Author on the Couch: P.J. MacLayne

Today I’m conducting a session with…P.J. MacLayne!


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Me: Tell me about an experience that had a profound impact on your life.

P.J.:  I grew up in the mountainous region of Pennsylvania but I got my first look at the Rocky Mountains when I was 18 and fell in love with them. Although I’ve moved several times since then, I always looked for ways to get back to the mountains. A few years ago, I succeeded in getting a job only about an hour from another part of the Rockies and I plan stay here for as long as possible. So many mountains to explore and they each have their own character. I still love the rolling hills of my hometown but they can’t compare to the mountains of the Western US.


Me: It’s funny how some of us just feel a certain connection to certain places.
What personality trait of yours helps you most as an author?

P.J.: I like to observe people in everyday life-listen to their conversations in restaurants, watch how they react with the people around them. It gives me ideas for my characters’ personalities. I try real hard to not be caught snooping!


Me: I love people watching! One of my favorite places to people watch is the beach.
What personality trait of yours hinders you most as an author?

P.J.Procrastination. (Or maybe I don’t have enough time in the day. ) Sometimes there’s so much I need to do I have trouble focusing on any one task and that includes my writing. Listening to music helps me concentrate, but isn’t a perfect solution.


Me: What was your high point as a writer?

: A couple of high points from when I self-published my first book:

I watched the sales on Amazon the first day. The first sale was my boss, but it was a thrill to see that sale reflected on the dashboard. I celebrated every time that number rose even by one sale.

But an even bigger thrill was holding a physical copy of that book in my hand. E-books are great, but a “real” book is a whole different thing. Somehow, it was that moment that made me feel like I’d accomplished something wonderful was that moment that made me feel like I'd accomplished something wonderful @pjmaclayne #AmWriting Click To Tweet

Me: I agree! There’s just something about holding a physical copy of your own book in your hands… Magic.
What was your low point as a writer—a time when you questioned your path?

P.J.:  A low point- when I published my fourth book, and nobody bought a copy of it for most of the day. Not family, not friends, not the few fans I have. I don’t know if I picked a bad day or if it was one of those days when Amazon was not reporting sales as quickly as normal.

How did I get over it? I worked on my next book, and started planning my next-next book. I knew I didn’t totally stink as a writer, and hoped my characters would comfort me.


Me: It’s hard to not obsess about sales. I know I’m guilt of it.

If you had to pick a mental disorder to have for only one day (purely for writer research purposes), which one would you choose? Why?

I’d pick Dementia/Alzheimer’s. I’ve known several older people who had some form of the condition, and although I pray I never have it, I wonder what the world looked like to them.

I knew I didn't totally stink as a writer, and hoped my characters would comfort me. @pjmaclayne #AmWriting Click To Tweet

Me: Name a writing pet peeve of yours. Something that hits you like fingernails-on-a-chalkboard every time you see it. Why does it bug you?

P.J.: You know that oft-used line when a character passes out? The one that reads “then everything went dark?” or something similar? Yeah, I’ve passed out once or twice, and it’s not like that at all. You’re unconscious. You don’t know anything! The only reason I knew I’d been unconscious was when I became conscious again and found myself on the floor. (That and I heard my husband was on the phone to 9-1-1 !)

I include of piece of me in each of my female leads. @pjmaclayne #amwriting Click To Tweet

Me: Which of your characters are you most like? Why?

P.J.: Although I include of piece of me in each of my female leads, I suspect I’m most like Harmony Duprie, the main character in my Oak Grove Mysteries. I’ve often said I’d like to meet her in real life and hang out with her. She’s who I’d want to be in my next life if I get one. She’s feisty and smart and a bit of a recluse, all traits I can identify with.


Me: Tell me about your mystery, Her Ladyship’s Ring.


Harmony Duprie is back, and so is trouble in Oak Grove.

When a man is murdered in the back yard of the old Victorian house she is remodeling, Harmony is determined to locate his next-of-kin so he can be put to rest properly. But with her ex-boyfriend Jake out of prison, back in town and one of the suspects in the murder, she takes on the challenge of solving the crime.

With Eli, her current love interest, in Florida and Jake close by, old emotions come back to haunt her. Can Harmony clear Jake’s name and solve the mystery of her own heart?


Me: Share with us a favorite paragraph or two from your newest release, Her Ladyship’s Ring.


           It threw me for a loop when I woke to the smell of freshly brewed coffee. Even in the days when Jake and I were together, I’d always been the first one up. I pulled on my robe and put my hair into a ponytail and went to see what he was up to.

            Greeted by a scene of domestic tranquility, I wondered if Jake had been replaced by a house brownie in the middle of the night. Last night’s dishes, including the cups we’d used for hot chocolate were washed and drying in the rack. Two mugs sat on the table, along with the sugar, and a spoon neatly placed on a napkin beside each. Jake was nowhere to be found.

            From the amount of light filtering in through the curtains, the snowstorm had ended.  As I went to pull them open, I heard someone moving snow from the steps. Luke and Joe must have started early this morning, but usually I did my own steps.

            I pulled open the front door, prepared to yell at one of them—and saw Jake, broom in hand, his pants covered in snow. The Florida-raised man looked up at me with a worried expression on his face.

            “I don’t think I’m doing this right.”

Why do I love this selection? It was just such a fun scene to write. Jake is Harmony’s ex-boyfriend and the only reason she allowed him to spend the night was because he was homeless and there was a blizzard. I think until I wrote these paragraphs I didn’t realize how important he was going to be in her life—and in the story!


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Abbie Roads writes dark emotional novels featuring damaged characters, but always gives her hero and heroine a happy ending… after torturing them for three hundred pages. RACE THE DARKNESS and HUNT THE DAWN are available now! SAVING MERCY Book 1 in the Fatal Truth Series is now available for pre-order.

About the author: abbieroads