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!