Kate Kingsbury-1/15/2011

Kate Kingsbury doesn't exist, but Doreen Roberts Hight does. Kate is just a chip off the Doreen Roberts Hight block.

Doreen's long-running series no longer features the Pennyfoot "Hotel" -- it was turned into the Pennyfoot Country Club along the way -- but that's what Doreen still calls it. There are 18 books in the series, the latest of which is Mistletoe and Mayhem.

Doreen's delightful British accent and her equally delightful husband, Bill, entertained us thoroughly. More than stories about her writing, she and Bill talked about how they met (online, way back when), where they were married (Las Vegas!), and what their lives are like now (disciplined writing and golf). Have you noticed that all of Doreen's books are dedicated to Bill? They have a two-person act that they should definitely take on the road!

Way back when, before Doreen met Bill, she wrote romances, and she created the character of Dugan in Road to Freedom. Dugan was pretty wonderful, and magically, Bill fits many of the characteristics and particulars of that character. Be careful what you write and wish for!

Doreen started telling stories as a young girl when she and others were trapped in air raid shelters during the bombing of England in World War II. She hasn't stopped telling stories since. Now she organizes her plots beforehand by figuring out how the victim will be killed and by coming up with at least three likely suspects.

Part of her inspiration for the Pennyfoot Hotel is the seaside hotel her mother had in England. Doreen at one time or another did all of the jobs upstairs and down at that hotel. She translated that intimate knowledge into her profitable series. We say profitable, but maybe not so much for Doreen as for some fans. The last we looked, one of Doreen's early Pennyfoot paperback books was listed at $700.

A last bit of trivia: Doreen is working on her 57th book. At her Hight (couldn't resist), she wrote six books a year. Now she writes a mere two! Carry on, Kate!