Thursday, June 30, 2011

9mm: An interview with PA Brown

When I began the 9mm interviews on Crime Watch more than a year ago, my intention was to gradually build up an interesting series of author interviews. I thought it would be fun to see how different authors, from all across the world, and at different stages of their careers, would answer the same list of questions (at least some of which I hoped would be a little different to questions some of the more well-known authors would have been asked many times in interviews before).

I thought it would be good to have a mix of big-name bestselling international authors, New Zealand-based authors, and other overseas authors that were perhaps less widely known - so the series has continued to have that mix over the past fifteen months. I hope you have all been enjoying learning something more about authors you’ve heard of and read, and learning something about some authors that were new to you.

For the 53rd instalment in the series, today I’m sharing my recent 9mm interview with Canadian author Pat Brown, who writes under the name PA Brown. She grew up in western Canada, and has lived in southern California, Hawaii, and Bermuda, before returning to Canada a few years ago. Now she lives in London, Ontario. Brown is the author of several mystery novels, including ‘the LA series’ (LA HEAT, LA MISCHIEF, LA BONEYARD, etc), which blends police procedural with gay romance. Brown has also written several other crime novels starring gay protagonists.

Brown’s books have got plenty of very good reader reviews on websites like Amazon and Good Reads. On her website (click here), she says that she sets most of her books in LA because of the experiences she had during the years she spent there. “The time I spent in L.A, the land of dreams and lies, where illusion battled daily with reality, and reality rarely wins made an indelible impression on me and to this day almost all my writing is set there.”

Examiner.com said of LA BONEYARD that: “Brown's grasp of police procedure is awesome, you'd almost think she'd been there, done that, and she brings The City of the Angels so vividly to life it made this old Angeleno homesick for a burger at Tommy's. Both lend the story a terrific sense of believability, as does a fine ear for dialogue.”

I must admit that down here in New Zealand, Brown was an author I’d never heard about, until recently (and that was thanks to the Internet). However, I am intrigued by the sound of some of her books, and look forward to giving one a go in the near future. But for now, PA Brown stares down the barrel of 9mm.

9MM: AN INTERVIEW WITH PA BROWN

Who is your favourite recurring crime fiction hero/detective?
Harry Bosch from Michael Connelly's series.

What was the very first book you remember reading and really loving, and why?
It would have been THE BLACK STALLION. I was beyond horse crazy as a kid (well, I still am) and back then for the first few years, I wouldn't read anything that didn't have a horse in it.

Before your debut crime novel, what else had you written (if anything) unpublished manuscripts, short stories, articles?
I had written about 8 science fiction novels before I switched to crime and sold the first book I wrote. I didn't really switch for that reason - just to sell - but over the years I grew away from SF and found myself reading more and more mystery, so it seemed only logical to try my hand at writing one.

Outside of writing, and touring and promotional commitments, what do you really like to do, leisure and activity-wise?
I love baking and cooking and I guess it goes without saying, eating. I love travelling, though so far I confine my travels to places that relate to my writing. I also still love horses and still dream of spending a week on a working ranch, riding all the time. Even when I do travel for research purposes, I try to see places off the tourist lists. Last time I was in Los Angeles I stayed for 2 weeks in a youth hostel, sharing a room with 5 strangers, who changed constantly. It was a lot more fun than any chain hotel. I'm doing it again next year for a whole month.

What is one thing that visitors to your hometown should do, that isn't in the tourist brochures, or perhaps they wouldn’t initially consider?
Oh boy, that's a dangerous question. Off the top of my head I'd say the first thing you should do as a visitor is get on the first train out of town. LOL. Sorry, I'm not overly fond of where I live right now, but finances keep me here. If I had to suggest someplace to visit that wasn't in the tourist info, I guess it would be Wortley Village, one of the older areas of town that hasn't been rebuilt and is almost like a small village in the centre of town. It has a lot of unique shops in it, and lovely old homes to look at. If you're a bird watcher, come in the spring and walk along the Thames River from Blackfriars Bridge to Springbank Park, several miles of walking trail.

If your life was a movie, which actor could you see playing you?
Sigourney Weaver

Of your books, which is your favourite, and why?
I'd have to say L.A. BONEYARD, because I think it's one of the deepest I've written and it was a little bit daring, since I put one of the main, recurring characters in a bad light which I knew some of his fans wouldn't appreciate.

What was your initial reaction, and how did you celebrate, when you were first accepted for publication? Or when you first saw your debut story in book form on a bookseller’s shelf?
Mostly a numb, I can't believe this is happening. It was even funnier when I got my last agent. When I first opened the email, I thought it was about something else, then when the words "I want to represent you" soaked in I just stared at the email for several seconds, then shut it down, read some more emails, and opened the agent's one again. I did that 4 or 5 times before it really sank in. I even got up and walked around a bit before I went and opened it again, thinking there has to be a 'but' in there someplace that I was missing. It finally sank in, but it took a while. My first book didn't have quite the impact, but then from the time my agent got the deal to when the book came out was almost 2 years so I had a lot more time to absorb the idea. It was still neat to see my book on a book shelf though.

What is the strangest or most unusual experience you have had at a book signing, author event, or literary festival?
The worst had to be the night I asked 2 other writers to join me in an author's night at a local pub. It was local to me, but they both had to drive nearly 2 hours to get there - and no one showed up. All kinds of people had responded to the Facebook invite saying they were attending, but the pub was empty all night. I felt so bad that these 2 authors had come all that way for nothing.


Thank you PA Brown. We appreciate you taking the time to talk to Crime Watch

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Have you read any of PA Brown's mystery novels? If so, what do you think? Have you read much, or any, crime fiction with gay or lesbain protagonists? Comments welcome.

1 comment:

  1. So far I have read "L.A. Heat." It was truly excellent! I intend to read her other books too.

    "L.A. Heat" has a gay protagonist. (I have not read any other gay or lesbian fiction as that is not normally my area of interest since I am heterosexual and love to read about male-female interactions.) As far as L.A. Heat goes anyone should find it interesting, whether gay or straight, a very good mystery that puts you in a different world and is educational in that sense too. I am in a writing group with the author and she was such a fascinating commentator that I knew I would want to read all her books.

    --Brenda

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