Former South Texas student Michelle Hillen Klump is fulfilling a lifetime ambition with the release of her first book.
The former Calallen High School student wrote “A Dash of Death,” a series debut in the Cocktails & Catering mystery series she has conceived about a Houston reporter-turned-mixologist who mixes it up with murder.
“I always dreamed something like this would happen,” she said about her first book. “As a child, I loved Nancy Drew and read all the mystery books I could read. I always wanted to do something like this. But to have it happen is surreal.”
Earlier, she had written another novel and has another strong idea she has filed away. But she got her inspiration for “A Dash of Death” about a year before the pandemic.
After the release of the book, she has been to book signings and savored in the heady feeling of knowing that others are reading her published works.
“It’s pretty amazing,” she said. “To go into a bookstore and see my book on a bookshelf … it’s like everything that 8-year-old Michelle ever dreamed of.”
Klump was the editor of the Calallen student newspaper in her senior year in 1995-96, where she also played the bass drum for the Wildcats’ marching band.
“Corpus Christi was a great place to grow up,” she said. “There was a great library and I devoured books all year long. I developed a great love of (the) beach while living here. I have great memories of going to (the) sea wall, taking sailboat lessons with my dad. The love of (the) beach has stuck with me.”
Klump graduated from the University of Texas and worked at newspapers in Waco and Little Rock before starting her career as a mystery writer in her new home city of Houston.
Working as a newspaper reporter and crafting creative fiction are two different tasks. It’s caused Klump to take a different approach to her fictional writing, while still borrowing some techniques of her journalism career.
“One of the biggest challenges was just getting words on the page,” she said. “I guess that’s the first thing is daily news develop muscle memory and to write the book set daily word count and tried to get through that.”
In the book, several references are found to Klump’s hometown of Corpus Christi. Her book’s main character, Samantha Warren, grew up in Corpus Christi and also worked as a newspaper reporter.
Klump says she is hard at work on the second book in the series with a planned release next year.
Her current book is available where books are sold. It can also be obtained through special order on Amazon and at Barnes and Noble.