30 May Author Answers with Pamela Fagan Hutchins
My guest today is the author of best-selling, award-winning mysteries (WINNER USA Best Book Award, Fiction: Cross Genre, Finalist). The Houston Press named her as one of Houston’s Top 10 Authors (2014). She is an attorney, investigator, dog lover, nature lover and super talented. Writing passionately and helping fellow authors hone their craft is another passion.
Kindly welcome the multi – talented lady, Pamela Fagan Hutchins. It is an honour and pleasure to host and interview her on Eloquent Articulation today.
- What is the message in your novel that you want readers to grasp from Hell To Pay?
Thematically, that terror in the name of any religion is wrong, no matter what religious group perpetuates it, and that it can be the one hiding in plain sight. From a character growth perspective, I wanted them to see Emily learn to trust herself, to believe she could be loved, and to love herself. And to do it while kicking butt and saving the day.
- What kinds of books do you read? When you pick up books to read, what is your favourite genre?
I read just about every genre. I want authentic characters, most of all. It starts and ends with characterization with me. I don’t like reading erotica. I am not a fan of horror. I don’t choose literary fiction most times. Yet I read all of it. My favorite though is a romantic mystery that will transport my mind and give me a little enjoyable escape.
- What is your writing schedule? Any tips for budding authors?
I think of writing more as a process that leads to a schedule than a schedule per se. I am always working on several books at once, for instance, that are at different points in their life cycle. I may be discussing/storyboarding a future protagonist and her character arc and plot lines with my husband while I recording a first draft on another novel and working on revisions to a novel that is close to its publication date. To balance this, I record first drafts while I exercise, I storyboard with my husband while we are driving or dining or spending time together, and I revise at my standing desk.
Most days I do two out of three. Some days only one. But a week doesn’t go by that I am not working on all three. I do find I write and revise best in the afternoons. I also believe in putting myself on a schedule, and I find that making commitments to other people who count on me helps me stick to the schedules. For instance, I got a little behind on my current novel this spring, but my developmental editor expects me to turn it over to her on June 15
I do find I write and revise best in the afternoons. I also believe in putting myself on a schedule, and I find that making commitments to other people who count on me helps me stick to the schedules. For instance, I got a little behind on my current novel this spring, but my developmental editor expects me to turn it over to her on June 15th. I’m working REALLY hard in May to make sure this happens, for her sake. And that’s good for both of us.
- What were the challenges (research, literary, psychological, and logistical) in bringing a Book Series to life?
Oh man, this question covers a lot of ground!! Let’s start with ideas. Once a series starts, there’s pressure (literary and psychological) for each book to be as good as or better than the last. The pressure to generate ever-better ideas for plot and character arcs is always there. To get it right and be authentic requires research and re-research and even consultations with experts. Even harder for me is continuity. I am supposed to be the expert in my characters and their world, but I forget what I had for breakfast yesterday. So it’s really hard to remember what I wrote last week or last month or last year or five years ago. At least I can look it up!
Readers want the books done yesterday, too. That’s a good thing. But as authors, we can’t deliver them that fast, and we hope our readers don’t forget about us before we can get the next novel done. I’ve also found that sitting hunched in front of a laptop is bad for my body, and I’ve had to find ways to keep writing without hurting myself. I now dictate into a recorder, and a transcriptionist sends me the written version, but only AFTER I am maybe a month or two further into writing the book. It’s great for my back and my wrists, and it keeps me in better shape since I record while I’m out walking (and believe me, she has a good laugh sometimes when I am huffing and puffing or my dogs aren’t behaving or my goat won’t hush), but it is incredibly hard to write from start to finish verbally. There is no backspace key. It’s all about forward momentum.
I’ve also found that sitting hunched in front of a laptop is bad for my body, and I’ve had to find ways to keep writing without hurting myself. I now dictate into a recorder, and a transcriptionist sends me the written version, but only AFTER I am maybe a month or two further into writing the book. It’s great for my back and my wrists, and it keeps me in better shape since I record while I’m out walking (and believe me, she has a good laugh sometimes when I am huffing and puffing or my dogs aren’t behaving or my goat won’t hush), but it is incredibly hard to write from start to finish verbally. There is no backspace key. It’s all about forward momentum.
- Can you share a little of your current work with us? What are you working on now?
I’m working on two things right now. The first is the next book in the What Doesn’t Kill You Series(number eight, wow!), featuring Michele, and it is called Going by the Book. It will come out in November 2016. Here’s the blurb:
Here’s the blurb: Michele retreats to the country for peace and quiet while her teenagers are away for the summer, hoping to learn how to be alone in the wake of the death of her husband and, more recently, her mother. But when her elderly neighbor Gidget—a Houston art gallery owner whom Michele is assisting in writing her memoirs—dies and leaves everything to Michele except a bequest to a daughter no one knew existed, it seems like half the state of Texas shows up: some to help, some to contest the will, and others to make sure the mystery daughter is never found alive.
The other thing I’m working on should be ready in September 2016. It’s a prequel novella written in alternating points of view of all the protagonists in my series. Katie, Michele, Emily, Ava, Laura, and Maggie (Laura appears in Hell to Pay and readers will meet Maggie in Going by the Book, but their novels will not come out until 2019 and 2020). The novella is not yet named. I’m pretty excited about it, but I can’t say any more because we’re keeping it under wraps. And because I recorded it and don’t have the transcribed version yet, so . . . to be honest, I can’t remember it, LOL.
I think recording books as a first draft is an excellent idea! Thank you for your strong, heartfelt words. It has been a delight to speak with you, Pamela. Your love and passion for your writing and books shines bright.
It is the best inspiration and guidance for my readers and me. Keep writing, keep inspiring.
Big-haired paralegal and former rodeo queen Emily thinks she’s got her life back on track. Her adoption of Betsy seems like a done deal, her parents have reunited, and she’s engaged to her sexy boss Jack. Then client Phil Escalante’s childhood buddy Dennis drops dead, face first into a penis cake at the adult novelty store Phil owns with his fiancée Nadine, one of Emily’s best friends. The cops charge Phil with murder right on the heels of his acquittal in a trial for burglarizing the Mighty is His Word church offices. Emily’s nemesis ADA Melinda Stafford claims her witness overheard Phil fighting with Dennis over a woman, right about the time Phil falls into a diabetic coma, leaving Nadine shaken and terrified. Meanwhile, Betsy’s ultra-religious foster parents apply to adopt her and Jack starts acting weird and evasive. Emily feels like a calf out of a chute, pulled between the ropes of the header and the heeler, as she fights to help Phil and Nadine without losing Betsy and Jack.
She says her first book came out in 2012 and that her latest, Hell to Pay, is the seventh book in the series. The books all have ties to Texas, with “an interrelated cast of kick-ass female protagonists.” She says the novel’s heroine (“a former rodeo queen turned paralegal”) returns to her home town in west Texas and discovers an extremist cult has set up shop and is terrorizing the local townsfolk.
Pamela Fagan Hutchins writes overly long emails, best-selling, award-winning mysteries (WINNER USA Best Book Award, Fiction: Cross Genre, Finalist) and hilarious nonfiction. The Houston Press named her as one of Houston’s Top 10 Authors (2014).She is a recovering attorney and investigator who resides deep in the heart of Nowheresville, Texas and in the frozen north of Wyoming. Pamela has a passion for great writing and smart authorpreneurship as well as long hikes with her hunky husband and pack of rescue dogs, traveling in the Bookmobile, and her Keurig. Visit her at http://pamelafaganhutchins.com or drop her a note pamela at pamelahutchins dot com.
And if you would like her to visit your book club, women’s group, writer’s group, or library, all you have to do is ask.
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