Monday, September 29, 2014

Author Interview with Rosemary McCracken!

Meet Author
 Rosemary McCracken

Author bio:
Rosemary McCracken is a Toronto-based fiction writer and journalist.
Safe Harbor, the first novel in her Pat Tierney mystery series, was shortlisted for Britain's Debut Dagger Award in 2010. It was published by Imajin Books in 2012, followed by Black Water in 2013. “The Sweetheart Scamster,” a Pat Tierney short story in the crime fiction anthology, Thirteen, was a finalist for a 2014 Derringer Award.

Jack Batten, The Toronto Star’s crime fiction reviewer, calls Pat “a hugely attractive sleuth figure.” 

Synopsis of Safe Harbor and Black Water:
Safe Harbor, the first Pat Tierney mystery, opens when a visitor to Pat’s Toronto office tells Pat that her late husband fathered a child who is now seven years old. Stunned by the announcement, Pat is even more surprised when the visitor bolts from the office, leaving young Tommy behind. When Tommy’s mother is murdered the following day, police say that the boy may be the killer’s next victim. In a race to protect Tommy, Pat uncovers a deadly scheme involving illegal immigrants, trafficking in human body parts and money laundering.
Black Water, Safe Harbor’s sequel, takes Pat to cottage country north of Toronto when her daughter asks for help finding her missing sweetheart, Jamie Collins. Pat heads out to the rural community where Jamie grew up and where an elderly man was recently murdered. Pat’s search for Jamie takes her through a maze of fraud, drugs, bikers and murder.
Current book or project you’re working on:
I’m currently writing the third Pat Tierney mystery, which I’ve given the working title of Red Kayak. It opens three months after the end of Black Water. Like Black Water, it is set in Canadian cottage country, in a fictitious community that bears a very strong resemblance to the real Haliburton Highlands north of Toronto where I have a summer home.

I’m also working on a Pat Tierney short story for the Mesdames of Mayhem’s second crime fiction anthology, which will be a sequel to the Mesdames’ Thirteen. “The Sweetheart Scamster,” my Pat Tierney story in Thirteen, was a finalist for a 2014 Derringer Award.

What was the inspiration for the character of Pat Tierney?
As a journalist, I’ve written about personal finance and the financial services industry for the past 20 years. For my articles, I interview financial advisors and investment managers. I attend their conferences. I know the issues they face and the concerns they have.

So when I was looking for a central character for a mystery series, Pat Tierney appeared full-blown in my mind. She has the traits of the people I admire most in the industry. She cares about her clients. She’s a champion of small investors. She has sleepless nights when markets are down.
Please share two interesting facts about the Pat Tierney mysteries that are not covered in the synopses.
1) Pat Tierney is an amateur sleuth with a fairly unusual occupation in crime fiction. She’s a financial advisor. 
2) Many of the crimes in the series are white-collar crimes. Because Pat, the protagonist, is a financial advisor, she is in a good position to spot financial crimes. She knows that greed is strong motive for theft, fraud, bribery, identity theft, money laundering…even murder.

Who is the most complex character in your novels. 
Pat Tierney, the central character, is undoubtedly the most complex character in the series. She’s a single mother and a business woman. And in every novel she has to cope with a personal or family crisis. In Safe Harbor, she learns that that her late husband had another woman in his life and fathered a child who is now seven. 

Are there any characters in your book that remind you of yourself?
Some readers think the character of Pat Tierney may be based on myself, but nothing could be further from the truth. Pat Tierney is a financial advisor, while I’m a journalist. She’s a mother who spends a lot of time worrying about her family; I don’t have children. She’s also a much nicer person than I am: kind, compassionate, always tries to do the right thing although she doesn’t always succeed. No, Pat is definitely not based on me. But maybe, just maybe, she’s a person I would like to be.

If you could pick any well-known authors to review your book who would you pick and why?
I would choose American authors Barbara Delinsky and Jodi Picoult to review my Pat Tierney books. Although they are not mystery writers, they also feature mature (in their thirties and older) female characters who are challenged by life-changing events, such as teenage pregnancy (Delinsky’s Not My Daughter), teen suicide (Picoult’s The Pact) and child sexual abuse (Picoult’s Perfect Match).

And it doesn’t hurt that they are bestselling and award-winning writers.

What genre does your book fall into?
Which author has influenced your work the most, and why?
Veteran Canadian mystery author Gail Bowen has been a wonderful influence. Gail read an excerpt from an early draft of the Safe Harbor manuscript and suggested that I use a first-person narrator instead of third-person. “The reader has to be inside Pat Tierney’s head all the way through this book,” she said. Gail was absolutely correct! As soon as I started rewriting the manuscript in first person, I knew it was the right way to go.
Do you read fiction while you are writing a book?
Some authors say they don’t read fiction while they are writing because they fear the story they are reading will impact their own work. But I keep on reading. I’m always working a piece of fiction, so if I gave up reading while I’m writing, I’d never read anything at all.

The process:
How many books have you written? Which book is your favourite and why?
I’ve written two mysteries, and I’m working on the third in the series. The book I’m currently working on is always my favorite because I have to pour all my love into it to ensure that it flourishes.

Is there anything that helps get you in the mood to write?
Ideally, I like to sit down at my computer every morning around nine and write for three or four hours. No rituals to get in the mood, just bum-in-the-chair. If I experience a bout of writers’ block with my work-in-progress, I’ll write character profiles during that time.

But that is the ideal situation. In reality, my “other work,” journalism, often interferes. I may have a morning interview scheduled or I may need to prepare for an interview later in the day. On those days, I just write the day off and try to get my bum in my chair by 9 a.m. the next morning.

What was the biggest challenge you faced when writing your book?
Balancing fiction writing with journalism. They are both very different types of writing. I had to learn to move away from reporting facts, to loosen up and to use my imagination.

What lessons have you learned as an aspiring writer?
I’ve learned to never give up. And take advantage of every opportunity to get work published. I entered writing contests, attended conferences for works in my genre and networked with other writers. And I had to learn not to let negative comments about my work get me down. Negative comments are often just sour grapes.

Do you ever experience writer’s block? If so what helps you to overcome it?
If my muse is not co-operating, I sometimes try to take the story in very different direction…winging it, having a character in the chapter do something crazy and unplanned for. This type of exercise will often loosen the block in my mind, and it sometimes produces useful material.

How long does it usually take for you to complete a book?
Two to three years.

Do you have any ideas for your book and Hollywood? 
I’d like to see actress Nicole Kidman play Pat Tierney in movie versions of the books. And George Clooney take the role of Pat’s beau, Devon Shaughnessy.

Which book-to-movie adaptation is your favourite?
The Lincoln Lawyer. The 2011 thriller was adapted from a novel by the same name by Michael Connelly. What’s not to love about a movie starring Matthew McConaughey that features a lawyer who works out of a chauffeur-driven Lincoln Town Car rather than an office?

Personal favs:
Drink Dry red wine.
Food – Greek cuisine: spanakopita, moussaka, Greek salad with plenty of feta cheese. And baklava for dessert.
Vacation – Summer at my lakefront cottage in the Haliburton Highlands. And a two-week winter vacation in the Caribbean.
TV show – Downton Abbey.
Movie – Zorba the Greek, starring the late Anthony Quinn. Animal – Cat.
Sport – Kayaking.
Book – The Prophet by Kahlil Gibran.

How can people connect with you?
Visit my website at 
and my blog at 

Where can readers find your book? 

Safe Harbor on

Black Water on