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my interview with author linda castillo – plus a book giveaway!

Castillo, Linda_CREDIT Pam Lary_her last breath

I’m so excited I got to interview Linda Castillo about her new thriller, After the Storm, because I love all her books and pretty much stay up all night reading every time she publishes a new one.

After the Storm is the latest in her Kate Burkholder series, which takes place in Ohio’s Amish country. It’s another nail biter, and the whole idea of terrible things happening in a society that doesn’t even believe in electricity is fascinating.

Read my interview with Linda, then enter to win a copy of After the Storm.

You know I’m such a fan of your books, and I love your Kate Burkholder series. Why did you decide to set these stories in Amish country? Can you talk a little about your own experiences growing up in Ohio, where the stories take place?

I’m so pleased you’re enjoying the series. There’s no bigger compliment for an author than to hear those words. Thank you!

When I began writing (and before I was published) one of the things I heard consistently from the experts was to “write what you know.” Well, I’m from a small farming community in Ohio (population 79.) What could I possibly write about that would be even remotely interesting to anyone? My first job was detasseling corn. My second was at the farm store. Not exactly a fascinating locale for a thriller, right? It wasn’t until I made a trip to Amish Country in 2005 that I realized the mundane could be anything but—and Amish Country was a treasure trove not only in terms of beauty and culture, but in terms of this big thriller I’d had in my head for some time. One of the elements I love most about setting a thriller in such a bucolic and beautiful place is the juxtaposition of wholesome and the introduction of evil.

Reading After the Storm, I felt like I was in the middle of that terrifying tornado. Have you ever actually experienced weather like that?

I’ve always been a weather buff. I grew up in Ohio, but I’m currently living in the Texas Panhandle, which is in tornado alley. While Ohio certainly has its share of violent weather, storms are the norm for the Panhandle. There have been many times when a tornado was too close to comfort. There’s nothing more hair-raising than to see a black wall cloud lower and the wail of tornado sirens in the distance.

I’ve learned a lot about the Amish just reading your books. In fact, my husband recently came back from Ohio and asked me if I knew there was a big Amish population there and, thanks to you, I did! What are some surprising facts you’ve learned about the Amish?

Writing a series set in Amish Country has taught me so much about the culture. I love reading about the Amish and I love learning new things about them. I’ve spent some time with a couple of Amish families in the last few years. One of the things that struck me is that while the Amish way of life is different than most Americans, there are also many ways in which we are the same. I’m generalizing, but the Amish have a strong sense of family and community. They draw satisfaction from a hard day’s work. They have strong religious beliefs and live by their faith. One of the most surprising—and fun—facts is that sometimes they have a rather wicked sense of humor.

After the StormKate is a great character – strong yet vulnerable – and I would guess that a lot of women can relate to her. Tell us about her. What does she mean to you? How would you describe her?

When I created Kate Burkholder, I wanted to write a protagonist who could immerse us in the Amish culture. I wanted to write from the Amish perspective—and do it correctly. I wanted to create a character who knew what it was like to be different. A woman who had suffered because she was an outsider. People identify with that because all of us, at some point in our lives, have felt like an outsider. Kate’s feelings about the Amish culture to which she was born are ambiguous, but there’s a part of her that longs for that sense of belonging, of community—but she will always be an outsider. It wasn’t until later that I realized Kate doesn’t fit in with the English community, either. The place she fits in best, I believe, is with her small police force.

How do you come up with the crimes you write about? Are any of them based on real events? Do you have nightmares thinking up the details?!

I’ve always had a vivid and rather dark imagination. All of those long days on the farm no doubt. J There’s something terrifying about taking the mundane and transforming it into the scene of a crime. There’s a scene in After the Storm based on an event I witnessed as a kid on the farm. Of course, in this real life event no one was injured, but I never forgot what I saw and my writer’s brain invariably asks “what if . . . ?”

I read your Killer Fan Mail on your site, which was fascinating and horrifying! What was your first reaction when you realized who this fan was? Can you share any other interesting fan mail you’ve received, even if it’s not quite as dramatic?

I love my fans and most of the mail I receive is wonderful. There’s nothing more gratifying than to read a letter from someone who loved the book enough to take the time to write and let me know. I read every piece of correspondence I receive. I personally respond to everything I receive electronically. Of course on occasion I receive a negative letter. For security reasons, I never respond to anything from inmates.

You wrote your first novel at 13 – WHAT?!

I love telling this story. I truly believe writers are born. Yes, I wrote my first novel when I was in eighth grade, in pencil, in a spiral bound notebook. The story was about twin sisters who ran away from home on their appaloosa horses. For years, I believed the manuscript was lost, but when my dad passed away a few years ago I found it in his desk. What a treat to revisit that childish scrawl.

What is it about crime fiction that’s so intriguing to you? What’s the biggest challenge about writing in this genre?

My love of writing crime fiction is multi-dimensional. I love the concept of good versus evil, I despise injustice, and, of course, I love it when the good guy wins! J I also like the idea of pitting my hero against an antagonist who’s as intelligent and cunning—and watch her solve the crime.

One of the biggest challenges faced by any writer—particularly with regard to a series— is keeping the material fresh. I’m hyper vigilant about character growth. And of course, I like to keep my crimes creative and interesting.

You are, thankfully for me and all your readers, pretty prolific. Do you always have a story brewing in your head? Can you share anything about your next book?

Thank you. And, yes, I always seem to have a story brewing. I’m currently working on Kate Burkholder #8. What sets this book apart from the others is the change of locale. Kate is asked by law enforcement outside the state of Ohio to infiltrate an Amish settlement after a teenage girl is found frozen to death in the woods.

I’m rooting for Kate and Tomasetti to live happily ever after together. Any hints in that area?

Kate and Tomasetti are such powerful characters; there are situations in which they surprise me. As we all know, real life can get messy at times and I believe these two characters stand in testament to that. In After the Storm, they encounter a hurdle of a very emotional nature and it’s a real test for both them. I can’t take it much farther than that without venturing into spoiler territory, but I think readers will enjoy it.

Thanks for taking the time to answer these questions. Can’t wait to read your next book!

My absolute pleasure. Thank you so much for having me.

Oh, and by the way, that was so nice of you to name the indispensable police dispatcher after me! 

LOL—and did you know she blogs about books on the side?

To win a copy of After the Storm, simply leave a comment below. For a second chance to win, Tweet this:

Contest ends on July 19 at midnight Pacific time. Winner will be notified by return email. Prize can only be sent to a U.S. mailing address.

Author photo credit: Pam Lary


  1. I have never heard of this author but this book sounds like the perfect summer read 🙂
    What a wonderful opportunity you had to talk with her about her book!

  2. This sounds like an exciting book! I live very close to Amish country in Ohio, so they’re not much of a novelty 🙂 lol

  3. I am not a big reader, so I have not heard of this author, but it sounds like a great book 🙂

  4. These look like very interesting books! I actually just moved to PA and now I want to visit Amish country and check it out haha!

  5. Wow now this sounds like a great book. I sometimes see book reviews and I am so not interesting, but this one looks really great. I’m going to see if I can find it on kobo – I’d love to add it to my list!

  6. I am not familiar with this author. Sounds like a great experience and interview!

  7. I didn’t know about this author but her books like like something I would really enjoy! I’m going to download one as soon as I get done with my current book!

  8. Wow what a wonderful interview. I am a book addict so I am adding this to my list. This book sounds so wonderful.

  9. What a great interview and great experience for you!

  10. I really think I’d love the character, Kate Burkholder, and the setting of this book. I completely agree that there is serial thriller material in even the most mundane settings and backdrops. This one is definitely on my list to read soon!

  11. How cool that you got to interview the author. This book sound super suspenseful! I might be picking this up soon. Right now I’m reading two books!

  12. Robin (Masshole Mommy) says:

    I always love reading interviews. It’s nice to know a bit about the author.

  13. I am not into this kind of reads but the interview is very interesting thanks for sharing.

  14. I am actually fascinated by the Amish country. I love how simple they live. Don’t get me wrong, I love my technology but at the same time technology has hindered certain things ie cyberbullying, phsing scams, ect.

    I am going to have to check out her books.

  15. I would love to start doing interviews with different authors. That must be exciting for you. I have never experienced a tornado. In Michigan we don’t get many. There was a small one last year we went though but it was scary wondering about what would happen if it really did hit closer to us.

  16. This is the first time I heard about the author. This sounds like a great read.

  17. Robin (Masshole Mommy) says:

    What a wonderful interview. I love hearing the “behind the scenes” stuff 🙂

  18. I love author interviews! It truly gives you a sense of their voice and point of view when you are reading their books.

  19. I love getting a behind the scenes look into an author in this way. It shows what inspired them to write and gives us a deeper insight into the plot and characters of their books.

  20. Sounds like a great read! Good luck to everyone joining the giveaway!

  21. Wonderful interview, great questions! Love the series and author!!

  22. I have been reading Linda’s books for years, haven’t read a bad one ever…. I look forward to reading this one and adding it to my collection. Congratulations on the release and the wonderful interview..

  23. I have read all the books in this series and I am anxiously awaiting the release of the new one.

  24. Trude Vandine says:

    I’ve read all the books in this series and very highly recommend them….Kinda Castillo is an automatic preorder for me!

  25. Joan Geisbrecht says:

    Enjoyed every one of her books

  26. Karen Lanahan says:

    I love Linda Castilllo’s Kate Burkholder series. I’m waiting very impatiently for it to come out!

  27. Patti Meo says:

    Can’t wait to read this and looking forward to meeting you in Canton next week!

  28. Love this author and absolutely love this series!,.and she does answer all her mail because I have written to express my love of her books,only to hear back numerous times,with bookmarks enclosed!anyone looking to read an awesome series,this is the one for you!

  29. I absolutely love the Kate Burkholder series. I fell in love with the books with the very first one I read. My only problem with them is having to wait so long for the next one. But so worth the wait.

  30. I ADORE Linda’s Kate Burkeholder series! While shelving at my little public library I found the first book’s cover fascinating enough to pick up and read and fell in love with the story. Since then I have gotten all of my library patrons addicted to Linda and we breathlessly wait for the new book (there’s 30 of us on hold right now for the book).

  31. sandy vander vliet says:

    i cannot. hardly. wait for this book!!

  32. Can’t get enough of this series! So excited to read the newest book!

  33. Ramona Johmson says:

    What an awesome interview, well done!
    Just love this series! For those that have never read Linda’s work, pick one up! She never fails to disappoint!

  34. Donna Bayar Repsher says:

    I absolutely love this series, and have recommended it to all my friends. Just keep ’em coming!

  35. I LOVE all of her Kate Burkholder books! Can’t wait to read the new one!

  36. When I lived in NY we used to travel through PA. Their communities. close ties, and family values always fascinated me. This looks like a great series. How fun to be able to interview the author!

  37. I absolutely love the Kate Burkholder series!! I’m currently on the fourth book and thoroughly enjoyed reading the first three books. I just love the strong female lead mixed with mystery in Amish country!! Linda Castillo’s books are definitely page turners from the beginning to the end!!! Enjoyed the interview!

  38. Donna Taylor says:

    Absolutely love this series. Great author. Would love to win her books

  39. I’ve read and loved all the other Kate Burkholder books, and I would love to win a copy of this one.

  40. Christy says:

    I love this series and have learned so much about the Amish community. I have searched out other series in the genre. Can’t wait for this one! Love Kate!

  41. Jenny Belk says:

    I spotted this book on Goodreads a while back. It’s on my TBR list. I have always been fascinated with the Amish Culture. I have visited Amish/Mennonite communities in Indiana
    and Pennsylvania. I also enjoy books about survival. This book was made for me to read. Thanks for the chance to win.

  42. This sounds like a fantastic read and how cool that you got to interview the author! I’ll have to add this to my to read list!

  43. I accidentally found her in paperback, but now buy them as soon as they are out. Love her Kate series. Only sad thing is they only last a couple days and then you have to wait again. I too am rooting for her and Tomasetti to live happily ever after in the handymans dream home. lol

  44. Pat Goodspeed says:

    Would love to win AFTER THE STORM!!! I love all of Linda Castillo’s books.

  45. I have read all of Linda’s books and love the series. I can not wait to read this one. .

  46. Harriett says:

    Anxiously waiting for After the storm. I love this series and the romance between Kate and Tomasetti is interesting to follow. They both have secrets to overcome but I am hoping for good to win.

  47. sandy fenwick says:

    I can’t wait to read this book, I have read all the books in this series. What a great author!!

  48. Linda Castillo is my favorite author. I have fallen in love with the Kate Burkholder books. I own them all, usually read the new one starting the day it is released and then reread it for the detail. I also like to read the preceding books in preparation of the new release. Thank you , Linda, for this wonderful series and please keep them coming!

  49. Monica Ackerman says:

    Can’t wait to read it! One of my favorite authors!

  50. I haven’t heard of Linda or her books. I will be checking her out.

  51. I love anything that Linda Castillo writes…she is that good.

  52. That is very cool that you got to meet the author–I’ve always dreamed how amazing it would be to meet an author I really loved, too!

  53. Elizabeth O. says:

    How nice that you just don’t to read the book, but you get to know a few things about the author as well.

  54. Patti Bond says:

    I really,really love Linda Castillo’s books. I had the opportunity of meeting Linda at a book event in Shrewsbury PA a the local library about two years ago. What a wonderful person Linda is. I also love the movie An Amish Murder

  55. Patti Bond says:

    Linda Castillo is a wonderful author and a very charming person.

  56. I read the first chapter of this book and can’t wait until I can buy it. I have the release date marked on my calendar. I have read all of the Kate Burkholder. Once you start reading one, you will not want to put it down.

  57. Ola Norman says:

    Love reading about Kate. Can’t wait to read the new book!

  58. Lovely interview. I thoroughly enjoy the series and am anticipating reading the next book.

  59. Tami S. says:

    Can’t wait for this book to be released! On preorder since March….

  60. What a great interview. I can’t believe she wrote the first book at 13!

  61. Carl Kleinberg says:

    Her book series are fantastic and I look forward to each new book. Living in Ohio I see a large Amish Community and they are as Linda describes them. Hope she has a book signing in Mansfield or Ashland as part of her book tour

  62. Heidi Mallett says:

    I love this series!

  63. lori Case says:

    i have read all the books in this series. I love them all, and can’t wait to read this one.

  64. Kristin says:

    Love these books! I discovered the series after catching the TV movie…I can’t wait to read the next!

  65. How exciting that you got to do this interview. I always love to read this “inside information” about books and writers.

  66. Kristina O. says:

    I am such a huge fan of this series! Kate is an interesting, layered character, and we’re [the reader] always discovering different facets to her with each book. And Thomasetti – love that man! He adds so much to the story, and to Kate.

  67. KBWebster says:

    I have read all the Kate Burkholder books so far, and loved every one of them. I love the tension/passion between Kate and John. And I love that Kate is a badass female working to right some of the world’s wrongs. I can’t wait for the new book to come out!

  68. Yup added this one to my list. MUST read soon. Fun interview for you too!

  69. Thanks for the introduction to Linda, I’m sure I’d love her books as that is my favorite genre to read!

  70. I am a total bookworm, but I haven’t heard of this author. How fun that you go to interview her. I’m definitely going to check her books out now.

  71. Sheila K. says:

    I love this series—thanks for the opportunity to win a copy of Castillo’s latest offering!

  72. Sheila K. says:
  73. What a great interview and fantastic sounding series. I really want to check it out now 🙂 x

  74. Never heard of her but I don’t read much fiction. I enjoy more educational books.

  75. This sounds quite interesting, even though I am scared of thrillers LOL I am also considering writing my book. This inspired me even more. Thanks for sharing!

  76. Gretchen Vandeneynden says:

    For those of you who haven’t read Linda’s books you’re in for a pleasant surprise. Her books are full of suspense. Your stay up late on the edge of your seat!

  77. Linda is one of my favorite authors and I love this series. She was my inspiration for writing romantic suspense many years ago.

  78. This sounds like a great book! I LOVED getting a bit more insight into the author herself – makes me much more excited to read her work 🙂

  79. Sounds like a good book! I love all the info about it!

  80. I love reading your books!

  81. Wow! A population of 79? I totally understand how her imagination can take off! What a great interview, especially from someone with a truly interesting life.

  82. I too am fascinated with the Amish. The Amish Mafia show on TLC made me realize not everything is perfect there and this book looks like it takes that to a new level.

  83. It has been a while since I read a good book This looks like a book I would love! http://www.parentinghealthy.com/

  84. Really interesting interview for me right now. I am in the midst of developing a story for a novel in time for NaNoWriMo in November. I find it hard to quiet the inner critic and has often been the reason why I abandon a story.

  85. Kristi Wright says:

    I love this series and cannot wait to read this new book.

  86. I’ve never heard of the author before, but I would love to read more thrillers this time of year. 🙂 Does she blog reviews of books?

  87. Looks like an interesting read! I’ve never ever been to PA – would love to discover Amish country!

  88. I am looking forward to another great read from Linda! I have yet to be disappointed!

  89. pam howell says:

    LOVE this series!! PICK ME PICK ME
    I’m on library list to read
    every book gets better;)

  90. Stories with an Amish setting are always intriguing.

  91. I love it when I discover a whole new author with series, that means I have several books to read!

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