Kathy: I enjoy reading works with a Native American element. What drew you to give Gabriel Hawke a Nez Perce background?
PJ: I grew up in Wallowa County where this book is set. It was where the Chief Joseph band of the Nez Perce wintered and summered. They loved the area. The first treaty with the Nez Perce had this area in the reservation, then it was discovered how lush the valleys were and the reservation was cut down and the Wallowa country cut out of it. The bands that lived in the area refused to sign the treaty. They became known as the non-treaty Nez Perce and were chased to Montana where they tried to get to Canada. They didn’t make it and were forced to march to Oklahoma where many died from diseases they had never known before. After 8 years they were finally allowed to return to the Pacific Northwest, but the government and the treaty Nez Perce didn’t want them in the reservation at Lapwai Idaho. So they were disbursed among the Colville and Umatilla reservations. The Nez Perce was not allowed to set foot in the Wallowa country for many years except to be part of the Chief Joseph Days rodeo and parade. Growing up there and only learning all this history after I left, because it wasn’t taught in the schools, I use the Nez Perce characters in my mysteries to show the injustice done to a people who if the Whites had given them a choice would have lived beside them peacefully. I thought it was only right to give a Nez Perce character the ability to take care of his ancestors’ land by being a game warden in that country.
Kathy: Gabriel is a master tracker. Have you ever tried tracking?
PJ: I have a post over at Romancing the Genres about how I purchased a book on Master Tracking and while reading it tried some of the things Tom Brown talked about to learn to track. Before purchasing the book, I always watched the ground when I walked (we live in rural SE Oregon) for different animal prints. It seemed right to make a Native American lawman a master tracker. Especially after reading Tom Brown’s book on tracking and discovering he learned most of what he knew from an Apache elder.
Kathy: What first drew you to mysteries?
PJ: I have been reading mystery since I was young. My mom bought the whole set of Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys books when I was young for my brother and I to read. I don’t know if he read any but I read them all several times. I went on to read the Gothic Novels in high school because they had some mystery and a bit of romance in them and they were thick books. They lasted me longer than one day. 😉 When I became a young mother and my husband was gone a lot trucking, I would go to the library and start with one mystery writer and read every book that of that author in the library and then move on to the next one. Sue Grafton’s alphabet series made me think I could write a mystery and that’s when I started writing a mystery novel. I wrote two, but they never saw the light of day. I tried to get in with a mystery writing group but back then they only let already published authors in, making it hard to learn the mystery writing craft. I joined RWA and wrote and published twenty western romance books before I decided I was ready to write mystery books. And now I have two mystery series published and am enjoying writing them.
Kathy: Do you write in any other genres?
PJ: See above answer. 😉 Yes, I have historical and contemporary western romance books also published.
Kathy: Tell us about your series.
PJ: Gabriel Hawke Novels– Nez Perce Fish and Wildlife State Trooper defending the country of his ancestors and solving murders.
Shandra Higheagle Mystery – Nez Perce potter whose deceased grandmother comes to her in dreams and helps her solve murders.
Halsey Brothers Series– Five brothers who find feisty self-sufficient women in the gold country of Oregon in the 1800s. (Historical Western)
Spirit Trilogy- Nez Perce spirit siblings watching over the Chief Joseph band fall in love with mortals during the time of turmoil for the Nimiipuu. (Historical Native American Romance)
Isabella Mumphrey Trilogy – A trilogy about a female anthropologist who is a cross between MacGyver and Indiana Jones. (Contemporary Action Adventure/Romantic Suspense)
Letters of Fate – Heroes receive a letter than changes their direction in life and brings them to the woman who captures their heart. (Historical western romance)
Silver Dollar Saloon – Beau Gentry owns the Silver Dollar Saloon. Due to his upbringing, he finds woman who have been beaten or thrown out and puts them to work in the saloon until they find a husband. (Historical Western Romance)
Tumbling Creek Ranch – Follows the love lives of the Wallis family. (Contemporary Western Romance)
Kathy: Do you have a favorite character? If so, who and why?
PJ: Not a fair question! I like all of my main characters and many of my secondary characters. If I didn’t like them, I wouldn’t write their stories. I have to say, the one that was the most fun to write up until Hawke was Isabella Mumphrey. She’s a social outcast but has a brilliant mind. Her lacking social skills in the beginning of the series makes her a bit bumbling, but as the series progresses she grows and I loved writing that growth and showing her as well as the reader that she deserved love and recognition.
Kathy: Did you have a specific inspiration for your series?
PJ: I could say that I love the Tony Hillerman books, but then what mystery reader doesn’t? But it wasn’t really those books that pushed me to write the Gabriel Hawke novels. It was my need to have him, a Nez Perce descendent looking over the land and animals of his ancestors. It was my need for justice (the theme in most of my books) that had me conjuring up this character. How beautiful and remote Wallowa County is and the fact the game wardens are also State troopers who have to perform both duties, made it a perfect place to have a game warden also investigate murders.
Kathy: What made you decide to publish your work?
PJ: After spending all the hours I do writing a story and getting to know characters, it seemed a shame to not share them with others.
Kathy: If you could have a dinner party and invite 4 authors, living or dead, in any genre, who would you invite?
PJ: Agatha Christie, LaVyrle Spencer, Nora Roberts, and Sue Grafton. They are the four writers to inspired me to give writing a try. I wanted to write stories like they did.
Kathy: What are you currently reading?
PJ: I just finished Stephanie Berget’s Rocky Road Home a contemporary western romance. And I’ve been reading in bits and pieces, Learning to Swim a mystery by Sara J. Henry.
Kathy: Will you share any of your hobbies or interests with us?
PJ: I like to sew. I make bags that use when I sell books at bazaars and flea markets. I make small quilts and bags. I like to hike and ride my horse.
Kathy: Name 4 items you always have in your fridge or pantry.
PJ: Chocolate, almonds, apples, carrots
Kathy: Do you have plans for future books either in your current series or a new series?
PJ: Murder of Ravens is book 1 in the Gabriel Hawke series. Book 2, Mouse Trail Ends will release in February and book 3, Rattlesnake Brother will release in March. From there another Shandra Higheagle book will release in July and another Hawke before the end of the year. I will continue these two series until I can’t think of another story or the readers grow tired of them.
Kathy: What's your favorite thing about being an author?
PJ: The beginning stewing and brewing, I call it, when I come up with an idea for a book and start playing with the different ways it can go and how to make it better than the last book.
Murder of Ravens (Gabriel Hawke) by Paty Jager
About the Book
Mystery 1st in Series
Windtree Press (January 20, 2019)
Paperback: 302 pages
The ancient Indian art of tracking is his greatest strength... And also his biggest weakness. Fish and Wildlife State Trooper Gabriel Hawke believes he’s chasing poachers. However, he comes upon a wildlife biologist standing over a body that is wearing a wolf tracking collar. He uses master tracker skills taught to him by his Nez Perce grandfather to follow clues on the mountain. Paper trails and the whisper of rumors in the rural community where he works, draws Hawke to a conclusion that he finds bitter. Arresting his brother-in-law ended his marriage, could solving this murder ruin a friendship?
About the Author
Paty Jager is an award-winning author of 35 novels, 8 novellas, and numerous anthologies of murder mystery and western romance. All her work has Western or Native American elements in them along with hints of humor and engaging characters. Her Shandra Higheagle mystery series has been a runner-up in the RONE Award Mystery category, and a finalist in the Daphne du Maurier.
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