Hi there, guys and dolls! Welcome to my latest edition of Take 5. And what a great one it is! I have the privilege and honor to share with all of you the musings of one of my favorite writers, who just happens to be such a delightful person as well. She’s one talented and busy lady — not only has she penned two fab cozy series as you’ll read below, but also serves as Chief Cat Wrangler, which means she is the owner/editor/founder of Cozy Cat Press, my publishing home of which I just love to rave about. With her whirlwind busy schedule, Patricia still made the time for a cocktail or two as we talked books and mysteries. Why not join us?
I have two cozy mystery series. The first one is the Pamela Barnes acoustic mystery series. My heroine is a Psychology professor at a small Southern university and an expert in acoustics. In the first book, she discovers the body of a colleague in the department’s computer lab and is able to solve her murder using clues found on an audio recording made of the actual murder. Her assistance to local police on this crime is so helpful, that the local detective calls for her aid again in four more cases (that is, four more books). Pamela’s life mirrors my own as I too was a professor at a small southern university and conducted research on vocal behavior using acoustic technology. These books are: SOUNDS OF MURDER, FM FOR MURDER, VOICE MAIL MURDER, STUMP SPEECH MURDER, and MURDER IN THE ROUND.
My second series is a bit more light-hearted. It is the Essie Cobb Senior Sleuth mystery series and features Essie Cobb, a clever resident of a retirement home, who––with the aid of her three best friends––solves various mysteries and crimes that occur at the Happy Haven Retirement Home. Essie is based on my own mother who spent the last few years of her life in such a home, and actually had a few wild adventures herself. There are four books in this series: BINGOED, PAPOOSED, VALENTINED, and GHOSTED.
2. What is your writing process like? Do you thrive on routine or work spontaneously as the whim takes you?
I can be very organized and am capable of churning out a book in a month, writing one chapter a day of a 30-chapter novel. I typically use an outline, although these tend to get briefer and briefer with each book, as I get better and better at knowing how my mind functions and how I work. There certainly are times when whimsy takes over and a character will get away from me and go in a direction I had not intended. I know this has happened to other authors too. I will admit that the times this has occurred have proven generally beneficial for my stories.
3. What exciting moment or moments have made you realize that you were really an “author”?
I guess book signings are some of those moments. Getting to meet someone who has actually read and liked one of my books is a wonderful experience too. I think of my characters as “real people” and it feels wonderful when readers come away with that feeling too. For example, if someone says, “I know someone just like your Essie. You’ll never guess what she did?” That kind of thing.
4. What do you do to spark up your creativity when you feel the well of inspiration is running dry?
That’s a good one. As I haven’t written a cozy mystery in over a year, I guess the well is pretty dry. I am keeping very busy with editing other writers’ books right now, so I really don’t have time to work on my own. I have a few ideas for a new Pamela book but try as I might, I haven’t been able to flush them out. I wanted to do a terrorism-related case for her, using her acoustic skills to uncover a hidden message in a televised terror threat from an upstart terror group. It would be very timely, but I’m having a hard time putting all the pieces together.
5. Who are some of your favorite authors and how do you feel they have influenced your desire to write?
Well, as I write cozy mysteries and publish at Cozy Cat Press, I guess I would be amiss if I didn’t mention how much I’ve been influenced by Lillian Jackson Braun, author of “The Cat Who…” books. I’ve read all (or most) of them. They represent for me, the perfect cozy. And they feature cats! How purrr-fect! :) The crime is always presented in a “clean” sort of way and the hero (Quilleran) figures out the always clever and convoluted plot using his brain power (not his muscle). My fondness for these books may actually be one of the reasons we are “Cozy Cat” Press.
Another author I love who has nothing to do with cats or cozies, is Robert J. Sawyer. He is a contemporary Canadian science fiction author–prize-winning. I’ve read a score of his books and loved most of them. These are not your typical sci-fi novels (which I generally hate) with robots, space ships, and laser gun fights. They are all thought-provoking and involve unusual but real scientific concepts or theories and how these ideas might develop in the future. The endings of his books always amaze me. They are never your typical “romantic” endings, but are ones that require you to put on your thinking cap and imagine how the world might actually change given various premises. I love how Sawyer’s books challenge my thinking while still totally entertaining me.
Thank you so much for sitting down with me to share your writing world. I’m thrilled to hear you have plans for more. And friends, be sure to check out Patricia’s books on Amazon and also get acquainted with her through her links. She’s got a swell site at www.PatriciaRockwellAuthor.com, Tweets at @par2323 and follow her on Facebook. Also visit the Cozy Cat Press site to see how all us kittens keep her so busy!