P. J. MAC LAYNE (Cont.) INTERVIEW MFRW: Why did you de- cide to write? When did you submit your first manuscript and what genre was it? PJM: I’ve been writing since high school. (Many years ago!) I wrote poetry for years, and was moderately suc- cessful getting published in magazines, but at some point the words seemed to dry up. Then I heard about National Novel Writ- ing Month. It sounded like fun, and there was a story kicking around in my brain that wouldn’t work as a poem. Well, I didn’t make fifty thousand words in one month, but I found a new creative release, and I haven’t stopped writing fiction since! MFRW: PJM: MFRW: Who are your favorite characters among the books you’ve written? It’s normally the heroine of whichever book I’m working on at the moment! Overall, Harmony Duprie, my main char- acter in the Oak Grove Mysteries, is my favorite. She’s such a quirky character, and I enjoy hanging out with her. Plus, she has such great stories to tell! How much of your personality and life experiences are in your writing? PJM: There’s a lot of me in my writing. The books I’ve published so far all take place in the general area where I grew up—the rolling hills of Pennsylvania. But I’ve lived in several different parts of the US, so I’ve got 5 room to stretch out. (Spoiler alert—the location for my next Free Wolves book is Wyoming.) I write strong female charac- ters, and I give credit to my mother for that, because she helped my sisters and me to grow up as independent women. But none of my characters are carbon copies of me. MFRW: Are you in control of your characters or do they control you? PJM: We collaborate. I have the basis for a story, and my characters tell me how it really hap- pened. Sometimes we disagree, and I try to trust my characters’ input. Sometimes I have to go back and change things, but usually they are right. MFRW: Bubble baths or steamy showers? Ocean or mountains? Puppies or kittens? Chocolate or caramel? PJM: Steamy showers. I’ve never been much of a bubble bath person. Mountains, definitely mountains. You only have to check out my blog to figure that out! I’ve lived on both coasts of the US and in the middle of the country, and I’m quite happy being where the mountains are only a short drive away. Puppies or kittens? If I can’t have both, give me kittens. I know they grow into cats, but they suit my per- sonality better. And chocolate, always chocolate.