Welcome to my weekly Author Spotlight. I’ve asked a bunch of my author friends to answer a set of interview questions, and to share their latest work.
Today, Patricia Loofbourrow – Patricia Loofbourrow is the NY Times and USA Today best selling author of the Red Dog Conspiracy steampunk noir crime fiction series.
GIVEAWAY: Patricia is giving away an ebook copy of The Jacq of Spades: Part 1 of the Red Dog Conspiracy via BookFunnel with this post. Comment below for a chance to win.
Thanks so much, Patricia, for joining me!
J. Scott Coatsworth: What was your first published work? Tell me a little about it.
Patricia Loofbourrow: It was a bit of flash fiction called “One Small Change.” It’s a 100 word revenge story published on a website which, alas, is no longer in service.
JSC: Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
PL: I try to read them all! It’s wonderful to get a review from someone who really gets what I’m trying to do here.
I’ve only had one bad review, which I would define as speculating about me and my friends/family rather than focused on actually, yanno, reviewing the book. And that wasn’t even a one-star. Most one-stars are pretty funny, in my view.
JSC: Are there underrepresented groups or ideas featured if your book? If so, discuss them.
PL: I suppose. The world is not solely white, male and straight, and even if this is a far future story, I prefer to write about the world of the real.
I didn’t set out to champion some cause – like Tolkien, I detest allegory or making some sort of political statement with a book. It’s very cringy to do that.
But my main character is a outspoken, stubborn, fiercely determined bisexual multiracial polyamorous woman in a rigidly patriarchal city. So … there’s conflict.
Readers seem to comment a lot about my “feminist themes” and my depiction of the microassaults women face on a daily basis. Men tend to be shocked about what Jacqui goes through, but there are women right here in the US going through much worse. So while I didn’t set out to do this, I think I write what I’ve dubbed “women’s horror.” As opposed to men’s horror, which usually deals with monsters and other unreal stuff.
I did intentionally do two things. Bridges is divided into quadrants, and each is controlled by a crime family with a very different ancestry. In particular, I created the Diamond Family because I wanted significant black representation in a steampunk book.
Since I live in Oklahoma (known for its Native American population), Bridges is situated in a very far future Oklahoma, and each Family has its own color, I liked the idea of this domed city as a giant medicine wheel. It’s just a small way of honoring the people this land belongs to.
JSC: Tell us something we don’t know about your heroes in The Ten of Spades. What makes them tick?
PL: This is noir fiction: there are no real heroes in this story. But in their own way, each of the major and a good deal of the minor characters sincerely want to make things better for the city. Even the villains! They’re just all going about it a vast variety of wrong ways.
JSC: What’s your core motivation in The Ten of Spades?
PL: [Main character: Jacqueline Spadros] I’m sick of being watched, and coerced, and controlled. I just want to be free to do what I wish!
JSC: Are you happy with where your writer left you at the end? (don’t give us any spoilers).
PL: [Main character: Jacqueline Spadros] Other than my life being a disaster, I suppose. I feel as if progress has been made. But the cost …
JSC: As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
PL: The majority of girls want to be ballerinas at some point. But for a good time, I wanted to be an archaeologist. I was fascinated with dinosaurs as a child, and I also loved pirate stories and digging for buried treasure.
Then when I was twelve, I got a crush on my doctor’s office and decided I wanted to be a doctor.
JSC: Were you a voracious reader as a child?
PL: Oh, yes. Very much so.
JSC: What are some day jobs that you have held? If any of them impacted your writing, share an example.
PL: My first job was doing inventory at a department store. I’ve worked in an aerosol can factory, a plant nursery, done tutoring in English and chemistry, worked in fast food. I was an EMT and drove an ambulance for several years before going to medical school. My bachelor’s degree is in microbiology, but my main training is in family medicine. I particularly liked family counseling, doing first assists in surgery, doing minor surgery in my office, delivering babies, and teaching medical residents.
How that affects my writing? I love history, and tend to look at the sociological side of science fiction rather than the military/technological, but they say women prefer that. Yet I’m more interested in cultures and how they’re impacted by technology rather than the gadgets themselves. And I hopefully get the medical part of books right. 😉
To be honest, I think my skills in English help the most, and that’s mostly due to reading everything around me since I was four years old.
JSC: Would you visit the future or the past, and why?
PL: The future for sure. I want to see what happens.
And now for Patricia’s new book: The Ten of Spades:
Be careful what you wish for …
After eleven years trapped in the Spadros crime syndicate, 23-year-old private eye Jacqueline Spadros is an independent woman, free to run her investigation business.
But her problems are only beginning.
Deeply in debt, Jacqui is in danger from both the rogue Spadros men calling themselves “The Ten of Spades” and the ruthless Red Dog Gang — who may be one and the same.
Jacqui is determined to find Black Maria, the key to the identity of the Red Dog Gang’s secretive leader. To survive long enough to do that, Jacqui needs a paying case.
The one she’s offered may put her in the most danger of all …
The Ten of Spades is part 5 of a 13-part serial novel – please begin with The Jacq of Spades or the Red Dog Conspiracy Act 1 box set.
The door slammed in my face. A cold breeze flapped the corners of my overcoat, and I quickly reached up to keep my hat atop my head.
“I’m sorry, mum,” my lady’s maid Amelia Dewey said.
Carriages and horses, women and men passed by, never giving me so much as a glance. The wooden banister snagged my glove as I descended the cracked steps. The midmorning light was weak, thin, pale.
Amelia glanced around. “Do we go on?”
Did I have any choice? “We go on.”
But it was much the same on 24th Street as on all the rest. The response varied from fearful curtsies to angry curses. The answer still was no.
No, they didn’t need an investigator.
No, they knew no one who might.
No, I couldn’t come in.
“Fucking Pot rag” was the most blunt way it’d been expressed, but their eyes all said it.
The worst was on west 4th, when an old widow woman offered me charity. Even in the Pot I wasn’t a beggar, nor – as some put it – a new way for the Spadros Family to gouge their quadrant.
I wasn’t so far gone yet as to take their pity.
We returned home for luncheon. My butler Blitz Spadros opened the door for us. “Any luck?”
I sighed, shook my head, went past him into our home.
It was a good place, those few apartments. Now that I think of it, the place was built to be a boarding house. An entry, a small parlor through a door to the right. My two rooms lay to the left: the front one my bedroom, the next my office, each with their own bath and toilet. Another room lay beyond that. Stairs rose straight ahead to a large room with picture windows. Behind the parlor, a door led to our kitchen. Behind the stairs a hall went to first the kitchen (through a door to the right) then behind he kitchen to the rooms Blitz and his wife Mary shared. A closet nestled under the stair.
The building was a duplex. Our half faced onto 33 1/3 Street. It had a side door from the kitchen, which opened onto an alley barely wide enough to walk down.
This was all I owned in the world, and if something didn’t happen soon, I’d lose it too.
Patricia Loofbourrow is the NY Times and USA Today best selling author of the Red Dog Conspiracy steampunk noir crime fiction series. She has been a professional blogger, author, and editor since 2000 and began writing novels in 2005. Her first published novel, The Jacq of Spades, released in 2015 and has sold over 20,000 copies worldwide.
A native of southern California, Patricia Loofbourrow lives in the central US. You can see all her books at pattyloof.com