Today, P.L. Blair joins us in the forum. She’s here to talk about her fabulous Portals fantasy series, in which there are already four books. We've got a lot of ground to cover, so we better get started :-)
Tim Greaton: It’s great to have you here, P.L. You and I have been hanging around the same writers’ circles for several years, and I know a lot of our common friends have known you even longer than I have. You must have a long background the literary world?
P.L. Blair: I've never really had a non-writing background. I decided early on – around age 7 or 8 – that I wanted to write books when I “grew up” (whenever that will be). Then around junior high school age, I figured I really needed to do something that would earn money, so I started writing for the school newspaper, took journalism classes in high school and college and graduated with associate's and bachelor's degrees in journalism. Then I started writing for newspapers – and still do, occasionally, but it's no longer a full-time job.
Tim Greaton: I have to believe that someone was behind your young literary interest. Am I right?
P.L. Blair: One of the most influential people in my life was my grandfather. I was raised by my grandparents, and Daddy – my maternal grandfather – taught me to read by reading to me. I can still remember sitting in Daddy's lap while he read stories to me about Uncle Wiggly (one of my favorite childhood literary characters) or the Pokey Little Puppy. Besides teaching me to read, those sessions were a wonderful bonding experience, and I really wish more parents had time – or would take the time – to read to their kids.
From Daddy, I learned about the wonderful, awesome worlds that books open. And I guess part of the reason I became a writer was because I loved the stories so much – and could never get enough of them – so it just seemed natural to me that I create my own.
Tim Greaton: What do you do when you’re not creating books?
P.L. Blair: I do have a few interests other than writing. I love history, paleontology, geology. I read every book on those subjects that I can get my hands on. I paint occasionally – nothing spectacular, but I enjoy doing landscapes and seascapes. Probably because I have animals, I prefer acrylics to oils – it's easier to clean up spills.
I'm also horse-crazy – have been since I was a kid. These days, I research American Quarter Horse and Thoroughbred pedigrees as a hobby.
Tim Greaton: You mentioned that you have pets. Could you tell us about them?
P.L. Blair: I love dogs and cats – have three of the former and one of the latter. All are rescues – a basset hound, a dachshund, a part-Jack Russell terrier (aka the jackrabbit terror) and a tortoiseshell cat.
Tim Greaton: When you’re not chasing your furry friends around the house, what genres do you read?
P.L. Blair: I read a lot of fantasy and detective novels (my Portals books are a blend of those two genres). But my reading tends to be eclectic – everything from biographies to romances, depending on what strikes my fancy at any given time.
Tim Greaton: What comment about your novels makes you smile the most?
P.L. Blair: I love when readers from Corpus Christi, Texas – the setting for my books – tell me that they recognize places based on my descriptions.
Tim Greaton: You seem to have gathered an unusual audience for a genre writer. Could you explain what I mean?
P.L. Blair: A lot of my readers say they don't like fantasy or detective novels – then they tell me that they like my books. I think maybe it's because my books are set in modern day, and I try to ground them in as much reality as possible. There is magic, of course, but I've established rules by which it operates. I kind of have a theory that, the more “far out” or impossible something sounds – such as magic – the more it needs to “sound” plausible. I think if I want my tales to be believable, I've got to give my readers a basis for belief.
I also like to make my stories fun. The subject is serious – I write about murderers, after all – but I try to inject humor where I can between my characters. I try to keep them real by giving them little idiosyncrasies … Kat tosses her trash in the back seat of her car, for example, and Tevis won't drive a car because he views them as 2,000-pound projectiles.
Tim Greaton: Do you have a lot of past works stacked up and waiting to be finished?
P.L. Blair: I do have a “couple” of projects that I've put on hold – half-formed ideas … books that I've put aside so I can focus on my Portals books … I don't know if I'll go back to them. They haven't called to me yet.
Tim Greaton: You have a fearless nature about you. Have you always been that way?
Be sure to see the rest of P.L. Blair's thought-provoking interview at