I refer to her as my mentor, and I tell everyone that she’s my Mom’s favorite author, but in actuality her most important role to me is friend.
Pamela Fagan Hutchins has numerable fiction and non-fiction titles, a multitude of awards, and can turn out books faster than you can say gluten-free brownies. I met her in Houston where I attended her critique circle (the second I’d attended after going the Houston Writers Guild) and found that she could make her teenage child a meal, have a conversation with her husband, AND give all the authors valuable feedback that made me into the writer I am today.
I’ve also attended a conference in which she had her own breakout session. Pamela spoke, nearly continuously, for five hours enriching the authors with her knowledge of the publishing industry while leaving us awestruck.
I’m thankful that she has been brought into my life, and anytime I need her she’s been there for me. At this point I don’t know what else to say other than I’m so happy that she’s now moved to ‘Nowheresville’ where she can spend the days with her beloved animals including Feathers (on the left) and Kitty Katniss (on the right) who supported her as she wrote Bombshell which is out now.
Twenty Questions With Pamela Fagan Hutchins
- Every writer has that one book that made him or her want to be a writer, what’s yours?
Oh, if it were only one. Cheaper by the Dozen, Where the Red Fern Grows, Lonesome Dove, The Great Santini, and a slew of female sleuth mysteries by Sara Paretsky, Sue Grafton, Patricia Cornwell, and many, many others.
- How old where you when you started writing?
- Name four authors that you’d love to have lunch with.
Pat Conroy, Larry McMurtry, Liliana Hart, Craig Johnson
- What would you eat?
Ribeye steak (medium rare), baked sweet potato, and roasted Brussel sprouts.
- How do you plot out your work?
I brainstorm and storyboard with my story partner (aka my smart, creative, cute husband), then I do a little research, a lot of thinking, and make some chapter notes those loosely resemble an outline. I write character-driven mysteries featuring amateur female sleuths with strong women’s fiction themes, so I try to come up with a new way for someone to die with a fresh villain and interesting motivation at the same time as pulling off a fast-paced contemporary slice of a woman’s life. Ultimately, I just start writing, though, and let the characters tell the story. I update my chapter notes as I go, and I revise comprehensively one time before I turn it over to my content editor for suggestions, then my copyeditor for perfectifying.
- Do you write in the morning or evening?
- Is there music on?
Only during the final stages. I find it distracting, which becomes an excuse to procrastinate, and I have pretty aggressive deadlines, so I have to stay focused. Music can help me fine tune voice and tone, though, so I like it a lot during final stages.
- What inspired your last story?
My characters inspire my stories. Once I get to know them, it becomes clear that their paths will lead to good stories. Knockout is my third “Ava” mystery, and her journey from unknown to superstar to indie involves bright lights, big stages, and betrayal. I just have to put my butt in the chair and let her speak through me.
- Name three books so good you wish you wrote them.
- What television shows, movies, or albums do you believe are written well?
Justified was really well written.
- Which actor would you cast in the protagonist role of your most recent piece?
Ashanti is who I would cast in my Ava trilogy (Bombshell, Stunner, Knockout).
- Which of your pieces was the hardest to write?
To date, my Michele novels have been the hardest (Going for Kona, Fighting for Anna, Searching for Dime Box), especially Fighting for Anna. It also won the Silver Falchion for Best Adult Mystery, so maybe being hard to write is a good thing.
- Which was the easiest?
My easiest novels so far have probably been my Emily mysteries (Heaven to Betsy, Earth to Emily, Hell to Pay). The protagonist Emily was based on a dear childhood friend and set in the town I grew up in, so it was a setting, culture, and characters that came to me more easily than some others have.
- Which of your pieces did readers ‘get’ when they told you their thoughts on it?
Women really seem to relate to my Katie mysteries (Saving Grace, Leaving Annalise, Finding Harmony). Katie is insecure, awkward, and her own worst enemy. I can certainly relate to that myself!
- What are you working on now?
I’m working on the Maggie Trilogy. She’s a modern hippie turned junker/salvage artiste who owns an antique store in the Hill Country of Texas. And, oh yeah, she was a rising star on the music scene until she burned all her bridges and ended up broke and in a last-chance rehab. She’s wild, crazy, and super interesting. She first appeared in my mystery Fighting for Anna as a supporting character, and I knew I had to give her trilogy of her own.
- What story do you have to write before you die?
I have a story about “polarity” between two lovers. It’s a Serendipity-type story but with my own Pamela twist, based on my husband’s and my meeting. I don’t write romance…so we’ll have to see if this turns out as straight up romance, or something cross genre with suspense.
- What’s your best fan story?
When we moved from Houston to our little Nowheresville, we made friends with another couple who had also transplanted. One day, when I was taking a group of writers out to breakfast from a writers’ retreat I held at our house, I ran into those new friends. It turned out that his mother was with them, and “my biggest fan.” It was fun to have our new friends discover I was a writer through her eyes. She’s since become a friend, too.
- What sentence have you written that you feel encapsulates your style?
Oh geez, I’ve written nineteen books! LOL, a sentence? Well, in lieu of that impossible task, here’s the intro to my 2nd Ava novel, Stunner:
They say be careful what you wish for, but they don’t know beef from bull foot. I jump out of the helicopter, which I rode over from Virgin Gorda for the sole purpose of making an entrance. Collin, my man, hustles forward. I clutch my floppy hat with one hand and take Collin’s fingers with the other as I concentrate on how to look graceful in a forty-mile-per-hour wind that creates a pelletized sand spout. On one side of us is crystal blue Caribbean Sea. On the other coconut palms bend nearly double behind a tiki hut with twinkling red and green Christmas lights. My eyes continue down the beach across the roofline of an enormous house and land on a thatched-roof pavilion with what looks like heavily loaded buffet tables.
All of this for the wrap party for my first album. Bombshell—that’s the name of the album—is memorialized on a giant banner across the top of the tiki hut: AVA BUTLER’S EXPLOSIVE DEBUT ALBUM, BOMBSHELL, FROM VENUS RECORDS. DECEMBER 15, EVERYWHERE. There’s a picture from the album artwork incorporated into the banner. In it, I’m a road-weary skank with eye makeup streaked down my cheeks and a ripped green lace top, but I’d do me.
- Have you ever based characters off of real people?
Every one of my twelve novels features real people in fictional roles. Now your job is to guess who is real and who isn’t! I’ll tell you one for sure: Ava is based on my best friend from my years in the Virgin Islands.
- Who’s your favorite character?
Of mine, or of anyone’s? Woodrow and Gus from Lonesome Dove. Dan and Little Ann from Where the Red Fern Grows. Or my Katie J
You can find out more about Pamela Fagan Hutchins on her website at http://pamelafaganhutchins.com and purchase her work anywhere online, in ebook, paperback, hardback, or audio. Get free exclusives when you sign up for her newsletter at https://www.subscribepage.com/PFHSuperstars. Email pamela at pamelafaganhutchins dot com if you’d like her to Skype with your book club or women’s group.
Be sure to pick up Knockout the third book in the Sexy Ava series out June 12.