Thanks for dropping by, Pamela, to chat about writing and writers. Which mystery, thriller, suspense or horror writer has had the most influence upon you? Why?
Wow, this is a hard one. I think the one I admire most is Ruth Rendell, and while my writing doesn’t resemble hers, her imagination and versatility admires me most. But the list of my inspirations is very, very long. Lisa Scottoline, P.D. James, Elizabeth George, Stieg Larrson, Sara Paretsky, Sue Grafton, Mary Higgins Clark (the adult mystery writer I read earliest), Marcia Muller, Sandra Brown, the writers I read as a girl—Julie Campbell, the (many) authors of the Hardy Boys, and Carolyn Keene—and, yes, even my “nemesis” Janet Evanovich. I forgot about 35, authors, probably most notably Patricia Cornwell, Kathy Reich, Harlan Coben, and Michael Connelly. But then there’s Robert Tannenbaum, too, and Jan Karon. Crap. This is hard. OK, I give up J
Did this writer’s craft influence your writing in any specific way?
The biggest influence that Ms. Rendell had on me was that she wasn’t afraid to go weird, she dared to dabble with magical realism, and that she didn’t stick to hard-boiled detectives as protagonists. I loved her ability to transport me, and I especially loved that her mysteries carried themes. Many popular mystery writers give up theme for plot. However, I would add that Lisa Scottoline did the same for me, and added depth of characterization and humor.
What is the most important element of a well-crafted mystery or thriller?
To me, the most important element is that it elevates the reader’s level of excitement and challenges her. We live lives of everyday mystery, but often our mysteries are sad or mundane, and the resolutions unsatisfying. Why do we read mysteries? Because we want thrill and intrigue, and ultimately someone to close the case.
You get shot by an unknown assailant. Which female detective or hacker would you want on the case: Miss Marple, Cordelia Gray , Kinsey Millhone, Angie Gennaro, Stephanie Plum, or Lisbeth Salander?
Lisbeth. She’s fearless and brilliant and nearly amoral. She’d solve it and avenge it in one fell swoop.
Tell us briefly about your own current suspense, mystery, thriller, or horror project. What makes it unique?
My brand of suspense writing is heavy on character development and sub-plotting, with magical realism and powerful emotion integral to my soft-boiled protagonists and their ultimate motivation and means to solving the mysteries life throws in their paths. I love to build a protagonist with serious flaws who has some combination of wit, intelligence, and heart that will make her relatable and real. To me, setting and culture are characters, and I adore utilizing the supporting cast to really paint their pictures in bold, outside-the-lines colors. Right now I’m writing a spin-off from my Katie & Annalise series, the first of several three-novel spin-offs I have in the works. This series features Emily, a reluctant criminal defense paralegal who becomes obsessed with saving the often-victimized offspring of her firm’s clients. Her adventures range across West Texas and New Mexico, bringing in the modern West as well as centuries-old spiritual elements from Native Americans and Mexico.
Thank you so much, Pamela. I am always impressed by your dedication, talent and enthusiasm. With all your energy, creativity and tenacity, no wonder your books reach more and readers each year! Look for Pamela’s latest novel, Going for Kona, which will be available on October 1, 2014.
Pamela’s books are available in print, ebook, and audio everywhere, such as on Amazon: http://amazon.com/author/pamelafaganhutchins
“The Hurricane,” a new adaption of one the chapters in Pamela’s novel, Leaving Annalise, is featured in the mystery and horror collection, Eve’s Requiem, available for pre-order now from Spider Road Press: