P. M. Kavanaugh is making a splash with her debut novel Die Run Hide as a finalist in the Daphne du Maurier Award of Excellence contest. Patrice grew up playing “spy” with her sisters, wandering the neighborhood trying not to be seen and watching any “suspicious” neighbors. Since she’s a fan of daring heroines, Patrice’s own heroine in her novel is a strong woman who find herself on a quest for love and what’s right. You can follow her on Twitter or Facebook or visit her website to read a sample of the first chapter.

MTAR: Tell us a little bit about yourself.
PMK: I was born in a small town near Detroit, Michigan. Starting at the age of one, my family and I moved five times in five years (my Dad was a salesman and kept getting assigned new territories to conquer!) We finally settled in another small town in the “faraway” land of California. My older siblings remember the other places we lived, but I only remember California and consider myself a true (Northern) California girl. I live the stereotypes — favoring sushi over beef, practicing yoga and trusting alternative medicine.

MTAR:  What do you do when you are not writing?
PMK: I’m a corporate brand marketing consultant which is like being an “image maker” but for companies, not people.  When I’m not hunched over my computer developing PowerPoint presentations or tapping out new story ideas, I love to read (of course!), watch action/adventure movies and TV shows (which I used to call “guilty pleasures” and now call “research!), and spend time with my clever-enough-to-be-a-spy husband and talkative office cat, Max.

MTAR:   What inspired you to write your first book?
PMK: Ever since I was a kid, I’ve loved stories about adventure and intrigue, usually involving spies. Fast forward many years and I got hooked on the TV show, La Femme Nikita, about a female assassin working for a super-secret counterterrorist organization. While I loved watching her succeed against tough odds in each week’s new mission, I really loved watching the romantic sub-plot between her and the hero. My book is based on the title of an episode, Rogue Lovers, which I saw on the show’s website but that never aired. So, when the show was (sadly) cancelled a couple of years later, I took the idea inspired by the title and turned it into my first book.

MTAR: If you could trade places with any character in your books, who would it be?
Great question! At first, I thought I would say my heroine, Anika, because I so admire her courage and toughness and determination to go after what she wants, against incredible odds. But then I thought—whoa—there’s a reason I only write about being a spy/assassin but don’t do it in real life! So, I’m going to say, Evan, who’s a tech-savant with a competitive spirit, an irreverent attitude toward authority figures, and surprising self-awareness.

MTAR: What is your favorite movie (song)? Or theme song that you think describes your latest books?
PMK: In keeping with the theme of loving action/adventure shows and movies with strong female characters, I will say one of my absolute favorite movies is Terminator 2. Love, love, love Sarah Connor (played by Linda Hamilton) in that movie.  I could watch that opening sequence over & over where she busts out of a strait jacket and locked room, knocks out that disgusting room guard, then disarms several other guards – wearing only sweat pants, an undershirt and bare feet! My kind of heroine!

MTAR: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
PMK: Happiness is about fighting for what you really want—and not stopping until you get it. Or him!

MTAR: What are the most important attributes to remaining sane as a writer?
PMK: Clarity, about why you are writing. Persistence, in the midst of elusive words, soggy middles, dead-end plots. Courage, in the face of rejection.

MTAR: What are you working on now?
PMK: The sequel!

MTAR: Being a debut author, do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?
PMK:  I don’t know if it’s advice, but it may be inspiring to other writers because it turned out to be true for me. You CAN get your first book published. I did. Unlike many other writers, I don’t have “starter” manuscripts collecting dust in a drawer or under my bed. When I was trying to get Die Run Hide published – and collecting many rejections – many well-meaning writer friends told me that “most first books are never published” and/or “write the next book and not the sequel because if you don’t publish this book, you’re wasting your time writing the sequel.” But I just couldn’t let this book go. I tried to brainstorm ideas for other books and kept drawing big fat blanks! So, I kept re-working this story, based on input from an early teacher/mentor, on contest feedback, and finally, on the suggestions of a professional editor. Yes, it took years of effort and there were times when I wondered if I would ever see it published. But I kept at it and kept trying different paths to “yes.” Until I made it.