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Patricia Briggs
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Patricia Briggs   Patricia Briggs is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Mercy Thompson series, which includes Moon Called, Blood Bound, Iron Kissed, Bone Crossed, and Silver Borne. She's also written a spin-off series called Alpha and Omega. Her urban fantasy includes shapeshifters, werewolves, and vampires.

Buy Patricia Briggs's Books at the following locations: (downloadable audio books) (independent bookstores)
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This episode originally aired on 12/03/2009 with the following authors:
Note: The following interview has been transcribed from The Author Hour radio show. Please excuse any typos, spelling and gramatical errors.

Interview with Patricia Briggs

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Matthew Peterson: My next guest is Patricia Briggs, #1 New York Times best-selling author of the Mercy Thompson and the Alpha and Omega series. Thanks so much for being on the show today Patty.

Patricia Briggs: Well, thank you for asking me.

Matthew Peterson: So, Patty, your Mercy Thompson series has become really popular lately, so popular in fact that I hear that your publisher is going to publish your first book in the series again?

Patricia Briggs: Thatís what I hear too. Theyíre going to re-publish Moon Called in hard cover.

Matthew Peterson: In hard cover. So thatís got to be a good feeling. I mean, that doesnít happen very often, does it?

Patricia Briggs: No! Itís really cool.

Matthew Peterson: So it originally was printed in paperback. What made them decide to go back and say, ďHey, letís do it in hardback now.Ē

Patricia Briggs: Well, I think that theyíve had a lot of people whining. There are a lot of people out there who like to keep their book series on the shelf together and they like them to look alike. And so when Bone Crossed came out in hard cover, they had a lot of people whining about the fact that they either had to wait until the paperback came out or they would not be able to have their series look alike. And I think this is a direct result of that.

Matthew Peterson: Oh, okay. So, give us a little summary of the Mercy Thompson series. Itís a very interesting thing with werewolves and all sorts of different supernatural creatures. Tell us a little bit about the Mercy Thompson series.

Patricia Briggs: Well, itís set in around Mercy herself, who is a shape shifter. When I was originally asked to write this--well, itís not paranormal romance; itís an urban fantasy, which is a slightly different critter. When they asked me to do that, they wanted something with werewolves and vampires and a person with a complicated love life who is not necessarily a werewolf or a vampire herself but part of the supernatural world. And I like to write underpowered characters, and Iím partial to werewolves over vampires, although vampires are cool too.

Matthew Peterson: Yeah.

Patricia Briggs: So I thought, ďOkay, well I want somebody sort of maybe tied tighter to the werewolf world and somebody underpowered.Ē And, you know, coming from the Northwest, immediately coyote came up. And once I made that determination, then of course a lot of other things came. I needed a real career to sink her teeth into, so to speak, because urban fantasy works best when it feels like the real world with just a kick.

Matthew Peterson: Yeah.

Patricia Briggs: You know it really needs to be grounded, and I looked out in our back yard and my husband had two Opel GTs which are an old German car which he was putting together at the time. And I thought, ďI could write a mechanic. Iím not a mechanic, but Iíve shuffled tools for mechanics a while.Ē

Matthew Peterson: Yeah, yeah.

Patricia Briggs: So, I thought, ďOkay, Iíll make her a mechanic.Ē And not just any mechanic but a VW mechanic because thatís what I knew. We had had VWs for years and years and years, and I know all the little quirks and some of the funny things that happen and I thought, ďthat would really work.Ē

So Mercy is a woman who is a mechanic, who works in the Tri-city and just happens to be a coyote shape shifter. And she ties. . . at the beginning of the series, theyíre broken ties, but theyíre ties with the werewolf community because the mechanic who took her in and taught her what she was doing is fae. She also has ties in the fae community. And in the Tri-cities of my world, the vampires act sort of like the maffia, and if you are a member of the supernatural community then you have to pay them protection money so that they donít come and take you out. And Mercyís protection money is that she repairs the vehicles for the local vampires, which ties her in with the vampires. And so here I have this poor, not wimpy, but powerless, pretty much. Her super power is she turns into a 35 lb. coyote.

Matthew Peterson: [laughs] Yeah, I mean, Iíve had coyotes go in my front yard before, I live in Arizona, so . . .

Patricia Briggs: Yeah, you know. . .

Matthew Peterson: . . . I know exactly what youíre talking about.

Patricia Briggs: Theyíre cool, and theyíre pretty quick, but theyíre not all that big.

Matthew Peterson: Yeah, yeah, they are.

Patricia Briggs: And her real secret to survival is that, like the coyote, she blends very well. And she is very adaptable to her environment. And she does whatever she needs to do to survive. Coyotes are very admirable critters. They run in packs if they have to, if thatís how they get their food, theyíll run in packs, or theyíll hunt on their own.

Matthew Peterson: Well, I can say thereís no cats in my neighborhood. [laughs]

Patricia Briggs: Absolutely, you know they do. They take out. Although, we have lots of coyotes and I have an outdoor cat. Well, heís not outdoor; we donít make him stay outdoors; he prefers outdoors. And I, one-on-one, Iíd put my money on the cat. Heís pretty impressive. [laughs]

Matthew Peterson: [laughs] Yeah, yeah. Well, thatís very interesting. In this world, the supernatural is integrated into society? Itís not like a hidden secret, thing, that nobody knows about?

Patricia Briggs: Well, some parts are. They sort of have given, you know, The Princess Bride, the good parts version; theyíve given the public the good parts version. So they know about the fae, and that happened maybe 25-35 years before the start of the series. The fae came out. And they had to because modern forensics had finally gotten to the point where they couldnít successfully hide anymore.

Matthew Peterson: Yeah.

Patricia Briggs: So they brought themselves out in the best possible way. So people are aware of the nice fae and the powerless fae, and they arenít anything to be afraid of. And they donít know anything about the vampires, at all, which everybody kind of hides the vampires because if people figure out that thereís something like that hanging around then they might start to get upset about the rest of the supernatural community too. [laughs]

Matthew Peterson: [laughs] Yeah, yeah.

Patricia Briggs: And sort of after the first book, after Moon Called, the werewolves have come out too, for similar reasons. The werewolves are run in the North America by the Marrok who takes his name from a werewolf who belonged to King Arthurís court. And he is aware that the wrong people know about werewolves and people are getting blackmailed to get into special ops in military. And bad people know about them too, and he figures that the safest thing to do is come out to the public and then they wonít have any blackmail material.

Matthew Peterson: Yeah. And your books really are kind of like standalones; they read like standalones, right? I mean thereís not huge cliff hangers, like, ďAh, I gotta read the next one or else Iím gonna die.Ē

Patricia Briggs: Yeah, I try not to. Sometimes it works a little bit the opposite way, in that, I think Bone Crossed, you really have to read Iron Kissed first to get the full impact of Bone Crossed, just because in Bone Crossed youíre dealing with some of the fallout from Iron Kissed. Other than that, theyíre pretty stand alone. And you shouldnít feel at the end of Iron Kissed that you need to read the next book.

Matthew Peterson: Yeah. Of course you want to read the next book, but . . .

Patricia Briggs: Right, if I could write a book a month, then I wouldnít mind putting cliff hangers in, but since I canít write a book a month, I donít believe in doing that to my fans. I think thatís really crummy, to give them part of a story and say, ďHey! You have to wait a whole year!Ē [laughs] I donít like it when writers do that to me. And so I donít do that to them.

Matthew Peterson: [laughs] I did that to my fans, and my publisher kind of went bankrupt, and uh . . . And so itís like, Iím still getting emails from librarians, like, ďYou know all my kids are still asking when your next bookís coming out.Ē And Iím like, ďOh! Iím looking for a new publisher!Ē

Patricia Briggs: Yes! Well, and thatís true. Iíve had a pretty long career; Iíve been writing for 15 years and the first, oh probably ten years of it, I was, ďGee, I wonder if the sales were good enough on the last book that they will take a chance on me for this bookĒ kind of thing. [laughs]

Matthew Peterson: Yep.

Patricia Briggs: And so maybe that has skewed my thinking too, because Iím always writing as if, ďIf this is the last book I write, am I going to leave people unhappy?Ē and I donít want to do that.

Matthew Peterson: Yeah. Well, Silver Borne, thatís your next one, right? That oneís coming out next spring.

Patricia Briggs: Right.

Matthew Peterson: Tell us a little bit about Silver Borne. What can we expect with that one?

Patricia Briggs: Silver Borne focuses a little bit off Samuel, who is her ex-boyfriend who is living with her and has some problems, and heís been getting gradually worse and worse through the series. And this is the book in which Iím going to take him out and torment him terribly, because thatís the only way [laughs] to resolve his issues, and see what happens. And so this is Samuelís book, Iíve been telling people. But thereís some other issues going on too.

Matthew Peterson: Yeah.

Patricia Briggs: Mercy borrowed a book from a friend in Iron Kissed and sheís returning it, and itís going to cause her a lot more trouble than sheís expecting to. So this one has a lot more werewolves and fae in it than the previous book, which is kind of focused on the vampires.

Matthew Peterson: And your Alpha and Omega series is kind of like a spin off, right? A break off from the Mercy Thompson series.

Patricia Briggs: Yeah, thatís based on Samuelís brother, Charles, whoís also one of the Marrokís sons. And his mate and their trials and tribulations, and itís different in several ways. I write the Mercy books in first person, as if Mercy herself is writing the books, and the Alpha and Omega series is in third person which allows me a little more leeway. I can do a little more head popping. I can do a little more insight into why people are acting the way they are. It also makes the two series feel very different, which I like. One of the problems with writing two series is that all of your characters really ultimately come from inside you. And so, to a certain extent, theyíre going to have the kind of same feel. And I donít want two series going where people say, ďWell, itís just the same characters under different names.Ē And by switching to third person, Iím sure that doesnít happen.

Matthew Peterson: Yeah, yeah. ĎCause itís a very different feel when you go from first to third.

Patricia Briggs: Right, right.

Matthew Peterson: I was going to say that youíve been writing for a long time, and like a lot of authors, you did struggle at the first, but youíve really seen some success now, and youíre getting a chance that most authors donít get and thatís a chance to re-work your very first book so it can be published again. I heard that. Is this true?

Patricia Briggs: Yes, that is true. Masques has been under contract with Ace for me to revise it for, boy, for about five years. We negotiated the contract right before they asked me to write the Mercy books, and theyíve been much more interested in having me finish the Mercy books. But we talked about it, and I can do the revisions for Masques, and its unpublished sequel, Wolfsbane, and I can do those in about two months and that would get me right back into schedule. So, I think that thatís what weíre doing. You know, I get on average probably four emails a week with people asking me about Masques. [Note: see the extras for more on this]

Matthew Peterson: About Masques, huh?

Patricia Briggs: Because they canít find it anywhere.

Matthew Peterson: A lot of authors donít get a chance to go back and re-work one of their first novels. ĎCause usually first novels, you know, youíre still learning how to write a novel; itís your first novel.

Patricia Briggs: Oh yeah. [laughs]

Matthew Peterson: But, I mean, you have gotten a lot of the base work done, so are you making some major changes, like hacking out characters and chapters, or . . . ?

Patricia Briggs: What Iím doing is Iím going to tell exactly the same story but do it better. Going through the book, I can tell you I have conversations that donít go anywhere. I have scenes that donít do things. I have the start of doing one thing and end up doing another. You know, things that arenít filled out that really needed to be filled out. And Iím going to put, essentially, a little novella on the front of Masques . . .

Matthew Peterson: Uh huh.

Patricia Briggs: . . . telling how they met--the main characters met. First novels are a weird thing, because for most writers these are the characters youíve been living with for a long time. In my case, Iíve told stories to myself about the characters in Masques for, oh I donít know, probably 15 years before I wrote the book. So theyíre precious. And when I go back and read the book, I have to wince because my writing isnít up to parr. [laughs]

Matthew Peterson: [laughs]

Patricia Briggs: Itís physically painful to do that. So itís really awesome to get a chance to re-work it. And Iím looking forward to it.

Matthew Peterson: I was really fortunate with my book. Like your book, my first book is difficult to find, but fortunately I was lucky that picked it up and so the audio book and the ebook is still there, so itís still available, but the real physical one in your hand is like an impossible thing to find. So I think thatís an exciting thing that you get a chance to do that.

Patricia Briggs: It is really awesome. Yes.

Matthew Peterson: I know a lot of authors would kill to be able to go back and, ďOh boy! Let me fix some of that!Ē

Patricia Briggs: [laughs]

Matthew Peterson: Well, thatís exciting. Iíve been speaking with Patricia Briggs #1 New York Times best-selling author of the Mercy Thompson series and the Alpha and Omega series. Hopefully weíll see Masques and Wolfsbane next year. Thank you so much for being on the show today, Patty.

Patricia Briggs: Thank you so much for having me.

Matthew Peterson: You can listen to the bonus questions at Stick around. Iíve still got Kelley Armstrong and Charles de Lint coming up next.

  Read or Listen to the extra questions that didn't make it onto the live show.  

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