Inside the Author | Hidden Rooms by Kate Michaelson

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Hidden Rooms

by Kate Michaelson

April 22 – May 17, 2024 Virtual Book Tour

Hidden Rooms by Kate Michaelson

When murder hits home.

Long distance runner Riley has been fighting various bewildering symptoms for months, from vertigo to fainting spells. Worse, her doctors can’t tell her what’s wrong, leaving her to wonder if it’s stress or something more threatening. But when her brother’s fiancée is killed—and he becomes the prime suspect—Riley must prove his innocence, despite the toll on her health.

As she reacquaints herself with the familiar houses and wild woods of her childhood, the secrets she uncovers take her on a trail to the real killer that leads right back to the very people she knows best and loves most.

For readers who enjoy Deer Season by Erin Flanagan, All Good People Here by Ashley Flowers, and A Flicker in the Dark by Stacy Willingham.

Praise for Hidden Rooms:

“With a fresh voice and gorgeous writing, Hidden Rooms by Kate Michaelson is a stunning debut mystery that sweeps the reader along until the surprising conclusion.”
~ Connie Berry, USA Today bestselling author of the Kate Hamilton Mysteries

“This remarkable debut novel expertly combines a compelling mystery with a richly drawn cast of characters and a strong, beautifully portrayed sense of place. An engaging, gripping read.”
~ Andrew Welsh-Huggins, Shamus, Derringer, and International Thriller Writers award-nominated author

“Michaelson’s witty eye, sharp portrayal of illness, and twisty case make for a standout debut!”
~ Erin Flanagan, Edgar-Award winning author of Come with Me

Hidden Rooms is a suspenseful tale full of interesting characters. This well-told story with its unexpected ending will leave the readers begging for more.”
~ L. C. Hayden, award-winning author of the Bronson Thriller Series and the Aimee Brent Mystery Series

Inside the Author of Hidden Rooms:

I’m so excited to share that Kate Michaelson, author of Hidden Rooms visited with me recently. Here are some highlights from our conversation.

What inspired you to write your first book?

Since my first trip to the library with my mom, mysteries have been my favorite genre, and I have wanted to be an author since the first grade when I learned such a job existed. In my thirties, I came down with a chronic illness and had trouble finding a diagnosis and later finding the right course of treatment. It struck me that figuring out my own medical care was a lot like solving a mystery. This prompted me to start on a book that was part medical mystery and part murder mystery. After a few false starts and a lot of revision, I settled on the plot for Hidden Rooms.

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?

It was challenging to write a mystery with a chronically ill protagonist. I know that when I was at my sickest, I spent a lot of time on the couch, but I also knew no one wants to read 300 pages of my protagonist, Riley, napping and watching Netflix. Her actions had to move the plot forward and drive the investigation, so I had to balance the need for a fast pace with my desire to depict the reality of chronic illness. If I were to do it over again, I might emphasize how her illness poses a barrier in certain situations, but I hope that what I’ve written sheds some light on what it’s like to live with an ongoing illness.

Who has impacted your life the most and in what way?

My husband has probably impacted my life more than anyone. He’s a kind, calm person who has helped me learn to accept life as it comes and not get worked up over the little things. He’s also supported my dream of writing and celebrated every little success with me along the way. Writing a book and getting it published can be a long and sometimes-discouraging journey, so it has helped to have someone by my side who believed in me.

What event in your life do you remember first when asked for a humorous story?

No major life event comes to mind, but I’ve been lucky to have a lot of laughs with my family and friends over little things. As the youngest of five kids, I was a bit precocious, and I remember one story from when I was in first grade and talking to my older brother about what songs I liked. Apparently, at all of six years old, I declared that “music now just isn’t as good as it was when I was young.” In my jaded opinion, music had already hit its peak with Pat Benatar and Cyndi Lauper, and it would be all downhill from there.

Ah, the good songs, such discriminating taste for one so young… and so right! Thanks for visiting, Kate! Maybe next time we chat you can share a playlist ;D

Book Details:

Genre: Mystery
Published by: CamCat Books
Publication Date: April 30, 2024
Number of Pages: 320
ISBN: 9780744310153 (ISBN10: 0744310156)
Book Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | BookShop.org | Goodreads | CamCat Books

Read an excerpt:

I grew up inside a lightning bolt, in a family of pure momentum. My siblings and I were young, stupid, and fearless in our white gingerbread house, surrounded by dark earth, green shoots, and wild woods—untamed beasts running loose from morning to night. We snarled and bucked, more a pack than a family.

Born less than a year apart, my brother Ethan and I spent most of our lives scrapping after the same few things, pinching each other where we knew it would hurt the most. But we also protected each other. When Trevor Paltree shoved Ethan off the tall metal slide the first day of preschool, I kicked Trevor’s little ass, and I’d do it again.

Only, now, I didn’t know what protecting my brother looked like, though I felt fairly certain that kicking his fiancée’s ass was not it. Besides, I couldn’t even say what exactly Beth was up to, which (admittedly) undermined my argument. Putting my head down and going along with the wedding might feel cowardly, but it also seemed like the least destructive path forward.

So, that’s how I found myself pulling up to Ethan and Beth’s house to pick up my puce monstrosity of a bridesmaid’s dress with Beth’s recent words still replaying in my mind: Riley, you know I’d never do anything to hurt Ethan. The problem was that she also once said with a wink and a smile that what Ethan didn’t know couldn’t hurt him. I parked in the shade of a lowlimbed oak and got out, lifting my hair off my neck to catch the breeze. The autumn sun had built throughout the afternoon into the kind of fleetingly gorgeous day that makes up for Ohio’s multitude of weather sins: one last warm postscript to summer. Rain loomed in the low shelf of clouds to the north. I crossed my fingers that it would hold off until I could get home to walk Bruno. Maybe I could even get a run in if my energy held out.

My phone buzzed, and I knew without looking it would be Audra. She called most days and knew that just the previous night, I’d finally worked up the nerve to have a conversation with Ethan about Beth. She would want the details. I was amazed she had waited this long.

“How’d it go with Ethan?” Her melodious voice skipped along briskly. People usually went with what she said simply because they were so swept up with how she said it. As her sister, I was an exception.

“Hello to you too.” I continued toward the house but slowed my pace. “I’ll give you one guess how it went.”

“Hello, dearest Riley. I guess he got mad.”

“Not just mad. He guilt-tripped me. I asked him if he’d noticed anything wrong with Beth, and he acted all injured about it. He told me, ‘She thinks you’re her friend.’” I mimicked Ethan’s self-righteous tone. The jab still stung. “I told him I think of her as a friend too, which is how I know she’s hiding something.” Granted, I couldn’t untangle what it was. It was something I sensed more than saw—a shift in posture or flicker behind an expression. The past few weeks she’d become more self-contained than ever, which was saying something for her.

“Yeah, but can you really be friends with someone who has no personality? It’s like being friends with a mannequin. I don’t know how you can tell if she’s hiding something when she never shares anything—”

“Look, I can’t talk about it now.” I lowered my voice as I neared the house. “I’m at their place getting my dress. I’ll call you later.”

I climbed the porch steps, the front of their house looking so Instagram-perfect that I wondered whether I’d been seeing problems that weren’t there. The afternoon light slanted across the pumpkins and yellow chrysanthemums that Beth had arranged just so. Dried bundles of corn rattled in the breeze. Beneath the pale-blue porch swing, Beth had set out a matching ceramic bowl full of kibble for Bibbs, the half-feral cat that had adopted her and Ethan.

The only thing amiss was the open door of the old-fashioned cast-iron mailbox nestled amid the pumpkins and flowers. Beth would kill the mail carrier for ruining the ambiance. I grabbed the few pieces of mail in the box and shut the little door obligingly, like a good future sister-in-law.

Careful not to disturb a precarious wreath of orange berries, I knocked on the screen door and tapped my foot, ready to grab my puffy dress and go. I had been a whirl of motion all day, zipping through work and crossing items off my to-do list. I worked for Wicks, an oversized candle company that sold overpriced candles. Today was my last day in the office before a trip to England to set up the IT network at our new British headquarters.

For months, I’d been fighting some kind of long-term bug my doctors couldn’t figure out, but today I felt a glimmer of my former self, twitchy with energy and moving at a clip to get everything done.

***

Excerpt from Hidden Rooms by Kate Michaelson. Copyright 2024 by Kate Michaelson. Reproduced with permission from CamCat Books. All rights reserved.

Author Bio:

Kate Michaelson

Growing up in rural Ohio, Kate Michaelson simultaneously developed a love of nature and a strong desire to live closer to a mall. Pursuing the latter, she attended Ohio State, where she studied English and Psychology. After earning her MFA in Creative Writing, Kate worked as a technical writer and taught English at St. Petersburg College in Florida and, later, at the University of Toledo in Ohio. Over the years, she has published academic articles, creative nonfiction, poetry, and short stories. Her debut novel, Hidden Rooms, follows a distance runner who returns to her rural Ohio hometown and must clear her brother of murdering his fiancée while also seeking answers to her own medical mystery. As someone with Lyme disease and dysautonomia, Kate’s writing uses humor and suspense to explore the experience of coping with chronic illness. Ultimately, she wants to portray the reality of the challenges that invisible disabilities pose while also demonstrating that “ability” is not a binary concept—that illness does not equal a loss of self or agency.

Kate enjoys traveling, hiking, and trying (fruitlessly) to tire out her Labrador mix. She works in curriculum design and holds a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology. She lives with her husband and pets in Toledo, Ohio, only ten minutes from a mall she now avoids whenever possible.

Catch Up With Kate Michaelson:
www.KateMichaelson.com
Goodreads
Threads – @katemichaelsonwriter
Instagram – @katemichaelsonwriter
Twitter/X – @KateMichaelson3
Facebook

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4 Comments Text
  • Great interview!
    “I might emphasize how her illness poses a barrier in certain situations” – I just finished this book and I kinda feel like you did do some of that. <3
    I agree on the music! LOL
    Great book, I loved it!

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