I met Pam Harris almost a year ago, at the KenTen Writer's Retreat. Since then, I've gotten to read one of her books, and get to know her even better through social media. She's an interesting person, and has a variety of books to choose from. It's my privilege to help you get to know her a little better today, too.
Pam, I know you used to teach and were a middle school principal for a while. As the wife of a high school teacher, I know neither of those is an easy job. How do you think they helped prepare you for being an author?
My experiences as a teacher impact all of my writing in some way, either in character development, plot, or incident ideas. My first two books were mysteries targeted to girls ages eight to 12, and I relied upon my interactions with the middle school students to guide the behaviors and attitudes of my young characters in those books. Aimee, the heroine of my third book, was a teacher in a one-room school house in the 1895 wilderness of Arizona. And even in my novella that was part of Smoky Mountain Brides, the hero was a high school math teacher and coach. My fifth book has teachers, too, so you can see how my mind operates! Interactions with teenagers over the years (I was a Spanish, French, journalism, and theater arts teacher) gave me insights I wouldn’t have had otherwise. You haven’t lived until you’ve taken a group of teenagers on a long trip and into Mexico! Also, as a licensed high school English teacher, my knowledge of English grammar and writing structure has been a huge help.
You've written several books aimed at middle grades as well as several for adults. Which do you find easier, and why?
I enjoy writing for middle grades the most. It’s easier for me because adult books often have a romance element that, even though very innocent in Christian fiction, makes me a little uncomfortable to write. I live in a town of just over 10,000, and I think I have seen myself for so many years as a role model to middle and high school students and tried to be a role model in my church and community, I feel awkward showing that side of me. Also, because of my passion for education, I love to write books for older kids that entertain and educate at the same time. For example, in The Ghosts of Graceland, readers will learn things about Memphis that are educational in nature, and in Music City Mayhem, the sequel, they learn about Andrew Jackson and the Parthenon in Nashville.
I've read your book, The Ghosts of Graceland, and enjoyed it. Even though I lived in the Memphis area for a couple of years, I never ventured much into the part around Graceland. What made you decide to set your book there? Where did you get the idea?
I’m glad you liked it! When my youngest son, who is now 30, was ten years old, he and I went to Graceland while visiting my husband’s relatives in nearby Olive Branch, Mississippi. That visit turned my son into a huge Elvis fan. He was used to Elvis music because of me, but he had an early interest in history, and Graceland is like stepping back in time. After that, he wanted to go to Graceland every year for his birthday until he was a senior in high school. On one of those trips, he and I drove around the neighborhood behind Graceland, and I wondered if the residents there could hear the activity on the other side of that tall, white fence. And that’s how the idea was born. My son and I were even interviewed once on Sirius Elvis Radio by Elvis’s closest friend, so I had to incorporate that experience into the story!
I know you've also written a historical book and a contemporary book aimed for adults. Do you have a preference between historical or contemporary? Which is easier for you to write?
The historical required more research. I read all I could about the time period and the place, and I researched online and with phone calls to make sure I was as accurate as possible. The idea for that book came to me while visiting my niece and her family at their vacation home in the mountains in Strawberry, Arizona, so I took pictures and video to use as a reference. It was fun researching and learning, but it was definitely more work. A contemporary book is much easier to write, although you still have to do some research with those books as well.
What do you have in the works right now, writing-wise?
I am doing a rewrite of a romantic suspense set in the Outer Banks of North Carolina. My publisher hasn’t given me a date yet because they are waiting for me to get the finished product to them. I am also working on a more literary piece that deals with a young woman’s life and tragedy and how she overcomes it. Last year I received the Sandra Robbins Inspirational Award for it based upon the synopsis and sample chapters, so I guess I need to get busy and finish it!
Can you leave us with one fun little-known fact about you?
Wow, that’s a tough one! I don’t know if this is fun or not, and it is well known to my friends, but on
Dec. 1, 2018, at the age of 62, I completed my first (and probably last) half-marathon, the St. Jude Marathon in Memphis. I jogged/walked 13.1 miles in three hours and seventeen minutes. St. Jude is my favorite charity (my daughter-in-law works there), and I had wanted to do the half-marathon for years, so it was a bucket list sort of thing. I retired in May, 2018, but that half-marathon was the highlight of my year!
Thanks so much for joining us today, Pam.
To read more about one of Pam's books and her, keep scrolling.
When twelve-year-old Mandi Ferguson and her twin sister are sent across the country to stay with a great-aunt they barely know while their mother and her new husband go on an extended honeymoon, she has no idea of how her life will change. Aunt Trina lives on a street directly behind Graceland, the home of Elvis Presley and a tourist destination in Memphis. Mysterious voices in the middle of the night, a stranger lurking around them, a cute, homeless teenage
boy, and family secrets over future detective Mandi plenty of opportunities to use her sleuth skills. What she discovers, however, impacts her life in a way she never could have imagined.
Pam Harris, also published as Pam Watts Harris, is a retired educator who writes fiction for females of all ages. A native Tennessean and former Arizona resident, she writes stories drawn from her own experiences, always being sure to use locales with which she is most familiar. Her desire to write began as a child, leading her to begin her college studies as an English major. She and her husband of thirty-eight years live in a small town in Tennessee, and they have two grown sons, a daughter-in-law, and two “grand-dogs.” In addition to writing fiction for females of all ages, she works as an editor for Mantle Rock Publishing and as a freelance editor. Her hobbies include listening to audio books, fitness walking, gardening, and traveling.
This is a place for me to tell you about what I'm writing, talk about the process or where some of my ideas came from, or even have other authors come in and talk about their books.
Authors I Love to Read (in no particular order)