Monday, February 27, 2012

Chiseled Author Patricia Stoltey is Interviewed!

We’ve been asked, so today we’re offering answers to questions such as: Chiseled Staff? Are they really that chiseled? Are they completely off their Rockers? And what do they do behind that closed door?!

Over the next few months you’ll see interviews with our own Chiseled Staff, and today we’re talking to Patricia Stoltey.

Pat’s first Sylvia and Willie mystery, The Prairie Grass Murders, was released by Five Star/Gage in 2007. Books in Motion released the audiobook on CD and MP3 download in 2008, and Harlequin published a mass market paperback book club edition in 2010. The Desert Hedge Murders was released in 2009 from Five Star and 2011 from Harlequin Worldwide. The ebook is coming soon. The Prairie Grass Murders is available now for Kindle and Nook.

CIR: Welcome, Pat! How do you describe yourself (the top three things that come to mind)?

Pat: Calm, cool, and collected. What would you expect from a person who drinks as much Tension Tamer and Sleepytime tea as I do?

CIR: Please describe the path of your writing career.

Pat: It was kind of weird. My brother and I wrote a really bad action/adventure novel about truckers and unions back in the 80s, and it actually made it to audio book in 2000. The company who published it stocked rental carousels in large truck stops, and I guess truckers rented audiotapes for those long hauls. I just hope that novel never put any truckers to sleep while they were on the road. After that, however, I was hooked on writing. My first mystery was picked up by Five Star after I met Deni Dietz at the 2005 Colorado Gold Conference.

CIR: What are your current writing goals and challenges? (What are you working on?)

Pat: I’m working to complete my NaNoWriMo novel. Another suspense manuscript is almost ready to submit to agents, but I need to ditch the current first chapter and fix a couple more little things. And I have a historical fiction that I asked an editor to review. Wouldn’t you know it? She suggested a new first chapter. There seems to be a pattern here.

CIR: What are the two toughest things about writing?

Pat: First chapters, for sure. I guess the second thing is knowing when to stop so we don’t revise the life out of a manuscript.

CIR: Do you prefer igneous, metamorphic, or sedimentary?

Pat: Metamorphic. Change is good.

CIR: How has RMFW helped you advance your career?

Pat: RMFW puts on a great annual conference to educate writers and give them a chance to network with authors, agents and editors (and in my case, find a publisher). I’ve also had the opportunity to participate in a couple of the monthly programs, so that’s a bonus.

CIR: As we know, RMFW is an all-volunteer organization. Have you or do you volunteer elsewhere in the organization?

Pat: I try to volunteer at the conference in some way each year. Lately I’ve worked at Registration, but in the past I’ve also moderated conference sessions as timekeeper, hall monitor, and introducing the speaker(s).

CIR: What writers inspire you?

Pat: All of our RMFW authors who work so hard and write so well. Sandra Dallas for wonderful story-telling and public-speaking skills. Stephen King because he “just does it.” Oh, my, this list could go on forever.

CIR: What genres do you read?

Pat: All genres of fiction and tons of non-fiction as well. I probably read 50-60% crime fiction, and the bulk of the non-fiction I read is history, political science, and books about writing and the writing life.

CIR: Do you ever get writer’s rock, er… block? If so how do you break through?

Pat: I don’t suffer from writer’s block, thank goodness. However, I do suffer from blank page anxiety. Also severe procrastination. Taking on more tasks than I can accomplish in a reasonable amount of time. Chocolate binges. Addiction to prime time television. This list could go on and on.

CIR: What do you feel your stories are born of?

Pat: An overactive imagination which results in a lot of dreams and nightmares, fear of vampires and werewolves (which is why there are none in my stories), and the goofy need to see another book with my name on it. That’s such a kick.

CIR: What one piece of advice would you offer to new writers?

Pat: Write down everything that comes into your head and keep it forever.

CIR: What’s your favorite rock and roll song?

Pat: “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” sung by Cyndi Lauper. Is that rock and roll? I mean, I can go way back to the 50s and 60s if you insist. I had this little metal record player for my 45s and bought stuff like “April Love” ( Pat Boone) and “Maybelline” (Chuck Berry).

CIR: When did you first consider yourself a writer?

Pat: About the time I stopped attending mystery conventions as a fan and started checking the “author” box instead. That was 2006. I remember it well.

CIR: Do you also have a “day” job? Other interests or hobbies?

Pat: I’m a retired accounting/accounts payable manager. We traveled a lot at first, but now I’m into all things writerly. I’d like to get back to music, so I have a keyboard I play about twice a year. I crochet stuff. And I just bought a new camera so I can recapture my love of photography…if I can figure out how to use it. I need more time, lots more time.

CIR: What books have most influenced you?

Pat: In writing books, I think I’d say The Fire in Fiction by Donald Maass because it gave me some great ideas how to put more zing in my suspense novels. In fiction, I’d say mystery author Sophie Littlefield. She does a brilliant job of fitting her narrative writing to the character and story.

CIR: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

Pat: A high school English teacher liked a poem I wrote. I now have several folders of truly horrible poetry, and quite a few bad short stories as well. Nevertheless, I liked the idea of writing enough to learn how to do it properly. I’m still learning, but I’m having fun in the process.

CIR: Do you like rocking chairs?

Pat: Yeah, the old fashioned wood rockers that creak and groan. The one I remember had a seat worn to a velvety patina by the butts of those who used it over the years. I sat in that chair and rocked my colicky firstborn while singing Petula Clark’s “Downtown” (When you’re alone and life is making you lonely, you can always go downtown). If you’ve ever had a kid with colic, you’ll understand why this song and the rocking chair were such a comfort.

CIR: If you could time travel, when and where would you go?

Pat: I’d like to pop back to Frontier Illinois about 1834 and see if it’s anything like I’ve described it in my novel.

CIR: What do you predict for the future of the publishing industry and where you fit into that?

Pat: My crystal ball tells me there will be continuing and rapid change and we better scramble to keep up. Anyone who doesn’t keep up is in trouble.

CIR: And lastly, what did you dream of doing when you were twelve years old?

Pat: I was still holding onto my dream of becoming a ballerina, even though I already had bad knees, had flunked out of tap dance class in one year, and was way too short (and clumsy too). In my mind, I was thin and agile and gorgeous. The birth of a fiction writer?

CIR: Pat, thank you so much for joining us today! You can learn more about Pat and her writing on her website or blog, follow her on Twitter @PStoltey, or friend her on Facebook.

By Janet Fogg


Kay Theodoratus said...

You sound busy.

Peg Brantley said...

A fun interview! And man, can I relate to the procrastination issue. Which is what I'm doing at this very moment . . .

Sisters of the Quill said...

Enjoyed the interview.

Fire in Fiction - absolutely

"First chapters, for sure. I guess the second thing is knowing when to stop so we don’t revise the life out of a manuscript."

Oh, I know so well

Best of luck for a long successful career! Karen Lin

Patricia Stoltey said...

Kay, a regular busy bee.

Peg, procrastinating seems to be something many writers do on a regular basis.

Hi Karen, you're so right about the over-revising part. I never know when to stop.

j. a. kazimer said...

I thought I loved Pat before, but mow I'm convinced. She is a hell of a lady. Great interview.

Best advice ever: Write down everything that comes into your head and keep it forever

And she loves Girls Just Wanna Have Fun!

Mason Canyon said...

Great interview. Pat, enjoyed learning more about you and your writing. You are a busy lady. BTW, like your taste in music too.

Thoughts in Progress

Lynda Hilburn said...

Wonderful interview, Pat! Ballet's gain would have been fiction's loss! Thanks for all the ways you support authors!

Chiseled in Rock said...

Thanks for the comments, Julie, Mason, and Lynda! And we do want to have fun, don't we?

Karen Duvall said...

Very enlightening interview. It was fun getting to know you better. :)