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Author Interview: Larry and Rosemary Mild

Today, Feathered Quill reviewer Kathy Stickles is talking with Larry and Rosemary Mild, authors of Kent and Katcha: Espionage, Spycraft, Romance.

FQ: First, I want to say that I really loved the story, and it was so much fun to read. Is this the first spy novel that you have worked on together, and what made you choose to go in this direction?

LARRY: Thank you! Yes, this is our first spy novel. It received a five-star review! We chose the spy novel genre because I had a bundle of anecdotal experience in this area. In my career as a design engineer for several prominent defense contractors, I came across contract managers who were former spies forced to come in from the cold. Because their faces were too well known to go back in the field, they had settled for desk jobs.

FQ: The details seemed to be right on and I am wondering how much time had to be spent doing research? Also, how difficult was it to get just the right tone and actions for all of the characters, not to mention the right tone for the countries and how their governments were run in this story?

LARRY: We spent quite a lot of time on the research: Russia’s geography; train, bus, and ship routes; Russian or Finnish names; ethnic foods; and an occasional word in both languages for flavoring. I’ve been reading the Washington Post every morning at the breakfast table for the last half-century, so I’ve gained a pretty good understanding of the political and cultural workings inside Russia. Also, there are stories about the dissidents almost daily.

ROSEMARY: I researched the weather in both countries and the clothes they’d be wearing; the cars in Russia and Finland in 1992; what the Helsinki harbor looked like back then; and some of the monuments they’d be noticing. But we take our cue from Elmore Leonard, author of Get Shorty. He warns, “Even if you’re good at descriptions, too much will bring the flow of the story to a standstill.” Instead, Larry and I concentrate on finding every character’s motivation. To arrive there, we must put ourselves in that character’s shoes and ask how we would react in a similar situation.

FQ: I personally thought that all of the characters were really well-developed and that made it so much more interesting to read. Are all of the characters created from your imaginations or is there anyone in the story that is based on someone you know?

LARRY: Thank you again. I’d like to think all our characters do come out of my head, although when I shop around for traits, qualities, and flaws I can’t guarantee they’re not composites of people I’ve met somewhere. Once I have my main characters I count on them to lead me through the plot.

ROSEMARY: In Locks and Cream Cheese, our first Paco & Molly Mystery, our main characters are based on real people—our only novel where they’re not imagined or composites. Larry patterned Detective Paco on a police inspector he met in Barcelona, Spain (when Larry was a field engineer for RCA). The wise Dr. Avi Kepple is based on my psychoanalyst father in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. His housekeeper/cook became our lovable Molly. Even my father’s golden retriever plays a role, tackling a thug who steps in his dish of pot roast. In Copper and Goldie: 13 “Tails” of Mystery and Suspense in Hawaii, Larry makes use of a crucial personal trait. Ex-cop Sam Nahoe is disabled and becomes a private investigator. Larry gave him his own disability, requiring him to use two canes. Auntie Momi asks Sam, “You still walkin’ wit’ dem giant chopsticks?" And yes, we have another golden retriever, who partners with Sam to chase down the bad guys.

Authors Rosemary and Larry Mild

FQ: I know that you have written numerous other types of books (some of which are continuing characters in a series), and there are so many interesting characters in this book like Katcha’s parents and Kent’s father. I have to ask, at this point, if Kent and Katcha is just a one-time story or if there might be more adventures in store for the couple and the others in the book?

LARRY: I’m toying with a sequel to Kent and Katcha, tentatively titled, Kauai Spy. Four years have passed and Kent is a partner in a law firm in Honolulu, Hawaii. This time there’s a mole, an enemy spy in the ointment, and Kent is asked to investigate on the island of Kauai. I’ve only written six chapters so far, so we’ll see if the story goes the limit or not.

FQ: Are there any characters in the story that you are very partial to?

LARRY: Usually it’s the protagonist. In this case it’s both Kent and Katcha, because we devoted the most time and care to their development. Besides, we’ve cheered them all the way through the plot to the climax. But if you’re asking who we had the most fun developing, it’s our villains, Dmitri and Sasha. Pitting Katcha against Sasha was an exciting touch.

ROSEMARY: I agree. An author friend of ours said it best. “While I rooted for the good guys, I must admit that my favorite bad guy was Sasha. At least she went out on her own terms.”

FQ: Can you tell the reader about some of your other books/series for those of us out there, like myself, who have not read any of them but are definitely going to change that very quickly going forward?

LARRY: An out-of-work schoolteacher in 1936 takes you on the ride of your life in On the Rails: The Adventures of Boxcar Bertie (our other newest novel). A wily detective and a gourmet cook, who fractures the English language, solve the Paco & Molly mysteries in Locks and Cream Cheese, Hot Grudge Sunday, and Boston Scream Pie. An engineer and editor give up their careers to invest in the Olde Victorian Bookstore and solve the Dan & Rivka mysteries: Death Goes Postal, Death Takes a Mistress, Death Steals a Holy Book, and Death Rules the Night. Two generations of a Hawaiian family sizzle with their joys and harrowing experiences in Cry ‘Ohana: Adventure and Suspense in Hawaii and Honolulu Heat. We’ve also published four books of short stories: Murder, Fantasy and Weird Tales; Charlie and The Magic Jug; The Misadventures of Slim O. Wittz, Soft-Boiled Detective; and, as we mentioned, Copper and Goldie. I also published my autobiography, No Place To Be But Here, My Life and Times.

ROSEMARY: I also have my personal writing life: essays (many award-winning) and four memoirs. Miriam’s Gift and Miriam’s World and Mine are about our beloved daughter, Miriam Luby Wolfe, whom we lost in the terrorist bombing of Pan Am 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland in December 1988. My third memoir is Love! Laugh! Panic! Life With My Mother. My newest is In My Next Life I’ll Get It Right, essays and anecdotes—quirky observations on everyday life, from the hilarious to the serious. I’ve published three inspirational essays in the column “Chasing the Light,” in MidWeek, a Hawaii newspaper. And we’ve both published articles about our writing in Mystery Readers Journal International.

FQ: I wonder if you could explain a bit about how you write as a team (it seems very rare to me). Do each of you write particular characters in the story or collaborate and then one of you does the writing? How difficult is it to write together, and do you sometimes have differing opinions about what should happen?

LARRY: It’s not as rare as it seems. We’ve been on mystery-convention panels with other writing teams. A reporter once asked me, “How can a husband and wife write in the same room without creating real-life mayhem?” Well, we do! That starts with a solid marriage. How do we write together? We contribute in different ways working on the same chapters and the same characters. Rosemary believes I inherited a creative gene from my grandfather. The real reason is that I have the more devious mind, so naturally, I’m responsible for plotting—counterplotting, twists, turns, and the black art of the red herring. I also write the first drafts. As the plot requires new characters, I alone retain the divine right to create them.

ROSEMARY: Our second bedroom is our office, so squished that I’m always bumping into things. I’m practically sitting on Larry’s lap (yeah!). When he finishes his first draft, he hands it over to me. I approach it as if I’m carving a marble sculpture, molding flesh-and-blood characters, sharpening dialogue, adding scenes. I also streamline passages to pick up the pace and add suspense. I call it “judicious pruning,” an expression I learned as an assistant editor at Harper’s Magazine. Larry calls it “Slash and burn!” Then we calm down, massage each other’s egos, and come up with a version we’re both happy with.

LARRY: It’s during this process that our individual writing styles blend into a single seamless product. The best part of writing with your spouse is that we’re never working in a vacuum. We always have each other to bounce our ideas off. After we finish our final draft, we read the book aloud to each other. The typos and inconsistencies jump out at us. It’s so necessary to hear what we wrote, what it sounds like. We’re an Indie—Independent—Publisher. So I take the final step. I format the manuscript for print and e-book publication.

ROSEMARY: We’re lucky. We never have to ask ourselves, “Well, what’re we gonna to do today?” We have our “jobs.” It’s really cool! Writing together gives us daily structure—and the joy of seeing our books in print.

FQ: What do Larry and Rosemary do when they are not writing? Do you have any particular hobbies that you enjoy and spend a lot of time doing?

LARRY: Some years ago, my answer would have been tennis, swimming, and walking. Today at age ninety-one, I’m confined to a three-wheeled walker in our apartment, and two different wheelchairs when we go out. One is powered, so at least I can tool around a bit. We do New York Times crossword puzzles together at the kitchen table. I save time for reading my favorite authors. We attend meetings as members of Hawaii Fiction Writers and the National League of American Pen Women, and attend or Zoom weekly religious services. Best of all, we have the joy of family: two loving daughters, five adult grandchildren, and three precious little great-grandchildren. We spend delightful time with our Honolulu daughter and our granddaughter and grandson-in-law. The rest of our family is on the Mainland, on both East and West Coasts. If they can’t come to visit, we all do Facetime.

ROSEMARY: I’m eighty-eight, but that doesn’t stop me. I’ve been going to Jazzercise for forty-six years—since COVID via Zoom. It satisfies my suppressed desire to be a Rockette! I’m grateful that I can be Larry’s caregiver. We’re obsessive NFL fans. Go Commanders! (We used to live in Maryland.) We also like the Dolphins because their quarterback is Hawaiian. We watch other teams’ games, too. After the Super Bowl, we always go through withdrawal. Right now, as consolation, we make do with the United Football League D.C. Defenders.

FQ: Now that you have a spy novel under your belts… what comes next? Are you working on anything in particular right now that you would like to share with our readers?

LARRY: The Kent and Katcha sequel, Kauai Spy, is occupying much of my time. We have participated by invitation in five short story anthologies in the past. Currently, we have three mystery stories accepted for the upcoming Hawaii Fiction Writers’ anthology Lost in the Stacks and Other Library Stories. Maintaining and updating our website,, takes some of my time, too.

ROSEMARY: I’m having a great time working on The Moaning Lisa, our fourth Paco & Molly mystery. They discover strange and sinister happenings at the Next to Heaven Retirement Home.

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