Friday, July 27, 2018

Author Interview with PJ MacLayne #MysteryExchange

Welcome PJ MacLayne! Thank you so much for stopping by my blog and answering a few questions. I'm happy to have you here. Well, let's get started... 

What kind of research did you do for The Marquesa's Necklace? Did you travel, use the Internet, speak with experts on a topic, etc?

I based my book in the general area where I grew up, so the setting came to me instinctively. What I needed to research was legal things-laws, procedures for law enforcement, how a small town police force might work. I drew a lot of information from an e-mail loop I belong to that includes past and current law enforcement folks. I filled in some of the blank spots through Internet research.

What process did you go through when you picked your characters’ names for The Marquesa's Necklace?

I'm bad with names. When I started this book, the only characters I had names for were the two main characters. The rest came along as the book developed. One character’s name I changed during my first round of editing because it was too similar to another name I used in the story.

Are your characters based on anyone you know?

I've taken bits and pieces of people I've known and rolled them into my characters, so no one character is based on any one person. That way I don't feel tied down as the character develops in the course of the story.

Do any of your characters take over and write the book themselves sometimes? Who?

All the time! I'd intended for The Marquesa's Necklace to be a paranormal romance. In fact, the original title was ‘The Ghost Who Loved Me.’ But Harmony Duprie, the main character, soon let me know that I was wrong. I had to rework the beginning of the story and it turned into a cozy mystery with a romantic element.

What do you prefer: ebook or print? Why?

Both! I love the feel of a book in my hands and turning the pages, If I don't have books somehwere in my house, I feel as if a major element is missing. But I also love the convenience of ebooks, and being able to carry a lot of books inside a small tablet, especially if I am traveling.

How long have you been writing? When did you decide to become an author?

I started writing poetry when I was in high school. I didn't switch to fiction until about six years ago. There was a story floating around in my brain that would never become a poem so I decided to try to write it as a book. The book wasn't great, even after three revisions, but I got hooked and I've been writing fiction ever since.

All writers suffer from writer’s block at least once in their career. What’s your go-to cure?

I don't have the perfect cure, but I find going back and edited what I've already written helps most of the time. Puts me back in touch with where the story has been and hopefully, where it's going. Or I’ll switch back to my beginnings and try to write a poem to clear the creative block.

We all need a little inspiration in our lives. What’s your favorite quote and why?

It's not terribly inspirational, but I love the quote “Do not meddle in the affairs of dragons for you are crunchy and taste good with ketchup.” Although its origin is unknown, it seems like good advice! (Yes, I have been known to meddle where I shouldn’t.)

Any advice for the aspiring authors out there? Particularly those who are feeling a little discouraged?

Don’t worry about word count, grammatical errors, or perfection in the first draft. It’s more important to get words on paper. You’re going to need to go back and edit it anyway. (Several times, probably!) My first book is tucked away on a flash drive and will never see publication. And that’s okay. I learned a lot about writing in the process and it helped to make subsequent books better.

How do you market your books? What do you find more effective?

I’ve had my best results with paid advertising, sites like eBookDaily and RobinReads. I love appearing on blogs, but it can be difficult to find ones with the right audience. Facebook ads haven’t worked for me and I get limited results from the numerous promo groups on Facebook. I love making appearances and selling my books directly to readers, but the opportunities for that are limited in my area.

What is your favorite book? Favorite author?

How about a series? Out of all the Dragons of Pern series by Anne McCaffrey, I like the Harper Hall collection the best. As far as my favorite author, she and Mercedes Lackey are about even. It depends upon my mood any given day.

Besides writing and reading, what are some of your hobbies?

I love to do needlepoint and other needle art. (I’m pretty good at it, too!) I have a large variety of completed projects decorating not only my home, but the home of relatives as well.

What’s your most bizarre life experience?

I’ve had a lot of interesting life experiences, although I wouldn’t call any of them bizarre.
Like when I hopped on a Greyhound bus to go to a college 1000 miles away without every seeing it. Or the time I hung from a cliff’s edge as part of a lesson in rescues for a rock climbing course. (I got to rappel down a cliff as part of that course, too.) As far as bizarre, there was the experience of watching a plane fly along the Oregon Coast at night and never hearing its engines. At all. Never.


Harmony Duprie enjoyed her well-ordered life in the quiet little town of Oak Grove—until her arrest for drug trafficking. Cleared of all charges, she wants nothing more than to return to the uneventful lifestyle of a historical researcher she once savored.

But when her beloved old car “George” is stolen and explodes into a ball of flames, it sets off a series of events that throws her plans into turmoil. Toss in a police detective that may or may not be interested in her, an attractive but mysterious stranger on her trail, and an ex-boyfriend doing time, and Harmony’s life freefalls into a downward spiral of chaos.

Now she has to use her research skills to figure out who is behind the sinister incidents plaguing her, and why. And she better take it seriously, like her life depends upon finding the right answers.

Because it might.


Officer Felton left me in the barely-furnished lobby. It was a place you don’t want to stay in too long—several hard plastic chairs, a beat-up fake wood end table and a few old magazines scattered about. It smelled like stale cigarettes, and appeared not to have been cleaned for weeks. I perched on the edge of a chair and put my hands between my knees to keep from touching anything. Thankfully, it was only moments until Detective Thomason appeared. I gave him the once over—brown hair still cut short—check. Glasses hiding those dark brown eyes—check. His shirt rumpled and in need of an iron—check. No wedding band in his finger—check. Yep, nothing had changed.

As I stood, his eyes wandered from my face down to my shoes. The corners of his lips curled upward, but I wouldn’t say that he smiled. A smile would have looked odd on his normally grim face.

“If you would come with me, please?” he said.

He even put the please in there, unlike our previous encounters. Of course, those times, I had been either in booking or in one of the interrogation chambers. I know, I know, they’re interview rooms. Whatever. I followed him through a maze of desks and hallways and into a small but comfortable office, my heels clicking on the tile floor. I’d never noticed before what a nice behind he had. I wondered if it was just the pants he was wearing, or if I’d just not looked before, having other things on my mind. Like calling a lawyer.

“Have a seat, please,” he said, indicating an armless office chair—at least its seat was padded. He sat on the other side of a desk covered with an assortment of files and paperwork, and picked up a file from the top of the stack.

“Harmony,” he said tentatively.

“Detective Thomason,” He might be trying to be friendly, but I still hadn’t forgiven him for arresting me.

He cleared his throat, and set the file back on his desk. “Did you let anyone borrow your car today?” he asked.

“No, my keys are right here.” I started digging through the contents of my purse.

“I’ll take your word for it,” he said, after I pulled out my checkbook, a packet of pink tissues, and a paperback with an almost-naked man on the front cover and piled them on the corner of his desk. His mouth twitched. “Have you made any new enemies recently, Miss Duprie?” I guess he got my message about the terms of our relationship.

“Besides a certain insufferable cop?” Even in the artificial fluorescent light, I saw the red rising in his cheeks. I could almost hear him counting to ten as I pretended to consider the question. “I think Larry, the florist, is ticked off that I’m not receiving flowers anymore. And Bart at the grocery store yelled at me last week when I went through the ten items or less line with fourteen items. But what does that have to do with someone stealing and wrecking my car?”

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Author Bio: 

Born and raised among the rolling hills of western Pennsylvania, P.J. MacLayne still finds inspiration for her books in that landscape. She is a computer geek by day and a writer by night who currently lives in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains. When she's not in front of a computer screen, she might be found exploring the back roads of the nearby national forests and parks. In addition to the Free Wolves’ stories, she is also the author of the Oak Grove series.

P.J. MacLayne can be reached on:
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