I Read/I Wrote: Kathleen Valenti

In the I Read/I Wrote series, authors introduce a book they loved–in the genre in which they write–and share one of their own books.

GENRE: Traditional Mystery

I READ: In the Woods by Tana French

For me, choosing just one mystery book that I loved is akin to picking a favorite child. Impossible! There are several books that had a significant impact on me as a writer, however, including In the Woods by Tana French.

Strictly speaking, I write medical mysteries/thrillers. Not-so-strictly-speaking, I consider myself an author of traditional mystery, a genre that fits the bill for In the Woods.

What made this book so compelling for me was the writer’s voice. Ms. French not only captured the musicality of the Irish accent and dialect, but also bridged the gap between literary and genre fiction with a distinctive style that kept me turning the page to discover the next beautifully-turned phrase, as well as the next plot point.

The book pulled me in right from jacket copy. The premise: three children fail to return from a shadowed wood. The police find only one child, a boy wearing blood-filled sneakers, who is unable to remember anything of the terror in the trees. This boy grows into a homicide detective who must investigate a case that is remarkably similar to his own unsolved mystery, giving him a chance to untangle the case before him and resolve the past that’s haunted him.

Captivating, no?

I thought so, and have re-read the book several times hoping the author’s rich, atmospheric prose will rub off on me.

In the Woods isn’t Ms. French’s most popular book, nor is it her most celebrated. However, I find it one of the finest examples of how voice transcends genre and elevates craft.

I WROTE: Protocol

My debut mystery novel is called Protocol. It’s about freshly minted college graduate Maggie O’Malley, who embarks on a career fueled by professional ambition and a desire to escape the past. As a pharmaceutical researcher, she’s determined to save lives from the shelter of her lab. But on her very first day she’s pulled into a world of uncertainty. Reminders appear on her phone for meetings she’s never scheduled with people she’s never met. People who end up dead.

With help from her best friend, Maggie discovers the victims on her phone are connected to each other and her new employer. She soon unearths a treacherous plot that threatens her mission—and her life. Maggie must unlock deadly secrets to stop horrific abuses of power before death comes calling for her.

I’ve been writing for more than 20 years, first as a nationally award-winning copywriter and now as a mystery novelist. A firm believer that deadpan can be dead-on, I combine funny with frightening to craft page-turners of mystery and suspense.

My debut mystery, Agatha- and Lefty-nominated Protocol, examines the flaws of technology, the price of modern medicine and the depths of greed to uncover what happens when the invisible among us disappears. In my second book, 39 Winks, my protagonist Maggie O’Malley comes to the aid of her best friend’s aunt after she discovers her husband murdered during a sleepwalking episode.

I live in Oregon with my family, where I pretend to enjoy running.

For more information, please visit www.kathleenvalenti.com.


7 thoughts on “I Read/I Wrote: Kathleen Valenti”

  1. Thank you so much for visiting us today. Love the Maggie O’Malley books! Congrats on all of your successes to date–looking forward to the third one in the series. And what a great introduction to Tana French. Question: what drew you to writing a medical thriller, specifically?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. What a great question!

      It’s funny…I wrote PROTOCOL as a standalone, never imagining it would mark the advent of a medical series. As luck would have it, my publisher liked Maggie’s world so much they wanted to see more of it. And so here we are. 🙂

      I decided to write about medicine, specifically pharmaceuticals, because medication touches so many of our lives. Three-quarters of Americans take medicine on a daily basis, giving pharmaceuticals the power to transform our lives. Of course, all of that power has the potential to lead to interesting story ideas. Add in attention-grabbing headlines and friends in the industry, and I had a recipe for a good yarn. And hopefully an enduring series.

      Thank you so much for inviting me here, Cynthia! I’m delighted and honored.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Ms. Valenti, I was very excited to read about Tana French and the relationship between literary and genre fiction. The thesis for my Senior project is to argue that mystery and detective fiction have been given a bad rap and should be included in the Literary canon and not left in genre fiction. I’m hoping to say it a little more eloquently than that. I find it so interesting that most mystery writers also have a great sense of humor. Why is that? How did you ever come up with phone messages of appts. with people who end up dead? That’s Brilliant! You write a very good teaser as I am wondering already what past is she trying to escape? How is her employer involved? Protocol for what? What a pleasure to meet you. I can’t wait for December so I can read Protocol.
    Thank You,

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much, Stephanie! I appreciate your comments and kind words.

      I absolutely agree that crime fiction has been given a bad rap and that genre fiction can be literary. In fact, I wrote a paper on this in college (I was an English major myself), questioning why Stephen King, who is an important literary voice and darn fine writer, is continually relegated to the often-maligned horror genre. He, like many, transcends genre. I’d argue that most of us transcend labels, full-stop.

      It is interesting how many in crime fiction incorporate humor, isn’t it? I suppose some of it is to lighten the mood and some of it is because life is terribly (in all its meanings) funny.

      Great question about the appointment app reminders! This was inspired by an event in my own life. Many years ago, we sent our laptop to the manufacturer for repair. It was returned with someone else’s hard drive, complete with all of the owner’s digital leavings. This technological snafu lead to me to the genesis of what would become PROTOCOL’s hook.

      It was a pleasure to meet you, Stephanie! Wish you all the best with your thesis and beyond.

      Liked by 1 person

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