Monday, July 11, 2011

Interview with Pat Blair

The Story-Teller's Tool: "What If?"

Until fairly recent times, residents in rural areas across Europe set out bowls of milk and porridge at night for those they called the "fair folk".

Dragons or dragonlike creatures flew across the skies from present-day Mexico to Europe to China and Japan. The Japanese royal family claims descent from dragons. England's patron saint, George, was a dragon-slayer.

Across the world we have legends of wizards and sorcerers. Tales of magic.

Shadow Path, and the other stories in my Portals series, began with a single, simple question: What if?

What if elves and dragons and wizards are real? What if these stories that we dismiss today as myths and fairy tales are based on flesh-and-blood creatures known to our ancestors?

It's the story-teller's stock-in-trade: What if?

What if there is a world of magic, separated from our world by gateways or portals? What if those portals once stood open, allowing our ancestors to interact with that world's inhabitants, which is why we have stories of those beings?

And what if those gateways, at some time in the not-too-distant future, should open again?

That's what happens in my stories. The Portals, after being closed for a thousand or so of our years, open again, and wizards and elves and other creatures of our legends (and nightmares) come back to our world. Bringing their magic with them.

Corpus Christi, Texas, police detective Kat Morales and her partner, Tevis Mac Leod, an elf from the magical realms, investigate crimes that result when magic is used for the wrong reasons. In their first adventure, Shadow Path, they find themselves investigating a series of murders that seem to make no sense.

Until they discover that the killer is an old acquaintance of Tevis', a former lover, a wielder of black magic. She tried to kill him once, long ago, and failed.

Now she's back to finish the job.

Author Bio:
P.L. Blair was born and grew up in Tyler, Texas; lived 10 years in the Corpus Christi/Rockport area before moving to Sheridan, Wyo., in the mid-1980s. She returned to Rockport in 2008 to be closer to family, but she continues to spend summers in Sheridan. She has worked for more than 30 years as a newspaper reporter. She wrote Shadow Path, the first novel in her Portals fantasy/detective series, in 2007, and followed it with three more Stormcaller, Deathtalker and Sister Hoods.

Shadow Path has recently been released as an ebook, available on Kindle.
In addition to her human family, Blair shares her life with two basset hounds, a longhaired dachshund and two cats, all rescued.

1) Links to website and list of books with purchase links:


BOOKS available from Studio See Publishing, LLC:

Shadow Path
Sister Hoods

You can also find her at:
Creatures-n-Crooks Bookshop

2) How long have you been writing? What got you in to writing?

I've been writing since I was about 7 or 8 years old. I wrote a story about a witch--all of maybe two pages long--and my teacher encouraged me to read it in front of the class. I discovered I could entertain people with my stories, and I was hooked.

3) What was your first published book? Looking back, is there anything you’d change about it?

Shadow Path is my first published book. It's the first of my Portals fantasy/detective series. I've tweaked it a little between the time it first came out in print and, within the last few weeks, an ebook. But there are no significant changes.

4) What or Who has influenced your writing?

The list is endless--my grandfather, who taught me to read by reading to me when I was maybe 2 or 3 years grandmother, who always had a houseful of books and no restraints on what I could, or could not, read...William Butler Yeats, whose small book compiling the folklore of teh Irish countryside fired my imagination with tales of sidhe and banshees and leprechauns...JRR Tolkien, who introduced me to Middle Earth...H.P. Lovecraft, whose horror stories are probably responsible for a touch of that element in my stories...Authur Conan Doyle, who introduced me to that greatest of all detectives, Sherlock Holmes...

5) Where do you get your ideas?

My own imagination. I love to play "what if"--which is at the core of all my stories. What if the realms of magic--of elves and wizards, dragons and all the creatures we consdier mythology and "fairy tales"--actually existed, separated from our world by gateways--and what if those gateways should open and we suddenly came face to face with magic-wielding creatures with their own agendas...

6) What hinders your writing? (distractions? noise?)

Too much quiet. I worked for newspapers for 30-plus years, and I got accustomed to writing stories amid the hubbub of an open newsroom--people talking to phones, or to each other, only inches from my desk...phones ringing...the sounds of typewriters (I predate computers)...and the general chaos. So I have trouble writing if there isn't a certain amount of chaos around me.

7) What genre are you most comfortable with? What would you like to explore?

I'm most comfortable with my current genre--fantasy/detective. I'd like to try my hand at epic fantasy--Tolkienesque writing--and maybe science fiction and a straight detective novel. All genres interest me.

8) Are you a by-the-seat-of-your-pants kind of writer, or do you have to use an outline to put your collective thoughts into some semblance of common sense?

I consider myself more of a storyteller than a writer, and I find that the seat-of-the-pants flow best suits my style. I love to watch the story come together under my hands, and I like the free flow of events–action, reaction, reaction. I've never been good at outlining. In school, I would always write my term paper first–then the outline.

9) Which of your books is your favorite? Why?

It's interesting--I just blogged about that on Goodreads. Each of my books is a favorite for different reasons. I do have a special fondness for Shadow Path as my first book, the one that introduces my characters and opens the doors for the rest to follow.

10) Do you incorporate some of yourself into your characters? Personality traits? Likes? Dislikes?

There's probably a great deal of me in my characters, especially in Kat Morales, my female--and very human--police detective. Except of course that she's younger, prettier, and doesn't have to constantly fight the "battle of the bulge." But I think it's hard to not incorporate some of yourself into your characters.

11) What do you think is the perfect hero/heroine? Why?

The perfect hero/heroine is someone who reflects those qualities that we most admire in ourselves and others--but who isn't perfect. Heroes (of either gender) should have some weakness, because the weaknessess are what readers can relate to and empathize with. We need heroes who can stand up to the challenges, yet who are not so infallible that we can't imagine ourselves in their stead.

12) Do you have any suggestions/comments for prospective authors?

Write what you care about – what you're passionate about. Write not for money but because it's what you enjoy. Have fun. I've said that I consider myself first and foremost a storyteller – that's the fun for me, because I'm telling myself a story as I write. Be true to yourself and to your characters.

1) If you could be an animal, what would it be? Why?

A cat. Because even fat cats look sleek and elegant. Cats are amazing creatures who can scale walls and trees, and they exude mystery.

2) If you had super powers, what would they be? Why?

I'd love to be able to fly--to soar above the clouds, to take in huge chunks of landscape (or seascape) at a glance.

3) If you could be an immortal, what would you want to be? Why?

An elf--if you count elves, as Tolkien did (and I do in my books)--as immortals. Because they're beautiful and graceful, because they have a touch of magic.

4) If you could change three things in the world, what would they be? Why?

Everyone would have a place to live, everyone would have foot do eat, and there would be no prejudice or discrimination against anyone.

5) Is there anywhere you’d like to visit? Why?

Ireland. My great-grandfather came from there, and my Irish heritage speaks strongly to me.

6) Do you have a crush on any actor/actress? Who?

David McCallum--ever since I saw him as Illya Kuryakin on the Old Man From Uncle TV series. He's my mental image for my elf character, Tevis, and it's Illya Kuryakin's voice I hear speaking Tevis' words in dialog. And in his 70s, he's still gorgeous.


Be sure to check out Pat Blair's passion for Animal Rescue, today on the Dessert Diva's Kitchen Blog.

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