From the Booking Desk:

When I solicit participants for these Composite Sketch profiles, I always go in expecting to get some great answers – and i always do – but occasionally one come along that just goes above and beyond my expectations. Today’s Sketch is one such example. Kelly Hager is a fellow book blogger who lives in the same area as I do. She and I have been to some local literary events together and talking with her is always a joy and is always over far too soon. Her love of books, movies, and pop culture in general is highly additive. Earlier this year, I was able to introduce her to some of the crime fiction community when she attended the party we hosted to celebrate my receiving the MWA Raven Award and I have long been trying to get her to attend either/both Malice Domestic and Bouchercon. So needless to say, I am so happy that today, I can introduce her to even more of my lovely crime fiction family today via this Composite Sketch. I have a feeling you all are going to really enjoy her answers to our weekly questions.

Name: Kelly Hager
Location: Baltimore

This person from my personal life is such an inspiration:

This is the literal definition of a first world problem, because I am actually surrounded by amazing people in my real life and online. (I try to actively befriend people who are smarter than I am and then learn as much as I can.)

And so I’m going to cheat but I will do it briefly and hopefully you’ll allow it.

My mom (Sue Hager) is always doing things for other people. She’s active in her church and has, like, a billion friends. She’s completely selfless and I try to follow her example. My best friend (Jennifer Goldberg) is always doing amazing things. She went to Japan by herself earlier this year! She always makes me want to get out of my comfort zone and have adventures. My friend Bekki Fahrer is so involved in her community in DC (she works with homeless people to get them housing) and for fun, she sings with SongRise DC, a social justice a cappella group comprised entirely of women. She inspires me to try and make my part of the world better.

One of the people I admire most in the crime fiction community is:

This is too hard! I find that the crime fiction community is, like the horror community, made up of the best people. So I’m just going to say you and also Erin Mitchell. You’re forces of good in this world, even if you both end up constantly combining forces to make sure my TBR stacks (I mean shelves, I mean literal bookcases) will never run out and may, in fact, literally cause my apartment to collapse in on itself.

Also you’re both just lovely people…even if you do make me feel like a barely-literate slacker. 😉

STALKER ALERT! If this fictional character were real, they would likely need to get a restraining order against me:

This is the easiest question (not counting name and location). V.I. Warshawski would probably need a restraining order. (And when I say “probably,” I mean the only two reasons she doesn’t already have one is because she’s in Chicago instead of Baltimore and also because she’s not real.) I started reading Sara Paretsky when I was in sixth grade (my first book was Tunnel Vision) and I have read every book since. Ghost Country came out my freshman year of college and I was very skeptical about it (a book NOT featuring my beloved Vic?) but I read it anyway, and I absolutely loved it. I was talking to someone about that (I forget who, because this was 20 years ago) and they said, “You should probably tell her that” and so I sent my first email to an author. And she wrote back. It was from my school email account, which didn’t save emails and so this has all been lost to time. But Sara Paretsky and Vic have shaped my politics and belief system* and I maintain the two of them** are the best part of my liberal mindset.

It’s actually probably a miracle that Sara Paretsky doesn’t have a restraining order against me. I promise I am not deranged.

* = My parents were big on “not discussing politics” and I did not inherit that particular trait.

* = I’m pretty sure Sara IS a more diplomatic Vic. Do not take this away from me.

People are always surprised that I am a fan of this individual (singer, actor, or artist):

Depending on how well you know me, you may be surprised that I like things that aren’t books or movies, because that’s a lot of what I talk about. But…I think my most surprising fandom is Mr. Trash Wheel. You can follow his adventures on Twitter here https://twitter.com/MrTrashWheel, but if you don’t know him, he’s this fantastic water wheel that cleans up the Inner Harbor. He’s ALSO become a Baltimore icon and I have a cartoon of him eating Berger cookies and Utz crab chips at my desk. He’s proof that you can save the world (or at least your small part of it) and be an absolute delight at the same time—may we all work so hard.

My personal catch phase is (or should be):

I have taken this from Carrie Fisher, but “If it weren’t funny, it would just be true. And that’s unacceptable.” I don’t think that was her catchphrase, but it was something she wrote in Wishful Drinking (and said in the HBO special) and it’s stuck with me. Life is hard and scary, and if you don’t find the humor in it, you will probably actually lose your mind. (Also, Carrie Fisher is a genius and yes, I did mean to use the present tense.)