Blair Featured Author on PRG Site

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P.L. Blair, award-winning author of the Portals fantasy/detective series, is featured author this month on Paranormal Romance Guild's web site.

"At heart, I'm a storyteller, telling my stories in print rather than orally. I love sharing them with people."

Award-winning writer P.L. Blair is featured author this month on Paranormal Romance Guild's web site.

PRG is a non-profit organization formed online Oct. 31, 2009, by readers and writers of the paranormal romance genre to support the genre through the web site and special events.

“I haven't yet written any books in the genre,” Blair says. “But I do read them, and I'm not ruling out the possibility of a paranormal romance novel or two in my future.”

In the meantime, Blair is finding readers with her Portals novels, a fantasy/detective series that brings elves, wizards, ancient gods and other creatures from mythology and folklore into our modern human world – and, as Blair says, “explores what happens when these creatures use magic to commit crimes.”

Her main characters – human police detective Kat Morales, her elf partner Tevis, the wizard Arvandus and Arvandus' nephew, Gairth – have the task of solving these crimes.

Blair's first book, Shadow Path, received a four-star review from PRG last year – then took third place in PRG's Reviewer's Choice Awards, Young Adult Category.

“I'm hugely flattered,” Blair says. “I never set out to write specifically for young adults. But my books do seem to appeal to readers of all ages – I have fans as young as 10, up to my age and older – and yes, I'm a senior citizen. My books also seem to appeal to men as well as women, judging on the feedback I've received from fans.”

She adds, “I love that my books seem to have such a wide appeal. At heart, I'm a storyteller, telling my stories in print rather than orally. I love sharing them with people.”

A native of Tyler, Texas – her given names are Patricia Louise – Blair says she was introduced to books by her grandfather, who would read to her in the evenings, starting when she was around 2 or 3 years old. She learned to read during those sessions, and by age 5, she was reading books to herself.

“I couldn't get enough,” she says. “I'd finish a book – a story – and I couldn't let go of the characters. They were still in my head, so I'd make up my own stories about them. Then I started making up my own stories about characters from radio programs and, later, TV.”

Still, it didn't occur to her to write her stories until, at around age 7 or 8, she wrote a story – “all of two tablet pages” – about a witch, and her teacher encouraged her to read it aloud to her classmates.

“They actually liked it!” Blair says. “And I thought, Hey, I can entertain people with this stuff!”

From that point, Blair started looking for opportunities to write – starting with a “term paper” on dinosaurs while she was still in third grade.

“That was when the world of reading really opened up for me,” she says. “I had a card for the children's section in Tyler's public library, but I exhausted their books on dinosaurs really fast. So I tried to check out a stack of books from the adult section, and the librarian told me I couldn't – because I didn't have an adult library card.

“I asked, 'How do I get an adult library card?', and she told me I needed my parents' permission. So I went home and told Mother I needed her permission to get an adult library card. And Mother … said okay! She went with me to the library, signed permission for a card …

“And I was set! After I finished my dinosaur paper, I went back to the library and systematically started working my way through every book I could get my hands on. I read The Epic of Gilgamesh when I was 12 – didn't understand it, but I read it.”

During that time – at around age 9 – Blair made two discoveries that helped shape the writer she is today. The first was a compilation of Irish folktales gathered by W.B. Yeats.

“That was my introduction to the magical world of elves and the fae and magic,” she says. “And that led me to the folklore and legends of other countries – and the mythology – not just the Greeks and Romans but the British Isles, the Norse – and the Americas.

“And I borrow shamelessly from all those sources for my books. Stormcaller, book 2 in my series, features the being the Aztecs worshiped as Tlaloc. He comes back to our world with an ultimatum – restore his worship, complete with human sacrifice, or he'll call up a megahurricane to wipe out the Texas coast.”

Blair's second discovery in the library was The Hound of the Baskervilles, featuring Arthur Conan Doyle's fictional detective, Sherlock Holmes.

“I fell in love with Sherlock,” Blair says. “And, through him, with the mystery/detective genre. I've read most of the Nero Wolfe books, a lot of Hillerman, Dorothy L. Sayers, Agatha Christie, Donna Andrews … And I'm fascinated by forensic science – partly from covering crime and court cases during my years working for newspapers, partly from the CSI-type shows on TV. So when I got serious about a book-writing career, it just seemed natural to include a mystery/detective element.”

As for that “book-writing career” … It was on hold for much of Blair's life while she worked as a newspaper reporter, first in Tyler, later in Rockport, Texas – a few miles north of Corpus Christi, which is the setting for her novels – then in Sheridan, Wyo., where she now makes her home with one of her sisters and their small menagerie of four dogs and one cat.

“I got into journalism as a practical way of earning a living while I perfected the craft of writing,” Blair says. “Then I kind of got caught up in the business of news-gathering. But around 2006 – around my 59th birthday – I kind of got hit by the awareness of my own mortality. And I thought, if I'm ever going to fulfill my dream of being an author, I need to start working on that.

“So I played with ideas in my mind for a few days, then I got an idea for the beginning of a book, and I sat down and started writing. And six or seven months later, I finished Shadow Path.”

Blair describes her writing style as “seat-of-the-pants linear.”

“I don't outline,” she explains. “I like the feel of the plot building as I write – growing out of the characters and situations as they develop. As I've said, I'm a storyteller, and the first person I tell my stories to is me. Even I don't always know what the book's about until several pages – or sometimes a couple of chapters – in.

“Sister Hoods, for example (book 4 in Blair's series), started with this crazy vision of a band of Grecian nymphs and satyrs robbing a bank – in Rockport, Texas, by the way. I didn't find out until Kat and Tevis did that the nymphs robbed the bank because they were trying to stop a crooked land developer from destroying their magical home in a woodlands on the Lamar Peninsula in Aransas County.”

All four of Blair's books – and the books to come in her series – are published by Studio See Publishing LLC, a small company based in Sheridan.

Asked how she and Studio See connected, Blair says, “Serendipity. Pam See, the president and CEO of the company, is a friend. I asked her to be a beta reader – someone who reads a m anuscript with an eye for editing details. She had recently been widowed, and after she'd read a few chapters of Shadow Path, one day she said she'd always dreamed of having a publishing company.

“It turned out, she was ready to fulfill that dream, and she wanted to launch her business with Shadow Path. Was I thrilled? You bet!”

Blair says it's been a steep learning curve for her and See as they've worked together to publish and promote her books.

“But it's also been fun,” she says. “And an adventure.”

All four books are in print, and Shadow Path and Stormcaller are now ebooks. Book 3, Deathtalker, is scheduled for ebook release around Halloween, and Sister Hoods will be available in e- format around Christmas. Blair is also working on books 5 and 6 in her series.

“I'm revamping book 5,” she says, “to incorporate a little more of the relationship between Kat and Tevis.”

She declines to say more about that. What she will say is that book 5 involves a gang of leprechauns – and the leader takes a special interest in Kat …

The Portals series are not the only books Blair is working on, but they're the ones that occupy center-stage in her life at the moment, she says.

“People have asked how many Portals books there will be,” she says. “I honestly don't know. I'll tell Kat's and Tevis' adventures until I run out of ideas – or mythological creatures to draw on, or until Kat and Tevis get out of my head. But right now I'm having fun, and I don't want the Portals to end.

“What I would like – my dream – is for my publisher to find me at, say, the ripe young age of 130 lying face-down on my laptop with a smile on my face, having just typed 'the end' on the last page of my last book ...”

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