Thursday, March 13, 2008

An Interview with Author Patricia A. Guthrie

Review magazine "Affaire de Coeur" says, "With a strong mystery and a sizzling romance, Ms. Guthrie captivates readers from the start. This is an enjoyable thriller with a plot that will keep you guessing until the climactic end.

”Affaire de Coeur gives In the Arms of the Enemy" *****

Patricia A. Guthrie is a resident of Park Forest, Illinois. A recently retired music teacher from the Chicago Public Schools (May Community Academy and Chicago Vocational Community Academy) and former opera singer, Author Patricia A. Guthrie is now an avid horse owner, dog obedience trainer and writer. Ms. Guthrie lives with three feisty collies who act as “ghost writers” and help her write at every given opportunity.

In the Arms of the Enemy is available online at:,%20amazon/, Barnes and Noble, Borders and Waldenbooks.

Coming in spring: Water Lilies Over my Grave (Light Sword Publishing).


NM (Nuzzling Muzzles): Please give us an overview of your novel "In the Arms of the Enemy".
PG (Patricia Guthrie): When the death of a racing stable’s prize horse and his trainer is blamed on the stable’s owner; his son, Adam Blakely, goes undercover convinced that the trainer’s partner, Maggie McGregor is the killer.

Determined to leave the tumultuous world of horse racing, Maggie returns home to try and find peace. When a handsome horse owner moves his horse into her father’s boarding stable and asks Maggie to train his horse, family finances dictate that Maggie accept--and that’s when the accidents begin.

Drowning in deception and lies, Maggie and Adam search for a killer and uncover an insurance scam so insidious, it threatens to rock a horse racing empire and bring the killer to their doorstep. They need to learn to: Keep your friends close; but your enemies closer.

NM: What planted the seed for you to write "In the Arms of the Enemy"?
PG: I’ve lived in the Chicagoland area for many years and have had horses since the late 70’s.

Years ago I boarded at several stables in the Northern Suburbs. Rumors were flying about the death of valuable show horses, the intimation being, they were being murdered for insurance money. Then came the disappearance of candy heiress Helen Brach. As time went by and some horseman went to jail, I realized I knew some of them. It broke my heart that this was going on.
Several years ago I decided to write a story about insurance fraud. The story is nothing like the real thing. There’s no way I’d tackle that story.

NM: What kind of research went into writing this book?
PG: I think a lifetime of loving horses, being around barns, horses and horse people. I patterned my racetrack after Arlington Park, so of course I had to research that. Then there was the Lawrence Steak House, so Bruce and I went to various inns and restaurants as close to Lake Michigan as we could before I found one. Took lots of pictures. Then I had to learn a little about yachts and what it felt like to be cooped up and nearly suffocating in a florist truck. There was quite a bit of research both online and some day field-trips.

NM: What kind of books do you like to read that inspire your own writing?
PG: I grew up on Agatha Christie mysteries and as the suspense and mystery genres kind of split; I fell in love with romantic suspense.

NM: Tell us about your horses.
PG: Oh dear. How much time do you have? I bought my first little half Arab mare in the late 70’s, went into thoroughbreds, then into quarter horses, where I’ve been ever since. I love them for their stable minds (most of them) their sense of humor and their versatility. My four-year-old grey gelding Jackson (How D Feature) goes back and forth between English pleasure and Western pleasure. His first two shows he took all-around both days. That was the highlight of my horse career. The AQHA sent me a huge, heavy, silver horse statue with a plaque. I’ve been forced into a winter sabbatical, but I have a wonderful high school girl who shows and rides him. I’ll be back and in the saddle soon (I hope.)

Funny how I’ve been gravitating toward grays lately. Shotgun Socks (a Sonny Dee Bar grandson) was a steel dapple gray when I bought him at five. When he died at twenty-five from complications of colic, he was snow white. He had the softest brown eyes that made you want to wrap him up and take him home. Hmmm.

There’s one other horse that was a favorite. That was the sorrel Money Bar Bunny (Bunny) When I brought her home, she’d been in the pasture for the past year. A mess, yes. Full of bots (eewww) also had a dreadful time getting her into a canter. On Easter Sunday I found out why. She gave birth to a beautiful little sorrel filly. I named her Easter Bar Bunny. Small like her daddy. Beautiful mind like her mama. Easy to handle, break and train.

NM: Tell us about your dogs.
PG: I have three feisty collies who act as my ghost writers, whenever I let them. LOL. Two tri-color (Roxi and Zuri) and Alex a blue merle. I’ve owned collies for about thirteen years or so. Have showed them in obedience and gone through agility and have done therapy work with them.

They’re great companions, intelligent (most of the time. Sometimes they have selective hearing and selective eyesight depending on what I want them to do). They’re retired now. I’m not sure I’ll be able to get back into showing them again, depending on how much time I can devote to this.

It’s been wonderful though. And, it’s funny how many dog and horse people you meet in the same places.

NM: You and your dogs have used your talents to help people with special needs. Can you share with us an inspiring story from that area of your life?
PG: Oh boy. Yes, I certainly can. I have two friends who got me into the collie breed years ago. We’ve shown together and moved into therapy work. We were working with a mental health center that got us involved with a group of schizophrenic patients who we met with every Wednesday. When we first started, they did little to no speaking. Some displayed aggressive behaviors, but I never felt threatened. As the years progressed, the group has changed slightly, but they’ve become more outgoing and feel comfortable enough to talk to us. An amazing change. Animals are great therapy--horses and dogs.

NM: How do you manage to divide your time between your writing, your horses, your dogs, and everything else?
PG: Well, it’s not easy. Almost everything I speak of is in the past tense. Wonderful memories and some yearnings that may yet come to pass. My dogs are retired. Alex is thirteen, Roxi is eleven, Zuri, eight. I’ve been spending an enormous amount of time with my writing, which includes, reading, writing and marketing/promoting, networking etc. I will start back with Jackson as soon as the weather breaks. My dogs share my life, as do friends and family. It’s pretty good.

NM: What was your best experience in writing this book?
PG: I think doing book signings and meeting up with other horsemen and, non-horsemen who knew about the horse scandals and the “horse mob.” They still give me chills. There are non-fiction books out about that scene.

Another great experience is--this is my first published book! How exciting is THAT!

NM: What was your worst experience in writing this book?
PG: Some of the research I had to do. Sharing some of the horrendous situations with other horsemen who knew what had been going on. It was sad. I was furious. As I wrote the book, half the time I was furious.

NM: What advice do you have for other people who have a novel stirring inside?
PG: Write down those ideas you have stirring inside. The most important step in becoming a writer or “author” is to WRITE. No kidding. It’s not easy. There’s a lot of craft to learn when you write a novel. The blending of scene, dialogue, action, internal thought, mixed with finding your individual voice that no other author can duplicate because it’s all you, learning grammar (gag) and how to edit. All that takes a long, long time to perfect. Well, longer for some than others. The literary agent Donald Maas says it takes about seven novels before you’re really ready to be published. I believe that’s true. This is my fourth complete novel and there were several false starts scattered between them. But, never stop learning, no matter what you do. At writing or anything else.
And if you want to become a writer, read as much of your chosen genre as you can. And others. I just finished “An Inconvenient Book” by Glen Beck. That’s as far from romantic suspense as you can get.

NM: What are your aspirations for the future?
PG: I have a new book coming out this spring, hopefully in April. Waterlillies Over My Grave is a book about a psychologist who leaves her career in New York and takes a position in a small hospital in the resort town of Lake Nager (upper Wisconsin and no, you won’t find it on the map. LOL) to get away from her psychotic, psychiatrist ex-husband. Of course, you know he’s going to follow her.

Add in a mixture a one burned-out detective, his feisty mother who can shoot as well as he can, and their collie, Lady, who also likes to solve crimes and you have the mold for Waterlillies Over My Grave.

Future? Hmm. Horses, dogs, writing, dearest friend Bruce and maybe somewhere along the line, I’ll clean my house.

Thank you so much for asking me these questions. They were fun to answer.


Rising Rainbow said...

I've read a lot about the insurance fraud in the horse industry, even seen some ugly things that resulted from it. Iti's amazing how low some people will stoop.

Anonymous said...

There was a big scandal over 10 years ago involving a big hunter jumper trainer in this area. He was convicted of killing horses (actually of hiring someone to do the deed) for the insurance money. He's been barred from competing (actually, I think that was only for a set number of years, and then he would be allowed to compete again) but people continued to send their kids to him for training! All because he can get them to the big Medal McClay shows. It galled me to no end to see/hear about him at shows, still earning his living from these wonderful creatures that he so horribly betrayed. I don't understand how his clients could ignore what he did?! What kind of a role model is he for these kids? Grrr.

Sorry, sort of off topic, but obviously a topic of interest. I'll look for the book, thanks for the interview.


Patricia A. Guthrie said...

thank you Ann and Rising Rainbow for your comments. I feel the same way. There's a place for these people to go after they depart this earth. It has three letters.


Kris said...

I can not believe anyone would do that! Some people, I agree there is a very special place for them! Thanks for the interview. I will have to check out the book. Have a great and blessed day!

Scary said...

Good interview! That is my next hurdle to get over - the interview. You are such an inspiration.

Patricia A. Guthrie said...

Thank you everyone. I appreciate your comments. It's made me feel better knowing there are others that care.

If you have anymore questions you can email me at
or here:

If that's not all right, please let me know. I'll try to get to blogs and email everyother day or so.

Thank you for your interest in my book, my first born published novel. Sort of like seen your kid go off to college. LOL