PW: Your latest Peter Decker/Rina Lazarus novel, Stone Kiss, which features some shady New York Hasidim, has stronger Jewish elements than most of your other books in the series. Is there a reason?
FK: It just depends on where the story leads me. There are many, many fine Hasidim, by the way. I don't mean to imply that because I chose to people my bad guys in cloaks of Hasidism—that is what they represent.
PW: You describe yourself as Modern Orthodox. How much of Rina Lazarus, a practicing Orthodox Jew, is in yourself?
FK: Rina is a fictional character, part of me, but not me. To write a really interesting character, you have to step outside your personal confines, otherwise there's no objectivity. Rina's feelings and her love of Judaism are probably reflected from my own love. Peter Decker only partially reflects my husband, Jonathan.
PW: Where did you get your title?
FK: At one point, Rina tells Donatti the story of Jacob and Esau. When Esau bites Jacob in the neck and the neck turns to stone, Jacob says, "Vengeance is not the answer." That is the theme of the book.
PW: How carefully do you plot your novels?
FK: The theme usually comes to me first. Then I start thinking about how what kind of characters I want, and how they will interact with my series characters. The last thing I think about is the plot.
PW: Have you always been a writer?
FK: Believe it or not, I was a dentist, then I got pregnant. I didn't work, and then I got published. Writing has to be the best job in the world. I can be whatever I want to be—a criminal, bad guy, homeless, whatever I want to be.
PW: Do you and your husband share a place to write?
FK: We have separate offices. I don't even have music on. I can't write with anybody in the room. We do read each other's manuscripts, not creatively but editorially.
PW: Your novels seem almost like one huge novel. Do you think of them that way?
FK: Life is a connection, and because these are series characters, they pop in and out, just like people pop in and out of your life. One of the wonderful things about writing the type of books I do is that I have an enormous cast of characters to work with. It gives me a tremendous amount of flexibility.
PW: Is it better to read your books in sequence?
FK: You can read the books at any time, but because they have series characters, you can see how they develop. Agatha Christie's characters basically don't change from book to book, but because I'm a family person, my characters do change, and things happen which will push them in another direction.
PW: Which writers influenced you?
FK: Jonathan, the original writer in the family, was very much my mentor as I was starting, and I enjoy his works most. Others are Chaim Potok, Joseph Wambaugh and James M. Cain.
PW: Can you tell us something about your next book?
FK: It's called Street Dreams, and it features Decker and his daughter, Cindy. The outline is now at 200 pages, a mini-book, but I always change things because the book takes on its own life, and characters that you thought were bad turn out to have redeeming qualities. And characters that you thought were good might have skeletons in their closets.