Q&A with John Cannon
February 16, 2021
The thing about some dreams, especially that one you have all the time about a raccoon chasing you with a purple carburetor, is you know they’re imaginary. But some dreams are more than bizarre wisps. On a wondrous day not long ago, a person who has spent considerable time and energy placing 75,000 words in just the right order learned that her dream is reality. Readers, meet Pat Broderick, who will soon put the word published in front of the word author when asked about her occupation. Her mystery, Dead on my Feet, will be published later this year. She generously agreed to a question-and-answer style interview with jcannonbooks to tell us How She Did It. This interview was conducted via email, and no pandemic regulations were violated. Pat is from Manchester, New Hampshire, and graduated from the University of New Hampshire. She and her husband, Ray Huard, a graduate of St. Anselm College in Manchester, have had parallel journalism careers, although Ray stuck to print and Pat tucked some broadcasting work at public television stations in between the newspaper gigs. After a few years of working in New Hampshire, they decamped to North Florida, where Pat worked as a reporter, producer, and documentarian at the PBS station in Jacksonville. Six years later, they were off to South Florida. She was named editor of Millionaire and helped launch the national lifestyle magazine in West Palm Beach. In 1989, Pat and Ray moved to San Diego, where her jobs included business editor for the La Jolla Light. She found inspiration for Dead on My Feet in the upscale coastal community. Pat and Ray have two daughters, one an artist and the other in law school. Her book follows Nellie Bly and her plucky colleagues at a weekly Southern California newspaper as they work to understand murderous events in their normally placid (and scandalously rich) town. Yes, Nellie knows the provenance of her name. And yes, her landlord, Dame Cavendish, is a first-class secondary character. Dame C seems to prefer the term landlady, by the way. And she wouldn't consider herself secondary. The book is expected to be available in mid-June. You can pre-order here. Q: You have written a cozy mystery. For those who may not be familiar with all the types of mysteries, can you tell us what makes it a cozy? And why you decided on that approach? A: A cozy mystery is the opposite of the hard-boiled detective genre, with fists flying and guns blazing. While I enjoy the latter as a reader, I find it more comfortable to write in the cozy style. I enjoy humor and this genre is especially conducive to witty banter among the characters—at least I hope it’s witty. [Editor’s note: It is.] Q: What was your reaction when you learned CamCat Publishing had accepted Dead on My Feet for publication? A: Following a very arduous submission process, I was contacted by Sue Arroyo, publisher of CamCat Publishing, and we exchanged a few emails. She then scheduled a phone interview, and I had no idea what to expect. I was so excited as I waited for the call. My husband, Ray, was with me, every bit as anxious. During the interview, Sue talked about the company and what they had to offer, and I was so impressed. Then she made me an offer, and I nearly fell off my chair. Ray ran into our daughter’s room with the good news. I was on my way to a new chapter in my life. I had spent years working as a journalist, and now I would soon be a published author. Q: How did you find CamCat? Do you have a literary agent? A: I learned about CamCat from an issue of Writer’s Digest focusing on independent presses, some of which did not require a literary agent to make submissions. Landing an agent is not easy, as many have very limited lists, so the competition can be fierce. I thought I’d give it a try on my own. I am so grateful that, as a first-time novelist, I managed to find such a quality publisher. Q: You grew up in New Hampshire, worked in Jacksonville, Florida, then South Florida, and then San Diego. What is it with you and oceans? A: All that salt air stimulates my brain! Q: Who are some of the authors whose work you have enjoyed during your life? A: Among my favorite authors, I’d name James Lee Burke, Sue Grafton, John Grisham, Michael Connelly, Lee Child, Karin Slaughter, Robert B. Parker, Jeffery Deaver, George Pelecanos—so many more. Before the shutdown, browsing at a bookstore was a favorite pastime for Ray and me. Q: Are you an outliner or someone who tends to build the story as it spills out of your brain and onto the page? A: I find it easier to just let the story spill out onto the page rather than do an outline. For Dead on My Feet, I had no idea how it was going to end. I find that exciting. Q: What is something you did not expect about the journey from writer to published author? A: I had a journalism professor who told us, “Writing is rewriting.” With fiction, that is especially true. I keep refining and polishing my manuscript, and I have been working with an excellent editor, Helga Schier, at CamCat. Of course, this journey started with you, John, and I am forever grateful for your guidance and good humor, especially when it comes to my overuse of certain words—like briny and stink eye. Exclamation points, too. [Editor’s note: jcannonbooks neither solicited nor expected this favorable mention but appreciates it greatly.] What is also challenging for me is self-promotion and getting up to speed on social media. With the help of my millennial daughter, Becky, I now have a Twitter account and am in the process of creating a web page, a daunting task.