Those looking for a deadly middle in Death by Blue Water by Kait Carson won’t find one. In fact, there is nary a sagging chapter. It’s a fast read. Of course, I’m a beach/ocean person so my interest never wavered due to the Florida Key setting. Much of the action takes place underwater while main character, paralegal Hayden Kent, scuba dives. The pictures above feature Kait scuba diving so she knows the subject matter well. Even though I’m conversant in beach/ocean lingo, I found a few terms that I didn’t understand, some of it is Florida idiom and the rest are boating terms. So Kait, you’ve got some ‘splaining to do!
Please welcome Kait Carson back to WWK. E. B. Davis
Kait, please give our readers a book jacket synopsis.
First, let me thank you for the kind words. Nary a sagging middle is HIGH PRAISE indeed. It’s what every writer strives for.
Paralegal Hayden Kent knows first-hand that life in the Florida Keys can change from perfect to
As the evidence against her mounts, she joins forces with an Officer Janice Kirby. Together the two women follow the clues that uncover criminal activities at the highest levels and put Hayden’s life in jeopardy while she fights to stay free.
Secondary character Cappy is my favorite. Give our readers a sketch of Cappy and why does he like Rooty Beer so much?
Cappy was inspired by a real person. I am so glad you picked him out of all the characters. He was my favorite dive captain in the Keys. His boat and company were named Never Enough Charters. It was a four pack, just as it is in the book. Cappy has since given up the business and moved to Lakeland, FL, but he was wonderful. I never worried about diving alone with him. I never worried about diving with newbies (new divers). Cappy always had my back and the solutions. His real name is Banny Thorne, and I’d like to give him a shout out. Yes, rooty beer is his phrase. That’s all he ever drank, on the boat or on shore. He was addicted. He couldn’t take caffeine so root beer was his drink of choice. Did you know that real root beer is caffeine free?
Is Mallory, Hayden’s BFF, a lawyer or a paralegal like Hayden? How did they get to be BFFs?
Mallory is a paralegal. She works with a criminal practice firm. They met in high school. When Mallory moved to the Keys, and they became best friends. Her background and backstory are very different to Hayden’s, which will become apparent over the course of the series.
In your book, three legal authorities have overlapping jurisdiction: The U.S. Coast Guard, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission (FWC), and the local police department. Could you tell us the province of each authority’s jurisdiction and how you determined that the local police department would be the ultimate enforcement agency?
That took research. I am lucky in that I know people with FWC and was able to pick brains. There is also a publication I relied on that discusses Jurisdiction, mutual aid and regional services. Essentially, the Coast Guard, which is an armed service, deals with incidents and crimes outside of the borders of Monroe County. Thus, the precise location of the Humboldt is important, as is what happened on it. FWC deals with these incidents within Monroe County and, among other things, wildlife protection and enforcement of fishing regulations (thus the “grouper trooper” nickname). As a state agency, they can do all kinds of law enforcement (even give speeding tickets), but generally, they stick to the wildlife protection aspects of their mandate. They can request the assistance of Monroe County Sheriff also. The Sheriff’s office responds and has responsibility for anything that affects the laws of Monroe County and generally covers land incidents. In addition, various mutual aid agreements exist. Thus, it would not be unusual for all three agencies to take a look at a death while they determined which agency has jurisdiction. Because the incident technically took place in Florida waters as the result of a boating accident and because none of the criteria pertaining to FWC jurisdiction were invoked, the Sheriff’s office took jurisdiction, this time. It was not an easy call, and I did agonize over it.
Main character Hayden suffers from migraine headaches to the point of blacking out. Do you suffer from them?
Oh, yes, since I was nine years old. I know the fear and the horror they induce.
Your book involves two current event topics: Drug smuggling and human smuggling (as opposed to trafficking, which is entirely different), mainly from Cuba. I know drug smuggling will never go away, but is there still the problem with Cubans paying for illegal passage to the US? Would you explain the wet feet/dry feet policy?
Cuban human smuggling is very much a Florida problem. It is a sad and far from a victimless crime. Often the smuggled folks do not live to make it to the US. They are jettisoned at sea if their presence becomes problematic or they perish in sinking incidents on overloaded boats. No one knows how many would be refugees do not live to see freedom.
Wet foot/dry foot is a compromise arrived at a number of years ago. During the days of Fidel and Cuba’s association with Soviet Russia, any and all Cubans were given asylum in the US under the Cuban Adjustment Act. In 1995, the Act was modified to what was known as a wet foot/dry foot policy. What that means is if a potential Cuban immigrant has not physically touched US soil, he or she is deported (wet foot) if the immigrant has landed, even on an uninhabited island, they are permitted to stay in the US and granted all of the benefits of the Cuban Adjustment Act. There is much controversy in Florida as to whether or not the entire program should be abolished so it is very much a hot button item. It is funny, the wet foot/dry foot concept is so entrenched in Florida culture that it never occurred to me that others might not recognize it.
What is a “hurricane house?” Since I live part-time on Hatteras Island, NC—this really fascinated me. Is the term “old Florida Conch house” synonymous with hurricane house?
No, old Florida Conch houses are typically one or two story oolite (the ubiquitous limestone of Florida) or frame structures. They are the type of construction popular before the arrival of snowbirds and often resemble what is known throughout the South as a shotgun house. A hurricane house is a very special animal. I almost bought one a few years ago and that is how I learned about them. They have an anchor chain running from roof into the oolite deep below the house. The purpose is to keep the roof on. Stairs (in the case of Hayden’s house and the one I looked at) run around the chain. Usually the stairs are encased in some sort of covering. In my case, they were surrounded by brick walls. Hayden’s are cement. Near the roof, there is a loft area. High enough to be above an anticipated storm surge. On the walls of the house I nearly bought someone drew lines indicating the surge height with the years of the storms. Even the 1936 hurricane was below the loft level, although it did come close.
What is a “rebreather” and why would it silence the sound of divers’ breathing?
A rebreather is a form of scuba “tank.” The diver’s regulator is connected to it. It’s a rebreather because instead of releasing the diver’s exhale to the open water (open circuit), the diver’s exhale flows back into the rebreather (closed circuit). The unit contains scrubbers to clean the carbon monoxide from a diver’s breath and render it ‘rebreathable.’ Since no bubble escape, the devices are silent. They were developed for military use and have only become available for recreational divers in recent years. Many photographers use them because they do not scare the fish.
What is an “overhead environment” in diving?
Overhead environments are those from which you cannot ascend directly to the surface. They include the inside of wrecks, caves, even areas that have sufficient openings to swim to but from which you cannot go straight up, like the cabin in the Humboldt (although that is a safe ‘overhead’ environment because the windows are blown out).
What is a “sidewinder?”
A sidewinder is a missile. One you don’t want to mess with! It will take down anything. Overheated scuba tanks are reputed (there is dispute) to ‘blow the valves off the top’ if they overheat. Naturally, the force is supposed to be sufficient to blast through the sides of cars or windows. Personally, I have always doubted the theory, but there are those who claim they have been victims or seen it happen. Always best to be safe and not leave your tanks in a hot car.
I think the next terms are boating related so I’ll group them together. What are: Gunnels, Stanchion, Bimini top and a Cuddy cabin?
Gunnels are the side walls of a boat where the water usually runs. A stanchion is a pole to hoist something up, like a Bimini top, which is a partial awning over the captain and at least one passenger. Bimini tops are typically open in front and back, but in Cappy’s boat, the windscreen provides a front “wall.” Cuddy cabins are small cabins in the front of the boat, but not tall enough to stand up in. They typically have sleeping quarters of some type, and sometimes a head (bathroom), but they are very, very tight.
Although you’ve written several indie books, which I’ve interviewed you about here, Death by Blue Water is your first traditionally published book. How did the deal come about, and is it a multiple-book deal?
I was thrilled to sign with Henery Press. I have wanted to do a traditionally published book for some time. I love being an indie author and plan to continue my Catherine Swope series as an indie, but I wanted the support of a press for my second series. I submitted Death by Blue Water happy danced a good three days when it was accepted. I signed a three-book contract in April and am hard at work at Death by Doubloons, the second in the series.
No—I won’t ask you if you’re a beach or mountain person, Kait, because that’s a no-brainer, but what about air or sea? (Kait jumps out of planes and boats, folks!).
Oh my, I am both a beach and mountain person. I ski! I also love seasons so mountains are the perfect place for me. I have been a skydiver since I was 16. OK, I guess it’s safe to admit now that I lied about my age to get my certification. You had to be 18 in those days. It was a very different type of sport then using static lines for your first jumps and round chutes.
My husband is a pilot, and we have a plane so I love the air. I also am, and have been for years, a certified scuba diver. I hold an advanced certificate and am nitrox-air certified. I love the world underwater. In our house, we have a sign over the door that reads, “Escape to the freedom of the sea and sky.” That sums us up.