Today's guest is Patricia Bradley, romantic suspense author of the brand new book, Obsession. This is book two in the Natchez Trace Park Rangers series.
Patricia shares lots of information about the Natchez Trace area, the kind of law enforcement in the U.S. National Parks, and how she came up with ideas for where the bad guys can bury the bodies there. She's also incredibly encouraging about not quitting, sharing that she wrote for over 30 years before publishing her first book. A great episode to help you keep going in your own writing!
Find out more about Patricia and her books at her website https://ptbradley.com/.
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Today's guest is Patricia Bradley. Patricia is the author of Justice Delayed, Justice Buried, Justice Betrayed and Justice Delivered, as well as the Logan Point series. She's won an inspirational Reader's Choice Award in romantic suspense, a Daphne du Maurier Award and a Touched by Love Award. And she was a Carol Award finalist. She is co-founder of Aiming for Healthy Families, Inc. and she's a member of American Christian Fiction Writers and Sisters in Crime. Patricia makes her home in Mississippi.
Welcome back, Patricia.
Thanks, I love being here. This is a fun time.
I always love talking to you. I've actually I have thought that we had talked so much more recently, but the last time you were on the show was June 2018.
You're kidding. I was trying to think when I was logging on, I was trying to think of how long ago it was, but I had no idea it was that. I know you hadn't been in Sweden very long.
Right. Yeah, that's right. I had just moved here.
Yeah. And the window was open and they were having a parade or something.
That's right.I couldn't remember who I was talking to. It was the graduation parade. Yeah.
Yeah. That was fun to get to see you get to say a different something different.
Yeah. Yeah. Oh well so listen, if you are listening and don't remember talking or hearing Patricia talk before she was on episode 74 in June 2018. And Patricia, I don't know if I told you this, but I ran that episode as an encore episode on January 2nd 2020 because it's just one of my favorite episodes.
It was a lot of fun. I like it. It's just a lot of fun. Yeah. And then I get this Southern accent.
That's right. And I'm not sure if you were wearing pearls that day, but you have this like just totally put together elegant look. And to hear one of the first things that you say be I just love talking about murder. I was like, I'm going to love this interview.
And do I do love talking about murder.
Well let's do that some more.
And justice. Yeah. And justice.
I noticed that with all of your titles of your last series. Yeah. Justice is a big theme for you.
I like it. Well, listen, why don't you give people a little bit of a background on how you got started when you got started. And you've got a great story that you just reminded me. I'd obviously forgotten of, about exactly when it was that your first book came out. So why don't you just start wherever you think is a good place to start there?
I'm not sure if I told this story before, but when I was thirty five, I couldn't sleep, I had no thoughts of writing, I was a reader, I read everything I read about the back of cereal boxes, I loved reading. And but at that point, I could not sleep well and I'd go to bed, and I lay there staring at the ceiling. And one night as I'm staring at the ceiling, this vision came in my head and it was a man standing in a window.And he turned to me and he said, This isn't the way my life was supposed to turn out. Wow. Hey, this sounds pretty good. And so I began telling myself his story at night when I couldn't sleep. And I always tell people these people came to live in my head. I had to write about them to make them go away. And then more people came so that that was and so that was when I was thirty five and I started learning the craft.
But where I lived, I lived in Mississippi, I didn't know any of the writers. So I began writing and making the same mistakes over and over because no one I had no one to tell me that what I was doing you didn't do. I mean I was head hopping, telling instead of showing. And so that went on for years. But it wasn't all bad because Womans World bought my very the very first thing I ever wrote, which is how the snow leopard.And it just blew my mind, that yes, the editor asked for twenty five hundred words. So of course I sent her four thousand.
And normally though the editor would have just said at that time, you sent an sasa, asasa so I always called it, so that they could send your manuscript back to you. You had stamps on it and everything. And so I really want it. She really should have just put it, folded up and put in an envelope and send it back and say sorry when you can send me what I asked for. But she didn't , she loved the story. Cut it to twenty five hundred words. At that time it was twenty five hundred I think is a thousand now.
Or maybe even seven fifty. I don't remember but, so, in the end, she bought it. And that had to be a God thing to encourage me, and so I wrote some more and it was seven years, six years maybe before they bought another one, but they came right at the right time to encourage me. And so I kept writing and learning.And then finally in 2007, I went to some writer's conference and I went back in 2000, but and I began to learn and get other writers involved. And so I formed a critique group and then they would point out what I was doing and which no one had ever done. And I began to learn to write what I needed to. I began to learn how to show instead of tell,I quit head hopping a long time ago because I found out that that wasn't something you do and but then in 2010, I went to some of Susan May Warrens deep thinker.I went to her very first deep thinkers.
Like a retreat, right?
Yeah, it is where I mean, it's almost like a college course crammed into four days that that one was four, the next three where five or six days. And then we would start at 8:00 and 11:00 and we would be writing and learning all that time. And so I would take whatever in one year and the next year and build on that. In fact, from the first year to the second year, I got the award for being the most improved writer.
So but I learned Susan May Warren and Rachel Haag, literally, they didn't, they gave me the building blocks to learn to write, and I took them and I used them. And then in 2012 October, the 26th of 2012, I received an email from my agent, Mary Sue Seymour, who unfortunately has passed away since then. But she was such a sweetheart. But I received an email from her that Ravell was offering a contract for three books, which was unheard of for someone who had never been published.
So that and when the very first book came out, it was five days beyond my sixty ninth birthday. So I want to anybody out there, any writer who thinks they're too old to write and I want to tell you something you're not. But you do. When God opens a door, He doesn't care about your age, He doesn't care about anything and neither do publishers, they want your work. So learn the craft and be ready for when God opens that door so that you can walk through it.
I love that. Wow. Sixty- nine, when your first book came out. Did you say that you had started with that first story, that you had a dream when you were thirty -five.
I did, but I never wrote that story and I have no idea why. It was not long after that that the story that Woman's World published came into my head about a woman whose husband had been a hit and run. An accident is supposed to be a hit and run, but she didn't believe it. And so she starts investigating. And the snow leopard, he was in the figurine business and his partner were shipping cocaine from overseas and the snow leopards. And she discovers that and then so that was that story.
So you started out with this mystery bent, you've always written...
I did and I was what you would probably call a lean writer. I do not write rhythmic, I do not write flowery prose, I'm a very lean writer, and I think that's because I started out writing stories where every word has to count, every word has to do more than one thing almost.
And so I feel probably what I would have been because I'm a bottom line person. This is what it is.And this is why you go so
and it seems like that's a great kind of I was going to say theme, but that's not what I mean. A great way to write. If you're going to write mysteries like I don't even know I don't have any idea if anybody has written a mystery with flowery kind of language.
Cozys's come near Cozy's are a little bit slower paced and a little bit more information. And I tried writing a cozy, but I found myself getting back into the suspense. So I don't think at this point in my life cozies meant for me. So.
Yeah, well, so you've written I don't know if you even know quite a few mystery suspense novels and Obsession is the newest one.
Right.It is for Revell. It is the 88 Airborne for us eight, nine, ten,the tenth book for Revell. And then I have two sweet romances with Harlequin. And then I have written the third one for Revell and is the fourth one is due June 1st.
For Revell which will be. We don't know what the name of yet. I don't even know what it's going to be about except it's set in Natchez and it's probably going to involve the turning angel with the cemetery.Greg Iles has written a whole story mystery about involving that statue, but that and Windsor ruins, which is a fantastic place in Natchez I loved researching Natchez.
OK, so actually that was one of the questions I was going to ask. Will come back to Obsession in a minute. Explain Natchez Trace, because I was getting the general idea when I was reading the book. But this is not a part of the geography that I'm at all familiar with. So I couldn't figure out if it was a road or a trail or I didn't know what it was.
It's I think in most of our in the book you learn that it is it was a trail started by bisson looking for salt licks, and it traveled from Nashville to Natchez, to the Mississippi River, and then fur trappers began using it. And then Spaniard's. There were several different ethnicities who found who built up that area. And the last where the Cane cooks, which they would float their wares down, they would go a lot times story there in Kentucky or Tennessee or Ohio, and they would float their wares down to the Mississippi on the Tennessee, or Ohio all the way to New Orleans and then to get back, there were no steamboats. So they would walk from they would travel from New Orleans to Natchez, cross the river there at Natchez and then take that trail from Natchez, to Nashville. It also when it wasn't called the Natchez trace, but there was another trail that went from Nashville own up into Kentucky, which is not it hasn't been in Mississippi. There's not Mississippi. But and there's an organization. It was like the VAR.
But it's I can't remember what it is. But they pushed to have the Natchez trace a memorial or a national park made of it. And it is it's 444 miles. And they have put it they've used the old trace a lot of the ways they laid the road over there. But there are places where you can visit the old trace and still see it. It's amazing. If I go to my website. I think there's some pictures there on different blogs, but I need to make a Pinterest board for that. Yes. Mark that down.
Yeah. It is a trail and it's a there's the National Park Rangers and then there is the Natchesz Trace Park Rangers. And if the little if they're govern the Natchez Trace Parkway Rangers are law enforcement only. So the the ones who are not law enforcement in my books are part of the National Park Service, but they're all I mean, you talk about confusing. Yeah, when I was writing and then so but I didn't know. I thought it was all under just it was just the National Park Service and so as I'm interviewing the director at Tupelo, that's where she was based. I learned no, it's only law enforcement rangers on the Natchez trace parkway
Ok,and it's multiple states. So this is some sort of special thing.
It goes from Tennessee through Alabama and Mississippi.
All right. Interesting. OK, well, that helps me to understand, because this series is actually what's the series name is has something to do with the Natchez Trace,
The Natchez Trace Park Rangers.
OK, all right. And so tell us a little bit about Book one and then let's talk about book two that just came out. Yay! Congratulations.
Yes, thank you. I'm really excited about this, so I'm excited about all of them. But the one when you birth a book, you really get excited. But the first book was Stand Off and it Luke and I always like on my character's name. I cannot believe that.
Oh, my goodness. Right now, it's just gone, but anyway, Luke is within the law enforcement rangers. There are R.S.B Rangers, which are investigative services branch and he is and there's only about 36 in whole United States. And they are an elite group there, what you would call the FBI of the park rangers. And so but they're running drugs up the trace, which is there's not a lot of traffic, there are not a lot of law enforcement up and down the trace.
So if someone is minding their own business and not breaking the law is no problem to run anything through there because it's just an isolate. It is isolated. There's very little phone service. There are places where you have absolutely no phone service. And I'm hoping at some point since Mississippi is getting out, but all of them either whether it's Tennessee, Alabama or Mississippi, there are places there, absolutely no phone service.
Yikes. so it's.
Yeah. And I don't travel it at night anymore. I have traveled the last time I traveled at night, we had deer jumping across the road. It's a two lane road. Yeah. And one reason I like it is because there are no trucks whatsoever on it. It's just a very if if you're in the mood for a pleasant drive, if I will. When I drove to Jackson from Corinth, I would drive to to get on the trace and it was just a nice you can only go 50 miles an hour, but they usually don't bother you if you go fifty five or so.But it's a really pleasant drive.
Yeah, there's a there's a drive when in Michigan that you would get off the freeway but then there'd be another 45 minutes to get to where we lived. And you did not want to get off the freeway at our exit anywhere near dusk. It's like let's get there early or let's stop at that freeway exit and have a really long dinner because just deer deer deer deer and so many deer accidents.
I know it's scary.Yeah. I mean, we literally had one to jump. Just I think they're hoof got our fender and said, Lisa, that I was with the director of our non-profit because we have been down to trace to do some abstinence programs and it got light and we were right there at the trace and it was a bad decision. We should have gone on over to 25. So.
And that's the last time I've been on the trace at night.
Yeah, that makes sense. OK, so one of the things, so many things that you and I usually do this like we're like little pinball's inside the machine.
One thing triggers another. Exactly.
OK, so I'll try to keep us on track here. So I was I was wondering about the geography and what this is. So that's that's that. So give us an idea about what the series then is about and then tell us about Obsession, which just came out.
It is.It's about different. I usually take the character from one book, Emma,Brook was my character's name. Rick Danvers was the character in Stand Off and her best friend was Emma and she is in Standoff. And then so the next book, which that was about Brook finds her dad, her dad's a park ranger, law enforcement ranger, and she is moving from the interpretive side, which is how you say when you go to the Park Service, the National Park Service, you will see these rangers and they were conducting tours and things and giving you information.
Those are the interpretive rangers. They generally do not wear a gun. Now, I think maybe out west they may. But in this area, the interpretive rangers are not law enforcement and they don't wear a gun. And then there's the law enforcement ones who. And they. They have to know the area because they can they can do the tours that they had to, but mostly they're...