Bits ‘n’ Pieces: Outdoors deadly fun in author’s mysteries

By Scott Hewitt, Columbian Arts & Features Reporter

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The best thing about being a successful author is meeting your adoring — and surprising — fans.

“It’s so amazing to meet your readers in real life,” Kate Dyer-Seeley said. “That’s the best part. The most unexpected things, the most unexpected points of connection happen.”

Dyer-Seeley is the Vancouver author of a rapidly expanding bunch of mystery novels whose trademark is their spectacular setting: our own beloved Pacific Northwest in all its geologic glory. Dyer-Seeley keeps sending her lovably naive recreation-writer protagonist, Meg Reed, to remote locations where she keeps stumbling upon unexplained murders — and manages to solve them in her own bumbling manner.

In her first book, “Scene of the Climb,” Meg accidentally witnesses the shove that sends somebody toppling off a peak in the Columbia River Gorge. In the new “Slayed on the Slopes,” Meg happens to be on the trail above Timberline Lodge when she hears gunshots. And in the upcoming “Silence in the Surf,” to be published in 2016, Meg is hanging out with windsurfers in Hood River, Ore., when — well, you’ll just have to see. The fourth book in the series will take place at Vancouver Barracks and the fifth at the Lava River Caves near Bend, Ore., Dyer-Seeley said.

And if that’s not enough Cascadia whodunit for you, Dyer-Seeley is busy with another mystery series set at a family bakery in Ashland, Ore. “Meet Your Baker” came out earlier this year and “A Batter of Life and Death” is on its way, both under the pseudonym Ellie Alexander.

How does Dyer-Seeley stay so prolific? By treating writing like a job: a minimum of 2,000 words a day, and no excuses. “I write terrible first drafts,” she said.

Given the importance of setting to her stories, it’s no surprise that Dyer-Seeley is a huge fan of our local landscape — and so are her fans. She’s been making the rounds of book clubs, book shops, mystery conventions and other media, she said, and she keeps hearing appreciation for the importance that the natural world plays in her tales.

‘A beautiful outcome’

A local book club invited her to go hiking in the Gorge with them. (Everybody who went came back, reportedly.) A Florida woman who told Dyer-Seeley that she’d never gone on a hike — not once in her life — was motivated to try it for the first time. And a local woman in a wheelchair, who wishes she could go hiking but can’t, told Dyer-Seeley that “she feels like she’s out in all these gorgeous places because she’s experiencing them through Meg’s eyes. That’s a beautiful outcome I wasn’t envisioning.”

To keep up with her career and appearances, visit www.katedyerseeley.com. She’ll be at Waucoma Books for Hood River’s First Friday festival on the evening of June 5.

The only downside to all these conferences and interviews and book tours? “I get really tired of hearing myself talk,” Dyer-Seeley said.


Bits ‘n’ Pieces appears Fridays and Saturdays. If you have a story you’d like to share, email bits@columbian.com.