BEA'S BOOK NOOK "I can't imagine a man really enjoying a book and reading it only once." C. S. Lewis “If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all.” ― Oscar Wilde

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

An interview with mystery author Patricia Rockwell

Today we have Patricia Rockwell, a retired communications professor who now writes and publishes mysteries. She has two blogs: one, Communication Exchange about talking and communication, and Subjective Soup,Cozy Cat Press. You can also find her at Twitter and facebook. which is more of a personal blog. The press she founded is called

Bea:  Thank you for joining us today. First, could you tell us a little bit about yourself?

Patricia: I am a retired university professor who has recently taken up writing and publishing cozy mysteries.  I grew up in Nebraska and got my Bachelor and Master's degrees from the University of Nebraska but went all the way to Arizona for my doctorate.  My husband Milt is a retired Air Force officer and we travelled quite a bit when he was in the service.  We now live in Illinois close to family.  We have two adult children--a son and a daughter.

Bea: You were a college professor for many years. What did you like best about teaching?

Patricia:  loved teaching which I did most of my life.  Actually, I spent about four years of my career teaching in a high school and the rest at the college level.  I absolutely prefer teaching at the college level because the teacher is not required to be a babysitter and prison guard as they often are in the public schools.  I remember spending a lot of time on "smoking duty" when I taught in high school.  It was my task to patrol restrooms for wayward students who were trying to sneak a cigarette.  I'm just not cut out for that kind of interaction with students.  At the college level, my conversations with students are about their education, course work, and their futures.  Believe me, I have nothing but admiration for public school teachers.  They are asked to do a monumental task.

Bea: What prompted you to start writing fiction? Was it a long time dream?

Patricia: I've always been a reader--primarily mysteries.  As a college professor, I was expected to conduct my own research which entailed writing and publishing it in order to secure tenure.  I actually enjoyed academic writing, even spending eight years as a regional journal editor.  When I retired, I was able to put my academic writing, editing, and publishing experience to use and begin my second career as a fiction author and publisher.  

Bea: Why murder mysteries? And why someone in your field? Because you know the subject so well? Or do you think that there is a lot of potential in subject for mystery stories?

Patricia: As I said, I've always loved reading murder mysteries.  I love the puzzle aspect to them.  Actually, it wasn't until I started writing my first mystery that I discovered that the kind of mystery I liked and the kind I wrote was called a "cozy" mystery.  I like a story with an intriguing plot that the reader gets to solve along with the detective.  I don't care at all for excessive blood and violence, chase scenes, or foul language.   This is what cozies are.  Why me and my field?  If you mean, why have an amateur sleuth who solves crimes using acoustic technology, the answer is that I personally used such technology extensively in my own research so I'm quite familiar with how it works.  No, I never solved any crimes with it, but once a local television station did contact me and asked me to listen to an on-air interview with a suspect and tell them if the suspect was lying.  I did listen to the interview and reported some of the suspects behaviors and what those behaviors indicated in many typical situations.  However, I pointed out to them that just because the person exhibited these behaviors did not guarantee that they were lying.  
After my first Pamela Barnes mystery came out, one critic suggested that the potential for future stories where Pamela could solve mysteries using only sound clues was limited.  I beg to disagree.  I have finished three books in this series and am working on the fourth.  Obviously, sound is not a clue in all murders, but it can be a clue--and an interesting one--in many fictional crimes.

Bea: Do you have plans to write more books? Will they be more Pamela Barnes stories, or something new?

Patricia: I plan to write at least one book in this series each year.

Bea: You have twitter and facebook accounts, along with a LinkedIn account and several blogs. As someone who has spent time teaching and researching communication, what are your thoughts on these social sites? As a writer and publisher, do you believe they are necessary to be successful? 
Patricia: I have mixed feelings on social sites.  The landscape here is changing so fast that users have to work really hard to keep up with which sites work for them.  Truthfully, blogs were the "in" thing several years ago, but seem to be fading in preference to Twitter, Facebook, etc.  But just as quickly as blogs can decline, so can these media.  Maybe next year, Twitter and Facebook will be passe and something we don't even know about now will be popular.   Also, as an author of cozy mysteries, I am always cognizant of the results of the recent Sisters in Crime mystery readers' survey which indicated that the vast majority of cozy mystery readers are older women and that most of them do NOT use the Internet.  

Bea: Why did you start up your publishing company? What are your goals? Do you have any other books coming out?  

Patricia: I started my publishing company, Cozy Cat Press, because I truly love publishing and editing.  I got a taste of it when I worked in academia as I mentioned before.  I really love working with writers and helping them bring their work to fruition.  CCP just signed our third author and her cozy mystery will out later this year.

Bea: What's a typical writing day like for you? Are you an outliner or do you wing it? 

Patricia: A typical day for me is spent at my computer.  Most of my day is spent promoting my company and its books--as opposed to actual fiction writing.  When I'm actually writing a book, it's an all day activity for about a month until it's done.  Yes, I do use an outline but I adjust it as I go.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks, Bea, for the lovely interview. I thoroughly enjoyed answering your questions.


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