Divorced; children: four.
Home—IA. Agent—3 Seas Literary Agency, P.O. Box 8571, Madison, WI 53708.
Iowa Department of Public Safety, state trooper; Iowa Department of Justice, consumer fraud investigator. Writer.
Calamity Jayne, Dorchester/Love Spell (New York, NY), 2006.
Calamity Jayne Rides Again, Dorchester/Love Spell (New York, NY), 2006.
Ghouls Just Want to Have Fun, Dorchester/Love Spell (New York, NY), 2006.
Calamity Jayne Goes to College, Dorchester/Love Spell (New York, NY), 2007.
Also author of Fiancé at Her Fingertips.
Kathleen Bacus, a former Iowa state trooper and consumer fraud investigator, began writing fiction when she was a stay-at-home mom with four children—three of them triplets. Her first book, Calamity Jayne, was a "chick-lit" suspense story about Tressa Jayne Turner, the hapless heroine who is known far and wide in Granville, Iowa, for attracting trouble. Big trouble ensues late one night when she drives off in the wrong car after work. While attempting to fix a flat tire on a dark country road, she finds a dead body in the trunk—that of a local attorney involved in drug smuggling—and a wad of cash in the glove compartment. Startled, Tressa runs off to find help. The "help" she finds is Ranger Rick, her high school nemesis, who accompanies her back to the car. But the car is gone, and so is Tressa's credibility and any hope that she will ever be known in town as anything other than a "dumb blonde." The only person who believes her story is the unknown murderer, who threatens great bodily harm to Tressa on the suspicion that she has stolen the money from the glove compartment. Reviewers generally enjoyed Bacus's freshman publication. Though Blythe Barnhill, writing on the Web site All about Romance, took issue with the lack of sparks between Tressa and Rick, a reviewer for Publishers Weekly praised the book's "dumb-blonde jokes, nonstop action and rapid-fire banter." In a review for the Web site Best Reviews, Harriet Klausner called Calamity Jayne "an amusing chick lit investigative tale" and characterized Tressa as "the poster-child for dumb blond jokes."
Bacus told CA: "My ancestors were always great storytellers and I've always loved to write so I like to think that I'm fulfilling a destiny. As a child I wrote monster stories and skits that were performed in my grandmother's basement. When I discovered soap operas as a teenager, I graduated to writing soap opera scripts. When I found myself divorced with four wee ones five and under, writing became a way of getting away from it all—without leaving the house. And, in a way, it was truly a lifeline.
"I grew up with horses so the first books I read were ones that featured horses. Readers of Calamity Jayne will find horses play a huge role here, as well. I also devoured Nancy Drew books, and then moved on to wonderful gothic writers like Victoria Holt, Mary Stewart and Barbara Michaels. My first book was—surprise—a western historical romance. Once I became a police officer and was introduced to the legal and judicial systems, however, I sought more lighthearted, comedic material to read and discovered cozy mysteries and amateur sleuth stories that really appealed to me. I also found that I really enjoy writing humor and comedy, but love mysteries as well so merging the two was, for me, a perfect mix.
"My writing process has undergone a dramatic change since I became a published author and, therefore, subject to deadlines and committed to promotion and marketing. With three books out in 2006 and one already slated for spring, 2007, I don't have the luxury of an open-ended write any longer. The reality of a deadline that is, at least for me, set in stone can be terrifying. So my writing process has had to adapt to work under these new rules. I do much more extensive pre-writing work now before I sit down and start writing, I know a whole lot more about the stories I write now than I did when I first started writing. I use different character grids and worksheets and build as much of my story as possible using story grids, dry erase boards, and sticky notes before I begin to write. All this prep work has become an essential part of my writing process and has enabled me to meet some extremely tight deadlines.
"What has surprised me the most is how much time and effort has to go into promotion. You think once you are published that you can sit back and write your next book and the sales will come, but that just isn't the case at all. For debut or new authors especially, you have to promote and market your own books. Web sites, advertising, writing conferences, book talks and book signings all suck time away from writing. I envy authors who have a gift for the promotional aspect of writing. For me, it's hard work and certainly doesn't come naturally.
"I've never really thought about which of my books is my favorite before. I guess the obvious answer would be to say 'the first book I sold' but with me I honestly can't think of one I prefer over the other. All of my books are special to me in one way or the other. The first book you finish always holds a special place in your heart. I do love a book I wrote called Fiancé at Her Fingertips. A romantic comedy, it was my first attempt at humor and the experience convinced me I'd found my niche. It was also a Romance Writers of America Golden Heart finalist in 2005—the year I sold Calamity Jayne and was, therefore, my last opportunity to experience being a Golden Heart finalist. As a result, I met so many wonderful writers and authors and Fiancé at Her Fingertips made it possible."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Publishers Weekly, October 31, 2005, review of Calamity Jayne, p. 38.
All about Romance Web site,http://www.likesbooks.com/ (April 29, 2006), Blythe Barnhill, review of Calamity Jayne.
Best Reviews,http://thebestreviews.com/ (April 29, 2006), Harriet Klausner, review of Calamity Jayne.
Kathleen Bacus Home Page,http://www.kathybacus.com (April 29, 2006).