Pat, tell us about Mixed Messages.
There’s a serial killer on the loose on the west side of Cincinnati. It’s the week of Halloween and Ann Kern struggles with several issues. Her primary concern is her marriage which, like her neighborhood, is in jeopardy. It seems to Ann that everyone she knows or comes into contact with is sending her mixed messages.
Ann dismisses a psychic’s warning that she is in danger. But, when she receives a series of ominous biblical quotes, she grows nervous and suspicious of everyone, including her own husband. As the bizarre and frightening events unfold, Ann discovers a handmade tombstone marked with her name, pushing her close to the edge. Will she be the Westwood Strangler’s next victim?
What prompted you to begin writing?
Jean, I don’t remember a time when I didn’t write. Poems as a child and teenager, short stories for years and my first novel attempts in the early 90s but neither of the two books I attempted to write held my interest long enough for me to finish them. I first got the idea for my mystery novel, Mixed Messages, in 1995 and, this time, the characters and the plot wouldn’t let me go.
Why mystery novels?
I love a mystery! When I was a young girl, I read Judy Bolton and Nancy Drew mysteries constantly. We lived in a big, old house with a woods behind it and that fed my imagination. Also, there were several TV shows back then like “Checkmate” and “The Thin Man,” which encouraged my interest in the genre. So, it was natural for me to continue to read mysteries and, eventually, to write them.
Tell us about your protagonist? Do you share any character or physical traits with her? If so, what?
The only physical characteristic I share with my protagonist, Ann, is our dark brown hair. As to character traits, we both have a strong faith in God and are basically optimistic people. I really don’t see any other similarities. I think the short stories I wrote for years satisfied my urge to write anything autobiographical.
What’s the easiest and most difficult part of writing for you?
I’ll answer this question in reverse order. The most difficult part for me is creating beginnings that grab the reader. I have a tendency to want to tell my stories the way the children’s books were written when I was a child. I like “Once upon a time. . .” However, readers don’t. They want to be drawn into the story, to be “hooked” immediately. Figuring out how to do that is often a challenge for me.
Now for the easiest. Creating my characters. I take bits and pieces of people I know or have met and combine them to create unique fictional characters. That’s the easiest and the most fun for me.
Who has most influenced your own writing and why?
That’s a tough question. I think it’s a combination of many things. For example, I know that the early novels of Mary Higgins Clark played a part. My favorite is Where are the Children? Before I started writing Mixed Messages, I analyzed Mary’s novel to see what she did to make it work. I’ve always been an avid reader of mystery/suspense novels and I’m sure that my reading has influenced my writing too. Mostly, I have a story to tell and I can only write that story in a way that works for me.
How did you get into the resume writing business? And what’s the most unusual resume you’ve written (or humorous)?
When I was in my late thirties, I experienced burnout with the job I’d been doing for years but I didn’t know what else to do. (Keep in mind that I always wrote fiction while I was otherwise employed.) So, I went to a career counselor. She asked me, “What are you good at and what do you love?” My answer, “Writing and people.” I checked the Dictionary of Occupational Titles at the library and looked through various jobs that would satisfy that criteria. That’s how I decided to start my resume business, which I closed over ten years ago.
The funniest story about a resume client had to do with an ongoing disagreement with my ex-husband. He “suggested” I not claim resume proceeds on my taxes when I was paid in cash. I refused to do that. I knew I’d made the right decision when a man who worked for the IRS called for an appointment.
What advice would you give fellow mystery writers?
If writing is your passion and if being published is your dream, never, ever give up!
Thanks, Pat. You can learn more about Patricia Gligor and her novel at the following sites: