The Craft of Writing — August 2022
The Craft of Writing — August 2022
with Patricia Bradley
I am thrilled to welcome romantic suspense author Patricia Bradley to the Craft of Writing blog today as we continue our year-long interviews of mystery, suspense, thriller, and fantasy authors. Patricia is the author of several series. Her latest novel, Deception is book #4 in the Natchez Trace Park Rangers series.
Meet Patricia Bradley
Patricia Bradley is a Romantic Suspense Selah winner, Carol and Daphne du Maurier finalist and the winner of an Inspirational Readers’ Choice Award. Three anthologies that included her stories debuted on the USA Today Best Seller List.
She and her two cats call Northeast Mississippi home–the South is also where she sets most of her books. Her romantic suspense novels include the Logan Point series, the Memphis Cold Case Novels, and the Natchez Trace Park Rangers. She now hard at work on the second book in her new Pearl River series set in the Cumberland Plateau area above Chattanooga.
Writing workshops include American Christian Fiction Writers, the Mid-South Christian Writer’s Conference, the KenTen and Scrivener retreats where she was the keynote, Memphis American Christian Fiction Writer group, and the Bartlett Christian Writers group. When she has time, she likes to throw mud on a wheel and see what happens.
Romantic Suspense author Patricia Bradley is my interview guest on The Craft of Writing blog. Click To Tweet
Welcome Patricia Bradley, and thank you for joining us!
Thank you for having me on your blog, Kay.
Please give us some background – have you always wanted to be a writer?
Until I turned thirty-five I was a reader. Writing a novel had not crossed my mind. Then one night when I couldn’t sleep, a man appeared in my vision. He stood staring out a window with smokestacks billowing in the background. Then he turned toward me and said, “This isn’t the way my life was supposed to turn out.”
That blew me away, and I began to tell myself stories about what had happened in his life to make him say that. Soon other people came to live in my head and they weren’t content with me telling their story in my mind. They wanted printed matter. I bought a subscription to Writers Digest Magazine and began my writing journey on an old Hermes portable typewriter. If computers hadn’t come along I’m not sure I would have ever tried to write a novel.
Why did you decide to write romantic suspense novels?
That’s all I’ve ever read. Originally, Mary Higgins Clarke was my favorite author along with Patricia Highsmith, Lawrence Block, and Agatha Christie, of course. Oh! And the one that started me on that path—Walter Farley with his Black Stallion series.
Tell us about the first novel you wrote and how you came up with the story.
The very first novel I wrote will never, ever see the light of day—it was shredded years ago. However, I did take several of the characters over to my first published novel—Shadows of the Past. The idea came after I had put aside writing fiction for six years to work in the abstinence program. RISE to Your Dreams, the abstinence curriculum I’d cowritten was finished, and I’d cut my hours back.
One morning in my quiet time a woman appeared in my thoughts. She told me her name was Taylor and someone was trying to kill her. I was jumping-up-and-down happy. God had given me my suspense stories back—for six years I hadn’t had one single romantic suspense thought. But now that the curriculum and a workbook were finished, I was free to go back to my mysteries!
You’ve written several different series. Can you tell us a little about each one of those?
The Logan Point Series is set in a fictional town just outside of Memphis. I actually took the area where I live now—Corinth, MS and the Tennessee River around Pickwick and moved them down to Memphis. I even asked my editor if I should note that in a foreword and she said, “No, it’s fiction.”
What’s your latest book?
Deception, Natchez Trace Park Rangers, Book 4 released August 2nd. Here’s the back cover copy:
After being forced to kill an FBI agent gone rogue in self-defense while working in the violent crimes unit for the Investigative Services Branch, ranger Madison Thorn is comfortable with her move to the fraud and cyber division. At least numbers don’t lie. So she’s less than thrilled when a white-collar crime investigation in Natchez, Mississippi, turns violent. She could also do without being forced to work with former-childhood-enemy-turned-infuriatingly-handsome park ranger Clayton Bradshaw.
When a woman who looks just like Madison is attacked on the same night Madison’s grandfather is shot, it becomes clear that there is something much bigger going on here and that Madison herself is in danger. Madison and Clayton will have to work together–and suppress their growing feelings for one another–if they are to discover the truth before it’s too late.)
What’s your writing process? Do you start with plot or characters or some combination?
I usually start out with an image of a character in my mind, involved with a crime. Then I have to know why the crime happens now. Why not last year, or six months from now. And it goes from there.
What are your plans for future novels? Do you have another series in mind?
I’m working on a series set in the Cumberland Plateau up around Chattanooga—the Pearl River Series. But I’m not one of those authors who has a bag full of ideas. Usually while I’m working on a current series, ideas will pop into my head for another series. For my fifth series, I’m thinking about a skip tracer—that’s someone who finds people who are living off the grid.
What advice would you give an aspiring author of romantic suspense / mystery?
I would give them the same advice I give any new or aspiring writer—learn the craft—things like show, don’t tell, learn how to write dialogue, how to ask what if. And don’t publish the first thing you write. Let it rest, then go back and work on it again. Writing is rewriting.
Where can we find out more about you and your work?
I love to connect with my readers on my blog. Every Tuesday I post a Mystery Question—four scenarios, usually crimes. Three are true and I make one up and ask my readers if they can figure out which one I made up. We have a lot of fun with that one. Then on Friday I post a review of a book I’ve read along with the first line and invite my readers to share the first line of the book they’re reading.
You can also find me on social media:
Thank you, Patricia, for being with us today.Romantic Suspense author Patricia Bradley is my guest today on The Craft of Writing blog. Click To Tweet
Patricia, I love your interactiveness with readers! Don’t think I’ve seen anything like the Tuesday mystery post and it’s always helpful to see reviews. Way to go!
Good morning, Rachel. I also love Patricia’s blog. Her mystery posts are hilarious. (I have the distinction of having guessed wrong every time I tried. 🙂
Patricia also supports other writers through her reviews. She’s reviewed all three of my Watch series books, and my audience has grown because of her.
Good to see you on the blog, Rachel. Have a great week.
Hi Rachel! I researching the Mystery Question–I had no idea criminals could be so dumb. lol. Tomorrow I’m featuring criminals who basically begged the police to arrest them.
Thank you, Kay, for this opportunity to get to know Patricia better.
“Then I have to know why the crime happens now. Why not last year, or six months from now.”
What an important question! The writer has to think about the circumstances leading up to the moment when someone goes off the rails. What caused him/her to snap?
Good morning, Debbie.
That is a great question. What event causes someone to commit a crime at a particular moment? Patricia has given us lots of food for thought.
Have a great week.
Hi Debbie! Good to ‘see’ you here. By the way, I’ve used your Thursday True Crime more than once to jump off my Mystery Question blog.
Good morning, Kay and Patricia. Great post. Thanks for giving us a peek into your process, Patricia.
We certainly appreciate your participation on the KZ blog.
Good luck with your Pearl River Series!
Good morning, Steve.
It’s been a pleasure to get to know Patricia. She’s successfully navigated the publishing world with award-winning novels. A good role model for the rest of us.
Have a great week.
Steve, I love the TKZ blog! I’ve learned so much there.
Good morning! Wow. I simply love the way these characters appeared to Patricia in a sort of “Help us Obi Wan” way. That is cool. Patricia, your Natchez Trace series pulls me. We drove the Trace from Jackson to Natchez one stormy summer evening. It was beautiful but spooky as all get out. It really seemed haunted. What inspired you to choose the Trace as your setting?
Lisa, I live about 35 miles from the Trace and always wanted to write a story set on it. I envisioned it set near where I live, but my editor envisioned it at Natchez. And I’m glad she did. I’d always wanted to visit Natchez and this gave me the perfect opportunity.
Morning Lisa! I’m also amazed at the way Patricia’s characters appear to her. What an inspiration!
We also drove the Natchez Trace a few years ago. I remember it being pretty lonely. A good place for a mystery.
Have a good week, my friend!
Great read Kay and Pat. It was fun to have a heads up on tomorrow’s mystery question!! I love these, Pat.
Kay, I do remember when Pat reviewed your book, Time after Thyme and it’s on my TBR pile. 🙂
Hi Barbara! I also love the mystery questions on Patricia’s blog. But I’m terrible at guessing the one she made up!
Thank you for having Time After Tyme on your TBR list. I look forward to hearing what you think about it. 🙂
Barbara and Kay, with the dumb things criminals d0, it’s getting harder and harder to come up with a made-up one. lol
I love the idea about a skiptracer!
Hi Beverly. I love the idea of a skip tracer. Can’t wait to see what Patricia does with this idea.
Thanks for stopping by.
I’m about to start working on the idea in about three weeks…first I have to finish the 15K novella that’s due the middle of September. It’s about a billionaire defender.
Kay, thanks for the insightful interview you had with Pat. Having read all of her books, and a great many other Christian suspense (including yours), I find the process needed to write fiction is so different from writing technical documents. I could knock off technical docs with ease, well mostly, in my career as a software engineer. Trying to do fiction requires a whole different mindset. I’m truly grateful to those of you who do it so well.
I echo Rachel Hill’s sentiments regarding your extraordinary effort to interact with your readers, Pat. Her Tuesday and Friday blog posts are so much fun.
Hi Tim! It’s nice to see you here.
I also find creative writing to be very challenging, but wonderful in many ways. And I echo your sentiments on Patricia’s blog posts. They are so much fun!
Have a great week.
Aww, thanks, Tim. I love interacting with my readers and have made many new friends, including you!
Hi, Patricia and Kay,
Sorry I’m a tad late on this. I’ve been busy setting up book promos for my new release suspense/mystery/romance. Your writing background is most interesting.
Hope this isn’t too “off the wall,” but I’m wondering what your (literary) definition is of the three words “thriller, suspense, and mystery.” Not the “official” definition, but what they mean to you.
Hope it’s not too late to answer. 🙂
Best wishes for a continuing successful writing career!
Hi Frank! Great question. I’ll be interested to hear Patricia’s take on the definitions.
My definition doesn’t always follow the “official” one. To me, a thriller indicates suspense and lots of action and on a grand scale; suspense is all about the hero and/or heroine being in danger, and mystery is a murder (usually) and I, as the reader, am following along with the person trying to solve it (and trying my best to figure it out before the end). I hope that answers your question. 🙂
It does, and it does it well.
I’m super late to the party, but catching up and wanted to say thanks for the great interview. I enjoyed the peek behind the curtain with an author whose work I enjoy and respect.
Thank you, Lori! I’m glad you enjoyed it!!
It’s good to see you here, Lori. Thanks for stopping by!