Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Interview and Giveaway with PL Blair

What inspired you to become an author?

          At heart, I'm a storyteller. I love stories, I love to share stories, and writing is just another way to tell the stories. Probably the biggest influence in my life was my grandfather who read to me starting back when I was too young to read for myself. He's the one who first guided me into the worlds that books open.

Do you have a specific writing style?

          Probably, although it isn't something I consciously think about when I write. Since my Portals books are a blend of modern-day detective and fantasy, I sort of combine those two styles in my writing – depending on which character's POV I'm writing from. I'm a great believer in letting my characters tell their own story, and as much as possible, I try to speak in the character's voice rather than my own.

Do you write in different genres?

          Just fantasy at the moment – urban fantasy with a mix of detective for my Portals books, although I've got a straightforward “Tolkienesque” fantasy sitting unpublished – the famous “manuscript in the drawer” – that I'd like to see published some day. And … I've got a couple of SF ideas floating around in my brain, although they've got some fantasy elements in the mix as well!

How did you come up with the title for your latest book?

          My book titles to date have all been plays on words. Sister Hoods involves a band of Nymphs who are all sisters, and … with the help of Satyrs, they rob a bank. So they're criminals - “hoods.”

Do you title the book first or wait until after it’s complete?

          So far – six books into the series, although only four have been published – the titles have suggested themselves when I get the idea for the plot. Book 7, which I've just started while waiting for my publisher to finish reading books 5 and 6, is the exception. I'm almost a full chapter in, and I have no idea what the title is going to be.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

          Absolutely none! I write fiction for the same reason I read it – for escape. What I'd like my readers to come away with is a feeling of having read a good story, one that leaves them satisfied yet (I hope) wanting to follow Corpus Christi police detective Kat Morales and her elf partner Tevis into further adventures. I want my readers to close the books with a sense of “Gee! That was fun!”

Is the book, characters, or any scenes based on a true life experience, someone you know, or events in your own life?

          Nothing specific, but I do draw on years of reading detective novels, and my own experience as a reporter covering crime and court news, for the “police procedural” element in my books.

What books/authors have influenced your life?

          Too many to name! Pretty much everything I read has some influence on my life as a writer and as a person. But … to name just a few …

          Irish Fairy and Folk Tales, by W.B. Yeats – I discovered this book when I was around 9 years old, and it launched a lifelong fascination with the rich folklore and mythology of all cultures.

          The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings – Of course! I love Tolkien's Middle Earth, and I've learned a little of Tolkien's own backstory – a veteran of World War I – which has added an extra layer of richness to my reading.

          Three nonfiction books that have enriched my interest in history and prehistory:
          The Making of the Atomic Bomb – A history of quantum physics as well as the historical events that led to the building of the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

          Wonderful Life – Stephen Jay Gould's account of the Burgess Shale fossils and what they reveal about our own prehistory.

          The Caliban Shore – The fascinating story of an East Indiaman ship, the Grosvenor, that wrecked on the coast of South Africa in the 18th century. It's another of those books that prove that real life can in fact be more strange than fiction ever dares to be.

          Another set of non-fiction books – any of Isaac Asimov's essays on science. Asimov was my mentor in all things scientific, giving me a real-world grounding and a lifelong interest in everything from biology to nuclear physics and astronomy.

What book are you reading now?

          A number of books by some terrific self-published authors that I've discovered through Amazon discussion threads. Jean Kilczer, T. Jackson King, Sam Kates – I'm devouring his Earth Haven series.

What books are in your to read pile?

          Books by the above-named authors, plus a few more … But I also work full-time for Sheridan Media, a news outlet here in Sheridan, Wyo., that includes nine radio stations and an online publication (sheridanmedia.com), and we're getting into the summer busy season. So between writing for Sheridan Media, and writing my books, I may not have any chance at reading until the fall …

What is your current “work in progress” or upcoming projects?

          I've just started Portals 7. Also … on a backburner for the time being … a non-fiction book that would consist of a series of short articles on the history of Sheridan County. That's kind of an outgrowth of a project I've done for Sheridan media for the past two years – a summer tabloid called Sheridan Chronicles. I have permission from my bosses to compile the two tabs (a total of around 60 articles) into book form, so I just have to squeeze out some time to do it.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

          Mostly finding time for everything I want to do!

Do you have to travel much to do research for your books?

          A little – mostly by armchair. Between all the reading I've done through the years, and my experiences as a reporter, a lot of what I need is already at my disposal. I did buy a couple of books on forensic science – to help enhance the reality of the police side of my books, and I have an extensive library of books on folklore and myth. Plus … the Internet is always helpful.

Who designed the cover of your latest book?

          My publisher has done all of my book covers to date.

Do you have any advice for other writers?

          Do it! I've met a lot of people who tell me they “want to write a book someday.” Well … “someday” is today. Don't talk about what you “want to do,” just sit down and start writing.

          The second piece of advice – Learn the craft. Take writing classes if you can. Read articles written by writers on writing (Writer's Digest is a good source for this). Read books about writing. Join a writer's group if there's one near you. Ideally, it should be a group of people at all skill levels as writers, and ideally, at least some of the members should be people who know how to provide constructive criticism to help each other improve.

          Keep writing! Writing isn't some esoteric mystery. Mostly it's about exercising and improving your skills and abilities.

          Read – a lot! More important, read with a critical eye. Who's your favorite author, and why do you like that individual as an author? What is he or she doing that keeps you engaged as a reader? And how can you translate that to your own writing?

          When you think you know everything there is to know about writing – Read more books. Challenge yourself. We will never learn everything there is to learn about anything in life. There's always something new to discover.

Sister Hoods
Book Four
P.L. Blair

Genre: Urban fantasy/detective/light romance

Publisher: Studio See LLC
Date of Publication: October 2013


Number of pages: 292

Cover Artist: Pam See
Mike Roberts photographer

Book Description:

A bank robbery in Rockport, Texas, sends Corpus Christi police detective Kat Morales and her elf partner, Tevis, in pursuit of a band of nymphs and satyrs. The answer to their initial question - why nymphs and satyrs would rob a bank - only leads them into a deeper mystery in an enchanted woodland on the South Texas coast.

And while he and Kat try to save the woods from an evil wizard and a deadly wyvern, Tevis finds himself engaged in a personal struggle with potentially disastrous consequences: He is deeply, irrevocably in love with his partner ...

Available at    Amazon    BN


Malthius sat at the island counter in his kitchen and slowly consumed the dinner he'd prepared for himself, scarcely tasting. The television reporter – or whatever Humans called people in her position – had promised the “latest information on the bodies found near the old courthouse at the top of the hour,” which, Malthius inferred, meant the start of the news program at six o'clock.
            The Wizard had sunk into what Theronius aptly called one of his “foul moods.” Malthius had reason for it: first, Edwin calling to say the Elf and Human woman would be at Summerfield Investments offices in the morning, then this clamor over the bodies. Who would have thought that thirteen people who meant so little while they lived would become the focus of so much attention because of their deaths?
            Still, Malthius took a certain grim pleasure in these moments. Adversity, threats to his plans, sharpened his senses. He felt more focused, more alive at such times. He watched the drivel that Humans called “commercials” – though in truth, he found some of them more entertaining than the programs they financed – then, finally, the music that meant the newscast was beginning. People were introduced, males and females simpering at the cameras, then a camera focused on a dark-haired young woman whose name Malthius ignored.
            “And at the top of our news,” she said, “Corpus Christi's Mayor Janelle Hardesty announced the Federal Bureau of Investigation has taken an interest in the deaths of thirteen homeless people, seven   late last night in an underpass near the old Nueces County Courthouse, and six others found dead several days ago in Lovenskiold Park.” Behind the young woman, an image appeared on the screen of a woman perhaps middle-aged as Humans measured years, light brown hair graying at the temples, standing at a podium, a microphone in front of her. “The announcement came in a news conference on the steps of City Hall at two o'clock today.”
            The view shifted from the dark-haired newscaster, tightening on the older woman, presumably Mayor Hardesty. She spoke: “We are confirmin' that the deaths of the seven people last night are connected to the deaths of six people several days ago in Lovenskiold Park. All of the deaths are related to a case bein' investigated by the FBI. A special team sanctioned by the FBI and headed by their agent Arvandus is in Corpus Christi ...”
            Arvandus? Malthius managed to swallow the bite of meat in his mouth without choking, scarcely tasting it. Had the woman actually said the name Arvandus?

            That was … impossible.

About the Author:        

A native of Texas, now living in Sheridan, Wyo., P.L. Blair divides her time between two careers. As P.L., she writes a series (Portals) of urban fantasy/detective books that, recently, including elements of light romance. Published books include Shadow Path, Stormcaller, Deathtalker and Sister Hoods. Her fifth book is now with her publisher, and she is working on Book 6. As Pat Blair, she's a reporter for Sheridan Media, an organization that includes nine radio stations and an online news publication at sheridanmedia.com.

She's also “mom” to three dogs and a cat, all rescues, and is an avid reader, an occasional painter, and loves doing research. A lover of horses, she researches American Quarter Horse and Thoroughbred pedigrees as a hobby. Another hobby is history, and she's been the lead writer last year and again this year for Sheridan Media's “Sheridan Chronicles” history publication.

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