From an Attorney and investigator to a writer of romantic mysteries, USA Best Book winning Best Selling Author Pamela Fagan Hutchins has a little chat with Lata Sony about her journey as a writer.
Hutchins began by publishing humorous narrative nonfiction (some of which you can see in her answers). In her own words, 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.
Welcome Pamela to All Things Spiritual & Sci-Fi (and Romance and Mysteries).
- Why did you choose Emily, your main protagonist in Hell to Pay, to be a paralegal and former rodeo queen?
I based Emily on people I grew up with. Rodeo and pageants are still a big thing in the West, and Amarillo is definitely a modern Western town. Even people there have to be practical and make a living though, and becoming a paralegal was a natural choice for a smart woman with a sense of justice.
- Since in the book Emily struggles to adopt Betsy, what are your views about single people wanting to adopt kids?
There are more kids out there without parents than there are people trying to adopt them. Anyone can procreate, whether or not they are married or have the qualities to be good parents. Those same individuals don’t have to stay together, and, whether through divorce or a death, many, many people parent singly. I think that having two parents can make it easier, logistically and financially, and that there’s nothing wrong with considering all the elements of a household in choosing between potential adopters, but that marriage shouldn’t be a litmus test to be eligible. My dream is that the process becomes faster and gets kids into loving households as quickly as possible, whether the parent is part of a household with two parents or one. Any day languishing outside the love of a family is too many when good people are waiting to provide that for these kids. That being said, I know that the responsibility of placing a child is an enormous one, and that the need to keep those kids out of physically or emotionally harmful situations requires caution and diligence.
- How important is it to build tension in a story? Doesn’t it seem unrealistic that Emily should find herself in so many tough situations all at once?
The golden rule of fiction is to start on page one and beat the protagonist up every page thereafter, only letting up at the ending. 🙂 If I wrote a day out of my own life, it would be boring and no one in their right mind would want to read it. Fiction is just that: fictional. We are looking for a story that consumes us, sweeps us away from our everyday life, and elevates our pulse and emotions. The pace of a novel is driven by how much is happening during a span of time. In some genres, tension is less important. But my novels combine mystery with romance and other elements. When you’re writing a mystery or other crime fiction type of book, tension is critical. So is authenticity. Nothing that occurs in my novels is impossible. There are isolated times in my life that I’ve felt like as much you-know-what was being thrown at me as Emily faces in Hell to Pay. Just not every day. I actually worry sometimes that I am not putting enough stress and pressure on my protagonists. I was just working on a scene for my next novel, and I’d decided that if I couldn’t find something to go haywire and drive the tension up in the scene that I’d need to cut it.
- Why do you think people are drawn towards murder mysteries?
I think the idea of living a life where dramatic things happen around us, that we are involved in and have a stake in solving, is exciting—more exciting than our everyday lives. We don’t actually want people falling dead around us, for the most part. I also think that that same thing inside us that makes many of us enjoy puzzles and games is satisfied by the mental stimulation of a mystery, but in addition you get to add in characters that we connect to. Most readers read the next mystery in a series because of the characters, so we can’t forget how important our relationship is to them as readers.
- What was your profession before you chose to be a writer?
I was an attorney and investigator.
- How did you get published for the first time?
My first book was a really boring nonfiction textbook 🙂 The publisher is now out of business, like so many others. But if you’re ever having trouble falling asleep at night, I recommend you try to get your hands on Preventing Workplace Harassment, by Yours Truly.
Thank You for a chat with us, Pamela!
If you would like Pamela to visit your book club, women’s group, writer’s group, or library, all you have to do is ask.
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