Friday, November 14, 2014

Interview: Pamela Fagan Hutchins Author of Going For Kona

Our interview today is with Pamela Fagan Hutchins, author of the bestselling and award-winning

romantic mystery series, Katie & Annalise, which includes Saving Grace (#1, 4.5-stars and over 770-reviews), Leaving Annalise (#2, 4.7-stars and over 190+-reviews), and Finding Harmony (#3, 4.9-stars and over 130+ reviews). Her new romantic mystery is Going for Kona (4.8-stars, 25 reviews) which came out October 1, 2014. She also writes hilarious nonfiction.

Before we get to the interview, a brief description of Going for Kona:

When her husband is killed in a hit-and-run bicycling accident, it takes all of Michele Lopez Hanson’s strength not to burrow into their bed for the rest of her life. But their kids need her, and she promised herself she’d do the Kona Ironman Triathlon in Adrian’s honor, and someone seems to be stalking her family, so she slogs through the pain to keep herself on track. Her dangerously delirious training sessions become a link between her and Adrian, and she discovers that if she keeps moving fast enough to fly, she can hold onto her husband—even as she loses her grip on herself and faces her biggest threat yet.

Pamela’s romantic mysteries have racked up a number of accolades including a 2014 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award, Romance, Quarter-finalist nod; 2011 Winner of the Houston Writers Guild Mainstream Novel Contest; 2010 Winner of the Writers League of Texas Romance Contest; and 2012 Winner of the Houston Writers Guild Ghost Story Contest. The reviews from readers and critics are fantastic. 


Pamela Fagan Hutchins combines humor, romance, mystery, and magical realism in her new release, Going for Kona, the first book in her Michele series, as well as in her Katie & Annalise series novels. Drawing rave reviews for humor, emotional depth, and twisting, fast-paced plots, readers and critics alike love her romantic mysteries, and Once Upon A Romance Calls Pamela an "up and coming powerhouse writer." Her books are available in audio, ebook, and paperback, and you can get them just about anywhere.

What genre is your book? If you had to describe your book Twitter syle (140 characters or less), what would you say?

Going for Kona is a romantic mystery. 

Here’s my Twitter pitch: Michele wants to burrow into bed when her husband is killed, but she must compete in the Kona Ironman Triathlon in his honor and keep her family from meeting his same fate.

What types of books do you like to read?

I love the larger-than-life characters of Larry McMurtry, the emotion and descriptive excess of Pat Conroy, the psychological intensity of Ruth Rendell, and the hilarity of Janet Evanovich. And then there is just this incredible list of mystery/thriller authors that’s too long for publication, but let me give it a shot: P.D. James, Elizabeth George, Sara Paretsky, John Sanford, Tami Hoag, Sue Grafton, Mary Higgins Clark, etc.etc. etc. My goodness. I love them all.

Who influences your writing?  Do you have favorite authors?

Wow, this is a hard one. Within the mystery genre, I have a lot of influences. I think the author I admire most is Ruth Rendell, and while my writing doesn’t resemble hers, her imagination and versatility admires me most. But the list of my inspirations is very, very long. Lisa Scottoline, P.D. James, Elizabeth George, Stieg Larrson, Sara Paretsky, Sue Grafton, Mary Higgins Clark (the adult mystery writer I read earliest), Marcia Muller, Sandra Brown, the writers I read as a girl—Julie Campbell, the (many) authors of the Hardy Boys, and Carolyn Keene—and, yes, even my “nemesis” Janet Evanovich. I forgot about 35, authors, probably most notably Patricia Cornwell, Kathy Reich, Harlan Coben, and Michael Connelly. But then there’s Robert Tannenbaum, too, and Jan Karon. Crap. This is hard. OK, I give up 
The biggest influence that Ms. Rendell had on me was that she wasn’t afraid to go weird, she dared to  dabble with magical realism, and that she didn’t stick to hard-boiled detectives as protagonists. I loved her ability to transport me, and I especially loved that her mysteries carried themes. Many popular mystery writers give up theme for plot. However, I would add that Lisa Scottoline did the same for me, and added depth of characterization and humor.

Can you tell us what brought you to writing this type of book? (I warn you, this isn’t a short answer, but it’s the real story)

I didn’t plan to become a novelist, or a triathlete for that matter. I like my Kona in a coffee cup, with vanilla stevia drops and no-sugar-added coconut almond milk, to be exact. I barely even knew Kona as the name of the triathlon world championships until ten years ago, when I said “I do” to my husband Eric. 
On our wedding day, he bored into my soul with his eyes intense and green (which they only are when we are nose-to-nose—the rest of the time they are hazel) and asked me, “What do you want to be when you grow up?”
 Well, hmmm, I was already a mother and a lawyer at the time and I kind of thought I was all grown up, too. “What exactly do you mean?”
“Like what kind of dreams have you not fulfilled? I want to help you make them come true.”
I’d fulfilled my most important one by marrying him—spending my life with a wonderful, gorgeous guy who spoils me and makes my toes curl. But once upon a time I’d had other dreams, too. Dreams that I had forgotten about. “To write a novel. And to run a marathon.”
That brought a smile to Eric’s olive face. “Well all right then. Which one’s first?”
And that is how it came to pass that one year later, while in training for our first marathon, I did a Half Ironman triathlon. It turned out, by the way, that a Half Ironman is way harder than a marathon, but I didn’t know that at the time. (They say ignorance is bliss!) It was then that the Kona triathlon, which is on the Hawaiian island of Kona—became important to me. It’s a full Ironman: a 2.4-mile swim followed by a 112-mile bicycle ride, capped with a full 26.2-mile marathon run. Yegads! I’ll bet you can guess that a Half Ironman is exactly half of that, too. My husband wants us to a full Ironman together someday, which I wrote about in a mostly funny but sort of inspirational book called Hot Flashes and Half Ironmans.
First I had to write a novel, though. So, six months after my intro to Half Ironmans, I wrote a silly novella about a woman named Katie and a jumbie house named Annalise for Eric while he was on a work trip to India. (Yes, it was the start of the Katie & Annalise series, for those of you in the know about my books.) I thought that would “count” and that we could put the scary novel thing to bed. It didn’t. Not for him or for me. 
In November of that year I signed up for NaNoWriMo—National Novel Writing Month—which is a “contest" to write a 50,000-word novel in 30 days held each November.  I highly recommend. So that November 1 rolled around and I had no idea what to write about. Then inspiration struck. Eric and I had just finished a long run (we were training for an ultra-marathon) sandwiched in between events at our two daughters’ swim meet. Some insignificant thing he said or did set me off, and I drove home early and alone, spitting mad. Note to self: adrenaline is not always your friend. 
Somewhere between the Fort Bend Natatorium and our home in Meyerland, I realized I was being a pill. I loved this man who treated me like a queen, and God forbid something would happen to one of us and the other’s last memory would be that I was shrew. What if a stalkery old girlfriend had been hunting him down for years, and found him today, derringer in hand? What if he got lost, as he is prone to do, and ended up in the crossfire of drug deal gone bad? Or what if he was kidnapped and forced to work for terrorists in Siberia who needed the specialized knowledge he had about refineries in Libya? 
A devastating despair came over me, and I knew what I had to write. As soon as I got home, I started typing Going for Kona, the story of a couple training for the Kona Ironman. When tragedy strikes, it’s not a random act but murder, and the protagonist, Michele, must overcome grief and every other damn thing life throws at her to protect what she has left: her son Sam and stepdaughter Annabelle. Yet Michele doesn’t get mired in gloom; she literally draws strength from the spirit of her dead husband and her alter ego, a warrior butterfly, and she digs deep to rise above. It’s a romantic mystery inspired by the years I’ve spent training with my own husband for triathlon and my feelings for him. The plot is pure frenzied, make-believe fun, and readers have told me they laughed as much as they cried and never saw the ending coming.
Now, I like my Kona in a fast-paced mystery, and I think you will, too. But it’s even better read with a cuppa.

If you were stranded on an island only allowed to bring three things what would they be?

Eric, my one-eyed Boston terrier Petey, and an iPhone with satellite coverage and a forever battery.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

When I’m not writing, I love to travel with my husband. In the summer of 2014, we took our RV—dubbed the Bookmobile—on a book tour in 17 states. We took a month to do it, and we picked the prettiest places we could drive to in that time frame, staying as close to state and national parks as we could, so that we had easy access to hiking and mountain biking. Our route covered the Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon National Park, Zion National Park, Crater Lake, Astoria, Mount Ranier, Mount Hood, Bellingham, Couer d’Alene, Buffalo Wyoming, Grand Rapids, and Otter Tail Lake, MN. Wow. And for a complete change of pace we are going to Bora Bora and staying in a little thatched hut over the water for our anniversary!

I love to hear from readers, so feel free to drop me a note via any of my social media links, and I’ve been known to Skype or meet face to face with book clubs, so don’t hesitate to ask.

Thank you, Sarah, for hosting my interview on Workaday Reads. I really appreciated this opportunity to connect with your readers.

Social media and buy links:

Connect with Pamela Fagan Hutchins: Blog / Facebook / Twitter / Goodreads


Thank you Pamela for taking the time out of your busy schedule to visit our site today and good luck with your many novels we wish you nothing but success!

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