Like so many of my guests, Patricia and I met on Facebook through writer friends. Also, like a number of my guests, Patricia originally hales from my mother’s neck of the woods, near Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania.
To learn more about her, let’s get right into the questions.
Welcome, Patricia! I am so happy that you are here with us.
The books which you have published so far are somewhat autobiographical, “Brownstone Burial” features a young woman who couldn’t wait to leave her small town to go to New York City, where she became an airline booking agent; that was essentially you, right? What inspired the rest of the story?
Yes, that was me. Travel the world became a ‘calling’ when a friend got a job as a res (reservations) agent and talked to me about it. An aunt lived in New Jersey and she let me stay with her until I got the job, then I found other new agents who wanted to share an apartment, so I moved into the city. We had a one bedroom in a brownstone, and that’s where I fell in love with the buildings. So old, so much renovation in most of them to convert to small apartment houses. They HAD to be haunted. And at the time, so many people of first and second generation used their ethnicity to identify themselves. So, I just used mine, conveniently, to create some of the people who lived in our brownstone. That would be Ukrainian. I’m first generation on one side, second on the other.
The main character in “Downsized to Death” is also basically “you”, in the sense that she is a middle-aged travel agent whose company is drastically downsized, and she lives in a floating home. You have lived that much of the story. Again, can you tell us how you came to write the rest? (And please tell everyone about your ‘floating home’.)
Yes, again me, as I was a travel agent for a world company, and they just closed all the US offices at the end of 2001. I adjusted it to a national agency, and they only downsized by firing, laying-off and demoting management. And many may be familiar with the trials and tribulations of upper management when they are desperate to keep their jobs, so I put them all together and got a murder mystery.
I live in a floating home. It is not a boathouse or a houseboat. It is a house that anyone would identify with anything on land, but it sits in/on water and is floated with logs and wrapped Styrofoam blocks. I live on the slough side of an island in the Columbia River. Definitely for people who dislike yard work. Our neighborhood is called a moorage, and we operate like condos. We are a gated community and we own the very narrow strip of land along the length of our moorage, but the state owns the water. We own our homes and the docks. [See link below to photos of the Floating Home-T]
This is meant to become a series, is it not?
Not Downsized To Death, but yes to Brownstone Burial.
“Paulette Palinsky” and “Prudence Peters” are the protagonists in the above-mentioned books. Is there meaning in the alliterations?
All my protags have the initials, PP, as I did when I moved to NYC.
After Pennsylvania and New York, the other side of the country is what you call home. Oregon is about as far from them as you are going to get and still be in the continuous United States! How did you end up on another ocean?
My husband was still in school when I got pregnant. His mother and sister moved to Oregon, had a huge six-bedroom farmhouse, and they invited us to come. We didn’t like being out on the farm, so we moved into Portland and stayed.
You have traveled extensively. Will any of the many locales show up in your stories?
No, doubtful. I know when you see books about travel people it seems obvious that the book will be about travel destinations and people traveling and enjoying the sights. Of course, as a mystery lover, they want some murder thrown in. NO, my books are about the working people who spend their time getting you there, make sure all your documentation is in order and can give you advice and tips about what will make your experience enjoyable and hassle free. YOU should know where you want to go, and I would have advised you accordingly, worked on your itinerary, and sent you happily on your way. Yes, you may expect the agent to be a devoted traveler.
What is the most exotic locale which you have visited? How did you choose your destinations?
My most exotic and thrilling destination was Botswana. I went with a group of my fellow travel agents (all from my company at the time, as we were a world company) and flew with the bush pilots. We stayed at 4 very exclusive camps. From private bathtubs that looked out over an elephant walk, to tents with a toilet bowls that you dropped sand into instead of flushing, showers that were 10 gallon tanks hanging over you, and artwork hanging on the walls to tents with perfectly working bathrooms built along side termite mounds. My roommate and I had a walk through the bush with two armed guards when we refused to do the dugout canoes on hippo and crocodile waters.
Patricia, you are now ‘retired’, but consider yourself a full-time writer. This isn’t the first time that you have dedicated your time to writing, though. You took a hiatus to write before, right?
Yes, but it was very different times and I was trying to break into the Science Fiction short story market. Tough even today.
You are always a delight to see on Facebook. One thing I love seeing is the many imaginative wreaths you post for every occasion and holiday, where do you find them? Do you make wreaths? Do you do anything in the arts or arts and crafts?
I used to be crafty, but no more. I do have a lot of holiday décor, but am ‘downsizing’. I like themes, this year was wreaths, but last year was trees. I do Pinterest and find a lot there.
Thank you so much for being with us, Patricia. Please let everyone know how they can find out more
You can see pictures of my floating home there.
Author page: https://www.facebook.com/DownsizedToDeath/
Personal page where there is more action:
Kindle or Tradepaper www.amzn.to/1BTZ6FY
For Apple, Kobo, B&N, 24 Symbols, Scribd:
Downsized To Death
Kindle and Tradepaper:
Thank you so much for being my guest this month, Patricia Gulley!
Welcome, from one Patricia to another! What a fascinating life you’ve led. I love to travel, too – but I’ve never had experiences like yours in Botswana. I’m excited to dig into your mysteries!
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Thank you ‘fellow’ Patricia. 🙂
Yes, our guest Patricia is a lot braver than I!
Welcome, Patricia, to 4F1H.
I’ve only had dealings with one travel agent… and she was terrific. Really helped me plan the trip and understand what to expect and what else I’d need to consider. Her quirk was that she collected pencils. I guess she’d gotten tired of people bringing back all sorts of odd or bulky items that she’d have no place for (in her office downtown), so she made a point of mentioning that she collected pencils. Naturally, I brought her a few from our trip. She kept them in a massive jar on her desk.
About your floating house — I’m having trouble picturing it, so I’ll have to locate that link you promised.
Jeff, yes, I clients did bring lots of gifts back. My item was Christmas ornaments. And you will find pictures of my floating home and some of my moorage on my website.
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It’s happening again; my answer didn’t ‘take’. I really like the pencil idea. Not too much to ask, easy to obtain and transport from anywhere! I have not traveled out of the country.I never thought of a gift for a travel agent, but then, I only booked plane tickets a couple pf times through them.
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I am totally intrigued by the floating house. Does the house need to be built differently? Does it rock on the waves?
Great questions,Joselyn.The whole concept is truly intriguing.
It can be built elsewhere and floated in, or, in my case, I bought a one floor and added the second floor. It is floated on logs and stringers and 100 pound, wrapped floom is added. They have to be replaced and added every so-many years. We are all tied up to our walkway with chains and a roller on a tall stanchion. We do move during high wind storms, but it is not like a boat that rocks on waves. We are on a slough side of an island and we have a speed limit for boaters so no wake is produced. Plumbing is through a honeypot which is outside so you are always keeping track of cold weather. Otherwise, no yard work but just like any other land house.
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