Friday, February 05, 2010

The AuthorView: Patricia McLinn

As we gear up for the 2010 Winter Olympics, sports reporter turned romance novelist Patricia McLinn dishes to Becke Davis about the beauty of the event, the role of pets in our lives and going for the gold with the re-release of her taut, fast-paced tale of the top athletes who live for “The Games.”

Becke Davis: What do you like most about your behind-the-scenes Olympic romance, “The Games?”

Patricia McLinn: While I was writing “The Games,” I liked the characters the most – can’t imagine spending that much time with characters I didn’t like a LOT. They’re passionate, determined, dedicated athletes. But holding up those disciplined bodies are very human feet of clay, and that’s what I love about them.

BD: Who or what inspired “The Games?”

PMcL: As a brand new sports writer I covered a skating event with participants from a 5-year-old on up to a heading-for-stardom Scott Hamilton. I asked the 5-year-old about the best part of the event, fully expecting him to say it was skating with Scott Hamilton. The kid looked soulfully up at me and said, “Using the porta-potty.” That might seem like a strange inspiration, but it puts even famous Olympic gold medalists in a human context.

The devotion and discipline required for an athlete to reach the Olympics is far beyond what most people imagine – and it’s required of every single athlete, not only the stars, not only the medalists. But I also realized the training and competing were only the beginning of the story.

BD: Who’s the most heroic person you know?

PMcL: I have to pick two – my parents. Both were raised financially-poor and family-rich. Six months after they married, Dad was called into the Army for WWII. Mom went -- eventually with two babies -- wherever he was posted in the U.S. And she held down the home front while he was deployed in North Africa and Europe, including the Battle of the Bulge. They’ve been married more than 69 years and are people of honor, who raised three kids with emphasis on family, education, responsibility, good sense and humor. That’s heroism in my book.

BD: Who’s your romance hero: dark, brooding bad boy, or white knight in shining armor?

PMcL: What it depends most on is who’s the right guy for the heroine – not a perfect guy, but one who helps/prods/irritates/complements her into being a better person after knowing him than she was before. And vice versa.

What the heroes you describe and my romance hero share is a sense of being comfortable in their own skin, at ease with their own individuality. And a sense of humor that finds my jokes funny sure helps.

BD: What are you up to these days?

PMcL: I’m settling back down after a multi-level life upheaval. Two years ago, when I was president of Novelists, Inc., I left my job at the Washington Post, packed up my long-time home in Virginia and headed to the Midwest to house-hunt, grateful my sister and brother-in-law opened their home to me for several months.

The changes gave me the opportunity to write full-time. My companion in all this and more was my collie Riley – he was the model for “Sin” in "Match Made in Wyoming" and an artist’s rendition of his puppy picture is on the cover. He died 18 months ago at 12 1/2. He is much missed.

I lasted about two-and-a-half months, and adopted another rescue collie I named Kalli – like Riley, a character from "Rodeo Nights." (Photo, right)

I’m working on a humorous western, a short contemporary romance and what I’m calling an ethical suspense. Then there’s a series of historicals in Wyoming, and I’m playing with some mysteries, teaching writing classes and gearing up for the Vancouver Games. The biggest thing is a major project with a number of other authors that will be going public in early 2010 . . . don’t you just love cliff-hangers?

Check out an excerpt from "The Games" here!

Dying to get the d.l. on Kresley Cole's new
"Pleasure of a Dark Prince?" Click here.
Be Our Valentines next week here in the pink!
Drop in to hang and talk hot reads:

Monday 2.8: Melanie Murray's take on Madeline Hunter's newest
Wednesday: Amy Kennedy brings you "My Zombie Valentine"
Friday: Becke Davis on Kristan Higgins' "Next Best Thing"


Becke Davis said...

Good morning, everyone! I think the weather gods are making sure there will be plenty of snow for the Winter Olympics. I could use with a little less, myself! I hope none of you have been hit by the storm that's all over the news.

I was so glad to have this opportunity to promote Patricia McLinn! Pat has been a favorite of mine for years (just check her website if you don't believe me).

I wish ALL of her books were available -- every one of Pat's books is in my keeper pile. They are old friends that I read over and over again.

We're both dog lovers, too! Now, Michelle, don't hiss -- you know I love cats as much as you do, but I miss my dog and one day our remaining old cat will have to get used to a dog invasion again.

Tonya Kappes said...

Pat! I love your collie and he's talented too.

I think it would be hard to leave a job and write full time. How did you handle the transition? Do you have a schedule you write by or just wing it?

Vanessa Kelly said...

Great interview, Becke! I've always wanted to write a romance about an Olympic athlete - what's not to love about those buff, dedicated and determined men and women? I'll definitely be on the lookout for Pat's books.

Oh, and I love pictures of pets reading book!

Becke Davis said...

Isn't that a great picture, Vanessa? You're right about those athletes -- I'm surprised there aren't more romances about Olympic athletes, since there are a lot about other sports stars.

Tonya - it sounds terrifying, doesn't it? When I started writing full time my kids were little and I'd only been working part time. The transition wasn't that hard because I hadn't been making much money anyway. Giving up a real job? Now THAT would be scary.

Michelle Buonfiglio said...

Buongiorno, Bellas! Thanks for the great AuthorView, Becke! SO great to learn more about Patricia, especially the inside info on what inspired "The Games." there must be a porta-potty trivia blog somewhere online where Patricia could post that story!

Patricia, I'm thinking your tease is very, very evil. Can you not give us a little more info about your upcoming project? And we're all over the western-set and big-sky country romances here, so can you tell us what's been inspiring you on that front of late?

Becke, I don't know what you're talking about! I think dogs are just darling. I've only mentioned to you once or twice that I have a teeny, tiny affinity for kitties. Not like I'm obsessed or anything or owned 5 at one time and see myself as an old cat lady inthe future. I just think they're pretty and soft is all.

Becke Davis said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Keri Stevens said...

Boy does what you say about the hero inspiring the heroine to be a better person strike a nerve!

Me Mum & me had that conversation last year--she definitely feels she is more generous since being married to my dad, and I feel the same way about Dr. Stevens. She's got 43 years with him under her belt now (and my 17 isn't too shabby, either).

Isn't it nice when life imitates art?

(Captcha is "elvera" & Vera is my maternal Grandma's name. I am SO going into business as a captcha oracle, dangit!)

Becke Davis said...

I had a very suggestive captcha yesterday, Keri - wish I'd written it down.

The captchas on Facebook are the weirdest. I wonder who comes up with those?

Playground Monitor said...

I love romance novels and I'm captivated every 2 years by the Olympics, so your book SO intrigues me! I was lucky enough to attend an event at the 96 Summer games in Atlanta.

I always heard collies were smart. Apparently the rumor is true since yours reads romance.:-)


Becke Davis said...

My best friend in high school had a collie -- she was the sweetest dog!

I've never been to the Olympics -- would have gone if Chicago made the cut, though.

Becke Davis said...

Sorry, Playground Monitor -- I was focused on memories of that collie and didn't even say hi!

Gabriella Edwards said...

Hello all! Patricia, I would think the Olympics would be a hot-bed for all kinds of romance.

I love watching just to imagine this speedskater dating that skier or that skater dating this/those luge dude(s.)*snort*

Holy Cow! I think I'm developing a premis for a new story. And I didn't even mention the summer games. Get ready Becke!

The locations, the venues, and festivites all combine to make a very romantic setting in my mind.

Keri, my captcha is untogal--I swear!

Becke Davis said...

Patricia, if you see this, could you tell us more about what you're working on? I'll be first in line to buy your next book!

Rosie, great to see you!

Patricia McLinn said...

Hi all,

It's great to see you here. I am sooo impressed at this being posted at 5:25 a.m. I was just going to bed

And I love all the Olympic-lovers. There was just a research piece out that the Olympics is the one sporting event that as many women look forward to as men.

You can see more about the survey -- along with a fun story about the first skeleton rider from Spain and lots more -- at my Facebook page for THE GAMES:

Becke Davis said...

Hi Patricia! Yes, I noticed that time also. I think Michelle gets up before dawn, about the time I'm usually turning off my light.

Some people are night owls, some are early birds. I can get up early when I have to, but I'm more the staying up all night kind of person.

Patricia McLinn said...

"I think it would be hard to leave a job and write full time. How did you handle the transition? Do you have a schedule you write by or just wing it?"

Great question, Tanya. You spotted that the transition might raise some issues. I did my homework on the financials and other practicalities, but didn't think about that aspect.

I've had very little problem with the no-working part of the transition , but I've been surprised that I seem to be see-sawing from slugdom to waaaay-over-scheduled. I'm in the second category right now. I see evidence that these huge swings might be settling back closer to a sustainable level. Sure hope so.

As for a schedule -- bite your tongue! I'm definitely a winger. The closest thing to a constant is the every-other-day trip to the dog park, and that's because I have collie nag to keep me on track.

Patricia McLinn said...

"Great interview, Becke!"

I absolutely agree, Vanessa. Good, interesting and varied questions.

Of course I love that she and Michelle got Kalli's photo in.

"Oh, and I love pictures of pets reading book!"

Check out the "Photo Album" on the Facebook page -- more pix of Kalli AND some of her dog park buddies getting into THE GAMES. They're a hoot

Patricia McLinn said...

Sorry, Tonya! My fingers went to a familiar name -- and goofed yours.

Becke Davis said...

There's a whole bunch of Patricia McLinn's on Facebook - could you post your link for us? Thanks.

(I'm on there with my pen name, Becke Martin.)

Patricia McLinn said...

Michelle and Becke, are you going to tune in Sunday on Animal Planet for the Puppy Bowl? There's a halftime show by cats (and rabbit "cheerleaders".

I'll probably DVR it so I can watch again -- makes me laugh. Especially when Kalli gets so interested in what's going on on the screen.

They also had Puppy Olympics for the Summer Games. Hope they'll have a Winter one, too.

Patricia McLinn said...

Keri, Congratulations to you and your mom on making great choices! It's so lovely when people bring out the best in each other.

I wish both couples many, many, many more wonderful years.

Patricia McLinn said...

"I always heard collies were smart. Apparently the rumor is true since yours reads romance.:-)"

LOL, Marilyn. The collies I've known have been plenty smart -- maybe a little too smart. I keep saying I want to try a not-so-smart dog.

She's referred to as the Dog Park Monitor sometimes, because she barks/gets in the middle if she doesn't like how the dogs are playing. We'll also tell her "Go get Gracie" or another of her buddies, and she goes and herds them out of trouble.

The downside is she wants to do that with kids, too. We're working on that (wg)

Patricia McLinn said...

"Patricia, I would think the Olympics would be a hot-bed for all kinds of romance. "

Rosie, when I was researching, I asked some of the athletes and coaches if it was realistic that they'd have time during the intense competition, and was told . . . OH, YES!

I love skating and skiing, but also have been fascinated by the folks in the more obscure sports. How about dressage and fencing in the Summer O?

Patricia McLinn said...

"Pat has been a favorite of mine for years (just check her website if you don't believe me)."

Speaking of fun interviews, Becke gets the chance to answer some questions in my Reader Hall of Fame:

Gabriella Edwards said...

Oh, I love that it's real, Patricia! You know the candid reports about an athlete's life where we get to see who they are away from the games?

One year, I caught a story, and I can't remember who it was, but a synchronized swimmer was engaged to a water polo player. *sigh* It was dreamy...I really must read your book!

Becke Davis said...

Puppy Bowl? How did I not know about this? How cute!!

Becke Davis said...

Rosie - synchronized swimmer? Water polo? If you remember what book that was, let me know!

Patricia McLinn said...

Rosie, I think Sara Fitzgerald did a very, very early Desire with a synchronized swimmer . . . but that's relying on my memory, which can be a dangerous thing!

Surely it's time for another (g)

I hope you will get THE GAMES -- and let me know what you think.

Gabriella Edwards said...

Sorry, Becke, I didn't make myself clear. It was during one of the Olympic summer games, years ago--real!

The cameras caught her at one of his matches or pan to him watching her compete, very romantic.

Becke Davis said...

Rosie - Yep, there's a story for someone to write!

Pat - what does your dog think of all this snow? I'm not crazy about cold weather, but my dog used to love to play in the snow!

Patricia McLinn said...

Kalli's fine with snow. Not so with rain. This dog who can be covered from nose to tale with mud after a session at the dog park, acts as if I'm torturing her if I try to get her to go out in the rain. She recoils in horror.

But snow? That's fun & games.

Becke Davis said...

My dog could take rain but she was terrified of hoses and sprinklers. And baths!

Playground Monitor said...

I love to watch track and field, which some people liken to watching grass grow or paint dry. But both my boys ran high school track and my younger one was a college track star. He just finished his master's in PE and longs to be a college track coach. He'll be a great one!


Becke Davis said...

I can't believe no one has brought up the Super Bowl!

Patricia McLinn said...

Marilyn, I think knowing the sport makes a huge difference. You see the nuances that aren't apparent to others. Some sports are easier for casual watchers to "get."

I spent my childhood going to football in the fall, basketball in the winter and track & field in the spring, because my much-older brother competed. I thought that was normal (g).

Patricia McLinn said...

Michelle! I'm not ignoring your questions. Just still catching up :)

"we're all over the western-set and big-sky country romances here"

I'm with you there, Michelle. Are you having trouble finding western-set romances? I love historical ranch stories, but finding I have to write them to have some read (g).

I'm working on one that also has a lot of humor in it called COURTING A COWBOY. Sophie is a determined, forward-thinking young woman of 1880s St. Louis. She decides a cowboy will be the perfect absentee husband to allow her to live the life she wants. So, she sets out for Wyoming to find one.

Patricia McLinn said...

P.S. I love the idea of a porta-potty trivia blog.

I was researching what injuries someone could get from being attacked by a goat for a wip (Becke, it's the Winter book in the Seasons in a Small Town series) and found a website for "The Childhood Goat Trauma Foundation"

"Through its programs and workshops, individuals from all walks of life have been able to live happier and more fulfilling lives, without the ever-present ghosts of their personal goat traumas."

This site makes me laugh until I cry.

Can porta-potty trivia be far behind?

Becke Davis said...

Pat - A friend of mine in Cincinnati had pet goats when her kids were little. You couldn't turn your back on them for a minute! I'm going to go check out that website -- it sounds hilarious!

Becke Davis said...

Went to the goat website -- still laughing maniacally! (Maniacly?)

Becke Davis said...

Pat - thanks so much for taking the time to answer all my questions, and for hanging out with us. Now get back to writing, woman! I'm waiting to read your next book!

Patricia McLinn said...

So glad you got laughs from the goat trauma site, Becke! I chuckle just thinking about it.

Sorry to not be back yesterday. I got a virus on my laptop, and have been battling. Sigh.

Got it from clicking on a website off a Google search. Everyone beware of any site with "buta-hunt" in the url. This virus starts flashing huge warnings saying your system is infected. It's called "Internet Security 2010" and it tries to scare you into buy their "anti-spyware" and "spyware removel" and if you do, you're actually PAYING for malware!!

Be careful out there everyone!

Patricia McLinn said...

It's here! I can finally answer Michelle's question and tell you all about the huge project I've been working on with other authors.

The official announcement is below. I'd also be happy to answer questions about it.

We proudly announce the launch of, a new e-book publisher owned and operated solely by published authors.

A Writer's Work grew out of a conversation at a Novelists Inc conference. We were looking for a way to get no longer available backlist into the hands of readers and fans. E-publishing was suggested, but we were bemoaning the difficulty of doing it on our own.

That’s when the group, under the direction of Pat McLaughlin (Pat McLinn), realized a group of authors could reach a formidable audience if we banded together.

We now have the website up and running, offering those older titles in e-book and PDF formats at We are starting slow, with a dozen of us learning all the how-to’s. Soon, we will begin inviting other published authors who are interested in giving their backlist titles a new life. is open to all genres, non-fiction, and original work.

The benefit to authors is that we maintain complete control over the rights or our books, and once the website expenses are paid, authors will receive a very favorable percentage of their cover price, certainly better than that offered by other publishers.

The benefit to readers is that they will have access to keepers they've loved in an exciting new format. And, of course, we hope that among our offerings they will find new books to treasure.

Please visit the site and see what we’ve accomplished in a few short months. If you’re interested, drop us a line!