I have to admit I haven’t yet read Patricia McAlexander’s latest release (it just came out), but the story intrigues me. There’s a murder at the school and suspects that might be too close for comfort. I read this author’s first book and thoroughly enjoyed it. Her writing and plots are creative and worth checking out. Read on for a brief interview with the author and more about The Student in Classroom 6.
Describe one of your favorite characters and tell us who you patterned them after and why.
One of my favorite characters is Katherine Holiday, the protagonist of The Student in Classroom 6. She teaches English at the University of Georgia, as I did, and much of what I describe of her work in the classroom is based on my own experience as an instructor and professor. I find that I can make characters more believable when I pattern them to some degree after myself; in this case, I used details about my teaching to portray hers.
What inspired you to write in your genre?
I like to write romance. Why? Because love is something most of us need and hope for in our lives—look at the themes of songs, movies, literature. Now, in these difficult times, we need such themes more than ever. Also, romance can involve personal growth, something I’m interested in as a teacher. In my fiction, I portray individuals further developing their own values and identities as they discover love. But genres can be hybrids. The Student in Classroom 6, like my first two novels (Stranger in the Storm and Shadows of Doubt) combines romance with the thriller genre. In Student, the mystery of the murder on campus, I think, adds extra spice and drama to the romance.
A fun fact about writing your book.
The Student in Classroom 6 features Tyler McHenry, an arborist who is also a student in Katherine Holiday’s continuing education composition class at The University of Georgia. A specific event inspired this character. I live on an historic street in Athens, Georgia, lined with old houses and old trees—some very old trees. One night my husband and I came out of our house to find the road and sidewalk in front of it completely blocked by gigantic magnolia limbs. Part of the ancient tree across the street had split off and fallen. The city cleaned it up, but a private tree service had to come and take down the dangerous remaining portion of the tree. On our porch we had a front row seat, watching the drama of the tree removal and the skilled men up in the bucket and at its base taking it down. Once that event inspired my arborist character, I researched the profession—I even read an instruction manual on operating bucket trucks—and the owner of a local business, New Urban Forestry, answered my questions and let me come with his team to one of their work sites.
Are you a plotter, a pantser or some combination of both?
In writing my first novels, I was at first way over on the pantser end of the scale: the words would pour out as I visualized the story, sort of like a dream state. Only once I’d finished would I go back and edit the awkward sentences, the repetition, check facts and so on. But from my mistakes, I’ve learned in this part of the process to make a time line—and now I’m doing so earlier and earlier, even before I finish the first draft. So I find that, although I’d still call myself a “pantser,” on the pantser-plotter continuum I’m moving closer toward the plotter end—in short, a combination. And that’s a good thing.
What are you working on now?
I didn’t expect to write another novel so soon, but a wonderful visit to Tybee Island off the coast of Georgia led to me to begin work on another thriller-romance, tentatively titled The Last Golden Isle. It’s about a University of Georgia graduate who, during the summer before returning to work on her master’s degree, goes to the island as a companion to her cousin who, unbeknownst to her, is bipolar. There she meets a young man who works for her rich uncle. Eventually she learns that her uncle is involved with a dangerous drug trafficking ring.
Here’s a blurb for The Student in Classroom 6:
Although a faculty member has been killed on campus and the murderer is still at large, English instructor Katherine Holiday never suspects the criminal might be one of her students. In fact, there’s a man in her adult evening class she wishes she could know better.
Seeing no need for a college degree, Tyler McHenry, a partner in his father’s successful tree service, writes fiction for his own pleasure. No one at the University needs to know his personal reasons for enrolling in a first-year composition course. Still, he finds himself fascinated by the pretty teacher, who believes his writing should be published.
And an excerpt:
“You know, Ms. Holiday,” Tyler said as he walked with her back to her porch, “it was against regulations to bring you up in the bucket. Only accredited personnel are supposed to go up.” He paused. “Just like it’s probably against regulations for University instructors to get too friendly with students in their class.”
“It is,” she said, feeling somehow bold. “But if you can break a rule, I can. Would you like to come in for a beer?”
“That may not be so wise. I am an owner of this tree business and an owner of the bucket truck. I was not worried about breaking that rule tonight. I knew it was safe for you when I brought you up in the bucket. That is not the way it is with you and the University. And you don’t know—” he hesitated.
He smiled a little, as if joking. “Whether you’d be safe alone in your house with me.”
Barnes and Noble (includes Nook): https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-student-in-classroom-6-patricia-mcalexander/1141068087?ean=9781509241750
Find the author online:
A little about Patricia McAlexander:
Patricia McAlexander is from upstate New York. She has a bachelor’s degree from the University of New York at Albany, a master’s from Columbia University, and a doctorate from The University of Wisconsin, Madison, all in English She is now living in Athens, Georgia, with her Southerner husband, whom she met as a graduate student in Wisconsin. They have one son. As a teenager, Pat wrote fiction for her friends, but she turned to academic writing with her career. Now retired from the University of Georgia, she has renewed her interests in photography, travel, and history—and in writing fiction.