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Bestselling Mystery Writer Leads Double Life in Avondale Estates

Depending on the day and amount of makeup required, Kathy Trocheck leads another life as popular author Mary Kay Andrews

Kathy Trocheck knows she’s got it good.

Her alter ego, Mary Kay Andrews has it even better as the bestselling author who lives in Avondale Estates and is known across the nation for her mystery novels and other fine writing.

“I’m really blessed,” Trocheck says. “I live in sweats and yoga pants.”

She adds that the chances are that if she has to put on makeup, that she’s being Mary Kay Andrews.

Trocheck says she and her husband chose Avondale Estates because they love old houses.

“We found a house in a neighborhood we could afford and took it," she said, adding that Avondale Estates offers a real deep sense of community and that living “in town” is great.

“We love the restaurants,” she says. “And, we have our spots we love, but this (Avondale Estates) is our sweet spot.”

Adding that it’s like Mayberry, but with cocktails.

Andrews also lived for a while in Raleigh, N.C. But it wasn't "home."

Home used to be her writing life here at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, where as a features writer, she got to interview a lot of interesting folks. But, right around 1990, she began to yearn for more.

After most of a writing group she’d started dropped out, she found herself still going on with her own writing, and good friend, the late Celestine Sibley was there, encouraging her. Sibley convinced her to turn the manuscript in to the late Larry Ashmead at HarperCollins in New York.

But he turned it down.

Even in the face of rejection, though, it made her work even harder, writing another book. And then, her friend, Sibley, broke a rule she’d set for herself: Never read a colleague’s manuscript.

After doing so, Sibley sent it on to Ashmead in New York. Trocheck assumed that he didn’t want this one, either, since he wasn't in touch her, so Sibley called Ashmead and asked him what was going on.

As it turns out, HarperCollins wanted the book, and her career as a writer of novels began.

With a two-book contract in hand, she quit her job in the AJC newsroom in May of 1991 and hasn’t looked back.

During a 10-year span, Trocheck wrote ten murder mysteries, the first being “Every Crooked Nanny, published by HarperCollins and all under her real name.

While in the midst of finding a new agent and feeling it out with her editors at HarperCollins, she decided to make the transition to writing under her pen name in 2002. The first book as Mary Kay Andrews, “Savannah Blues," immediately outsold every other Callahan character mystery.

Among her successes are being nominated for an Edgar award by the Mystery Writers of America and hitting the New York Times Bestseller List in 2005, and staying there.

“I got the phone call and burst into tears ,” Trocheck says. “I now know that as long as someone will prop me up, so I can type, I will continue to write.”

Former AJC colleague, fellow writer and book reviewer, Don O’Briant believes in Andrews’ work and knows just how good she is at her job.

“Her characters are sassy, unpredictable, and as real as some of our relatives,” O’Briant says. “Her characters walk off the pages, sit down in our living rooms, and start talking, right after they ask us if we have any sweet tea.”

Her new book, “Summer Rental” is due out in June under a new publisher, St. Martin’s Press and with its publication, Trocheck continues to feel blessed by doing her work.

“Anytime you get to do what you love,” Trocheck says, “you can’t ask for more.”

Becky February 21, 2011 at 10:11 PM
Hissy Fit -- my favorite!
Jonathan Cribbs February 21, 2011 at 10:24 PM
I listened to Trocheck at the Savannah Book Festival a few years back. Very funny lady with interesting stories.
Marie Hardyman February 21, 2011 at 10:27 PM
I cannot choose a favorite among the following: Savannah Blues, Little Bitty Lies, Blue Christmas, Hissy Fit and The Fixer Upper. All fabulous books to get lost in. In Hissy Fit and Little Bitty Lies, I see stunts I would of performed and in fact, wish I had of, just did not think of them.
Eileen Drennen February 21, 2011 at 10:42 PM
love both personas -- and all the books!!!! great job, ellen!
Liz Bucko February 22, 2011 at 02:33 PM
Love the Mary Kay Andrews books but would pay a ton of money for just one more Callahan Garrity novel .... please ....
Sidney Murphey February 22, 2011 at 10:36 PM
Iloved the first few Callahan books because it was about Atlanta places and I knew of the pink castle. Described the house perfect.All the Mary Kays are great too. Sidney

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