Friday, July 1, 2011

Interview with MuseItUp author, Patricia Harrington

AUTHOR:  Patricia Harrington
BOOK TITLES: Winter’s Soul and Antiguan Redemption
PUBLISHER: Museitup Publishing

*Please tell us about yourself? 
I love writing the mystery genre, though it often crosses over to other forms, such as the paranormal.  My writing influence early on was Jo March, in Little Women.  Over the years I’ve been fortunate to be able to use my love of writing to earn a living as a grant writer.  And I have written  some  fifty-five million in funded grants tht have benefited non-profits serving those on the fringes of mainstream society..  Along with that, I’ve also written both short stories and novels, and was awarded a Derringer from the Short Mystery Fiction Society, for my flash story, “Secondhand Shoe.”   I have an amateur sleuth series featuring Bridget O’Hern.  My protagonist is “seeking her bliss, and stumbling over dead bodies” along the way.  Bridget has been out in Death Stalks the Khmer and Death Comes Too Soon.  Currently, I am working on a Golden Age mystery.  A Rum Mystery is set on the beautiful and mysterious Caribbean island of Antigua.  I’m fortunate to be a member of the Mystery Writers of America and president of its Northwest Chapter. 

Tell us your latest news?  
I’ve had some short works recently published in Softcopy Publishing, and enjoy having three cats and one big, dog, as my creative “muses”.  They enjoy giving me a nudge and providing inspiration.

When and why did you begin writing?
As stated above, Jo in Little Women, was the inspiration for becoming a story teller, and wanting to dream on paper and create stories for readers to enjoy.  An early influence also included my father.  I made his dinner typically each day, and I would drag out the dictionary while he ate.  My dad would pick out words for me to spell and then tell me the meaning of them.  That and my older sister’s influence.  While still in elementary school, I would read and play roles from Shakespeare plays, which she loved.  Obviously set me on the course of being a writer.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Undoubtedly, the label of “writer” became real when I wrote grants that were funded.  The process is not done by “formula” and thought there are requirements to the process, I had to truly understand the need that was being served, the struggles of those being helped, and the how of the help that would be successful.  All of that “strategizing” also goes into developing a story line or a plot.

What inspired you to write your first book?
My work with the Cambodian refugee community in the Pacific Northwest led me to write Death Stalks the Khmer.  My goal was to write an entertaining mystery (a Cambodian refugee couple are found murdered in their apartment in Seabell, and my sleuth is called in to assist the police in working with the refugee community).  I like “whodunits” that tell about a place or people that I might otherwise not have the change to visit or know.  To my delight, I succeeded with Death Stalks the Khmer, in that two college professors required  my simple mystery novel as reading material for their social worker and inter-cultural classes, respectively.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I wanted to write an interesting whodunit, and hoped the reader put the book down, with a better understanding about a people or culture, that they might not otherwise have the chance to know.

Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?  (Has anyone ever realized it?)
As I mentioned I’ve worked with the Cambodian community as the first director of the first Cambodian Episcopal Church in the United States (Holy Family of Jesus) in Tacoma, WA.   No specific person is in the book.  However, the needs and struggles of the newcomers to the United States are captured, I hope.

What books have most influenced your life most? 
In mystery writing, the Macdonalds, have certainly influenced me.  That’s Ross Macdonald and John Macdonald, with their private eyes.

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor? 
Ross Macdonald.

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Always, there is second guessing as to what could have, or should have, been changed.  But generally speaking I’m pleased with what I’ve done. 

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
As I mentioned earlier, my sister was a big influence in beginning to write down experiences or thoughts.  And admiring Jo March, who also was a writer (fictional, of course), as well as her creator, Louisa Mae Alcott, pushed me into wanting to be a writer.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Not nitpicking myself at the outset.  Better to get the ideas down, the story written then to go back and rewrite one sentence or paragraph a dozen times.   A little time and distance from the first enthusisam helps me, as an author, to be more objective, make changes, and not groan at cutting my “beloved prose.”

Do you ever have problems with writers block?  If so how do you get through it?
The best antidote to writer’s block is to start writing.  It doesn’t have to pertain to my current novel-in-progress.  Perhaps it’s just a letter to a relative.  But writing, creates the flow or “mojo” to get going again.

What do you do when you’re not writing/editing or thinking about writing/editing?
Oh my gosh, I have one dog and three cats, and the dog insistes on going for twice-daily walks.  And I love to putter in my yard, grow flowers and talk to, or admire the many birds, that also hang out in my garden.

What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Undoubtedly, doing revisions is the hardest part.  Tinkering becomes tampering, and doesn’t always lead to a good result.

Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
I learned that I’m proud of myself for taking the challenge, getting the book finished and for putting forth my best creative effort.  It’s my small “stamp” on the world.

Do you have any advice for other writers?
Don’t give up!  Follow your dream, don’t become discouraged by critques or criticism.  View it objectively, use what you can, discard the rest.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers? 
Only that I hope they’ve enjoyed the journey with me through the book.  If they put the book down and feel satisfied that I hadn’t “cheated” him or her with my plot or mystery, then that’s a good day’s work.

Any special appearances or events coming up that you want to mention?
I have a slide show presentation called, “History Meets Mystery” that explores how Death Stalks the Khmer came about, and also informs the viewer briefly about the history of Cambodia and the Khmer Rouge times.  This presentation is one I do for community groups and residents at retirement homes.

Who is your publisher and how did you connect with them?
My current publisher is Museitup Publishing out of Quebec.  The publisher, Lea Schizas, has had the Muse Conference online for several years, and I’ve been one of the many instructors that she’s used.

How can we find you? Website, Facebook, Twitter, blog, etc. - please share your public links.

Find me at, on Facebook and Twitter, under my name.

Blurb: Winter's Soul

All of her life, Elizabeth Sidham, 20, has dreamed of one day marrying into one of Britain’s elite families. It had been Elizabeth’s mother’s wish, too, even to her dying day.
When George Arbuthnot invites Elizabeth to a dinner dance at his family’s manor house, she believes that finally, her dream might come true—for he “belongs.” He is “one of them”, a member of the British Peerage.
George courts Elizabeth, encouraged and guided by his domineering mother, Catherine Arbuthnot. She is determined that he produce an heir—albeit that he has a predilection, one such that he might never marry. But that is a subject, neither mother nor her only son talk about. At his Mother’s coaching and insistence, George woos Elizabeth and the two are married.
After their honeymoon, the couple move into Heathwood Manor, the ancestral home. George’s best friend, William, who is always in the background and often present, promises to “always be a support.” And he is, to both George and Elizabeth.

Where to buy the book:

Patricia Harrington enjoys writing mysteries and short fiction.  Her latest work is Antiguan Redemption (Museitup Publishing), which will be released in late June.  Her amateur sleuth series features Bridget O'Hern, who does in her fictional life, what her creator does in real life: consult and write grants to help non-profit organizations serving those on the fringe of mainstream society.  Patricia is a member of Mystery Writers of America, and president of MWA's Northwest Chapter.  She also is a Short Mystery Fiction Society Derringer recipient for her work, "Secondhand Shoe."


  1. Really pleased to know so much more about Patricia Harrington. I love her books.

  2. Annie, thanks for coming by to visit. I, too, enjoy Pat's books and look forward to reading more from her.