How long have you been writing? When did you start?
I've been writing all my life, but my journey to published author has taken a circuitous route. I started writing mystery fiction after my daughters were born, writing early in the morning and late at night. I quickly found that writing and promoting are two entirely different animals and I was drawn to the writing and not self-promotion. Consequently, it wasn't until after I was retired from teaching English Composition at a junior college that I finally bit the bullet and used CreateSpace to self-publish. In the years between the births of my daughters and retirement, while teaching I also was a book reviewer at places like Publishers Weekly, the Houston Post, Houston Chronicle, and other venues. My freelance articles and interviews have been published in a variety of magazines and newspapers over the years. Currently I'm a romance fiction reviewer for All About Romance and for Booklist. I also got my Librarian degree from San Jose State University online.
What jobs have you had in the past?
I've always been associated with writing in some way. I started after college at the Houston Post newspaper where I worked in the morgue (newspaper clippings library) and wrote an art gallery review column. Through that, I accumulated a gallery's worth of art work. The most notable as far as my writing is concerned is a rendition of Spectators at the Crucifixion that hangs in my writing room and helped inspire me to write this book. They're a gruesome lot, aren't they?
From the Post, I went to the Houston Chronicle where as the op-ed editor, I wrote headlines and cutlines as well as wrote arts-related reviews. When my husband and I moved to Northern Virginia, I was writing book reviews for Publishers Weekly and got a job at the Journal Newspaper group as the TV editor.
From there I went to WETA-TV & FM where I was the FM publicist and met many of the PBS stars. Our last move was to California where I became an English composition instructor at a community college. Everywhere we lived and no matter what job I've had, I've written fiction in my spare time. I've been auditioning for my job as a fiction author for nearly my entire life.
What other life experiences have shaped your writing and outlook on life?
I've been fortunate to be able to travel quite a bit both as a child and as an adult. My father believed if you were an American it was your duty to see the country and the wide diversity of people it peacefully contains. He may have been influenced in his thinking by my mother who as the youngest of thirteen children grew up in southern Louisiana in Evangeline country on the Bayou Teche. My maternal grandmother never spoke English, so visiting her and hearing the patois (hence the writing name) around me and walking in the spooky ground fog morning and evening to go to the outhouse or pick fruit from the trees developed my senses of suspense and dread.
I've also traveled extensively as an adult, hitting most of the places that were on my bucket list. I traveled around Europe after college, seeing Stonehenge before the chain-link fence was put up, eating at a wonderful hole-in-the-wall restaurant in Aix-on-Provence, and squinting to see the pre-cleaned Sistine Chapel.
Years later, I visited Nicaragua where our daughter was a Peace Corps Volunteer and stood on the edge of an active volcano, had drinks at a hotel overlooking Managua, and relaxed at a vacation resort on the beach of the Gulf of Mexico. When our younger daughter graduated from college, I traveled with her, my sister, and my mother down the Danube, and later accompanied my mother to Thailand where we road elephants.
My husband and I went to Egypt where I touched the pyramids and walked around the magnificent Abu Simbel temples. We recently visited our daughter and her family in Rome where they live on the Appian Way across from the catacombs and got to experience the everyday life of Roman residents. Finally, my husband and I are going to Alaska this summer where I hope to experience the long days and short nights, and see the wildlife of land and sea.
Bits and pieces of these experiences turn up in my fiction writing since I've internalized all I've seen and heard throughout my life, just as all writers have. Where will we end up next? I don't know but I can't wait to find out. And I hope to share my new travels with my readers just as I've shared past ones.
Why write a book about gods and vampires?
As I get older, I'm intrigued with the idea of living forever. I've heard friends and relatives debate on both sides of the issue. Some say that living forever would be their idea of hell, but others say living forever would be their idea of heaven. I'm torn between the two. I can understand that living forever and watching people make the same mistakes over and over would be discouraging. On the other hand, being able to create and recreate myself over and over, and constantly exploring new ideas and activities would be heavenly.
Who better epitomizes eternal life than vampires and gods? I started writing vampire stories after reading a few Charlaine Harris books. I'd also read Bram Stoker's take on vampires and had seen Nosferatu, most of the Draculas, and other vampire and horror films, including funny-scary ones like The Lost Boys. Another factor in developing the ideas behind this book is that I grew up in a very religious family. The idea of God and the power of God loomed large in my early life.
I'm intrigued that eternal life plays so heavily both as a religious goal and a horror story staple. What is eternal life--a good or bad thing? Because I've thought about this since childhood, melding the ideas of vampires and gods in fiction was probably inevitable for me.
Besides the writing, what was fun about self-publishing?
Oddly enough, I loved finding the cover image to the book. I think the image illustrates how interdependent we are on each other, something Shawn must learn in order to triumph. After that, I thought designing the cover was fun. I think what I came up with gives the reader a fairly good idea of what's in the story.
I'm really tired of seeing half-clothed men on book covers when they have nothing to do with the books' content. I think my book breaks that mold and gives an actual, fun visual interpretation of my story. I'm also hoping that readers don't miss the half-clad guys and women baring their fangs, and I hope readers will appreciate a more appropriate cover--that's suitable to be seen by all ages without insulting anyone.
You've planned this as a three-book series. How do the various books fit together?
In the first book, The Vampire's Food Chain, Shawn the vampire is propositioned by the gods who want her to become one of them. As a peace-loving vampire, she's intrigued with this idea and performs the tasks the Only One asks of her, becoming the gods Horus and then Pachamama to do so. Unfortunately, someone or something is trying to kill her in her bid for a seat around the conference table of the gods.
By the way, Horus and Pachamama are real gods although Horus isn't revered as he once was while Pachamama is still saluted in Central American countries by people spilling beer or wine on the ground outside bars in the name of Pachamama. My rendition of both gods is not the same as worshipers might see them.
I'm currently working on the second book in the series, Devil's Food, in which the gods ask Shawn to go to hell and make a difference there. She's finding that one of the first stumbling blocks is finding hell before she can figure out how to make a difference there. And once she enters hell, how is she supposed to make a difference? All will be revealed in that book.
In the third book, Angel Food, Shawn and friends explore heaven and the gods. Does Shawn really want to be part of the heavenly host? Or are the gods nothing but frauds, just as meddlesome and insincere as the vampires are? Again, the answers are coming soon.
In the new world order, collagen and Botox are out; becoming a vampire is in. Houses are not only green; they’re empathetic. Yet bad guys and crime still exist, some of it sanctioned by the gods.
Vampire Shawn Goodwin has one purpose in life: to be the first one of her kind to walk in the light forever. She’s taken the first step in her journey by becoming a 911 emergency operator and counselor on the night shift. She saves lives for a living.
In order to throw off the shroud of vampirism, Shawn sees her invitation to become a god as a sign that it’s possible to become a real immortal, not the pale copy that vamps are. (They can be killed, after all.)
So she accepts the offer, only to find that someone is trying to stake her before she reaches the immortal state. Which of her so-called friends is really her enemy? Derek, the wizard whose blood feeds her? Jane, his sister, the witch who watches over them? Anthony, the head vampire? His brother Timothy, who resents Anthony’s power? Enrique or Luke, Anthony’s right hand men? Or Tom or Max, who like Anthony, Timothy, and the entourage have suddenly come into her life?
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The wife of a reporter and the mother of two wonderful daughters, Pat has lived on both coasts and in the middle of the United States. She’s been a book reviewer for too many years to count as well as an English composition instructor and theatrical costumer. She’s visited Canada, Europe, Egypt, Nicaragua, and Thailand, and has found that people everywhere are remarkably similar. If she knew you, dear reader, she would like you immensely.
Blogspot / The Vampire's Food Chain: http://vampirefoodchain.blogspot.com
Blogspot / Pat Booked: http://patbooked.blogspot.com/