Kathryn Tokar Haidet
Kathryn Tokar Haidet is a wife, mother, grandmother, newsletter editor, lifelong writer, and a dogged survivor of life. She was born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio and moved to Minnesota with her husband in 1976. She attended South High School in Cleveland and graduated from Mount Union College with a B.A. in English.
Tell us about the featured book. What is it about, and why did you choose to write it?
Family man and FBI agent Jack Jurlik has gone through life on cruise control. Now that his wife and infant son have mysteriously disappeared, he is driving as fast as he can to find Gloriann and Martin while protecting his other children, Emma and Will. He soon discovers that the road ahead is taking him where he never thought he’d go. Crashing Through the Windshield is a story of one family’s quest for the truth and their determination to live with the consequences of actions that will change them forever.
This fast-paced story is set in contemporary society and touches on the experiences that we all encounter today. It is thought provoking in terms of how people relate to each other and how consequences of actions have ripple effects in families.
I wrote a mystery story because I wanted my readers to be captured and entertained. I wanted to give them a respite from the craziness and busyness of everyday life. And I wanted them to learn something in the process, to discover something that they may not have known, and something that might give them a deeper insight into how people perceive and think.
Tell us a little about your writing process. What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book? What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?
First, I had to come up with a workable idea, and for years, I just didn’t have one. In 2017, I dreamt of the plot, at least the skeleton of it. I had the play, but I needed characters to put on the stage. I began by creating characters, writing back stories on them, and figuring out how they would interact. I researched the geographic places that would be integral to the story. The book begins in St. Louis, Missouri, and ends in Thunder Bay, Canada. My husband drove the route while I took notes.
The research for this book was extensive. I had three FBI contacts as well as a few local law enforcement personnel to keep me on the right path. I researched transportation schedules, weather, US and Canadian law, as well as many other topics touched on in the book to portray them as accurately as possible. With this book, I alternated between researching and writing. I’m now working on the sequel and have done about six months of research.
For me, the hardest part of the artistic process is making the time to write. Life is so busy and finding time to write, and write with inspiration, is difficult.
Are there any writers or authors who have influenced your writing? If not, who are some of your favorite writers?
My entire life has been influenced by writers, and in turn, my life has influenced my writing. It is almost impossible to just pick a few, but I’ll try. Growing up, it was Roald Dahl—I really like chocolate, and I reveled in Dahl’s fantasy world! Later, it was Hawthorne, Longfellow, Emerson, Melville, Whitman, Dickinson, Hemingway, Henry James, Kafka, and Thomas Mann. Now, it is Maeve Binchy, David Baldacci, Jan Burke, Deborah Crombie, Michael Connelly, David Housewright, J.A. Jance, William Kent Krueger, Chuck Logan, James Patterson, Jodi Picoult, Louise Penny, and Alexander McCall Smith (the Bertie series). So many wonderful authors! I know I haven’t named them all.
Has a library or librarian impacted your life or your writing life?
Absolutely! I grew up in somewhat difficult circumstances. My neighborhood library in Cleveland, Ohio was my sanctuary. It was warm in the winter and cool in the summer. I felt a reverence about it. And the books! Oh, my gosh, books that took me away; books that delighted me; books that taught me new things; books that showed me illustrations of what I could create, how I could design spaces, how I might exercise. Our library had a summer reading program. If I read ten books and gave an oral report to the librarian, I would get a certificate of completion. I still have those certificates. I don’t remember that specific librarian, but I remember a composite of all the librarians I’ve ever met—kind, helpful, patient, knowledgeable. Tears well up just thinking about those wonderful people.
When you’re not writing, what do you like to do in your spare time?
I enjoy nature walks, going to museums, visiting historic sites, and attending social events. I spend my afternoon coffee time playing "Word Boggle Ruzzle" on the computer.
Favorite place to go to in Minnesota (i.e., restaurant, park, museum, etc.)?
Northern Minnesota, Lake Superior, Grand Marais. There is something magical about being “up north.”
Where can readers find you online?