Pat Krapf, author of the Darcy McClain and Bullet series of mysteries, talks me through her work and the journey she made to create it.
Tell me about how you came to define your writing style. What drew you toward darker fiction?
When I began my career, I worked as a copywriter and technical writer. Writing concise, snappy advertising copy kept me focused on the message. As a technical writer, I wrote and edited operation and service manuals, which helped me hone my organizational and descriptive skills, paying close attention to small details but never losing sight of the big picture.
What drew me to darker fiction was my fascination with delving into the sinister side of human nature. But out of the darkness, there is light—that light being my main character Darcy McClain, who, with help from her giant schnauzer sidekick Bullet, does her best to right the world’s wrongs.
What is your background in writing and how did you get into writing crime fiction?
At age nine I became addicted to the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew mysteries and started penning short stories, all the while wondering if I would ever have enough to say to write an entire book. In college, I worked for the school newspaper and wrote a weekly column. After I earned my journalism degree from the University of Oregon, I worked in the aerospace and medical industries, which introduced me to a wealth of scientific and technological data. Intrigued by this knowledge, I’ve used it in my series to do some good, but mostly to weave dark plots.
Tell me about your books and how you came to write and then publish them.
My debut novel in the Darcy McClain and Bullet Thriller Series was Brainwash. The gist, is that what begins as a missing person’s case soon escalates into a dangerous game that places Darcy’s life at stake after she infiltrates the top-secret biotech labs at LANL, where shocking neuroscientific research soon comes to light.
Book two, Gadgets, was also set in New Mexico. The reader is introduced to The Carver—Albuquerque’s most brutal serial killer. Only one person can end his carnage—Darcy McClain. That is, if he doesn’t kill her next.
This year, I released Genocide. Sean Ireland, the first gay presidential candidate in US history, is guaranteed the election—until he’s found dead at the Palace of Fine Arts in San Francisco.
I completed my first novel in 1987. By 2010, I had five completed manuscripts for my thriller series and rough drafts for an additional four. Rather than pursue the traditional route—a very slow process—I decided to self-publish.
Where do you take your inspiration? Are there any rituals you do to get yourself in the mood for writing?
My inspiration comes from nonfiction books, current news stories, and/or firsthand experiences. Many of Darcy’s adventures were at one time also mine. As for the settings in the series, they are global. Like me, Darcy grew up overseas. The series begins in the US, but with book five I will transition to setting the novels abroad. I’m constantly reading or searching for the next theme to my next novel. It’s an ongoing process and inspiration is everywhere. No, I don’t have any rituals because Darcy is constantly calling me back to the computer to continue her adventures with Bullet. My only complaint is that I can’t always shut out real life.
If you could collaborate with anyone, living or dead, on a writing project, who would it be and why?
Robert Ludlum. I started reading Ludlum in 1971 and was captivated by his powerful storytelling. His Bourne series is the inspiration for a future Darcy McClain thriller that will be set in the EU. Posing as a double agent, Darcy finally realizes her dream to become a spy. But at what cost, and to whom?
Have you got any projects coming up that you are particularly excited about?
Yes. Besides being a prolific blogger—I post on a weekly basis—I am polishing the fourth novel in my series—CLON-X. The storyline: while out for a run in Texas, former FBI Special Agent Darcy McClain and her giant schnauzer, Bullet, find a trash bag submerged in a creek. Inside are the pulverized remains of renowned geneticist Dr. Catherine (Cate) Lord, who has been receiving death threats for her alleged research on human cloning. I recently received the cover design for CLON-X and am quite pleased with the outcome.
What new books or writers are you looking forward to later in the year and beyond?
When it comes to reading, I search by topic as opposed to specific authors. For instance, currently I am hooked on spy, espionage, and bioterrorism as subjects for future novels, so I will seek out books on those subjects, and about 75 percent of what I read is nonfiction.
Anything you’d like to add?
If you’d like to know more about me and my books, visit us—Pat, Darcy, and Bullet—at patkrapf.com. Thank you, Hannah, for the opportunity to talk about our thriller series.
Many thanks for your time Pat, it has been fascinating to hear your thoughts.