We survived, barely. ⚔️
As a reader, I find myself drawn to books with strong-willed protagonists. Show me a character worth following and I’m a happy camper. That’s why I’m starting this new blog series: Character Notes. From time to time, I’ll ask an author to introduce us to their main characters as a way of finding new books to enjoy.
On to the interview!
Q: Steve, thanks for talking with me today.
A: Goodness, no, thank you for inviting me onto your blog.
Q: Tell us a little bit about Patricia. Where does her adventure begin? How does she end up on a cruise ship?
A: At the start of book 1, a life-changing event sees Patricia empty her bank accounts and buy a three-month around the world ticket in the only available cabin on the ship – the royal suite. It comes complete with a butler who proves utterly necessary when, after a few too many gins, she awakes to find herself embroiled in a thirty-year-old priceless jewel theft and embroiled in murder.
Q: What makes Patricia fun to write? Was her character inspired by anyone in particular?
A: I have enormous fun writing all my characters, Patricia in particular because I put a lot of situational comedy into her adventures. She was created in the doorway to the business I used to work at. The nice lady on reception asked me about my books and how I come up with the characters and stories; it was well-known at the office that I was writing for fun. I spent the next five minutes creating a character, giving her a story arc and plunging her into chaos. It was intended to be a demonstration of how my head works but the idea stewed for six months and kept whispering to me. In the end, I had to write it and Patricia Fisher was born. The first book is dedicated to the lady on reception.
Q: Cruise ships are such a specific setting for murder mysteries. What appeals to you about writing mysteries at sea? And have you ever taken a cruise yourself?
A: The cruise ship idea came to me standing in the doorway to reception, but I couldn’t come up with a reason to change it afterward. Each book is set somewhere different which ensures a lot of diversity in the adventures and I have been to most of the places I describe. Cruising doesn’t appeal to me, my idea of a week’s holiday is surfing in Costa Rica or white water rafting in the Rockies, but my parents and elder sister go all the time, so I got to pick their brains for details.
Q: Cozy mysteries tend to be fun and light. They don’t take themselves too seriously. At the same time, it’s fun to read about ordinary people doing extraordinary things like solving crimes. Does Patricia think of herself as a sleuth?
A: Patricia is a cleaner when the series opens and only solves the first case because she has no choice if she wants to avoid jail. She soon learns that she has a mind for it. Over the course of the ten-book series, Patricia throws off the shroud of her former life as she comes to realise how little she was actually living. As a writer, it was like describing a phoenix as Patricia emerges from the ashes of her married life to finally become the woman she should be.
Q: How does Patricia’s personality influence her sleuthing? And how does it get her in trouble?
A: Patricia is a natural trouble magnet; wherever she goes bodies just turn up or someone gets kidnapped or there is a major art heist going on that nobody else has noticed. Poking her nose in because she can sense something is amiss causes yet more trouble, but the events of book 1 have repercussions that continue to reverberate all the way to the end of book 10.
As she forces herself to stop being timid, agreeable Patricia by the end of book one, the reader is able to see her personality emerge and grow; confidence replaces timidity, determination arrives to usurp acceptance. The criminals don’t stand a chance.
Q: Is Patricia a team player or does she prefer to solve crimes on her own? And are there any ongoing relationships that play a big role in her stories?
A: The books are all about relationships and how people will band together in adversity. I cannot write too much here about the men she meets, except to say that this is not a romance series despite the handsome captain catching her eye. What I will say, is that a trend through all my reviews is how believable her team are and how well I manage to bring them all to life. That is not intended as a brag, I just write what I would want to read, and I am lucky that it works for 99% of readers.
Q. What three adjectives would you use to describe Patricia Fisher?
A: Tenacious. Maternal. Inquisitive.
Q. What’s next for Patricia now that the cruise is complete?
A: The cruise was always going to come to an end though I had loyal fans begging me to find her a job on board so the adventures would keep coming. I had another plan though and very good reason for it. I promise there is a very satisfying end to the series; one that will bring tears of joy. However, while the cruise had to finish, her story doesn’t end there. By end of the final book she is home where two new overlapping series will begin. There are many more adventures for this lady.
Q: Where can we find the first Patricia Fisher Mystery?
A: The best place to start this series is with a 4-book box set I currently have on offer for $0.99. I think it is a real bargain, but everyone is utterly hooked by the fourth book when the best character in the whole series is introduced. That character stays until the end and can be seen on the later covers.
Cheri’s note: Here’s the link to the box set!
Thanks for the interview, Steve!
Eat that idiot, Mister Shark! She looks delicious in her bikini.
In my opinion, good shark movies come in two varieties. Serious shark movies are horror movies that emphasize survival skills and a battle of wits. The tone of these movies is dark, and the events are somewhat believable. On the other extreme we have cheesy shark movies. Their plots and action are ridiculous and over-the-top. These are horror-comedies, typically. While I personally enjoy both types of shark movies, your tastes might go to one extreme or the other.
Lastly, shark movies use a wide variety of visual storytelling methods. Do they go with dramatic CGI sharks? Or do they make use of creeping dread, perhaps by showing a bloody surfboard floating gently at the shore after an attack? As computer technology has gotten better, even a cheesy shark movie can be visually appealing. If you’re curious about shark movies, here are a few recommendations to get you started:
Jaws – Jaws is a classic, and it’s worth watching once. While I feel it’s been surpassed by other films, the use of music and slow-building suspense are unforgettable. In a way, every shark movie that has followed Jaws is an homage to it. So I recommend you watch Jaws, the ancestor to all good shark movies.
Jaws Movie Trailer:
The Shallows – This is my all time favorite. Despite it’s very simple premise (one woman trapped on a rock while a deadly shark circles her) the movie is incredibly engrossing and beautifully shot. The story becomes a battle of wits between predator and prey, both of whom are intelligent and desperate to win. Blake Lively is excellent in the starring role. This may be the perfect shark movie.
The Shallows Movie Trailer:
Crawl – Okay, I’m fudging a bit here, because this movie is about crocodiles and not sharks. But it’s very much a movie of the shark genre. Crawl had me on the edge of my seat the whole 90 minutes, and the emotional stakes were unusually high as the main character and her father try to protect one another from harm. This movie is pure tension, but there’s a small (and effective) dose of humor to stop you from having a stroke. Like The Shallows, Crawl is a tight 90 minutes long.
Crawl Movie Trailer:
Sharknado 1 & 2 – There are six Sharknado movies, and I can recommend only the first two. While many “cheesy shark movies” are a variant of the old slasher-films of the nineties, with clueless teens torn apart by great white sharks while they exchange stilted dialog, Sharknado is far more interesting. The movies are patently ridiculous. Sharks fly out of tornadoes, and the heroes valiantly fight them with improvised weapons. That’s entertaining, but it’s the amusing cameos, puns, familiar settings, and above-average special effects that make Sharknado fun to watch. Just be aware that the series gets worse and worse as it goes.
Six-Headed Shark Attack – This one surprised me! The dialog is bad, but it’s funny-bad, and the overall premise is a perfect cheesefest. Some very annoying couples go to a remote island for a couples’ retreat. And while they work on their terrible marriages, they’re hunted by a mutated shark with six heads. And this shark… well, I don’t want to give it away, but late in the movie he’s got some very special moves. Don’t read spoilers. Just let this movie wash over you like a the scent of a stinky-yet-appealing cheese. I was horrified and delighted by this movie. So terrible! And so entertaining! According to some reviews, two-headed shark attack is a better movie. But once you’ve seen a six-headed shark in action, can you really go back to just two heads? I don’ t think so. Apparently this movie is part of a series, and in every film they add an extra head.
Six-Headed Shark Attack Trailer:
The Meg – Years ago, I mentioned on Twitter that I wanted to see Jason Statham punch a shark in a movie. A friend replied that The Meg was in the works, a shark movie with a big budget and, you guessed it, action star Jason Statham. I was excited, but as soon as I saw the trailer I had a hunch it wouldn’t be any good. Unfortunately, my initial impression was correct.
Remember when I said that shark movies tend to be either serious or cheesy? This movie tried to be both and it didn’t work. Also, it came with big-flashy-Hollywood-blockbuster expectations, and I think the screenplay was written by committee. The end result was an extremely bland shark movie with good special effects. I literally fell asleep while watching it.
The Meg Trailer:
Anyway, I hope this post inspires you to enjoy a shark movie. Even better, allow yourself to explore both sides of the spectrum! Watch a serious shark movie and let it terrify you. Then watch a cheesy shark movie and laugh your ass off at how ridiculous it is. Then maybe go here to learn about shark conservation, because real-life sharks could use our help.
PS: Do you have a shark movie recommendation? I’d love to add it to my list.
Nothing new to report.
Last month, Patrick and I published my first cruise ship cozy, The Case of the Missing Finger. This week, I’m wrapping up the proofreading and cover art for the next book in the series: The Case of the Karaoke Killer. Barring any major hiccups we’ll release the new ebook on January 23rd.
I’m also outlining book three, The Case of the Floating Funeral. I’ve always wanted to write a mystery with eccentric rich people, a big inheritance up for grabs, and lots of dysfunctional family drama. (I’ll pause here and blow a kiss to Agatha Christie.) So that book is up next.
Trying out Kindle Unlimited: My cruise ship mysteries are in KU, and it’s my first time trying out the program. The upside is that readers with a KU subscription (available in the US and a few other countries) can read the book for free with their membership. Thus I get paid for both sales and subscriber borrows. But the big downside is that KU ebooks must be exclusive to Amazon.
It’s too early to say how well this experiment is working, but I’m watching the numbers closely. Also, I’ve subscribed to KU as a reader to see what the experience is like from the other side.
Making Paperbacks: Patrick is designing paperback editions for the cruise ship mysteries, and we’ll have them available on Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble. I’ll let you know when they go up; it takes time to proof the interior files, order sample copies, and run quality checks, so paperback editions will lag the ebooks by a month or two. This is our first time distributing print novels to the BN catalog, so we’re learning as we go.
Blogging: I’m interviewing another cozy mystery author for my blog! That post will be out on Monday.
Business DeCluttering: I said goodbye to Pinterest (it’s great – just not my jam), and we’re simplifying the back-matter in our books to minimize the need for multiple rounds of updating as my catalog grows. I also bowed out of a few writing-related groups that I no longer have time for.
Newsletter Segmentation: At the end of my novels there’s a link to sign up for my mailing list. Those links are now segmented by series, so I can tell which series brought a reader to my mailing list. I don’t plan on doing anything with this data right now, but it gives me the option of letting readers customize their updates. “Just send me cozy mysteries” for example.
More Books and Music, Less TV: We let ourselves get extra Netflix-bingey during the holidays, and it was fun, but we’re pulling back on screen time to make more space for reading and thinking.
Drinking Delicious Coffee in Coffee Shops while Looking Wistfully at the Pounding Rain Outside: Because… Shut up. THIS IS MY PROCESS.
Socializing: Between the holidays, my recent work crunch, and being sick last month, I haven’t been having enough movie nights, coffee chats, and outings. So I’m remedying that now.
Exploring Volunteer Work: I’ve been wanting to do some local volunteer work and I found a nonprofit that might be a fit. So I’m checking them out next week.
I’m always a bit surprised at how much stuff fits into these little updates. No wonder life feels busy! Anyway, that’s what I’m up to. Are you working on something cool? Tell us about it. 😁
One of the upsides of January in Seattle is that you can go to Pike Place Market for a nice wander-and-browse without getting crushed to death by tourists.
Tourists are welcome here, but once in a while it’s nice to have the ‘hood to ourselves. 🙂
Pro tip for visitors: It’s Pike place, not Pike’s place. And if you really want to blend, leave your umbrella at home.