Patricia Hale writes mystery and suspense. Today she sits down with us for an interview. Learn more about her at her website.
When did you realize you wanted to write novels?
As a child, I wanted to write biographies. Then as an adolescent, I began writing poetry. I even sent one (handwritten in pencil) to the New Yorker. I received a very professional rejection letter. I was devastated and threw it away. Now, I wish I had framed it. When I had kids in my twenties, I wrote a few children’s stories, but I never sought-out publication. I didn’t try my hand at a novel until I was in my forties.
How long did it take you to realize your dream of publication?
After completing an MFA at the age of forty-two, I wrote two novels. I tried to get an agent, but never had any luck. They are both in the drawer of my desk. I read a lot of mysteries and decided I would give the genre a try. My first book, In the Shadow of Revenge, was published in 2013.
Are you traditionally published, indie published, or a hybrid author?
I am traditionally published. In the Shadow of Revenge, was with Carina Press. The Cole and Callahan PI series is with Intrigue Publishing. The Church of the Holy Child is the first book of the series.
Where do you write?
I write at home in my office.
Is silence golden, or do you need music to write by? What kind?
Silence is golden while I write. But I do keep my windows open (whenever possible in New England). I like the everyday background noise; a breeze rustling the leaves, the birds at the feeder and the neighborhood dogs barking (usually my own).
How much of your plots and characters are drawn from real life? From your life in particular?
I don’t get plots from my own life. (My life isn’t nearly that exciting.) I do sometimes play with something I see in the newspaper. And I pull from friends and family for character traits or quirks. Since I write in first person, I guess you could say that many of Britt Callahan’s opinions are my own.
Describe your process for naming your character?
It’s not very complex…. I sit quietly and think about the character, their looks and personality, and I almost always take the first name that comes to mind. I like to go with my gut.
Real settings or fictional towns?
I tend to use both. My series is set in Portland, Maine and since I lived in Maine for 20 years, I know the area. I enjoy reading a book that describes places I’m familiar with. I think others do, too.
What’s the quirkiest quirk one of your characters has?
Britt Callahan smokes honeyberry cigars, a quirk I stole from a coworker.
What’s your quirkiest quirk?
Maybe my dogs… I tend to fawn over them with the best of everything. We never miss our walks and I can’t leave them for too long, even a weekend away makes me anxious. People say, “They’re just dogs.” But they’re so much more than that.
If you could have written any book (one that someone else has already written,) which one would it be? Why?
This might have to be a list instead of just one. Dark Places by Gillian Flynn comes to mind as does My Big Brother and We Have to Talk About Kevin, both by Lionel Shriver. The reason is the same for all three. The writing is excellent.
Everyone at some point wishes for a do-over. What’s yours?
I would have gone to college right out of high school instead of waiting twenty years. And I would have gone for a journalism degree instead of an MFA. More marketability.
What’s your biggest pet peeve?
People who say, “Yeah, I’m gonna write a book someday.” Like it’s on their to-do list along with painting the kitchen and losing 10 pounds.
You’re stranded on a deserted island. What are your three must-haves?
My dogs, my computer and books.
What was the worst job you’ve ever held?
Packing strawberries. I stood on a cement floor with twenty other women for 8 hours a day with a half-hour break. I didn’t have a car at the time and rode my bike 10 miles each way. The ride in the morning wasn’t bad, but the ride home was killer. I only lasted two weeks.
What’s the best book you’ve ever read?
That’s like saying which of my children do I like the best? Impossible to answer, but here are a few that come to mind. Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, by Annie Dillard, Plague Dogs, by Richard Adams, A Prayer for Owen Meaney, by John Irving and We Need to Talk About Kevin, by Lionel Shriver
Ocean or mountains?
Definitely mountains. I have always lived on the coast, but travel to the woods and mountains as frequently as possible. It’s where I rejuvenate.
City girl/guy or country girl/guy?
I’m a country girl, without a doubt. I visit the city and enjoy it while I’m there, but I can’t tolerate the noise and so many people for longer than a day or two.
What’s on the horizon for you?
I’m anxious to take the two novels I wrote ten years ago out of my desk drawer. I am committed to the stories and believe I can bring them both to fruition with some re-writing.
The Church of the Holy Child
A woman with a history of domestic abuse is missing. Her sister hires private investigators Cole and Callahan.
When the woman is found dead, her husband is charged, but when a second body appears showing the same wounds, questions arise and what looked like a slam-dunk becomes anyone’s guess. The case goes to John Stark, a veteran cop and close friend of Griff Cole.
The bodies are piling up, and one person knows where the killer is. Father Francis, a priest at The Church of the Holy Child, listens to the killer’s disturbed account of each murder and wrestles with the holy orders that bind him to secrecy.
The case takes an unexpected and personal turn when Cole’s ex-wife goes missing and a connection to his past points to the killer.