Monday, 30 August 2010

Patricia Rockwell’s Virtual Book Tour for Sounds of Murder: Anna asks some questions

Anna: I have read Patricia Rockwell's mystery, Sounds of Murder, and am very pleased that she is here today to talk about her book. Thank you so much for visiting Anna's Adornments, Patricia. Normally, this is a blog about the craft of jewellery-making, but today we get to learn about the craft of writing and think about reading, and what pleasure a really good book can give. Why is your novel called a 'cozy' and 'an acoustic mystery'? I've heard of the term 'cozy' before, but not 'an acoustic mystery'.

Patricia Rockwell: Anna, thank you for inviting me to your blog to discuss my new cozy mystery, Sounds of Murder. My book is a cozy mystery, actually I’ve labeled it “an acoustic mystery” because my heroine, Pamela Barnes, is a psychology professor who studies sound and conducts research using acoustic technology. When one of her colleagues is murdered, she resolves to find the killer using an accidentally made recording of the actual murder. As she analyzes the sounds on the murder tape, she is unaware that the murderer is becoming suspicious of her activities and plotting to stop her.

Anna: That must be something new. I have never heard of that before. Let's go back to the term 'cozy' for a minute.

I have been thinking a lot about what a cozy is compared to a suspense novel. Your profile says that you like Dean Koontz' novels. I have read several of them, like Midnight; they are real 'page-turners', but often so horribly gruesome and graphic. By definition a cozy should let the crime be committed between chapters. What does a cozy like Sounds of Murder offer the reader instead of the blood and gore of other kinds of novels like suspense and crime novels?

Sara Cat admires Cozette, the Cozy Cat Press - cat

Patricia Rockwell: Anna, I like your observation that in cozies, crimes occur “between” chapters. That is definitely how my book Sounds of Murder is and--truly--how I generally like all murder mysteries that I read to be. I don’t care to actually read anything bloody or gory or anything overly graphic or violent. I’m guessing that most cozy readers feel the same way; that’s why they like cozies. For me, the thrill of a cozy is in the detecting, in the figuring things out aspect. What makes the detective suspect one person over another? What are the clues? How does one clue connect to another? What does a particular clue tell the detective? These are all questions that I find fascinating and that I want to have answered when I read a mystery.

Anna: If I may speak as a reader, I know exactly when, where and how I got interested in reading mysteries. It was January 26th, 2007. An accident with one of the children forced me to wait around in a hospital for about 18 hours, first in the emergncy room, then in an intensive care unit and then finally all night on the children's ward. I got a little something to eat but had nothing to read to pass the time. It would have been a great comfort to have had Sounds of Murder to read at that time. I had already seen enough blood for one day, so I would not have liked to have to read a gruesome suspense novel. The warmth in your cozy mystery would have felt like having a friend there with me. I really enjoyed reading it now.
There are a lot of people who, for different reasons could be helped by having the companionship of a really good book, like Sounds of Murder.
That was just a thought. Now I would like to talk about anything that you think is important about your novel. The importance of language and word-play? The role of humour in your cozy. The importance of building a world--the academic world of the university--in which your characters play out their roles.

Patricia Rockwell: As you can probably guess, being a former teacher, language and word-play are important to me. I’ve tried to use language in my cozy that is true to life--that is, that sounds like my characters would speak. Also, I try to write with an informal style; I want the language of my book to make my reader feel as if we are just having a conversation.

Humor is also important to me, but it has to be humor that develops naturally from the characters and the situations. One of my favorite humorous segments in Sounds of Murder is a scene at a restaurant, where my main character Pamela and her two best friends go on a Friday night to enjoy themselves and have a few drinks. They get quite relaxed and the jibes and ribaldry begin to roll. This was a really fun scene to write because I was able to incorporate a lot of the humor that I recalled from similar outings with female friends of mine.

Building the academic world in which the story takes place was actually one of the easier chores for me in writing Sounds of Murder. I spent most of my life teaching at a college or university so I have a lot of experiences on which to draw--and a lot of my colleagues--particularly those who were interesting characters--have found their way into Sounds of Murder.

Anna: Another thought: How are you going to write several novels with this same protagonist? Do you already have outlines for coming novels with her?

Patricia Rockwell: You’re not the first person to ask this. One critic pondered whether it would be possible for Pamela to solve any more crimes using acoustic technology. That is, just how many criminals leave sound clues when they commit murder? Actually, given my interest and background in sound and acoustics, I really believe there is no end to the number of stories that can use the acoustic mystery theme. In my second mystery, which will be out next year, the murder of a radio station disk jockey is heard on air, but no one witnesses it in person and the police are stymied. Pamela, my amateur sleuth, is asked to assist the police by listening to the audio tape of the murder to see if she can determine anything about the killer. That book is completely finished. I’m planning a third mystery that involves a married man who leaves a voice mail message for his mistress and who is subsequently found murdered. Pamela will be asked to assist the police by analyzing the voice mail tape. As I see it, as long as murderers or criminals make noises or speak, Pamela Barnes will be able to continue solving her acoustic mysteries.

Anna: Can you tell us something about how you write? Do you have a routine?

Patricia Rockwell: Actually, I wrote Sounds of Murder last November during the NaNoWriMo challenge. If you or your readers don’t know about NaNoWriMo, it stands for National Novel Writing Month, and it’s an event that occurs every November, when aspiring writers promise to write every day diligently until they reach 50,000 or the end of their novel--whichever comes first. I decided to try it because I thought it would motivate me to get my book finished. I really think it helped me because it forced me to write every day. I resolved to finish a chapter each day and as I had outlined 30 chapters for my book and there are 30 days in November, it worked out perfectly.

Anna: That is amazing! I have done NaBloPoMo, National Blog Posting Month and looked at NaNoWriMo, and wondered if I should try it. And you really did it!

You say you worked from an outline. Did you follow it closely?

Patricia Rockwell: I didn’t know when I started what would work for me. It was my first novel. I usually outlined academic papers so I figured I would outline my novel and I created a fairly complex outline. It changed a lot as I progressed but I found it helped me keep on track. For my second book, my outline wasn’t nearly as complicated. I guess I had figured out what worked best for me and I knew the depth of outline that I would need in advance.

Anna: Well, whatever you did, it really did work, because I think your pacing and timing are perfect. You must have a good perception of when you have said enough and need to go on to something else. Do you do a lot of editing and rewriting?

Patricia Rockwell: Oh, my, yes. I learned that from my academic writing. I learned that if I didn’t edit my own work, an editor or a peer reviewer would. I am ruthless on my own writing. I chop out entire chapters without batting an eyelash. I figure I have to be this way. I always told my students the importance of editing one’s own work--writing and rewriting and then rewriting some more. I don’t think students ever really realize the extent and the amount of editing and rewriting that professors do with their own academic writing; they just assume those published works just sort of float out of our brains. It’s anything but true. I was used to editing and rewriting, so, yes, I did a lot of it for Sounds of Murder, and I will probably continue to do massive amounts of editing of anything I write in the future.

I hope these responses answer your questions. It’s really been fun responding to your individual requests. Thank you so much, Anna, for hosting my virtual book tour and supporting my cozy mystery Sounds of Murder.

Anna: The pleasure is all mine! I can't wait to read the next book! And now I would like to extend an invitation to all who have read this interview to leave comments and/or ask more questions of Dr. Rockwell, as she has promised to respond in the comment box today. Because of the different time-zones around the world, it may go slowly, but let's give it a try! Don't be shy! If there is something you would like to ask Patricia Rockwell, please write it in the comment box.

If you have not followed the interviews that Dr. Rockwell did before this one you may want to read them first before asking your questions. Please find the links below:

Best wishes to all,


First Commenter:

Pricilla of

The Maaaaa of Pricilla

Here are links to the previous interviews in Patricia Rockwell's Virtual Book Tour:

1. Wednesday August 25th - Lori's Reading Corner

2. Thursday August 26th - Lola's Diner

3. Friday August 27th - Grab A book From Our Stack

4. Sunday August 29th - New Book Blogger

Here are links to reviews of Sounds of Murder:

¤ 'Mac', Martha A. Cheves, of A Book and A Dish reviewed Patricia Rockwell's cozy on June 9th - Please click here

¤ Betty Gelean's Review 07/30/2010 by Please click here.

Visit Patricia Rockwell's blogs:


Pricilla said...

What a thoughtful and thought provoking interview. I had not known the definition of a cozy mystery and always wondered. Thanks for clearing that up for me.

Ann said...

What a delightful interview. I've never heard of a cozy mystery before but that sounds like my kind of book. I've read several Dean Koontz books and enjoyed all of them. "Sounds of Murder" sounds like something I would truly enjoy reading.

Lin said...

I have been following Patricia on her Book Tour and I like how each blogger asks different questions about her book. I like yours, Anna, about the outline. I always wondered about that and editing.

Good interview from both of you!

Patricia Rockwell said...

Thank you, Anna! It's been a joy visiting your blog!

BeadedTail said...

I love reading and learning about new authors and I enjoyed this interview very much! I hadn't heard of cozy mysteries before either. I love how she wrote a chapter a day during the November writing challenge too. That is very inspiring! I will certainly check out her book too!

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