Interview with Pamela Fagan Hutchins, author of 'Saving Grace'

Pamela Fagan Hutchins writes award-winning mysterious women’s fiction and relationship humor books, and holds nothing back.  She is known for “having it all” which really means she has a little too much of everything, but loves it: writer, mediocre endurance athlete (triathlon, marathons), wife, mom of an ADHD & Asperger’s son, five kids/step-kids, business owner, recovering employment attorney and human resources executive, investigator, consultant, and musician.  Pamela lives with her husband Eric and two high school-aged kids, plus 200 pounds of pets in Houston. Their hearts are still in St. Croix, USVI, along with those of their three oldest offspring.
Her latest book is the mystery/women’s fiction, Saving Grace.

Q: Welcome to The Writer's Life!  Now that your book has been published, we’d love to find out more about the process.  Can we begin by having you take us at the beginning?  Where did you come up with the idea to write your book?

Thanks for having me! The idea for Saving Grace came to me through owning and living in a half-finished rainforest house on St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands. Some of the places, people, and events were just too big to keep off the page. My island-born husband swears that the house had a jumbie spirit. The stories in the series are loosely tied to actual experiences we had with the house and the whatever-it-was that inhabited it with us.

Q: How hard was it to write a book like this and do you have any tips that you could pass on which would make the journey easier for other writers?

Saving Grace took me five years to finish, and it was very hard. I wrote it in the first person about a Texas attorney named Katie Connell who drank too much and found refuge in the islands. I found that I fought off being “real” in my Katie-voice for four of those five years, because the similarities between us were too painful to face head-on. Once I unleashed Katie to her authentic, self-deprecating yet self-destructive nature, the book almost wrote itself.

Q: Who is your publisher and how did you find them or did you self-publish?

I am an Authorpreneur, and I indie published as SkipJack Publishing with my partner and husband Eric. I was in discussions about rewrites and possible representation with several agents, and Eric said, “STOP. You are an entrepreneur with a successful consulting business. Could you ever be happy relinquishing control, and passing up on the opportunity and excitement of indie publishing in today’s market?” I stopped. He helped. And the rest has just been an incredible journey that keeps surpassing our expectations at every point along the way.

Q: Is there anything that surprised you about getting your first book published?

The big surprise is that so darn many people are buying it and giving it such incredible reviews and ratings! Truly, I expected to publish quietly and to a modest audience, then write another and repeat. I’m having a pinch-myself year with Saving Grace. An author I revere pulled Eric aside at a recent conference to tell him she was studying my style and voice, literally keeping Saving Grace open while she worked on a new protagonist. She did hasten to assure him she wasn’t plagiarizing, but I was so humbled and stunned. I’d bought her books for years, and I’d even taken a writing course from her. Wow!

Q: Can you describe the feeling when you saw your published book for the first time?

Terrified! I grabbed it and started checking for errors! It’s so shiny and beautiful that I can barely look at it, it’s like staring into the sun. I love the work by the cover artist Heidi Dorey. It makes me teary and consciously grateful for the chance to live this dream.

Q: What other books (if any) are you working on and when will they be published?

I have finished two more books in the Katie & Annalise series. Leaving Annalise will come out in October of 2013. Missing Harmony will make her appearance in 2014. I am working on Going for Kona now, which is a series spin-off. I also plan to compile a book on what has worked for me as an Authorpreneur.

Q: Fun question: How does your book contribute to making this world a better place?

Katie is the kind of woman who makes the rest of us feel better about ourselves, and most women can use a little shot in the arm of self-esteem. Katie is funny, smart and capable, but she’s a borderline alcoholic -- with humiliating man and career problems -- who is as much a danger to herself as the bad guys. She grows in her battle for self-control over the course of the book, but never reaches a state of annoying perfection.  

Q: Finally, what message (if any) are you trying to get across with your book?
Thematically, the Katie & Annalise books are about a woman’s journey to control her destiny, to be more about others and less about self, and to find perfection in an imperfect life. But these themes are set against fast-moving mystery plots in adventurous and often hilarious settings, with a ghost story element to top it off. So you get a dose of adrenaline and laughter with your a-ha moments. Overall, my message is one of positivity and self-reliance in a chaotic world.

Q: Thank you again for this interview!  Do you have any final words?

Thanks you! I want to thank everyone who has read any of my books, and encourage you to reach out to me. I love to hear from readers, and, as long as my time and energy lasts, I want to Skype with as many book clubs as I can, and hopefully encourage and maybe even publish some budding novelists out there along the way.


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