Focus on Fiction is pleased to feature
Patricia is an award-winning author, speaker, and teacher. She holds a master's degree in counseling and has appeared as a featured guest on numerous radio and television shows. She can be often found in schools through her "Invite an Author to School" program, or teaching in "Writer's Weekend at the Beach" workshops. When she is not writing or speaking, she enjoys traveling, hiking and crafts such as cross stitch, knitting, crocheting, and pottery. She and her husband, Ron, have two grown children and seven grandchildren.
Focus: Patricia, you've written at least fifteen books in your Jennie McGrady youth fiction series, plus a number of adult fiction books, and several non-fiction books. What a diverse writing resume! How many books in total have you had published?
Patricia Rushford: 43 and counting.
Focus: Is there a particular book, fiction or non, among all those you've written that you're especially proud of? If so, why?
Patricia Rushford: That's such a difficult question. It's like asking which of my grandchildren I like best. I'm proud of all of them for different reasons. I'm pleased to have written the non-fiction books as all of them are geared to helping people in difficult situations. Parenting books like Have You Hugged Your Teenager Today, What Kids Need Most in a Mom, and It shouldn't Hurt to be a Kid, will, I hope, give hope to those who have children entrusted to their care. There are a lot of parenting strategies to help distraught parents cope.
Focus: In the last year, you've released the first books for two fantastic new mystery series, the Angel Delaney Mysteries, and the McAllister Files. Can you give our readers a brief synopsis of these great new stories?
Patricia Rushford: Sure. In Deadly Aim, book one of the Angel Delaney Mysteries (from Revell Publishers), Police Officer, Angel Delaney, uses deadly force following an armed robbery and kills a twelve-year old boy whom she believes is a gang member. When his weapon turns out to be a toy gun, the outraged community demands justice. Tension catapults to an even higher level when Angel becomes the prime suspect in another murder investigation. Unless she can prove her innocence on both counts, Angel stands to lose her job, her reputation, and perhaps even her life.
In book two of the series, Dying to Kill, (Coming September 2004), Angel is in limbo trying to decide whether or not she wants to return to being a police officer. She turns investigator when police accuse a woman of murdering her husband. Angel sets out to prove otherwise and finds suspects under every rock. Is the murderer Phillip's business partner, his wife or daughter, his nephew, or an outraged colleague? Or will Angel find her answer in a far different setting, such as the support group for battered wives, or perhaps in the woman who counsels them?
In Secrets, Lies, & Alibis, book one of The McAllister Files (from Integrity Publishers), rookie detective Antonio (Mac) McAllister reports for his first assignment with the Oregon State Police, Detective Division and a gruesome homicide. The victim, a beautiful young woman named Megan Tyson, was brutally murdered only weeks before her wedding. Too many suspects and too little hard evidence keep Mac and his seasoned partner Kevin Bledsoe, scrambling. Can they sort through the lies and alibis before the killer strikes again?
And in Deadfall, book two of this series, (Coming September 2004), a young man is missing. A mother's relentless search and a missing body create a sordid case with a twisted killer too many clues and too little hard evidence. Mac must go undercover in a sting operation that could leave him dead.
Focus: One of the unusual things about Deadly Aim and Secrets, Lies & Alibis are the bullet holes in the covers. What a great idea! Was this something you requested? Or a brilliant layout idea by your publishers' cover design team?
Patricia Rushford: It was the cover designers. I didn't request them and neither publisher knew the other's intent. So here I am with two series, both sporting bullet holes. Go figure. :)
Focus: Both your lead characters in these new mysteries are on the police force and work with a partner. But you've also been working with a partner! Can you tell us a little about your association with co-writer and policeman-extraordinaire, Harrison James?
Patricia Rushford: Harrison is a really great guy and I love working with a cop. He not only works with me on the McAllister Files, he reads my other works as well. He's the inspiration for my Oregon State Detectives in both series.
Focus: Angel Delaney and 'Mac' McAllister seem like they would be great friends if they ever crossed paths. Any plans for a meeting between these two lead characters in one of your future stories?
Patricia Rushford: Harrison and I have thought about that. Might be fun to do, but since the books are with two different publishers, I'm not sure I can do that. Most likely scenario would be to have Angel's Oregon State Police Detective, Callen Riley, meet up with his old friend, Mac McAllister.
Focus: Many of your novels are set in the Pacific Northwest. Besides being your home base, is there anything else that drew your interest to this particular location?
Patricia Rushford: Absolutely. The Northwest is truly God's country. We have everything here, the mountains, forests, and of course, the ocean beaches. We also have terrific fresh seafood. I especially love setting my books at the coast--gives me a reason to spend more time there.
Focus: Your stories often contain medical details that only an insider could tell us. Would you share a bit about your prior career, and tell us how it has been of help in your writing?
Patricia Rushford: I went to nursing school in the early 70's and earned a degree in Nursing. In the early part of my writing career, I worked as a nurse part time. After 18 years, I quit to finish graduate school, earning a degree in counseling, and then I went into writing full time.
Focus: You've been writing since you were in your thirties. First journaling and poetry, then magazine articles, and then on to full-length non-fiction and fiction books. Was there a specific person, event, or idea that motivated you in your career choice?
Patricia Rushford: Not so much one person as other writers and editors at writer's conferences I attended. A number of people sort of steered me into the book writing arena, but none so much as then editor with Fleming Revell, Fritz Ridenour. When I shared with him my idea about a book for parents of teenagers, he liked the idea and encouraged me to write it. Have You Hugged Your Teenager Today came out of that encounter. It was my first book, released in 1983 and it is still in print. I feel extremely fortunate to have worked with Fritz. He was more than an editor--he inspired, tutored, encouraged and pushed me.
Focus: You have said that hope is the one thing you most want your readers to gain from your stories. Do you feel this is the greatest message with which God has entrusted you?
Patricia Rushford: I feel that my purpose is to offer hope and encouragement as well as to teach. My non-fiction books give people specific messages on how to be better parents, how to survive the dilemma they're in, whether it's dealing with money problems, children, teenagers or elderly parents. And that's a good thing.
But not everyone will read non-fiction books. While fiction provides an entertaining story, it can, at the same time, teach about life lessons. Perhaps the most amazing example is that of a young girl who wrote to me saying she'd seriously thought of committing suicide. Then she said, "I decided I couldn't do that because Jennie McGrady would never do that." Thankfully, my main character is a strong, moral young lady, who became real to this girl and modeled the concept that life is precious and regardless of the circumstances, you just keep going. You never give up on yourself or on God.
Focus: Being a writer not only involves research and word crafting, but marketing and public speaking, as well. Have these elements of the writing life challenged or changed you as a person?
Patricia Rushford: Definitely. I had no idea when I started writing that I would end up speaking and trying to market my work. I was extremely shy, but God prepared me a little at a time so that when it came to doing public speaking and television appearances, I just did it. I found that I really enjoyed the interviews and eventually came to be comfortable in the speaking arena. Now I actually enjoy it. I still have trouble with the marketing part, but I do what I can.
Focus: On that note, you've got one of those public speaking engagements coming up June 11 through the 13th! Can you tell us what you'll be sharing at the Song and Word Conference?
Patricia Rushford: Yes. I'm so excited about that. I'll be teaching a fiction track, titled: 'People Making: Creating Characters Who Are More Than Corpses'. We'll spend the weekend at a beautiful retreat center on Shaw Island in the San Juan Islands of Northwest Washington. Registration is limited to about a dozen people so there'll be plenty of hands on work with critiquing. Here's a synopsis of the workshop:
Delve into the mystery behind creating fully developed characters that leap off the pages and into readers' hearts. Participate in lectures, creative writing exercises, interactive brainstorming and group critique that will enable you to create best-selling novels.
Sharpen your writing skills with practical exercises in letting characters move your story from scene to suspenseful scene. Pull your plots out of coffins and learn to create killer openings. You'll also have an opportunity for one-on-one time with your workshop leader.
Anyone interested in attending this conference can visit http://www.songandword.com/schedule4.htm.
Focus: In addition to sending you e-mail and purchasing your books, are there other ways your readers and fans can be an encouragement to you?
Patricia Rushford: I love hearing from fans. Sometimes I'll have an especially rough day where I start feeling down and wonder why I keep writing. In those times, God always sends me a fan to encourage me and lift me up. I also love traveling, so if fans would like me to come to their area to teach and speak, I'm open to working something out.
Focus: Is there anything else you would like your readers to know?
Patricia Rushford: Just that I will soon be writing a new series for middle readers called Max & Me. And that I'm thrilled if something I write lifts my reader's spirits, or gives some kind of encouragement, or simply provides good, clean entertainment. I feel that God has placed me in this unique situation and I want to honor the Lord in being the best writer I can be. Thanks so much for giving me an opportunity to share.