Author Guest Post: How One Author Keeps Her Mysteries Fresh By Patricia Fry

Patricia Fry is the author of 66 books, 24 of them are cozy mysteries in the Klepto Cat Mystery series. This series features Rags, an ordinary cat with some extraordinary habits. He can’t keep his paws off of other people’s things. Some of the items he finds become clues in the current mystery. While these stories are human-driven, Rags and his feline, canine, and equine friends are ever-present throughout the series. The Klepto Cat Mysteries are in print, ebook (Kindle), and Book One, Catnapped is also available as an audio book.

Patricia Fry authorI’ve been writing for publication for over forty years, but I’ve never had as much fun as I’m having now. Not only am I pursuing a profession, I’m pursuing my passion. Five years ago, after a virtual lifetime of writing nonfiction, I created the Klepto Cat Mystery series. And I’m already working on Book 25.

When I started this pursuit, I wasn’t sure how far I would take it or where it would take me. This fun little cozy mystery series, featuring an ordinary cat with a few extraordinary habits, has taken on a life of its own. I feel as though I’m just along for the ride and a spectacular ride it has been.

People ask me how in the world I can write one gripping, interesting, edge-of-your-seat story after another and another… And I have to say this is a puzzle to me, as well. Part of the secret (if you’d call it that) is the old familiar concept of butt-in-chair, fingers-on-keyboard. But this, in and of itself, doesn’t work for everyone. Ever hear of writer’s block?

Obviously, this isn’t one of my maladies. All I have to do is sit at the computer and the ideas, words, phrases, dialog, situations, scenes, and scenarios spill out of me. Interestingly enough, the material generally appears relatively organized. I’m one of those who can sit down with a minute germ of an idea and write an entire chapter or two from start to finish. How did I develop this skill? Perhaps it comes from all those years I spent writing nonfiction—articles for a wide variety of magazines, how-to and informational books, blog posts, and so forth.

For those of you who don’t know, the writer (freelancer, stringer, reporter) generally must come up with the idea for an article, determine which publication is most suited to the topic, and decide on the slant for the article. As you can imagine, it takes a curious mind and excellent research skills, but also a nose for news and trends, and the ability to understand the market and gear the piece appropriately. What many writers don’t comprehend is the importance of speaking to your audience whether you’re writing fiction or nonfiction.

Can any writer become an idea factory? Sure. All it takes is an interest in people—in particular the audience you hope to attract—an open mind, and sharp observation skills. What’s going on in the world, in your neighborhood, within the topic you want to write about? What are others saying, thinking, doing within the industry or activity? What’s new within that realm? What’s important? What historical events have led up to the present in this field or area of interest?

And for those of you who think that research is for nonfiction only, think again. Truth in fiction is important. Whether you’re making up stories about feral cats, quilting, baking cupcakes, running a bookstore, being a librarian or a criminal investigator, you’d better have your facts straight or you won’t be taken seriously as a novelist. Sure, it’s a made up story, but if it isn’t believable—if there isn’t that element of truth—your potential readers won’t trust you. I might create the stories by the seat of my pants, incidents I’ve heard about, things that have happened in real life, and pure imagination, but my Klepto Cat Mystery series is as realistic and accurate as fiction can be and still be fiction.

Cats in the Belfry Patricia Fry

Cats in the Belfry: the latest book in the Klepto Cat Mystery series

It might sound as though I produce books at the speed of light—simply sit down and write one, then the next. But this is not the case. Once I have the basic story on paper (well, on the computer screen), the massaging begins. I spend hundreds more hours adding interesting scenarios, omitting unnecessary passages, clarifying concepts, livening up the dialog, making sure my characters are staying in character, ensuring that Rags (the cat) has plenty to do, and simply creating a more readable, more action-packed read.

A novelist has a huge responsibility to her readers. Each book in a series must logically follow the one before it. The theme, the characters, the mood and rhythm must maintain enough of a familiarity to fit within the reader’s comfort level, yet be exciting and new enough to keep them coming back for more.

It’s a big job. But someone’s gotta do it. And I’m awfully happy that I’m one of those someones.

Learn more about the Klepto series here: http://www.KleptoCatMysteries.com. Follow the Catscapades blog: http://www.matilijapress.com/catscapades.

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