The author of “What Happened to Flynn” uses the pseudonym Pat Muir to distinguish his fiction from technical papers written under his given name. Pat worked at General Atomics in San Diego as a nuclear engineer before the market for nuclear power plants collapsed. Since then, he sold real estate, mobile homes and insurance, and invested with partners in income property. During that period, he operated a motel—unsuccessfully–, motivating him to write the book, “Stories to entertain You…If You get Bored on Your Wedding Night.” Divorced after thirty-eight years of marriage, he dated on the Internet which, after meeting seventy-six ladies motivated him to write the novel, “The Numbers Man.” His latest work is an expansion of a short story in his first book.
Interview with Smashwords
What made you, a nuclear engineer, write fiction?
I was designing advanced nuclear power systems when the funding to do so declined precipitously subsequent to the Three-Mile Island plant accident, and so I had to leave that profession. I became involved in real estate including a motel I had purchased with partners. I often worked on the swing shift as the motel desk clerk and read short stories between checking in new guests. I thought I could write stories as good as some of those I was reading. I began to write and submit them to competitions. I complied twenty-nine of them into my first book.
What made you title your first book “Stories to Entertain You…If You Get Bored on Your Wedding Night?”
To get attention. I have found the title and book cover make people laugh. Curiously, I found a Cosmopolitan magazine study reported that thirty-two percent of married couples do not have sex on their wedding night.
Is Pat Muir your real name?
No. It is a pseudonym. Some of the short story writing competitions I entered were restricted to women writers only. I therefore adopted an androgynous name.
Given the title of that first book, are its stories erotic?
No. They are not. They helped me craft my writing by their diversity–mysteries, love stories, dramas, comedies and whether to write in the first or third person.
Why did it take you ten years to write your next piece of fiction?
My former wife thought there were several stories in the first book that portrayed her and unfavorably so. That contributed to our divorce. I spent the next five years seeking a new wife, mostly on the Internet. It took me another four years to write a novel about somebody like myself with a scientific background trying to find a mate on the Internet. That story, a romance, is pure fiction but incorporates some of my experiences and attributes of ladies I met. The conceit of the story is that I wrote my pseudonym character into the novel in order to help promote my first book.
Why is that second book called “The Numbers Man?”
The hero of that story had the same problem as I, namely that he could not remember the names of all the ladies he met on the Internet but could generally remember the order in which he met them. The hero, like myself, met a large number of women before he found a lifetime partner.
Why did you decide to write your third book, a mystery novel?
I have been disappointed that my professional life did not contribute to a structure or a process of significance, nor to any noticeable societal difference. At my age, eighty-four years, I wanted to craft a niche novel that would embody all my creativity and hopefully merit stature.
Why did you, a white man, make the heroine of your third book a middle aged black detective?
The concept came from a short story in my first book featuring a middle aged female private investigator. I found that private investigators do not have ready access to criminal data bases, so my heroine became a detective. I also wanted the story to touch on social issues. That led me to make the heroine an Afro American, subject in her career to some racial prejudice. It also allowed me to touch on the issue of alleged drug money funds being seized by law enforcement without any criminal conviction.