What follows is an exclusive interview with author Kimberly McGath. It is the last in the series of author interviews in the Author Spotlight feature run in conjunction with Mystery Thriller Week 2017. I urge you to read on. It’s a fascinating interview.
Before you do, may I take this opportunity to thank all my interview guests who have contributed to Mystery Thriller Week. Also, I need to congratulate the organizers of the event, Vicki Turner-Goodwin, Benjamin Thomas and Sherrie Marshall, no doubt there are others behind the scenes. In addition, I must thank all of you authors, book bloggers, readers and reviewers and fans for supporting the event. See you all in 2018!
Like me, Kimberley is a former detective now turned author. One of her areas of expertise while in the department was cold case investigations.
The Zodiac was an infamous serial killer operating in the United States from the 1960’s. Many books have been written about his true identity. Kimberly’s book has to be unique in that it is written by an experienced cold case detective. Whatever she has to say on the subject ought to be listened to.
Kimberly McGath received her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of South Florida. Her law enforcement career spanned more than a decade in which she worked in the Special Victims Unit, Mounted Patrol, and the Criminal Investigations Bureau. McGath was the first and only detective in her agency to discover the whereabouts of a clandestine grave without an informant. McGath exhumed the body of this female victim which led her on a hunt of a serial killer.
McGath worked in various undercover roles and obtained many confessions from murderers and other violent felons. She earned the nicknames “Tenacious K” and “Bulldog” due to her relentless pursuit of the truth.
McGath received various academic awards and was recognized by the U.S. Secret Service for her investigation which led to the recovery of a fugitive from Kansas who had been in hiding for over twenty years. McGath has worked high-profile cold cases which have received worldwide media attention. She is also a singer/songwriter and a married mother of three.
Kimberly McGath is the co-host, along with Award-winning Author Sue Coletta, of Partners in Crime on Writestream radio. Kimberlymcgath.com. [Ed. note: See links below]
Kimberly is now an established indie author with a number of titles to her name. All of her books may be viewed on her Amazon Author page.
McGath’s social media links and bibliography may be viewed below the interview.
Please tell us something about your former career as a detective.
As a detective, I worked various types of cases including homicides, sexual batteries, and home invasions, but my passion always was cold cases. In December of 2012, I identified Richard Hickock and Perry Smith, the two men immortalized in Truman Capote’s novel In Cold Blood, as the men responsible for murdering a family in my hometown.
Coordinating my efforts with KBI officials, we exhumed their bodies in an effort to establish a forensic connection. Whilst we did encounter corrupt DNA results, I was still able to provide other physical evidence connecting the men to the crime.
Can you tell us about any other interesting cases you worked other than the Zodiac killings?
One of the other interesting cases I worked on as a cold case detective was an art theft that occurred in 1969. Ben Stahl, known not only for beautiful paintings, but for writing Blackbeard’s Ghost, owned a museum here in Florida, where he displayed breathtaking paintings of the Stations of the Cross.
One of the aspects I found fascinating about this case was that Stahl was Jewish, yet for some reason felt compelled to create the Christian masterpieces.
Some of the leads in the case were connected to the assassination of Martin Luther King Junior, the Vatican, and suspects included various interesting characters who were accomplished art thieves.
Why did you turn to writing?
Initially, I turned to writing because I felt it was the only way to get closure for the Zodiac victims. Having worked high-profile cases, I knew if I just gave the information to the authorities, it would most likely remain in a file somewhere, until someone got the time to investigate it, which may never happen.
It was my hope that if I presented the information to the public, someone would either pick up where I left off, or recall something pertinent to the case. Still hopeful, if the right person picks up the book, perhaps he or she may be able to bring such closure to the families.
What are you currently working on?
Currently, I am adding the finishing touches to The Silent Widow, a short story for Scream, an anthology with several other amazing authors, and the second in the trilogy of Run, Scream, Die. Also, I am working on several novels, including Infallible Witness, the first book in the Rewritten In Cold Blood trilogy.
Although, I have not yet decided if I want to publish this last work. Also, I’ll be in the studio this week recording two new songs for an upcoming wedding, and last but not least, I’ll be on my air regularly for my radio show, Partners in Crime, for Writestream Radio, with award-winning author Sue Coletta.
Did you draw your inspiration to write your latest book from your detective career?
For my true crime and mystery novels, I definitely drew on my experience as a detective. However; I am also working on a Sci-Fi book, as well as a psychological thriller. Even though my main passion is music, I have always been enthralled with physics and astronomy.
Any advice for other authors about writing on police procedures?
Several authors have approached me in the past inquiring about police procedures for their novels. The advice I offered was to consult with a detective, and to invest the time in a “ride-along” at their local police department.
Experiencing what a police officer or detective does is far different from hearing about it. My radio co-host for Partners in Crime, Sue Coletta, established #ACrimeChat on Twitter, in which several detectives including myself answer questions from crime writers.
Which writers had the most influence on your decision to write?
Growing up, one of my beloved pastimes was reading mystery novels. Agatha Christie was always my favorite, and still inspires me to this day.
What was the last book you read?
The last book I read was Marred by Sue Coletta, and I am currently reading Wings of Mayhem, also written by Coletta. As you know, reading is a critical component of an author’s job, and often can become tedious. What I love about reading Coletta’s work, is that it is immensely “enjoyable” in that I feel like a reader again, yet concomitantly learn so much.
Do you suffer from writers’ block?
Because I am working on so many projects simultaneously, I never suffer from writer’s block. My brain is so crammed with information and ideas, that I just cannot find the time to expel it all. The downside to this is that it takes a lot longer for me to finish a novel, because I am working on so many at the same time.
Biggest frustration as a self-published author?
My biggest frustration so far as an independent author is that I knew absolutely nothing when I started my career a year ago. As a “rookie” I had to learn a lot about the business the hard way. Formatting books for the different independent sites can be limiting and frustrating.
Reviews for books are vital. Any tips on getting more reviews?
Networking is probably the best way to get reviews for books, particularly if you are an independent author. Participating in events such as Mystery Thriller Week, is a great way to meet new authors, share ideas, read other authors’ work, and to post reviews.
Do you use social media? If so, do you like using it?
Up until last year, I never was on social media, particularly due to my career in law enforcement officer. When I started writing, my kids were gracious enough to show me the ropes, and I jokingly refer to them as my IT crew. Sometimes I still have to ask them what BAE or YOLO means, and I get the answer with a subtle roll of the eyes, lol.
There are many benefits to using social media, and what I find most appealing is that it has allowed me to meet some amazing people. Dealing with spam, direct messages, and the unsavory types is annoying, but worth it, for the benefits far outweigh these negatives.
Who is your biggest fan?
My biggest fan is my husband. Supportive in every way, he always reads my work, saying he loves it, even when it sucks. Of course it is preferable to have critics read your manuscripts, to improve and get honest feedback, but sometimes it just feels good to hear those positive words, even if they are biased.
Many people have a bucket list. What is #1 on yours?
On my personal bucket list, I would love to ride a beautiful black Friesian in the open countryside in England, jumping over natural obstacles with other riders. A fox hunt without the fox per se.
Professionally, I would love to solve the JonBenét Ramsey case. Whilst I would find the Black Dahlia or Jack the Ripper more challenging or fascinating, it would be more rewarding to solve the former to bring closure to the victim’s family.
Having worked high-profile cases, I’ve seen first-hand, innocent persons’ reputations smeared by the media, and the public. It is heartbreaking and unconscionable to me when family members names are trashed, particularly when there is insufficient evidence.
Often there is circumstantial substantiation that may look tantalizing, but after careful analysis can prove faulty. While this may not be a popular opinion, based on my experience working child crimes, I believe the parents are innocent, and the case is solvable.
Any special message for your readers?
My special message to my readers would be if they read Zodiac: Settling the Score, or Let Them See, my first two books, is to keep in mind that I wrote them for informational purposes, and my novels will be a drastic departure, stylistically. Also, I would love to thank them so much for all the love and support.
A great interview, Kimberly and so interesting. What a talented woman! I have said it before and I say it again – it would have been an honor to partner with you in my law enforcement days even though we served on opposite sides of “The Pond.”
Facebook page for Let Them See – A parents’ guide about protecting your child’s vision.
Zodiac: Settling the Score by Kimberly McGath is available to purchase on Amazon.
McGath is a contributing author to Run: A collection of dark tales on Amazon:
A complete list of Kimberly McGath’s books can be found here on her Amazon Author page.
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