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 ; 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
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.
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.
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,
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 ReviewTheBook.com Please click here.
Visit Patricia Rockwell's blogs: