By Rox Burkey
Welcome friends and visitors! I am delighted you visited today to learn more about my special author friend, Linda Pirtle.
Linda, thank you for joining me today. I am excited to share a bit of your background and expertise with my visitors. You have such an interesting point of view on storytelling. I think everyone will find snippets here to enjoy. Visitors, please feel free to leave comments below, we will respond.
I know your educational background makes the transition to successful author easier that someone with a different background. But I’d like to understand how your experience as an educator shapes your cozy mystery writing today?
My experience as an educator has definitely had an impact on my writing. As an English teacher, I taught my students how to write different types of essays and how to research a topic. They were required to read a piece of literature, examine it, evaluate it, and then write a critique. I know that every reader responds differently, so I gave them the freedom to analyze with the caveat that they had to prove their opinions. I keep that thought in mind for my readers. Each one, according to his or her life experiences, will have a particular response to my stories and the characters who make them come alive.
Perhaps one of the main lessons I taught my students was how to research. And for every novel I write, I spend many hours researching before I pen the first sentence. For example, my book entitled Deadly Dominoes is set primarily at Caddo Lake. Before I could describe the scenes that occurred on the lake, I made a visit so I could include descriptive details to help the reader visualize the sites, the smells, the sounds, etc., in order to feel as though he/she were there.
These are such valuable lessons, Linda. Have any of your former students ever reached out to you to say they enjoyed (or didn’t enjoy doubtful…) one of your books?
I am on Facebook with many of my former students. We communicate quite often. I’ve had former students show up at book signings. Seeing them and visiting with them about my books always is an encouragement to me.
Were you one of those students who wrote poetry and kept journals?
No, as a student I didn’t. I had some excellent English teachers who kept me busy writing essays.
Where do you get the detailed background used in your books?
The backgrounds for my books usually come from places Caleb and I have visited. I keep a small notebook in my purse to jot down my thoughts or reactions to a place or to an experience. For example, a good friend of ours died several years ago. His memorial service was graveside. In my book entitled The Mah Jongg Murders, I described a graveside service of the first victim. It mirrors the sounds and images of the actual service for our friend.
Your cozy mystery series, The Games We Play, is full of twists and turns with murders to be solved. What role does Eli the white poodle, featured on every cover, play in these stories.
Eli is one of the most important characters in the series. His intelligence and judgement are superior. He goes with Lillian on each of her adventures and more than once has not only forewarned her about an evil person but also has actually saved her life.
Where did you get the idea to add in a standard poodle as a character? The wonderful standard poodle I knew as a child was territorial and protective. Is this the case with Eli?
I love dogs and have always had a pet. When I was eight years old, one of my older brothers gave me my first pet, a black Labrador. During my life, I have owned two miniature poodles: Pandora was a chocolate brown, prissy little thing who liked to have her nails polished. She loved to wear bows in her hair. Mittens was just the opposite. She would chew off nail polish, and her hair bows never stayed tied. Our son Josh grew up with Mittens.
Piper, a black/white Standard Poodle, currently lives with us. All of my poodles have been lovable family pets and not aggressive. However, my Miniature Schnauzer named Zoe would take on the world to guard me and/or any member of the family. Unlike the poodles who welcomed visitors, Zoe would decide immediately whether or not she liked a person.
I guess you could say that Eli’s temperament is a melding of all of my dog’s personalities: loveable, loyal, faithful, smart, protective.
Who is the perfect reader for your novels?
The perfect reader is anyone who buys my books and enjoys them. Knowing that Lillian appeals to a more mature adult, I introduced a younger woman in Tarot Terrors. Sammie Nightingale, a young and independent member of the Navajo tribe, will hopefully attract a younger audience. Though my stories appeal primarily to women, I have several men who have fallen in love with Lillian.
Your husband Caleb Pirtle III is also an award-winning author. Is it tough having two writers in the home or just a perfect way to share ideas?
As I’m sure you’ve noted, I always dedicate my books to Caleb. He is my most ardent supporter and critic. You ask if it is difficult have two writers in the home. Actually, it works quite well. We each have an office so that we can be alone when we write. Sharing ideas has always been a part of our writing experiences. In fifty-seven years, we have never run out of something to discuss. We tease each other a great deal about our writing.
You love to read. Do you have a favorite author? Or a favorite book?
I love to read and read books in various genres. Having taught all of the classics as an educator, I now enjoy reading contemporary literature. As a child, I fell in love with mysteries and continue to enjoy them. As far as a favorite author, no I really don’t have a favorite. Of course, the politically correct answer to that question would be Caleb Pirtle III.
You and Caleb are hosting a dinner party, what author (living or not) would you like to sit next to? Is there one question you would really like to ask of this author?
If Caleb and I hosted a dinner party for an author, I would invite John Milton and William Blake, author and illustrator of Paradise Lost. I would ask them this question: How could you describe the earth so perfectly from outer space? If you read this work, you will understand that the description perfectly describes what no one had seen until we sent men into space.
I would like to hear them describe the visions they experienced and described in Paradise Lost writings.
What is the perfect setting for you to write?
My office with Piper, my Standard Poodle, lying on the floor beside my chair is my perfect place.
Are you taking advantage of any virtual book festivals?
No, but the idea of a virtual book festival is intriguing. With Covid-19 hampering social contact, it could well prove to be a profitable way for authors to network and market their books.
Which of your books are you most proud of and why?
I really don’t have a favorite. In the first place, I never planned to become an author. When I finish a book and read it aloud during the editing process, I’m amazed I’ve actually written a novel. I’m even more amazed that my readers say they enjoy my books.
Linda, I think someone suggested (I won’t throw anyone under the bus) that your latest one in the series it your best work so far. Scrabbled Secrets is in final editing, RIght?
I’ve just completed Scrabbled Secrets: Book 4 of The Games We Play Series. Presales of the Kindle version will be on Amazon on September l. It can be purchased for $.99 for that one day. Both paperback and eBook versions will go live on September 2 at their regular prices.
How do you help other authors?
I belong to critique groups during which attendees discuss their works in progress. Caleb and I have taught writing classes to novice authors. We also speak to various organizations to teach and encourage other authors.
What are some of your key relationships that help you be successful?
Caleb and I have enjoyed being members of several writer groups: East Texas Writers’ Guild, NETWO, Keller Writers Association, Holly Lake Book Club, and Texas Authors. Networking at annual conferences and meetings give me an opportunity to brainstorm with other authors. This has been a real learning experience for me.
How would you like your Raving Fans to support you?
Buy my book and write a review – good or bad – I’d love to hear from my readers.
Any advise you would like to share with any up and coming writers?
Be passionate about your writing. If you enjoy your story, others will also. Be brave. Share what you write and ask for help when you hit a roadblock.
About Linda Pirtle
It is only natural that I would one day wind up in the literary field. I taught the art of writing and understanding literature for years as an English teacher at St. John High School, Lancaster High School, and Ennis High School as well as Business Communications at Navarro College.
When I retired, I turned my attention to working with my husband to create and build Venture Galleries, a book publishing company. Our website, CalebandLindaPirtle.com is a literary Website devoted to connecting readers with today’s growing population of authors throughout the world. I have served as editor for some great books presently in the marketplace, and a year ago I entered the field as an author myself.
It was a perfect transition. I have long read and reviewed mysteries, and I found myself infatuated with the kinds of cozy hometown mysteries produced by Agatha Christie and Diane Mott Davidson. I am fascinated with dastardly murder mysteries solved by the lady next door who relies on intuition, instinct, and deductive reasoning.
I decided to write a cozy mystery series – The Games We Play — which focuses on how people bent on evil can ruin an innocent, fun game. The first novel, The Mah Jongg Murders, takes place in the mythical small East Texas gated community of Leisure Lake. The location was patterned after Hideaway Lake, where I live with my author husband Caleb Pirtle III and my Standard Poodle named Piper. My protagonist Lillian Prestridge loves her husband, her poodle, Mah Jongg, and riddles. She doggedly sets out to find the person who is murdering her friends and neighbors.
The second novel in the series, Deadly Dominoes, is set in the mysterious bayous of Caddo Lake, shadowed by Spanish moss dripping from the oaks. It’s a perfect backdrop for murder. Lillian and her husband leave the security of their gated community, hoping for a peaceful vacation in their new RV. Lillian is puzzled by the warning she receives from the young man who loads her groceries into her SUV. “You’d better be careful. Crazy things have been happening out at that RV Park.” Escape mysteries? That’s impossible for Lillian. An explosion rocks the couple’s first night at Caddo and is quickly followed a string of murders.
In the third novel of the series – Tarot Terrors. Lillian faces two challenges in this story: the death of her husband as well as the difficult task of finding his murderer in the mysterious and mystical area that surrounds Sedona, Arizona. A tarot card reader suggests Lillian travel to Pagosa Springs, Colorado. There she will not only find the one who killed her husband but also enough adventure and danger to last a lifetime.
I have been blessed being recognized for my writing: Nominated as Top Female Author 2017; Author of the Month, KC Books and Music; and selected as a Readers Favorite for Deadly Dominoes.
Connect with Linda