Kat Richardson

Kat Richardson

Bio

Kat Richardson lives on a sailboat in Seattle with her husband, a crotchety old cat, and two ferrets. She rides a motorcycle, shoots target pistol, and does not own a TV.

Kat Richardson

Kat Richardson

Books

Q&A

I always have been a big reader of mystery stories. I’m a fan of both Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler, as well as later writers who took after them, and they all influenced the development of Harper Blaine and her stories quite a bit. Another source of inspiration was a short-lived British TV series of the 1970s called “Randall and Hopkirk: Deceased,” which played in the US as “My Partner the Ghost.” It was about two private investigators in London. One of them was dead but persisted in hanging around his living partner and helping to solve cases by use of his ghostly powers. It was silly, but it stuck in my mind and I’m sure you can see where this idea came into play in developing the Greywalker series.

When I wrote the first fragment of what eventually became Greywalker, the protagonist was a tough-talking, Chandler-esque guy who lived and worked in Los Angeles and had ghosts for clients. It wasn’t very good. I didn’t finish the story and stuffed it away for more than ten years.

After I moved to Seattle I started thinking about the basic idea—PI mystery with ghosts—but I was less interested in the protagonist. I wasn’t aware that there was already a niche being carved by writers like Mercedes Lackey, Laurell K. Hamilton, Tanya Huff, and Glenn Cook (this was before Charlaine Harris, Simon Greene, and Jim Butcher really hit the scene), since I wasn’t reading much fantasy at that time. I was more comfortable writing a mystery about a protagonist of my own sex and I thought it would be a nice addition to the crop of tough female detectives who’d turned up in the 1980s and matured in the 90s–characters like V. I. Warshawski and Kinsey Milhone. I also thought such a character was more likely to fit with the paranormal twist I wanted to put on the classic detective story.

The originally nameless male detective was out and I began making mental sketches of the new, female version. She had to be tough, but not a man with breasts. She had to be skeptical, but mentally flexible, smart, and competent. She needed to be athletic but realistic, and she needed to be a bit of a loner who relied on facts more than emotions. She couldn’t be a raving beauty, a ditz, or a flirt who relied on her charms to get by, though she couldn’t be so unattractive that she’d be noticeable for that, either.

Harper’s backstory explains all these traits, as well as her personality quirks, motives, and hidden connections to the Grey. Most of these things will be revealed over the course of the series from “why is she such a loner?” to “why doesn’t she like chocolate?” and, of course “why is she a Greywalker?”

The Grey had never been part of the original concept, but I liked the idea of allowing the detective access to another realm or plane of existence as an explanation for her experiences and powers. But it needed rules that were consistent and easy to deal with from a writer’s point of view.

One of the things that I liked about Seattle as a setting for my stories was its gray, misty weather featuring very odd fog and pervasive chill. It’s atmospheric and creepy—perfect place for ghosts and vampires, right?

At the same time, I happened to be reading books on particle and quantum physics (simplified overviews for laymen) as well as metaphysics and spiritual philosophy. This odd combination stirred together in my mind and produced rules and reasons for The Grey as well as a unifying look and feel. It also gave me lots of blither for Ben to spout and occasionally be wrong about. It had flexibility, but it also had structure and it was easy to manage.

So, I had the setting, the rules, and the protagonist. Throw in a plot, sidekicks, ghosts, vampires, a little humor and a lot of encouragement from friends and family, and Greywalker was born.

Series

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