Monday, September 17, 2012

Scene of the Crime with Author Bernadette Pajer!

I have a fondness for the history of Seattle, Washington-- as I think anyone would after taking the Underground Tour downtown. When I learned that there was a new historical mystery series set there, you know I had to get my hands on the first book. I was hooked on Professor Benjamin Bradshaw before I'd finished A Spark of Death, and if you like good historical mysteries, I think you will be, too.

Bernadette Pajer
Bernadette Pajer is the author of the Professor Bradshaw mystery series. She's a graduate of the University of Washington and a proud member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, Northwest Science Writers, PNWA, and the

Research is Pajer's favorite activity, and she happily delves into Seattle's past and the early days of electrical invention as she plots Professor Bradshaw's investigations. Pajer lives in the Seattle area with her husband and son.

Here are a few more links just in case you feel like learning even more about this talented writer:

Now it's time for the fun stuff-- the interview!

What was the very first book you remember reading and loving? What makes that book so special?

I must have been about ten when I read A Long Way to Go by Borden Deal. It's about three children on vacation whose parents leave them for the day at a motel daycare and never return, so the children, afraid of what the authorities might do to them, decide to walk home. Six hundred miles!  I remember being so amazed at the children's daring. One of the kids, a girl I think, was overweight when they set out and in great shape when they arrived home, and all of the kids matured and learned on the journey. I escaped completely into the story and for a very long time after reading it would often think about what that sort of adventure would be like. I haven't read that book as an adult, but I'm now curious if I would still enjoy it as much. 

No other book stuck in my memory until I was about twelve and read Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. I remember being surprised that an assigned school book was an amazing, bizarre story, and it, too, pulled me completely into another world, engaged my imagination, and made me think about so many things in a totally new way. I hadn't I realized until then that many books adults read, even the classics, were entertaining stories about people and ideas that could be so engrossing. Coincidentally (or is it synchronicity?),  in the wonderful way our lives circle and intertwine, I recently learned that the inspirational advice given me by Richard Bach at a chance meeting when I first began to write had its origins with Ray Bradbury. (You can go to Blogtalk Radio to listen to William Kenower's interview with Richard Bach.) 

Outside of your writing and all associated commitments, what do you like to do in your free time?

Read! Sorry, but it's true. I love to go RV'ng with my husband and son, have backyard BBQ's, walk ocean beaches, travel, and eat great food other people have prepared. But all of those things are made better with a good book!

If I were to visit your hometown, where would you recommend that I go? (I like seeing and doing things that aren't in all the guide books.)

Seattle Mystery Bookshop  (Seattle, downtown), Uppercase Bookshop  (Snohomish), Edmonds Bookshop
(Edmonds), Eagle Harbor Books  (Bainbridge Island), Queen Anne Books (Seattle, Queen Anne Hill), Vashon Bookshop  (Vashon Island), Elliott Bay Books (Seattle, Capitol Hill), A Book for All Seasons (Leavenworth),  Third Place Books (Lake Forest Park), and University Book Store (Seattle, University district.) 

But not in that order because that would be a crazy zig-zagging drive. Each of these stores is located in the heart of a great little town or neighborhood (in or near Seattle ) you could explore, and you'd meet the nicest booksellers and book lovers! The University Bookstore is located within walking distance of Denny Hall on the UW campus, the building known as the Administration Building to Professor Bradshaw!

[Now... does this woman know the perfect tour or what?!?]

You have total control over casting a movie based on your life. Which actor would you cast as you?

Oh, good grief, no! Dull movie! I am a writer without any drama in her personal  life, thank goodness. A contented life does not make for a good screenplay. Now if you were to ask about my Professor Bradshaw, well, then I'd say I'd love Masterpiece Mystery to do a series and I'd give them free rein with the casting because they are brilliant at it. I'm hoping if I say this enough online then someone with the ability to make it happen will make it happen. [I think it would make a perfect television series!]

Who is your favorite recurring character in crime fiction?

Benedict Cumberbatch
Since I currently adore Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock in the new BBC series, I'd have to say Sherlock Holmes, but I'm also a fan of Hercule Poirot and his little grey cells.

[I don't like Cumberbatch at all. That's why I didn't track down a photo of him....]

Name one book that you've read that you wish you had written. What is it about that book that made it come to mind?

Honestly, I don't wish I had written any books but mine. To me, books are like children—as a writer, I might envy the talent revealed in books written by others but I don't covet the books. What I wish when I read great books is to be able to make my own stories come alive with the same brilliance.  I'm currently reading Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter and finding the writing marvelous and will likely read it a second time to study.

How did you celebrate when you first heard you were to be published?

By editing! The news came by email from Poisoned Pen Press. I'd been working closely with an editor on the first 60 pages of A Spark of Death with the hopes that if they liked my revisions, they would make an offer. I figured I had a few weeks of work ahead of me yet, when an email popped in congratulating me and saying my book had been slotted for publication July 2011! I sat absolutely stunned. Then I think I gasped, squealed, tried to explain to my son, who was seven at the time, what I was freaking out about. My husband was home and out in the backyard, stretched out in the sun. I danced around him with the news, being quite silly, and I grabbed my sun hat and threw it in the air. Then I called my agent, then my mom, then my sisters. Then I sat down and got to work!

What did you do the first time you saw one of your books on a shelf in a bookstore?

Took a picture! Asked the bookstore if I could sign them, and they let me! They didn't even ask for identification.

I don't know if you've seen it, but I love Parnell Hall's video about book signings. What is the most unusual experience you've had at a book signing or author event?

I haven't seen it, but will look for it. Nothing unusual has happened to me. I told you my life was delightfully dull. So far, my signings have been wonderful, and the biggest surprise to me has been that people who don't know me personally have come simply because they like my books. It's heartwarming and gratifying to think my books are out there in the world, making friends independent of me.

What's the best thing about eBooks? What's the worst?

I don't think I have anything revolutionary to add to the great eBook debate. I love that I can read a book anywhere, anytime, from my "cloud," on my phone or computer or Nook. I hate that during this time of transition, many wonderful bookstores have not survived. But I believe-- people being who they are— that books in all formats will survive, and we'll eventually find a new balance and new business models that will keep readers, writers, publishers, and bookstores thriving.

On Sale Now!
Thank you so much for spending this time with us, Bernadette! It was such a pleasure to be able to get to know you a little better.

May your book sales do nothing but increase!


Stop by tomorrow when you'll be able to read my review of the second book in the Professor Bradshaw series, Fatal Induction!


  1. Replies
    1. You're very welcome. I can't wait for your next book!

  2. Before Professor Bradshaw came along, I couldn't imagine myself caring much about the mystery of electricity. It's a measure of your books' interest and readability that I am now "turned on."

    Jeanne Matthews

    1. Bernadette does manage to create a lot of interest in the early days of electricity-- something that we all take for granted. I've not mentioned that very much, which is a huge oversight on my part. My grandfather was a master electrician, so perhaps I thought my own interest was simply due to that.

  3. I am looking forward to reading the Professor Bradshaw series by Bernadette Pajer. I am a Poirot and Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock fan too...


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