Thursday, October 31, 2013

A Conversation with Mystery Author Pamela Rose

Omnimystery News: Author Interview with Pamela Rose
with Pamela Rose

We are delighted to welcome mystery author Pamela Rose to Omnimystery News today.

Pamela introduces amateur sleuth Finn Sherlock in Sherlock's Home: The Adventure of the Contentious Crone (Pamela Rose; June 2013 ebook) and we recently had the chance to chat with her about her new series.

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Omnimystery News: When starting out a new book, how do you decide if it will be a stand-alone title or one in a series?

Pamela Rose
Photo provided courtesy of
Pamela Rose

Pamela Rose: The first two books I wrote, The Eyes of the Jaguar and A Thyme to Harvest, are both stand-alone mystery novels. I never planned to write more about either of them. Interestingly enough, in retrospect, either of them could have been designed as a series. And, to be honest, I have had requests from readers to do that very thing. The third novel, Sherlock's Home: The Adventure of the Contentious Crone, I deliberately created an imaginary environment ― Sherlock's Home Mystery Bookstore and its adjunct 221b Bakery ― with three central characters that could be emphasized or de-emphasized as the plot demanded in the novels to follow. For me, the criteria are, "How many scenarios can be related believably to these characters and this setting?" The first two books I plotted down to the nth degree, the last one I just went with the flow. As it turns out, I found several serendipitous happenings along the way when I implemented this.

OMN: Into which mystery genre would you place your books?

PR: The Eyes of the Jaguar is a mystery adventure. A Thyme to Harvest and Sherlock's Home are mystery cozies. I actually like the idea of genre sub-categories. I think this refinement gives the reader a heads-up about the writing technique the author has taken with his or her books before they even read the book description. As I am a reader as well as a writer, I appreciate that distinction.

OMN: Is the alliteration of "Contentious Crone" in the title intentional?

PR: I've planned a total of 26 books within the Sherlock's Home series … one for every letter of the alphabet. Contentious Crone is the first, the second (working title) Indigo Idiot, etc. They will continue to be written in non-consecutive order, as the muse moves me.

OMN: What kind of feedback have you received from readers?

PR: I love it when a reader asks me why I didn't do something they expected to be forthcoming. For example, I had a reader ask me why I didn't include the recipes mentioned in my book at the back for readers to make for themselves. Good question. Two-fold answer: Although I know other writers include recipes quite successfully, that was never my intention as a writer. It seems that too many recipes are a distraction and take away from the real purpose of a mystery, which is to solve a crime. But, again, many readers love this feature in a mystery novel, so who am I to say it's a bad idea? Secondly, having had readers actually request these recipes, I've decided to selectively include them somewhere. It may not be in the book itself, but on my website or Facebook page … somewhere like that. One reader said that her son-in-law decided to improvise and was making his own recipe for the Hogs & Heads BabyCakes. I love that!

OMN: What is the harshest criticism you've received as an author?

PR: To date, the harshest comment I've received on Sherlock's Home was that the reader thought Echo and Finn "were really thoughtless and crass" because they didn't express enough sympathy for the crone. I found that interesting because there was a rather large passage where Finn uncovers the reason for the crone's conduct and expresses her increased motive to unearth the killer in the light of this new understanding of the Crone's unthinkable situation. Echo does likewise. I think the value I took away from this particular comment was the realization that reviewers, like writers, are human. Everything anyone sees is filtered through a lens that is their own unique and personal slant on the world. In other words, this is one person's opinion. (Good to keep in mind for ALL comments, not just negative ones.) I certainly consider a reviewer's remarks, but ultimately decide if it is valid or not.

If I would give any advice to another writer, it would be to move on … there's every possibility that someone else will commend you for the very thing the other person just dinged. In the end, your own opinion about your work is the one that matters the most.

OMN: Describe your writing environment for us.

PR: My writing environment is not that unusual, I think, although I do write upon an antique schoolmaster's desk. (Must be the school marm in me!) It is located at the center of everything because I am usually near the kitchen so that I can write while keeping an eye on my current food project. Because I live in the mountains my home is very quiet. I am fortunate to have extended periods of time in which to write with few distractions, unless they're of my own making! (Although I do have a cat that can be rather noisily demanding upon occasion.)

OMN: How do you go about researching the plot points of your books?

PR: Oh, I fact check everything. Sometimes even the things I think I know. Oftentimes the Internet is my source, sometimes books. But, my absolutely favorite source is firsthand experience. I love to go to the source and see for myself what that particular experience is like. I've gone to some great lengths to achieve this: taken workshops, traveled to foreign countries, talked to experts and so forth. My most exciting research to date was gathering information I wanted for my first book, The Eyes of the Jaguar, a mystery adventure novel. It includes information about the ancient Aztec and Mayan culture. I wanted to experience the ruins and the country where these ruins are located. To do so, I went to Mexico and into the Yucatan jungle. What I discovered is that even today there are many, many ruins that are only partially excavated, with many more waiting yet to be discovered. These ancient Indians were quite prolific. I also discovered bloodthirsty mosquitos the size of pterodactyls. I could've done without those.

OMN: You mentioned you live in North Carolina and your books are set in the Southeast. Probably not a coincidence!

PR: I've set my books in the south. I think it's a charming environment as well as beautiful. If one follows the advice, "write what you know," then this what I know. I also think it is an environment that lends itself to quirky, eccentric characters; hopefully memorable ones. The dichotomy of Sherlock's Home in Dixieland … now who could resist that!

OMN: What kinds of books did you read when you were young?

PR: Most definitely my childhood choice of books influenced the kind of books I write today. Although I read in many genres, then as now I gravitate toward the mystery. I think it's the challenge: can I outwit the killer and solve the crime? As an author, my challenge is to play fair with my reader, but to make unearthing the killer as difficult as possible. Mysteries take a fair amount of craftsmanship because if done well, the degree of the plotting involved is demanding … like a benevolently woven tapestry of deceit … deliberately misleading but nevertheless giving the reader a fair shot at solving the crime. What's interesting is that the same book will elicit comments from readers such as, "I didn't have a clue," to "I figured it out after …." My fellow writers are the ones who are the hardest to fool, like Toto from The Wizard of Oz, I guess they are just too good at sniffing out the wizard behind the curtain.”

OMN: What kinds of films do you enjoy watching?

PR: Oh dear. My guilty pleasures are James Bond movies, and I watch them repeatedly. Ian Fleming was one of the non-mystery writers that I cut my teeth on, reading every 007 book I could get my hands on. For me, Sean Connery will always be James Bond. Although I have to say, Pierce Brosnan's wit was delightful and Daniel Craig's interpretation of Bond is closer to Connery's — the blond "Bond-shell." Skyfall was great, although I detested that the writer killed off "M" as played by Dame Judi Dench, tough old bird that she was. Sorry, I digress. Suffice it to say, none of this inspired my own writing.

OMN: What are some of your outside interests?

PR: Aside from the aforementioned cooking and baking, which I love to do when I have the time, I also like to "repurpose" things. For example, I have a project that I'm selectively working on now of a fireplace screen for my brick fireplace. A friend had an antique cast iron gate that came off its hinges and she decided she didn't want anymore. As luck would have it, it just fits the opening in my brickwork. It's quite beautiful, in a French style with fleur de lis finials on the posts. I'm in the process of refinishing it, adding supporting legs (inverted corbels that I scavenged elsewhere) and making a fireplace screen that is beautiful, decorative and functional. It also fits in with my French Country décor. Repurposing satisfies the pro-environment desire I have to reuse and recycle. And if it turns into a stellar piece of design, that's the icing on the cake. And yes, such a practice might wend its way into my books. The opening scene for Sherlock's Home has the twins creating authentic-looking tombstones out of foam. I actually have done that, creating a small cemetery in my front yard at Halloween. Like the Sherlocks … I get a kick out of "All Hallows Eve."

OMN: What's next for you?

PR: That's an easy question for me, since I've already slated a total of 26 books in the Finn Sherlock series. Holy cow … I'd better get busy!

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Pamela Rose currently lives in the mountains of North Carolina with her tuxedo cat Jake who amuses himself by impersonating a multi-syllabic, tirelessly fetch-playing dog. Also being of a benevolent mind, Jake graciously allows Pamela to serve as his personal valet in exchange for long periods of quiet in which to write.

For more information about the author and her work, please visit her website. She also has a Finn Fan Club page on Facebook that provides more information about her series character.

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Sherlock's Home: The Adventure of the Contentious Crone by Pamela Rose

Sherlock's Home: The Adventure of the Contentious Crone
Pamela Rose
A Finn Sherlock Mystery

Life imitating art? That's Finn Sherlock's first bizarre thought when she stumbles across a dead body within the Civil War era hiding place inside Sherlock's Home Mystery Bookstore. Thinking that it's her gnome-like Uncle Oz costumed to play the part of a fortunetelling druid for "All Hallows' Eve", she is relieved when she learns that the hooded figure is not her favorite uncle, but the town's favorite outcast, Odds Bodkins.

Unfortunately, murder suspects abound due to the fact that the mystery bookstore and its adjoining 221b Bakery were the first stop on the Leapers Point' Halloween circuit and any number of people were on the scene for the annual "Fright Night" tour. More than that, Odds Bodkins was almost universally detested; far too many would agree that the assisted demise of the loathsome little witch was more treat than trick … possibly even a community service.

With a little help from Uncle Oz and her identical twin sister, Echo, Finn sets out to discover who amongst the congenial southern townsfolk had the audacity and plain bad manners to murder the contentious crone right under the Sherlock family noses. Was it the fire and brimstone preacher Willie Ping? ‘Blooming Idiots' talented but slightly mental florist? Or what about fluffy nonagenarian Eula May Binks … can anybody really be that sugary sweet? But, when the local Sheriff, Wavy Davey, learns that it was Uncle Oz's Halloween prop — a bona fide hangman's noose — that was the murder weapon, there's more heating up inside the 221b Bakery than just the ovens.

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