of M.C. Beaton, a majority of the mysteries I read are not traditionally "cozy" in nature (although it could be argued that Agatha Christie wrote cozies before such a genre was recognized). From the land of mystery books, I've taken the following: the ability to twist and turn the reader through red herrings and dead ends, the ability to write a complex plot via the vehicle of easy-to-read dialogue, and the ability to convince readers to take a journey along my protagonist's life, which continues to develop from book to book.

So do my Damon Lassard Dabbling Detective books run toward or away from my reading? Neither. Rather, my writing tends to run alongside, darting in and out, plucking out bits and pieces that are most beneficial to my own unique style of writing.

Join Damon in It Takes Two to Strangle and Don't Cry Over Killed Milk from 2012 Literary Views Award-Winning Author Stephen Kaminski.


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Stephen Kaminski Book Tour

Stephen Kaminski is a graduate of Johns Hopkins University and Harvard Law School, has practiced law for over a decade, and currently serves as Senior Vice President and General Counsel to a national non-profit organization. He is a lifelong lover of all types of mysteries and lives with his wife and daughter in Arlington, Virginia.

For more information about the author and his work, please visit his website at DamonLassard.com or find him on Facebook.

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Don't Cry Over Killed Milk by Stephen Kaminski

Don't Cry Over Killed Milk
Stephen Kaminski
A Damon Lassard, Dabbling Detective Mystery

Jeremiah Milk lived a life filled with emotional extremes. Amniotic band syndrome — a congenital condition — left his fingers and toes malformed. Ridiculed as a child, he became an adolescent hermit. As an adult, Jeremiah's wounds healed when he landed a position as a park ranger and married a woman who loved him despite his physical appearance. But fate ripped his life to shreds when his wife and infant son died on the same night in separate calamities. Shortly thereafter, the tides turned once more as an act of Jeremiah's ostensible benevolence translates into a financial boon. The book on Jeremiah's life closes without mercy when he's found murdered at Tripping Falls State Park.

Damon Lassard — Hollaydale's loveable civic leader, amateur sleuth, and Jeremiah's neighbor — springs into action. He's obstructed by a prickly lieutenant, but wriggles information unknown to the police from a colorful bevy of suspects. Aided by his best friend Rebecca and his reluctant ally Detective Gerry Sloman, Damon engineers a deep dive into Jeremiah's past to solve the crime. Along the way, Damon strengthens his relationship with the breathtaking Bethany Krims, cracks a local horticultural mystery, and tries to tame his wickedly sarcastic mother.

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