Thursday, April 23, 2015

Featured Author: Paty Lager

About the book

On the eve of the biggest art event at Huckleberry Mountain Resort, potter Shandra Higheagle finds herself in the middle of a murder investigation. She’s ruled out as a suspect, but now it’s up to her to prove the friend she witnessed fleeing the scene was just as innocent. With help from her recently deceased Nez Perce grandmother, Shandra becomes more confused than ever but just as determined to discover the truth.

Detective Ryan Greer prides himself on solving crimes and refuses to ignore a single clue, including Shandra Higheagle’s visions. While Shandra is hesitant to trust her dreams, Ryan believes in them and believes in her.

Can the pair uncover enough clues for Ryan to make an arrest before one of them becomes the next victim?

Interview with Paty Lager

Paty, what’s the story behind the title of your book?
If I tell you the story behind the title it gives away part of the mystery. ;) But I can tell you the story behind the Shandra Higheagle Mystery series. I’ve wanted to write a mystery series for many years. When my brother, a bronze sculptor, told me a fascinating fact about a 300 pound bronze statue that would make a great weapon in a mystery novel, I started “stewing and brewing” to come up with the right protagonist and story. I needed something to do with the art world—an artist. I needed something to stay true to my tagline: Tales of romance and intrigue starring cowboys and Indians—Shandra Higheagle with a Native American background, and the crime that uses the 300 pound statue. That is how this book and the series came to me.

Tell us about your series. Is this book a standalone, or do readers need to read the series in order?
Double Duplicity is the first book of the Shandra Higheagle mystery series. I try to write the books so they could be standalone but there are relationships and events that run through several books in the series that, while they don’t distract, would be better understood if the books are read in order.

Where’s home for you?
My home is in eastern Oregon on 280 acres. My husband and I raise alfalfa hay and enjoy the wide open spaces of the high desert. We just moved here permanently and recently finished building our house. We are believers in doing things ourselves.

Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Wallowa County. It is a sparsely populated county in the northeast corner of Oregon. It is the area where the Nez Perce band led by Chief Joseph wintered and summered before they were banned from the area.

If you had an extra $100 a week to spend on yourself, what would you buy?
I’d save it up for a nice pair of Lucchese cowboy boots.  Like my character Shandra Higheagle, I love fancy cowboy boots.

What’s the dumbest purchase you’ve ever made?
The money went to a good cause because it was an online auction for Juvenile Diabetes, but I spent $75 on a ¾ inch by ¾ inch Zuni pig. I collect interesting pigs.

What is the most daring thing you've done?

I drove in a powder puff demolition derby, and I’ve skinny-dipped.

What makes you bored?

I am never bored. That’s the good thing about being a writer. There is never any time to be bored. If I’m sitting in the pickup waiting for my hubby, I can always run the next scenes for a book over in my head.

What choices in life would you like to have a redo on?
While I’ve always been miffed that my dad wouldn’t let me go to college for an arts degree, I’m happy with where my life has taken me.

Do you have another job outside of writing?
My job outside of writing is helping my husband farm. I drive the swather (hay cutting machine), back hoe/loader, and semi-truck when it’s hay season. The off season, I help with repairs.

How did you meet your spouse? Was it love at first site?
I don’t think it was love, but it was strong attraction. I was talked into going to an under-21 club with a co-worker. I was nineteen. All the guys there were pimply-faced sixteen-year-olds. I was feeling out of place when a guy who looked my age walked in. I studied him a few minutes then boldly walked over and asked him to dance. I’d never been that forward before, but I wanted someone to talk with who was my age. We ended up dancing and talking all evening. We discovered we had several things in common. He drove me home in an old battered pickup truck that smelled like cow. When he got too handsie, I asked him to leave. I figured he wouldn’t be back. Two nights later there was a knock on my door and there he stood. He told me if I had let him go farther that night he wouldn’t have been back. I was the kind of girl he wanted for a wife. We married two years later and have been married for 36 years.

That's awesome. Are any of your characters inspired by real people?
There is a bit of someone I’ve met in my life in my main and secondary characters. It’s the only way characters can be written is by using facsimiles of people a writer has seen or knows in their life. It’s how the characters become real.

What book are you currently reading and in what format (e-book/paperback/hardcover)?
I’m reading The Handless Maiden by Dorothy Black Crow. It’s in paperback format.

Do you have a routine for writing?
On a routine day (no haying - staying home), I sit down at the computer by no later than 8 o’clock in the morning. I try to get all my emails and business done by ten. Then I write until noon. Have lunch, come back, and write until four.  A good day is 4-5,000 words.

Where and when do you prefer to do your writing?
I can write anywhere. With or without noise. At home I usually have music playing. Depending on the genre I’m writing, I have certain playlists I use. I prefer to write during the day. By nighttime I’m too tired to think straight.

What’s the best compliment you’ve ever received about your writing?
The best compliment I’ve received is: “Your books keep me up all night.”

Why did you decide to self-publish?

I started my writing career with a small press. It was very hands-on and taught me a lot about putting a quality book out.  When other authors who had gone self-published suggested I should do it, I decided I could take on the challenge. I liked the idea of being able to hand select my covers, make my own deadlines and publishing dates.

Are you happy with your decision to self-publish? 
Yes. I write stories that can’t be categorized easily which makes agents and editors scratch their heads and say, I don’t know where we’d place this book in a book store. By self-publishing I can get my stories out to the readers without the keepers of the gates holding me back.

If you self-published, what steps to publication did you personally do, and what did you hire someone to do? Is there anyone you’d recommend for a particular service?
I have critique partners I believe in. When they say a story needs this or that, I dissect the story more and make the changes. I have a cover artist who does a great job. And I have an grammar editor and proof-reader. I do all the formatting for the ebooks and print books.

What are you working on now?
Right now I’m working on final edits for the third Shandra Higheagle mystery book, Deadly Aim: The dead body of an illicit neighbor and an old necklace send potter Shandra Higheagle on a chase to find a murderer. Visions from her dead grandmother reveals Shandra is on the right path, but the woods are full of obstacles — deadly ones.

Detective Ryan Greer believes Shandra’s dreams will help solve the mystery, but he also knows the curious potter could get herself killed. He’s determined that won’t happen.

Until he’s blind-sided. Are Shandra’s powers strong enough to save them both, or will the murderer strike again?

About the author

Award-winning author Paty Jager and her husband raise alfalfa hay in rural eastern Oregon. On her road to publication she wrote freelance articles for two local newspapers and enjoyed her job with the County Extension service as a 4-H Program Assistant. Raising hay and cattle, riding horses, and battling rattlesnakes, she not only writes the western lifestyle, she lives it.

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.

Connect with Paty:

Website  |  Blog  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Goodreads