Sunday, January 15, 2012

MWA-NY Election 2012 . . . and the Winner Is — Patricia King — President!

Madame President, congratulations on your election as 2012 President of the Mystery Writers of America, New York Chapter. This chapter includes a wide geographic area – New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Delaware and West Virginia. Currently, it has about 635 members with a national membership of about 3,000 members. You are now in a line with some of the world's most distinguished writers of mystery/crime fiction.

Q: What are some of your plans for MWA-NY for the coming year?

PK: My approach is always more toward evolution than revolution. And participative. The club provided me with moral support and information that helped me succeed. I want to foster an inclusive atmosphere that will do the same for all of our chapter's members, wherever in our broad territory they reside.

Q: You write under the name of Annamaria Alfieri. Do you prefer to be called Patricia or Annamaria? How does your Italian heritage influence your crime writing?

PK: I prefer Patricia in my ordinary dealings and Annamaria for author presentations. I chose to have a pseudonym for my fiction because Patricia King is such a common name and I didn't want to be confused with others when it came to my novels. My heritage strongly influences my everyday life. Ethnic identity tends to be very intense among Italian Americans, and I grew up with the values of the Italian culture: unbreakable family ties, duty, aesthetic sensitivity. But since my novels are set in South America, the Italian in me comes out in, I think, less obvious ways. Being Italian, I was raised a Catholic and went to Catholic school, so I am prepared to understand pretty well the influence of the Catholic Church in Latin America. I think the family relationships in my stories must be more Italian than anything else, since that is built into my bloodstream. I hope I also have an Italian sense of romance. There are a lot of love relationships in my stories.

I have always loved reading mysteries, but I have to confess that I first joined MWA because a novelist friend advised me to hang around with other novelists and told me MWA-NY was the most convivial group of fiction authors in NYC. He sure was right about that!

Q: You recently published a delightful, insightful picture of the Greenwich Village area of Manhattan on your blog. Do you plan to use this setting in your future mystery novels?

PK: I haven't any plans to do so. But who knows. You never know when an idea will grab you and force you to develop it.

Q: You have a distinguished track record as a writer on non-fiction. What influenced you to turn your talents from that to the world of crime and mystery?

PK: I wanted to be a novelist when I was nine years old. But a working class kid from Patterson, New Jersey, didn't turn to the arts in those days. Though I studied literature in college, to earn a living, I got a job and wound up in the management development field. And being a compulsive writer, began to write nonfiction books in that area. But I continued to think up stories all my life and once my daughter was grown and my business established, I had time to develop my fiction writing skills.

Q: What writers have influenced your style and philosophy of crime writing? What mystery novels did you read in high school or college?

PK: Yikes, I could not begin to list them all. I am a voracious reader. As a little kid I went through all the Nancy Drew books in the Patterson Public Library Riverside Branch. I was an English Lit Major in college, and that left little time for nonacademic reading, but in summers I got into political thrillers and spy stories. Eric Ambler and John Le Carre come to mind. And of course Dame Agatha and Conan Doyle. With the kind of convent school education I had, it was inevitable that I would be drawn to the classics.

Q: In your writing what is most important to you - setting, plot, character?

PK: I wish I could say. By the time I produce a finished (if you could call it that) work, I cannot tease these issues apart. I begin with setting, because I begin by choosing a period of South American history that I find intriguing. Then I develop the plot elements that will help me reveal the history. But once the characters begin to walk around in my mind, they just take over and move everything else around.

Q: You have worked in professional fields other than publishing. How does this experience contribute to your crime writing?

PK: My business career (and my convent school education) gave me self-discipline. I need a lot of that. Also, I know a bit about book contracts and the publishing process. That is always useful.

Q: What is your advice to new members of MWA-NY who want to get published?

PK: Write every day. Hone your skills in every way you can. And never give up. It took me a couple of decades. But it was worth it. Boy, was it worth it!

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Our thanks to Patricia for these words of wisdom and we wish her the best of success as she manages the New York Chapter of Mystery Writers of America the coming year!!!

T. J. Straw

1 comment:

  1. Always great to hear it straight from the real person!!! Nicely done interview!!!