Today Paty Jager, author of Poker Face, is visiting Ascroft, eh? to tell us about writing unique characters.
Welcome, Paty. I’ll turn the floor over to you:
Since my first attempts at writing, I’ve always been outside the box of what editors, agents, and publishers wanted. I have always written books that have topics not usually mentioned in genre fiction or a mix of cultures in the characters, or even disabilities. I have been writing inclusive before it was a thing.
I have admiration and empathy for Indigenous people. I am inspired by their beliefs and culture, I have empathy for the way they have been treated, and I admire their facing all adversities. That is why I do my research, talk to people in the tribes I write about, and try my best to show the good and the bad of their lives.
The main character of my new Spotted Pony Casino Mysteries is a female disabled veteran who grew up on the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Reservation. This is a reservation in NE Oregon where the Umatilla, Cayuse, and Walla Walla tribes were banished to during the treaties. There are also some Nez Perce from marriages and very few true Cayuse tribal members. They are a strong group or tribes who are resilient and have learned to use technology and embrace moving into the future all while also managing to hang onto their roots and culture.
Dela Alvaro isn’t Indigenous. Her mother is Swedish and her father was Hispanic. Dela grew up on the reservation where her mother taught school. Going to school with the reservation children, she bonded and made strong friendships. After school she joined the army and planned to make a career in the Military Police. However, while out on a mission, their jeep was hit by an IED. Two years later, after surgeries and rehab, she returns to the reservation having lost her career and no longer being able to become an Oregon State Trooper or join any other law enforcement organization.
As a lower leg amputee, Dela has had to change her expectations for a job. She also has to learn how to deal with life as an amputee. I nor anyone in my family is an amputee. So I have been watching Youtube videos and have joined a Facebook group for lower limb amputees to read how they cope, what obstacles they come across. Reading some of their vents has helped me to better see how they feel and react to situations.
I do this with any culture, occupation, or as in this case, disability I come across to help me portray the character as best I can.
I take being as factual as possible in my fiction seriously.
Dela does get a job as assistant to the Head of Security at the Spotted Pony Casino where she is first introduced in my Gabriel Hawke Novel, Stolen Butterfly. During the course of that book, the head of security is caught aiding human trafficking and Dela is move to interim Head of Security. A job she takes very serious knowing it is as close as she’s going to get to a job in law enforcement with her disability. The only problem: a casino employee is stabbed and shoved in a laundry chute. Now it’s solve the murder or be demoted.
Do some of your favorite books or series have characters who are unique? In what way are they unique?
Thank you for telling us about your characters, Paty, and good luck with Poker Face, the latest book in the Spotted Pony Casino mystery series.
The novel is available at the following online retailers:
About Paty Jager: Paty is an award-winning author of 51 novels, 8 novellas, and numerous anthologies of murder mystery and western romance. All her work has Western or Native American elements in them along with hints of humor and engaging characters. Paty and her husband raise alfalfa hay in rural eastern Oregon. Riding horses and battling rattlesnakes, she not only writes the western lifestyle, she lives it.