I’m M. K. Waller, aka Kathy, former teacher, former librarian, former paralegal, and former pianist at various small churches desperate for someone who could find middle C.
I write crime fiction, literary fiction, humor (I hope), memoir, and whatever else comes to mind.
I grew up in Fentress, population ~ 150 in 1960, on the San Marcos River in Central Texas, the Blackland Prairie, where pickups hauled hay and kids and horses, guns killed the occasional rattlesnake, Miss Pedula the milk cow grazed by the roadside, and a dear old gentleman named Dick Ward sold double-dip ice cream cones for a nickel. Old ladies played dominoes on front porches in the afternoons, and old men gossiped on benches outside the post office. There were still horned toads and lightning bugs, and mosquitoes were one-tenth the size they are now. In 1983, my parents finally installed working locks on the doors.
Life was good. I would like to have the mosquitoes and the nickel ice cream and the old people back. A few things, however, are best left behind.
Memories provide grist for my word mill.
I now live in Austin, Texas, with two cats and one husband.
My grandfather thinks stop signs cause wrecks.
That’s what he told Mama when they put up those signs at FM 20. If you just go on across, you’ll get out of the way, but if you have to stop, you can’t build up enough speed and somebody’ll come along and hit you for sure. Mama didn’t argue. She’s a firm believer in safe driving, but she says when you marry into the Coburn family, you learn to choose your battles. In the meantime, you’re polite. Of course, with Dad driving, stopping isn’t an option anyway. He hasn’t had a car with brakes since 1925.
My story “Stop Signs” is fiction, but the first two paragraphs are Truth. I heard my grandfather say stop signs cause wrecks. I was also in the passenger seat when he glided past one and almost got us broadsided by a 1953 Ford. I was ten years old. That very day, I swore off riding with him. I wanted to make it to eleven.
“Stop Signs” is true in other ways, too. My thirteen-year-old cousin really did spend all summer reading Gone With the Wind, really did moon around after a thirteen-year-old boy more interested in fixing up Dad’s ancient car, and really did . . . well, it was a most interesting summer.
The story was awarded first place in the North Texas Professional Writers Association‘s Fiction Contest and was published in the contest chapbook.
Read more about my grandfather, Frank Waller, here. I think he would be pleased I’m spreading the word about stop signs.
The day I found Mama stirring ground glass into the filling for a lemon meringue pie, I took the bowl away from her and called a family conference. We had to do something before she dispatched some poor, unsuspecting soul to his heavenly rest and got herself thrown so far back into prison she couldn’t see daylight.
~ from “Hell on Wheels, ” MURDER ON WHEELS (Wildside, 2015)
A friend tells me she recognizes the real people, places, events in my fiction.
That’s because I write what I know.
But fiction is fiction.
Take, for example, my story “Hell on Wheels”: Although I was a librarian, I never found my mother stirring ground glass into pie filling, and I certainly never tried to push her over the edge of Paradise Bluff.
The following are some of my mostly-not-the-truth publications.
“A Nice Set of Wheels” and “Hell on Wheels”
in MURDER ON WHEELS: 11 TALES OF CRIME ON THE MOVE (Wildside, 2015).
The eleven stories in Murder on Wheels put the pedal to the floor and never let up! Whether by bus, car, tractor, or bike, you’ll be carried along at a breakneck pace by the talented Austin Mystery Writers. These eight authors transport you from an eighteenth-century sailing ship to the open roads of modern Texas, from Alice’s Wonderland to a schoolbus yard in the suburbs of Dallas. Grab your book, hold on to your hat, and come along for the ride!
“Murder On Wheels: Eleven Tales Of Crime On The Move is a solidly good anthology from eight talented authors and one that is well worth your time.” ~ Kevin Tipple, Flash Bang Mysteries
Read an excerpt from “A Nice Set of Wheels” here.
Read an excerpt from “Hell on Wheels” here.
“I’ll Be a Sunbeam,” in Kaye George’s crime fiction anthology, DAY OF THE DARK. Coming from Wildside Press, July 21, 2017:
I’ve also published bits of memoir in Story Circle Network’s True Words Anthology and Journal, and book reviews for Story Circle on Amazon.
Like other writers, I’m first, last, and always a reader. Like other former English teachers and librarians, I no longer have a captive audience (“Read this! It’s wonderful!”), so I spread the word the best way I can.
I list authors and titles as they come to mind. The list grows day by day. I expect it to meander all the way to Infinity.
The Truth: Clyde Edgerton. He’s a genius, a writer who brings you to tears and then, before you can put away your crying towel, makes you laugh so hard you start crying again. And each of his books is different of the rest.
Ann Marie MacDonald. The Way the Crow Flies.
Ann Patchett. Bel Canto.
Katherine Paterson. The Great Gilly Hopkins.
—–. The Invisible Child.
—–. Jacob Have I Loved.
Kaye George. Choke.
—–. The Immy Duckworthy Mysteries (Smoke; Broke)
Bapsi Sidhwa. Cracking India.
—–. The Crow Eaters.
Elizabeth Enright. The Saturdays.
—–. The Melendy Quartet.
Clyde Edgerton. Lunch at the Picadilly.
Elizabeth Berg. Durable Goods.