Please welcome Paty Jager, author of the Shandra Higheagle mystery series and other works.
What’s your idea of a perfect day?
My idea of a perfect day is getting all the words I want written that day before noon so I can ride my horse and hang out with my hubby the rest of the day.
Do you have a signature accessory, color, fragrance, phrase, or meal?
I would say cowboy boots. I always wear cowboy boots. I have fancy ones I wear at book signings and work boots I wear daily.
Excluding family, name three people who either inspired you or influenced your creativity.
Nicole D’Arienzo, Sue Grafton, Agatha Christie.
Do you listen to music when you write?
When I am creating the first draft I do like to have music playing. Because my stories have a Native American element, I listen to Native American music. It doesn’t have lyrics or if it does I don’t understand them and I can concentrate on my words and the feeling and rhythm of the music as I write.
If your latest book were chocolate, what kind would it be and why?
It would be Dove dark chocolate with almonds. Because the story line in Murderous Secrets deals with dark feelings and there are a few nuts (characters) in my books to keep the story not only mysterious but entertaining as well.
What made you interested in writing this particular story?
I have been an avid reader of mysteries since high school. I read every book from every mystery writer that was in our local library when I was a young mother. I like reading a book and trying to discover who did the crime before the writer tells me. When I have it figured out right it’s an adrenaline rush. That’s why I like plotting mysteries, knowing the reader is going to try to figure out the ending and I hope I can stump them and still have all the plausible information in the story for them to go, “Oh, yeah! That was in there.”
What themes do you regularly (re)visit in your writing?
Injustice. I’m not sure where it comes from, but I like to shine light on injustices. I want the reader to see that something happened that shouldn’t have and to feel the anger over the injustice.
Tell us about your main character’s psyche or personality. What led her to be the person she is today?
My main character is Shandra Higheagle. She is half Nez Perce Indian. Her father was a talented Nez Perce bareback rodeo rider who was killed in an accident when she was four. Her mother remarried and that man insisted Shandra use his last name even though he didn’t adopt her and wouldn’t allow her to see her Nez Perce family or tell anyone she had Native American blood in her. When she graduated from high school and went to an art college, she started using her real last name and learned how to make pottery. While there she had a dysfunctional relationship with one of the professors. Now, she owns a large amount of property on a mountain next to a ski resort, uses clay from the mountain for her vases, and is renowned for her pottery skills. She has found she can be tough and can take care of herself and she is getting reacquainted with her Native American relatives.
Describe your protagonist as a mash-up of three famous people or characters.
I would have to say Jessica Fletcher, because she is always finding herself in the middle of murders like the fictional character; Shania Twain the country singer. Her artistic nature and panache is like my character; Sarah Winnemucca, a Paiute woman who was an activist and educator from 1844-1891. Once Shandra embraces her heritage she is determined to help her people and family through her art and educate the masses.
If you could host an author dinner party, who are the six writers (living or otherwise) you’d include?
Boy, that’s hard! I guess it would be Agatha Christie, Dick Francis, Tony Hillerman, Sue Grafton, Marilyn Meredith, and JL Simpson for some good laughs.
What’s next for you?
I’m plotting book five of the Shandra Higheagle series. She’s in New Mexico at an art event and runs into the professor from her dysfunctional relationship. Her newest male interest, Detective Ryan Greer of the Weippe County Sheriff’s office in Idaho where she lives, visits her and gets into an altercation with the professor, who later ends up dead. This time Shandra will have to prove Ryan didn’t murder her ex-lover.
Award-winning author Paty Jager and her husband raise alfalfa hay in rural eastern Oregon. All her work has Western or Native American elements in them along with hints of humor and engaging characters. Her penchant for research takes her on side trips that eventually turn into yet another story.
You can learn more about Paty at
her blog; Writing into the Sunset
her website; http://www.patyjager.net
Newsletter: Paty’s Prattle: http://eepurl.com/1CFgX