WS: What genre do you write in and why?
PFP: I write about murder, myth and motherhood. These themes lead me to write in multiple genres, primarily crime, horror and "literary" fiction. Of course all truly well-crafted fiction should be categorized as literary. I strive to create complex female characters, and follow their journeys into whatever genre fits.
WS: What is your favorite book or writing craft book? Why?
PFP: Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott. Lamott names and embraces the messy processes and risks of good writing.
WS: What fears do you have about your writing?
PFP: Precision is my goal. I want to share the precise image, the exact emotion, and the telling action in my character-driven prose and poetry. I try to employ the final words that the story or poem demands. I worry that clever plot twists and smart turns of phrase are what the gatekeepers, journal editors, agents, publishers, reward in the current culture. The best story or poem I could write on any given theme is not necessarily the poem or story that a gatekeeper will pay for.
WS: If you could have dinner with any famous author (dead or alive) who would it be?
PFP: Shirley Jackson
WS: What are your tips for submitting writing?
PFP: If you stand between genres, it can feel like you stand alone. Keep sending your strange stories and powerful poems out, eventually an editor or agent will value the originality of your work.
WS: What's the best (or worst) writing advice you've ever received?
PFP: “I give you the number seventy-six. I encourage you not to give up until you’ve tried something seventy-six times, whether that’s applying for a job, revising a draft or sending it out. I encourage you to write with endurance and abandon.” -Poet Bhanu Kapil, Graduation Address, Goddard College MFA in Writing Program, 2013
WS: What inspires your writing?
PFP: Often characters arrive on their own and I midwife their stories. Sometimes myths and legends, vivid settings, and strange, dangerous historical events drive me.
WS: Where are you from and does that place ever enter into your writing?
PFP: I grew up near Boston and have lived in for countries. Boston-Irish culture never really leaves you, so the roads, beaches, and mysteries of my childhood in New England appear in my work.
WS: Do you do research for your writing? If so, what are some unexpected resources you’ve found?
PFP: When my stories and poems are inspired by strange historical events, such as the great Boston molasses flood, it is important to do research and consult the work of historians and any news media available from the time period. However, I have been surprised how often a workshop I attended on entomology for writers has affected my writing in multiple genres.
WS: Drop any links or promos for your recent work, include your social media links.