Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Interview with Miss Mooka, Patricia Harrington's Master

Miss Mooka is the doggie companion of mystery author Patricia Harrington. Patricia has penned several books. She lives in the Pacific Northwest and loves gardening, Irish breakfast tea and Pepsi. She writes mysteries because, as she puts it, "Justice must be served!" Visit her blog, Mystery Writing Musings.

But let's hear it from Miss Mooka herself: My author mistress has me and four cats. You can see two of my feline compadres below: AshMan, a traditional Siamese, and Curious George, an orange tabby. Both of them hang out at my lady's desk and help her to write mysteries.
I tolerate them, because it pleases her. And, I'm 75 lb. bigger, so I have no problem-o, keeping them in line. She says she didn't plan for us. After her husband died under tragic circumstances, she said, "I won't have anything I have to love or feed again in the house."

Well . . . something like that.

But my feline buddies all had sad stories that they showed and meowed to her when they wandered one by one into the yard. And then I was kind of a castoff, or "put away" kind of a guy. You see after eight years, my master had me dumped on him after a divorce and his ex couldn't have me in her new apartment. Problem was, my master was a train engineer. Had to be out of town, days at a time. Set me howling and hungry, I have to say, left in a garage.

My author mistress has a dog companion for her traditional sleuth Bridget O'Hern. Darn, while solving a mystery, they found a cat in a burned out building. You guess what the sleuth named her.

Wruff, wruff, here’s my interview of my mom. I’m big, about 85 lb. Of German Shepherd/Lab. Got a couple of those tan dots over my eyes. Story’s whispered about that maybe a Rottie snuck into Grandma’s doghouse one night and cuddled up to her. (Wink, wink). Now down to the questions...

Thanks for the intro and for stopping by on this part of the woods, Miss Mooka. Start spilling the beans. Is your mom crazy about book promotion? What does she do to promote her books? Does she ask your advice at times?

Crazy, no. But she works at it, belongs to a zillion blogsites. Does a lot of readings and booksignings at places like her favorite drug store that also sells books and the senior retirement centers that are more middle-income. She talks about life—and I’m here to tell—she’s been around. Done that, been hurt, got up, went out, helped others and kept on moving. I kind of relate to that, because I was passed around in my family.

Now, you see I’m not a young pup, ‘bout eight or nine years old, and had my ups and downs. And have a bit of the old Arthur-ritis in one hip. So I appreciate that my human mom has a good attitude, a bright smile and a helping hand, whether you’re four-legged, furry or feathered. Yeah, she’s good with two-legged folks with a sorry tale, too.

I admire your positive attitude, Miss Mooka... but Patricia can't be that perfect, common on! What about when she writes all day and ignores you?

Here’s the deal. I have her trained. I snooze until ten or so in the morning. She gets all her e-mailing, messages and such done. Then gets cracking on her writing. I come in to her home office about 10:30, snuffling and plop down by her desk. You probably know the drill. I put my chin on my crossed paws and look up with these, brown, sad eyes. Then I sigh. That makes her type faster. And by eleven a.m., we’re out the door for a good thirty-minute walk. Then she does housework and phone calls about work. Mom’s other writing, besides mysteries and life stories, is doing grants for nonprofits. That’s what her protagonist and amateur sleuth Bridget O’Hern does in Mom’s mysteries. Bridget’s a consultant to nonprofits working with folks on the fringes of mainstream society. Gets her into intriguing settings and working with interesting folks.

Sounds interesting! I like that she takes a break to walk you (take this as an example, all you authors out there!) Does Patricia plot like a madwoman or just writes ‘down the bones’?

This question and the old “bones” thing made my ears perk up. She usually does what’s called in some novel writing classes, an “expanded concept”. That’s like doing a synopsis, where the characters trot out, the place and settings get identified and the plot of major conflict, climax and conclusion gets figured out. It’s enough of an outline to give direction, not so rigid at the beginning that Mom cannot innovate or add to or delete. My mistress’s training in a mystery writing class, one conducted by M. K. Wren, is to think of mysteries as sitting on a three-legged stool. The legs are plot, setting and characters. She likes that analogy (and I like learning big words, woof, woof.)

Nice analogy! What does your mom like to do besides writing?

My mom’s other life is writing grants. She’s done that for a long time and I can tell she’s pretty proud of the fact that she’s written some fifty million dollars in funded grants that have helped a whole lot of people. In her consulting work with nonprofits, she’s worked with a variety of ethnic groups that include Native American, Pacific Islanders, Asian and Southeast Asian, African-American and Soviet Block members. Plus she’s worked with public housing authorities and their resident councils. She’s also written grants for the Tacoma Police Department. She’s done “ride-alongs” with the cops, the last to homeless camps. Gathered ideas for her fiction writing. She has an ex-cop, an alkie, who’s been made the unofficial mayor of a homeless camp in Seattle, called Mudflat Manor. The story, “What Price Retribution” will be out in the Seattle Noir Anthology from Akashic Books, New York, in June, 2009.

That's a sweet picture of you and Patricia... The truth, Miss Mooka. Is she as stable as she looks in that photo?

Yeah, I think so. My tale of how I hooked up with Mom, kind of explains her. Before Mom took me in, I belonged to a family for about eight years and bounced around their relatives. The husband and wife split up, wife kept the two kids and me. But then she moved into an apartment and the manager said, “Your dog’s too big. You can’t have her here.”

So, bottom line my old mom, dumped me on my dad one afternoon. He’d bought the house next to my current and GREAT mom’s house, just a couple of months before. Well, he’s a freight train engineer, on-call, and gone for several days at a time, driving trains between Portland and Seattle. First night at his house, he had to go to work, left me alone in the backyard. Was I ever lonesome. Howled most of the night. Then I broke out of the backyard and sat on his front porch, wondering where I was, what to do.

Little did I know that my “to-be mom” next door heard me howling in the middle of the night. She’d seen me taken into her neighbor’s house, saw his car was gone and figured out quick that I’d been left alone in the backyard and didn’t know where I was. Well, she didn’t think she should wander into a neighbor’s backyard at one in the morning. But she explained later to me later, that she thought that in the morning, she’d go over and check out what was going on. But she had to go to the doctor first thing at eight a.m. When she returned from her appointment, she parked in her driveway. Whem Mom opened her car door, I was right there, let me tell you. She took me in.

Well, my old man didn’t come home for two days and she and I got to be good friends. Long story, short, I’m hers and she’s mine, now. We walk each day and if my old dad is out in the yard, I kind of slink over to say “hello.” But make sure “my mom” is with me. (I know a good thing, when I have it.) She and he talk and laugh, and he rumpble-dumples me, says “You’re a good girl.” I grin back and then go over to mom.

We go on with our walk and I don’t look back.

So, yeah, my mom, the author and grant writer, is okay in my book and with a lot of others.

Hope you’ve enjoyed my story!

Boy, do I have to get back to my nap blanket. I never realized how hard this writing gig was!

Thanks for sharing that, Miss Mooka! You've had a tough life but I'm happy all is well now with a wonderful lady (okay, I'll admit it) that loves you and cares for you. Good luck and visit again soon!

By the way, here's the trailer of Patricia's mystery, Death Comes Too Soon (love the title!)

1 comment:

  1. Patrica's Miss Mooka is a sweertie. Love the story of how they got together. As always, mate, a great interview!!

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