Excerpt from interview @ http://writerunboxed.com/2007/02/02/interview-pj-tracy-part-1/
Q: Did you write under another name? Care to share some of your previous titles?
PJL: We’ve written under many names! PJ Platz, PJ Lambrecht, Melinda Cross (Harlequin), Mariah Kent, Jessica McBain. I believe that some Melinda Cross novels are still in print after ten or more years…and occasionally we see an old Melinda Cross romance on used book sites. I just googled Melinda Cross and was surprised to see that they’re still out there!
Q: Was it clear you’d collaborate on a mystery-suspense thriller in particular? Were any other genres pulling at you?
TL: We collaborated on many different things throughout our 18 year career together, including screenplays and romance, but mystery/thrillers have always been our favorite genre to read, so it made sense to us to eventually take a stab at writing them.
Q: Your scenes are generally short and vivid. Did you make the decision early on to craft short scenes, and do you find brevity keeps your pacing slick? Are there any unique challenges to crafting short scenes?
TL: Our brief history of screenwriting really gave us an appreciation of short scenes and how effective they can be as a storytelling device. It’s the classic, ‘less-is-more’ philosophy — if you make sure every word progresses the plot or builds the tension in some way, chances are, you can keep your readers reading. Of course, this minimalist style can be a challenge sometimes. I’m sure most writers would agree that it’s hard to know when to shut up, and we’re no exception!
Q: How do you create your characters? Do any of the characters feel like they “belong” to one of you over the other? Who are each of your favorites?
TL: They’re all a slapped-together mess of reality, imagination, and observation. We both have always paid very close attention to the way people behave, and often the odd gesture or comment of a stranger sends our minds spooling off in all different directions. But generally, we each develop characters that we’d like to know in real life or have over for a dinner party. And both our footprints are on all of the players – they are all truly collaborative figments of our collective imagination. And I don’t think either of us could pick a favorite – that would be like singling out a favorite child.
Q: That last comment, about strangers spinning your off in creative directions, seems to beg a story or two. Do you have any memorable instances of how people watching evolved into an interesting character or plot twist?
TL: Mr. Drool from the grocery store; an arrogant, obnoxious lawyer who should have been mainlining Ritalin instead of meth; my wonderful religion professor, whose name is actually Anantanand Rambachan; Sheriff Ed Pitala from DEAD RUN, who is not a sheriff, but a real person and very dear friend; and all of our psychotic family members, who will hopefully read this interview from the institution.
Q: The pairings of officers Halloran & Bonar and Magozzi & Gino are humorously similar—something the officers realize once they finally meet one another. I think it’s Gino who says, “It’s like we’re a couple sets of twins that got mixed up.” Did you do this purposefully?
TL: Making the Halloran/Bonar and Magozzi/Gino characters similar pairs was one of the few things in Monkeewrench that was indeed intentional, and the roots of that can be found in reality. In the past, PJ worked with officers from several different departments and communities, and learned that the job and the personality that led each officer to it creates a commonality that often overshadows individual characteristics and unique histories.