P.D. Workman - A Captivating Cat, Drop-dead Gorgeous Warlock, and Magical Races
Award-winning and USA Today bestselling author P.D. Workman writes riveting mystery/suspense and young adult books dealing with mental illness, addiction, abuse, and other real-life issues. For as long as she can remember, the blank page has held an incredible allure and from a very young age she was trying to write her own books. Workman wrote her first complete novel at the age of twelve and continued to write as a hobby for many years. She started publishing in 2013. She has won several literary awards from Library Services for Youth in Custody for her young adult fiction. She currently has over 60 published titles. As our Author of the Day, she tells us all about her book, Fairy Blade Unmade.
Please give us a short introduction to what Fairy Blade Unmade is about.
Calliopia, a fairy that Reg Rawlins was involved with on an earlier case has been mortally wounded, and pretty much everyone else has given up on being able to save her. But Reg has a strong psychic connection with her and isn’t willing to give up on her just yet. Believing that the destruction of the dark blade that harmed Calliopia might be the key to her recovery, Reg recruits several of her friends to go with her to the dwarfs of the Blue Ridge Mountains to see if they can unmake it.
Was there anything in particular that made you want to tackle this, write this book?
I knew at the end of Book #2, A Psychic with Catitude, that we hadn’t yet heard the end of Calliopia and the dark blade. Reg and Calliopia were both warned that the blade would cause further harm, and it was time for me to address that open loop.
Tell us more about Reg Rawlins. What makes her tick?
Reg isn’t your typical psychic. She grew up in foster care and when she aged out, subsisted as a con artist, always looking for the big win but barely scraping by and never staying in one place for long (for obvious reasons.) Her latest con of reading palms or acting as a conduit to the dead employed her remarkable ability to cold-read her customers, or so she thought. When she moved to Black Sands, Florida, the town with the highest concentration of psychics and practitioners of magic in the USA, she discovered that everything was not as she thought…
Why paranormal cozy mystery? What drew you to the genre?
Two things led to the creation of this series. The first was a dream that my husband had about a medium and a cat. It sounded like the good basis for a paranormal cozy mystery, and since I was already writing a cozy mystery series (Gluten-Free Murder and the Auntie Clem’s Bakery series,) I thought it might be something I wanted to get into in the future. So I wrote down the ideas for a plot based on my husband’s dream and put it away for when I was ready to start a paranormal cozy series.
When I wrote book 6 in the Auntie Clem’s Bakery series, Coup de Glace, specialty-baker-turned-sleuth Erin Price was reunited with a former foster sister of hers, a flamboyant con artist acting as a medium. Reg had to leave town rather abruptly, but I had so much fun writing her I wanted to continue. So I started a spin-off series, with Reg starring as the medium in the plot inspired by my husband’s dream.
Besides writing, what other secret skills do you have?
I have been a legal secretary for several decades and homeschooled our son. I do my own graphic design and web design and coding as well as that of a few other websites. I have run several half-marathons (a few years ago now) and create my own grain-free and vegan recipes. I also act as tech support for the lawyers I work for, and just transitioned our company from Exchange Server to Google Server this past week.
Your books often deal with serious real-life issues like mental illness, addiction and abuse. Why do you take this approach?
It was my compassion for others and outrage over injustices that pushed me into writing as a way to express my feelings and to tell the stories of the vulnerable and marginalized. These issues will always find their way into my books, no matter the genre.
You used a group of very different paranormal characters together to achieve a common goal. How did you pull this off?
They all have very different weaknesses and strengths. I didn’t know exactly how they were going to succeed; I never do when I start a book. But if I get stuck, I just keep working it until I find a way to pull all of the threads together to accomplish the goal. It isn’t always easy; you’ve got an over-caffeinated pixie going one way, a warrior cat going another, warlocks with very different motives and powers competing with each other, and there is only so much space on the dwarfs’ Kanban board to fit the project in.
Do any of your characters ever take off on their own tangent, refusing to do what you had planned for them?
I think you always have to expect the unexpected, especially when dealing with paranormal powers. A character may have a backstory or power that they have not revealed, and it can change the course of the plot until you figure out how to bring it all back in line.
This is book 7 of the series. Can it be read as a standalone? How do the other books in the series tie in with this one?
Yes, it can be read as a standalone and is one of the most popular in the series. You are told enough about the characters and the previous happenings to understand what is going on. And I try not to include too many spoilers for readers who decide to go back and read the rest of the series from the beginning or who read out of order.
Reg and Corvin has been with the series from the beginning, and Reg also adopted Starlight, her psychic cat in What the Cat Knew. Calliopia (fairy) and Ruan (pixie) were introduced in book 2, A Psychic with Catitude. Warlocks Davyn and Damon were introduced in book 3, A Catastrophic Theft, in connection with Corvin’s appearance before a tribunal. The ADHD kitten Nico was introduced in book 4 Night of Nine Tails, along with eight other kittens, who although all pure black in appearance have inherited very different traits.
Reg found out a lot of things about her past in books 5 The Telepathy of Gardens and 6 Delusions of the Past, and is still trying to integrate everything she has discovered about herself and her childhood.
Tell us more about the cover and how it came about.
Raelyn Teague is the artist who created the pictures of Starlight that you see on each of my covers, when I realized that stock graphics weren’t going to work for a unique cat that appeared in a number of different scenes.
My dad does leathercraft, and in 2018 he forwarded to me a picture of armor made of leather that another artist had made for his cat. I think for a Halloween costume. But maybe not. Maybe the cat just needed armor. I hung onto it, knowing that I might someday need a cat with armor for the Reg Rawlins series. When I brainstormed the plot at the cover for Fairy Blade Unmade, I knew Nico was going to need armor. So I sent a description of Nico and the picture of the cat armor on to Raelyn so that she could draw me Nico. It had to be metalwork rather than leather, because it was forged by the dwarfs.
I will be updating covers next year to move from the vector graphics to a more sophisticated magic/fantasy look. You can see the new style on my covers to the bundles of books 1-3 and 4-6.
When starting on a new book, what is the first thing you do?
Well, first it goes on the schedule so I know which series I am writing in each month. Then I mindmap. I generally start with the main character in the middle, and I start drawing lines outward with regard to how the last book ended, relationships, open loops, questions, and anything else on my mind for a mystery / problem / theme for that book. Eventually, all of the sections of the mindmap start to connect with each other, gelling into a basic plot. (I’ll attach a copy of the mindmap for Fairy Blade Unmade, but it may contain spoilers and also ideas that never made it into the story.)
Then I move into a progression where I write a logline (single sentence about the central conflict of the story), a five-line summary, back cover copy/blurb, research, expanded plot, character sketches, and introductory paragraphs for each main character. Then the cover and title. I am currently doing this for book 12 in the Reg Rawlins series, just about to work through the characters and expanded plot.
Do you have any interesting writing habits? What is an average writing day like for you?
Up until now, I have worked as a legal assistant as well as writing. I am now winding down the legal assistant job and will be a full-time writer (doing a few hours a week of administrative support). I always start a new book on the first of the month (or the second if the first is a Sunday.) I write minimum 5000 words per day six days a week until the first draft is done. Then I do the first round of edits and set it aside for 30 days. I edit the previous month’s book and a few others. The last week of the month I do planning and research for the next book. It generally takes each books 6-8 weeks to get from inception to publication and I publish the third Friday of each month.
Since I have been working office hours, my timeslots for writing are 8:30-9 a.m., 12-1 p.m., and 6-8 or 9 p.m. After 9, I work on marketing, formatting, blog posts, newsletter, etc. As I am winding down my office job, I have been able to fit some of these tasks into the workday instead of waiting until 9 p.m., which is nice. I’ve been able to catch up on a few things that have been on my task list for months. I’m currently updating and reformatting all of my published books (over 60 titles.) I write at least two blogs per week and send out a newsletter and do a vlog every Friday.
What are you working on right now?
I am getting ready to write book #12 in the Reg Rawlins series, which I will be starting on December 1. I am also editing and reformatting other books and creating some more “boxed set” ebooks for those who like to pick up bundles.
Where can our readers discover more of your work or interact with you?
My website is pdworkman.com and I am on most social media as pdworkmanauthor. The “Follow Me” page on my website will take you to my Bookbub, Amazon, and other pages, and “Contact Me” will put you directly in contact with me!