Q&A with Patrick Kendrick, author of Acoustic Shadows

Category: Interview

Acoustic Shadows

What drew you to the world of crime? When I first began with the fire service I witnessed the victims of crime first hand. I was eight months on the job when I saw a man doused with gasoline and set on fire. As a fire-medic, I responded to a call-out where a two year old had been raped and beaten to death by her twelve year old brother. Shootings, stabbings, assaults were everyday occurrences and it can be hard to deal with emotionally. Writing – both fiction and non-fiction – acted as a catharsis of sorts to help me deal with things that I witnessed.

Tell us about your new book. Acoustic Shadows came to me after the mass shooting at the Sandy Hook Elementary School. I couldn’t sleep thinking about it. I wanted to write about this type of violence and, once again, sort through my own feelings about yet another senseless crime. But, the thought kept coming back to me: what if one of the teachers would have had a gun? And then, why would she have had a gun? I did not want to sensationalize the tragic event but share my own feelings about violence in America and those that are affected by it. Since 2006, there have been nearly 200 cases of spree or mass shootings and there does not seem to be end in sight nor a solution. I began to think of a storyline, and more importantly, characters whose lives have been permanently changed by acts of violence. If you read the book, you will see almost every character in novel has been changed or influenced by violence and each deals with it in their own way.

Is there a lot of research that goes in to your books? Absolutely, and there is never enough! In my first book, Papa’s Problem, an historical novel that won the Florida Book Award, I set the story in 1939 Key West, when Hemingway lived there. The research on that era and Hemingway, whom I thought I knew well until I started the book, was extensive. My second book, Extended Family, a very dark story about serial killers, involved tons of research on DNA. In Acoustic Shadows, guns are the vehicles of destruction and I wanted people to know as much about them as some of the characters that used them, including their weight, bullet velocity, their finish, the hand grips, number of rounds and, perhaps, more than anyone would want to know.

What author (besides yourself) do you think that everyone should read? Living: James Lee Burke, who writes thrillers with such angst for his characters, you believe you know them. Dead: Harry Crews who, though not well-known was one of the most unusual, original authors to ever publish and a big influence on my life and writing. John D. MacDonald was one of the first ‘adult fiction’ authors I read, and he set me on a course to write mystery and suspense thrillers. I’ve also been influenced by such diverse authors as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Loren D. Estleman, and Dennis Lehane.

Favourite thing to do aside from writing: Travel. Scuba diving and snow skiing. And, I am a complete, stark-raving-mad-movie-lover!

Advice for some considering a career in writing: Read Stephen King’s On Writing – I wish I would’ve read it sooner. It has so many good, practical suggestions on writing. And never, ever, give up.

What’s your poison? Lead-fired at high velocity.

Patrick Kendrick is the author of Acoustic Shadows, Killer Reads June Title of the Month–out now in eBook.

Inspired by the Horror of Reality: Patrick Kendrick, author of ACOUSTIC SHADOWS talks the rise of school shootings

Category: Author Post

People have asked how I come up with ideas for my novels and my pat answer is: ‘I read the newspapers.’ While this is not an original concept, with my newest work, Acoustic Shadows, one cannot miss the headline-inspired storyline of the novel. It begins with a shooting at an elementary school.

When I was touring and doing signings for my last book, Extended Family, I would give an accompanying lecture on ‘Mass, Spree, and Serial Killers,’ accompanied by slides, historical information and anecdotes about various killers over the years. The lecture pointed out the differences between these types of killers. Mass murderers: one event, one location, multiple victims, usually targeted, meant to be a statement and lots of coverage by the media. Spree killers: several events over a few days, multiple locations, multiple victims, sometimes targeted, often random, sometimes making a statement, or a person just going over the edge-a lost job, marriage, etc. Serial killers: multiple events, multiple victims, typically over years. They want to be recognized for their heinous acts but do not want to be caught, so they are very careful.

When I began doing these lectures in 2012, there were a number of mass killings but they could still be counted easily enough. Columbine is one of the first that came to mind, then Virginia Tech. But since 2006, these killings have increased exponentially and there have been over 200 of these events since then. Currently, they are happening at a pace of about one attack every two weeks. They are always startling accounts of innocent people being slaughtered by someone, typically, with a long history of mental illness, living an isolated, socially inept, life. For reference, I would suggest this site, based on the FBI’s current data: http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/nation/mass-killings/index.html#triggers

For me, none were as disturbing, as heart-wrenching, as the shooting that took place at Sandy Hook Elementary School, in Newtown, Connecticut, a quiet, small town like thousands of suburban towns that exist all across the world. As a paramedic and fire fighter for many years, I have seen my share of disasters, trauma, and human suffering. But, I could not get over all of those children, so young and innocent, who were slaughtered by another one of these mad men that I often write about in my novels. I could not sleep at night and while I would weep as I watched the news, I could not stop watching it while wondering why does this keep happening and, can it ever be stopped?

I don’t think I answered those questions for myself and am not sure if anyone can. But, my way of dealing with this horrific event was to put it into one of my books, perhaps as a cathartic way for me to deal with my own feelings about the subject, perhaps for people to reflect on the problem that has become epidemic and which, we feel helpless to do anything about. This was how Acoustic Shadows came about. As I pondered the story, a thought kept coming back to me: what if one of the teachers had a weapon?

The novel begins with two armed gunmen entering a school in a small town in Florida. They began shooting, initially it seems at random. But, this time, one of the teachers has a gun and takes matters into her own hands. Of course, teachers having handguns in school has become a source of much controversy and some of that makes its way into the story. But, I posed the question as well, could such an attack come from a different motive? I write thrillers and mysteries after all and, so far, all of them have a common element of conspiracy, so that is where I went with Acoustic Shadows.


Patrick Kendrick was a firefighter and freelance journalist for years before turning to writing novels. His first book, Papas’ Problem won the Florida Book Award, as well as the Hollywood Film Festival Award. His second book, Extended Family was a Kindle best seller and earned a starred review from Booklist. Kendrick lives in South Florida with his family and endeavors to never be too far from the sea.

Q&A with author Patrick Kendrick #killerfest15

Category: Author Post

Patrick Kendrick author photo

Your name: Patrick Kendrick

Tell us about yourself: I was in the fire service most of my adult life but always did freelance writing for newspapers and magazines. Initially, I was doing personal experience and crime related stories, but when Gerard Schaefer, a serial killer I wrote about didn’t like what I had to say about him, he sued me in court for years. After he was murdered in jail, I decided to I would stay away from non-fiction and try my hand at crime novels. My first book, Papa’s Problem, was an historical novel set in 1939 Key West. It won the Florida Book Award and the Hollywood Film Festival Award. That got me an agent, who got me a deal with a bigger publisher. My second book, Extended Family, a crime thriller, is fiction but it is based on real life crimes, including some of the Schaefer murders.

Tell us about your latest book: Acoustic Shadows is a crime thriller set in central Florida, where it is still quite rural. There is a school shooting but with a distinct difference: one of the teachers, Erica Weisz, has a gun and shoots the armed intruders. She saves the children but she is wounded. Because so many small police departments responded to the incident, the Governor assigns the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to lead the investigation and Agent Justin Thiery is given the task. One of the first orders of business is to talk to the teacher but shortly after Thiery arrives he learns Erica has disappeared from the hospital. As he begins to track her down, he uncovers a startling and dangerous truth about Erica and he must find her before other people—all with different and deadly motives—find her.

When did you start writing? I was in high school. My English teacher gave us an assignment to write a short story, at least five pages long. Mine was 35 pages, a very adult murder mystery, with love scenes and everything. The teacher read it in front of class and I was mortified! But, the reaction I got from the students was very positive and held the same message: “Maybe you should write books.”

Where do you write? I write at home and when I’m on the road. I still train fire fighters in leadership classes and soldiers in urban search and rescue practices. I keep saying I’m going to quit teaching and just write but I believe living in the “real world” and absorbing real experiences makes us better writers.

Which other authors do you admire? This is tough, I enjoy so many authors and varying styles. Crime and thriller novels: Stephen King, James Lee Burke, Dennis Lehane, Thomas Harris, John D. MacDonald. Literary: F. Scott Fitzgerald, John Steinbeck, John Irving, and Harper Lee (looking forward to reading her “new” book).

Book you wished you’d written? Another very tough question. Crime related: The Silence of the Lambs – a perfect thriller. Literary: The Great Gatsby.

Greatest fictional criminal: Hannibal Lector, no doubt.

Greatest crime or criminal from the real world: Greatest crime: The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum Art Heist in Boston, 1990. Some $500,000 worth of art was stolen and never recovered. (My undergraduate degree is in Fine Art). Greatest criminal: the question might be ‘most influential on my writing’: Ted Bundy.

Greatest fictional detective: My personal favourite is John D. MacDonald’s Travis McGee.

What scares you? Real killers, whether serial, mass or spree killers.

Are you ever disturbed by your own imagination? Oh yes. I usually have to tone my initial writing down for most editors. I wonder why they even talk to me again at times….

3 crime books you would recommend to EVERYONE: Can’t go wrong with Thomas Harris’ The Silence of the Lambs, James Lee Burke’s, Heaven’s Prisoners and more recently, Stephen King’s Mr Mercedes, which is actually not a horror story but a wonderful detective novel.

Do you listen to music when you write? No, but I go for long drives by the ocean and listen to music which helps me with my writing.

Are you on social media? Absolutely! Facebook and Twitter, mostly.

How can fans connect with you? Through my web site: www.talesofpatrickkendrick.com or Tweet me: @authorkendrick