Tell our readers a little about yourself and your writing.
I used to be an economist who read a lot of mystery stories and dabbled in writing fiction. When I retired from economics, I began writing fulltime. My mysteries are more puzzle than thriller and more cozy than hard-boiled, but they are not books where someone dies but no one gets hurt. I want to my readers to feel the characters’ emotions. Whether the victim is a homeless man on the margins of society, a nasty old woman, or an aspiring young actress, someone cares that they are gone. I hope the reader cares, too, and cheers when the killer is brought to justice.
Tell us about your pets. Are any of them models for pets in your writing?
My husband and I both grew up with dogs, and when our children were young, we had a menagerie of dogs, cats, and guinea pigs, some of which I have used in my writing. I’m down to just one pet these days, a 13-year-old Alaskan malamute named Babe. Every morning, Babe and I walk up a steep hill to a park overlooking San Francisco. If we’re early enough, we catch the sunrise on the bay. It’s good exercise and a good way to begin the day. I have not written about her yet, but I will.
Tell us about any pets you have in your books/stories. Are any of them recurring characters? What are they and their names?
Dorian Gray is a large fluffy orange cat and the reincarnation of a large fluffy orange cat my daughter acquired when she was in high school. Dorian is in all three Claire Marshall books. He is Claire’s companion and comfort. She can tell him anything. And he tries to warn her… There are also horses in Secrets, Lies & Homicide, because I was one of those little girls obsessed with horses – as was Claire.
What are you reading now?
Zagreb Cowboy by Alen Mattich, a thriller set in Croatia in 1991 just as Yugoslavia is descending into civil war. It was a Christmas present, given to me because I spent several years working in Croatia after the civil war ended. It’s a page-turner, and I’m enjoying revisiting once familiar places.
What writing projects are you currently working on?
I have a “finished” novel and about a third of the sequel in the drawer while I figure out what happens next. Meanwhile, I’ve been writing short stories and have a couple in anthologies, most recently in Snowbound: Best New England Crime Stories 2017. I’m in an experimental mood, and short stories allow me to experiment without getting six months down the road and deciding it’s just not working. One of the short stories I’m fooling around with is a “romance” between a cat lady and a con man.
Who is your favorite author and why?
It’s a long list because I love to read and there are so many good writers, but If I have to pick one, Elizabeth Strout. My favorite mystery writer is Louise Penny, and I write the same type of character-driven, not quite cozy mystery that she does.
Did you have childhood pets? If so, tell us about them.
A boxer named Duchess, a hound mix named Chloe, and a German shepherd named Toby were part of my childhood. My mother resisted rodents as pets, but one of my sisters did have a horned toad. My high-school tying teacher gave me a Siamese cat named Sam that I talked my parents into keeping. Sam has a role in The Cat Lady and The Con Man. For years, I desperately wanted a horse, but it was not to be.
Why do you include animals in your writing?
Animals have been part of my life, and it just feels right to make them part of my main character’s life. I can imagine a world without animals but I wouldn’t want to spend time in it.
What’s your favorite book or movie that had an animal as a central character? Why?
As a child I devoured Walter Farley’s Black Stallion series (as well as Nancy Drew), but I didn’t like the movies as much. As an adult, Marley and Me is my favorite. The book and the movie were both wonderful.
What’s your real-life funniest pet story?
Nothing I can repeat here, but trust me, it was funny.
What do your pets do when you are writing?
Babe lies on the rug by the door to my office. I cannot go anywhere without stepping over her. I believe that’s the point.
Patricia Dusenbury is a recovering economist trying to atone for all those dull reports by writing mysteries that people read for pleasure. Her first book, A Perfect Victim, won the 2015 Eppie, the Electronic Publishing Industry Coalitions award, for best mystery. The next two books in the trilogy were finalists for the Eppie: Secrets, Lies & Homicide in 2016 and A House of Her Own 2017. Each book is a stand-alone mystery story. Read in order they are also the story of a young woman’s journey from emotionally fragile widow to a daring new life.
Patricia lives on a very steep street in San Francisco and, when she is not writing, can be found hanging out with the grandkids or enjoying the fabulous city that is her home. She is a member of NorCal sisters in Crime.
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