Book Tour Q&A: Yellow Tape and Coffee by Pat Luther
Today we're taking part in the book tour organized by Escapist Book Tours for Yellow Tape and Coffee by Pat Luther! Continue reading for the book blurb and a Q&A with the author.
About the book
Four intertwining stories. Four points of view of a single large event. Four people from different backgrounds with different ideals.
And a secret society of werewolves is unveiled in Portland, Oregon.
For four hundred years, they have kept their secret. Some will do anything to reveal it. Others will sacrifice everything to keep it.
Alliances will be forged and shattered. Friendships will be made and betrayed. Conspiracies within conspiracies will unravel as conflicting agendas clash across the city.
And by the end, nothing will be the same.
On to the interview...!
Thank you so much for joining us for this Q&A! We’ll start off with one of our standard podcast opening questions–tell us something great that’s happened recently.
I just sent the first few chapters of my newest story off to Beta readers and have received some fantastic feedback so far.
What are you currently reading or what’s up next on your TBR? What made you pick up this book?
That’s an interesting question right now, because I’m currently in the middle of three different things, none of what are my usual type of reads.
I listen to a lot of audiobooks, and I’m currently most of the way through a cozy mystery called Murder of Pearl. I picked it up because it’s read by the same narrator who does my audiobooks. It’s fun, with, especially toward the end, several laugh-out-loud moments.
I’m also beta-reading a novel written by one of my Twitter friends, about a teenage girl and a magical forest. It may be a retelling, or inspired by, Little Red Riding Hood, but I’m not sure yet – I’m still near the beginning.
And, finally, I just started the novel Then Came Darkness which may or may not be a horror novel. It was chosen by the other members of a book club that I’m in that focuses on independent novels.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and what inspired you to start writing?
I’ve always enjoyed stories. I’ve been creating them since I was a young child, and I think I’ve always wanted to be a writer. I finally decided, almost ten years ago now, to get serious about it and write consistently instead of only when the mood struck.
How do you spend your free time when you’re not reading or writing? Do you have any hobbies or interests that you can talk to us about?
I’ve enjoyed building and flying drones, and have done a lot of drone photography for my archaeologist friends.
I’ve also enjoyed tabletop role-playing games, and thanks to the pandemic and everything going online have recently hooked up with my old group for weekly games.
Who are your favorite current writers and who are your greatest influences?
I like a lot of the old school SF writers: Asimov, Clarke, Bradbury, and that crowd. Ursula K. LeGuin, Harry Harrison, and Roger Zelazny are some of my all-time favorites.
Among living authors, I enjoy Guy Gavriel Kay and Patrick Rothfuss. (And yes, I’m eagerly awaiting the next book just like everyone else.)
If you could collaborate with any one author, who would it be and why?
Maybe Stephen Goldin. I’ve really enjoyed his science fiction, I like his style, and I think I could learn a lot from him.
What is one thing that you love about the current state of SFF and what is one thing that you wish you saw more of?
I love that “cozy” has expanded beyond mysteries and is invading SFF. I enjoyed stories like The Long Way to a Small Angry Planet and Legends and Lattes. And either there’s a resurgence, or I’m just seeing it more, of stories about a hopeful future. I grew up on the old pulps predicting non-stop progress, both technological and social. The original Star Trek was the epitome of that kind of thing. Then William Gibson came along and ruined everything. Mostly joking. I actually love cyberpunk, but after the last few years, it’s nice to be reading stuff that’s a lot more hopeful about the future.
What is one book you want to shout about to the world? What about it makes you love it so much?
Tigana by Guy Gavriel Kay. I’ll explain why in the next question.
What are your favorite types of stories? Of characters?
The loveable rogue is my absolute favorite archetype. Han Solo, Slippery Jim DiGriz, Jade Darcy, Huckleberry Finn. Ultimately good people but not really into law and order.
For stories, I’m a sucker for any small band of misfits banding together against some overwhelming evil empire. Robin Hood is one of the prime archetypes, and the first story I really fell in love with. Star Wars of course. The Hunger Games had a fun spin on the concept. One of my favorites, Tigana has a loveable rogue and two evil empires to overthrow.
How much do you plan when you write? What’s your writing process like?
I don’t do a lot of planning. I had an idea for an ending when I started writing Yellow Tape and Coffee, but along the way stuff happened that would have made that ending impossible. The whole changes to society turned out differently than I’d originally planned.
When I write the first draft, I write in order, starting at the first scene. Going into a scene, I’ll have an idea of what I want to accomplish there, who needs to learn what, what needs to happen, and so on. And I’ll have some ideas of beats that are upcoming in future scenes that I’ll write toward.
Once I’ve finished the first draft, I know the story, and do a lot of re-writing to make it readable by other people.
Is this your first book? If so, what lessons have you learned from writing it? If not, what lessons did you learn from writing earlier books that you brought into this one?
Yellow Tape and Coffee was my first novel. I actually chose it from among the projects I was trying to narrow down when I started because I wanted to learn how to write a novel, and I thought that, since it was set in the present day, I’d have to do less research. I turned out to be very wrong about that. So, that’s one lesson: There’s a lot of research involved in writing, at least the way I do it.
Before the book, I wrote a bunch of articles on conspiracy theories and a few plays, and have run a lot of role-playing games, and I’ve used the lessons in all of those in the book. Writing plays is a great way to practice dialog. From the articles, I learned how to construct a narrative, step by step leading to a conclusion – dropping clues at the right moments. That’s also a skill learned when running a role-playing game. Give the players enough information to lead them on, but not enough to give everything away, or get bored.
I also came up with my “three details” rule of thumb for descriptions from running RPGs. Give the players (or readers in this case) a single detail about an item, and they’ll remember it exists for the rest of the scene. Two details, and they’ll assume it’s important. Three details, and they’ll obsess over it and never forget it until it’s explained. Seems to work for settings and people, too. (Obviously the types of details and how they’re presented is important too, but as a general rule of thumb, it seems to work well.)
What do you think characterizes your writing style?
One of my beta readers described it as a “just say what happens without flowery language” style. I think that’s fairly accurate. I tend to be short on physical description, and focus more on action and emotion. The opposite is someone like Ray Bradbury who plays with language beautifully and is downright poetic at times. As much as I love his writing, I definitely don’t write like that.
I also like convoluted plots with lots of secrets, and playing with differing perspectives. The easiest way to do the latter is to have multiple point-of-view characters, which is what I did in Yellow Tape and Coffee. Compare how Michael and Carl see the exact same events quite differently. Neither of them is wrong, but they have very different points of view.
How much of yourself do you write into your stories?
A lot, it turns out. There’s quite a bit of my own thoughts and personality in all the characters in Yellow Tape. It’s mixed with other people’s, though – stuff from people I know, or have met, or have heard about, or just made up.
What comes first to you when you’re writing, the world, the characters, or the storyline?
Yellow Tape and Coffee started with a character, Veer. Before that, I was reading a lot about Nellie Bly and wanted to do something with her. When I started writing it, though, I decided to set it in modern day Portland, so decided Veer was a reporter who was enamored of Nellie Bly as a child and grew up to follow in her footsteps. The rest grew from there.
They say to never judge a book by its cover, but a cover is still a marketing tool that helps sell books. Can you tell us about the idea behind the cover of your book?
I’ve heard some criticism that the cover doesn’t really convey the idea of werewolves, which is fair. But it does convey the mystery and police procedural elements, and it captures the dark contemplative mood that I was going for, and that sense of being up way too late working on an important problem with a sense of undefined menace all around. So, in that way, I think it works, despite the lack of werewolves.
I also wanted something very different from the hot young person centered looking straight ahead with some color representing a fire, explosion, moonlight through the fog, or magical effect, swirling behind them.
How different is the final version of this book from the first draft?
The story is very much the same. There are a lot of major differences in details. A couple of entirely new scenes added, a few removed. The biggest differences were that Victor was a point of view character in the first draft, so I had to re-write or delete all his scenes later, and Shelly had a bigger role and a more significant character arc. We may learn more about her in the sequel.
Can you tell us a little bit about your characters? What are your favorite kinds of characters to write?
I like competent, rational characters, who make decisions that drive the plot. I also like them to usually be good people, with good motives, though very flawed ways of getting to them. My characters all make a lot of mistakes along the way.
If you could choose one worldbuilding detail (a place, ability, or creature, for example) from your book to exist in the real world, what would it be and why?
Werewolves! I would love to be a werewolf like the ones described in my book. Magical healing of all wounds and diseases? All the bacon double cheeseburgers I could want and never worry about high cholesterol? I wouldn’t want to be a part of any of the Were societies shown, though.
In your opinion, what kind of reader would like this book?
I actually think fans of science fiction, or maybe of contemporary thrillers, will like this more than most urban fantasy fans will. When I was writing it, I very much approached it from a science fiction aesthetic, treating the werewolves as a scientific phenomenon which could, theoretically, with study, be understood without resorting to the supernatural.
What would you like readers to take away from this book?
One of the themes I played with was the depth of our ignorance. There is a lot that goes on in the world that we don’t notice. Not just scientific mysteries, but the lived experiences of other people’s lives. Just one example: Think of everything it takes to stock even a small grocery store, involving the constant and mostly unseen labor of tens of thousands of people around the world. Some things we don’t know, some things that are deliberately hidden, and some we can find out with thought, research, or experimentation. Some things we will never know, and that’s OK, too. I like the idea that there are some mysteries that will never be solved.
Do you have a favorite quote from your book that you can share with us? What about this quote in particular makes it your favorite?
“Ideas aren’t plans and plans aren’t victories.” Carl says this once, and says that he doesn’t remember where he heard it. There is no source other than me. I think a lot of times people think they have a plan when all they really have is an idea. And even having a plan, even a good one, doesn’t ensure success. It still needs to be put into action to know if it’ll work.
Is there anything you can tell us about any current projects you’re working on?
I’m currently working on two separate projects. One is a light-hearted kind of tongue-in-cheek high fantasy that I’ll be serializing to Vella and Patreon starting in February. While that’s going, I’ll also be working on Careless, a sequel to Thoughtless, my science fiction novel, which I hope to have out in early 2024.
Thank you so much for taking the time to answer a few questions for us! Before we let yo go, where can you be found on the internet if our readers want to hear more from you?
For now I’m Twitter, though who knows how long that’ll last. I’m plutheus there (note the lack of an r, unlike most places.)
I’m also plutherus (with an r) on Instagram.
On Facebook, you can find me at https://www.facebook.com/PatLuthertheWriter
And, of course, my web site: https://pluther.us/
Where to buy the book:
Universal Link: https://geni.us/YellowTapeAndCoffee
Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/yellow-tape-and-coffee-pat-luther/1138999188