Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Award-Winning Crime Fiction Writer PA Brown Tells Why She Writes

I write for a lot of reasons, but first and foremost as a way to focus my thoughts and feelings and try to come to some kind of understanding of why people are what they are. I've always wanted to know why people do the things they do, especially the ones who do things that seem beyond comprehension. That's why I'm drawn to the darker fiction I write. When I first started writing, my heroes were almost always good people, sometimes caught up in circumstances not of their making, but not out to hurt or do bad things. Over the years that has changed. I suspect because I am more aware of the depths of evil that people can hold in their heart.

When I was in my teens I read The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich and was stunned by the depths human hatred and depravity could go. In the beginning I sorted through that confusion by writing science fiction where I got to create worlds where goodness would prevail over hate. Maybe I grew disillusioned as I got older and wiser, but eventually my science fiction became darker. The last piece I wrote is the only one still in existence and it's about a very nasty man who instead of getting his just desserts, ends up more powerful than anyone else in the end. Then I became tired of SF and moved to mystery. But not soft, 'cozy' mysteries. No, I was fascinated by people like Charles Manson and Jeffrey Dahmer. My very first mystery explored the motivations behind a brutal serial killer. That he was a closeted gay man who murdered the gay lovers of a man he was obsessed with only showed me the path I was going to take. Subsequent books have been darker. Human trafficking -- what motivates people to buy and sell other human beings for slavery in this supposedly enlightened day and age? Or how far will people go to avenge the ones they love and who are they willing to hurt along the way?

My latest research is into the 1920s Prohibition era in Los Angeles. A law that was supposed to improve lives instead created one of the largest criminal organizations in the United States that still exists to this day. Where did it go wrong? How could the people behind the Temperance movement have been so wrong? And how is it that the very people who were in charge of keeping order became the leading criminal element instead. I find all these things both fascinating and hard to understand. So I write about them to try to delve into the reasons and motivations. The human mind is incomprehensible and yet I feel compelled to explore it. And the only way I know how to do that is through words.

Pat Brown's approach to life was tempered in the forges of Los Angeles and after eight years there  she was endowed with a fascination for the darker side of life. She considers those years a life time's worth of experience that she mines regularly in her stories. Visit her on the web. Buy her latest book, LA Bytes.
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  1. All good points! The motivations of man are often times mind-boggling and the source of many a writer's inspiration. I will definitely check out your latest book!

  2. Robin, Having read the other crime books in Pat's LA series, I can promise you you won't be disappointed. If you want to start at the beginning, pick up LA Heat first.

  3. Who knows what evil lurks in the heart of man?

  4. Thanks for sharing Pat with us! She's the James Ellroy of gay suspsnese, and I enjoyed her insight!
    So good to see you, Pat!

  5. While I haven't read any of her books, I am now intrigued enough to check out her books. I am for one find that I am similiar to Ms. Brown I like the darker side of writing. I like to be able to see what makes a bad person tick and to see what is going in their mind.