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Welcome Guest Paula B. Mays

I met Paula through the Chesapeake Chapter of Sisters in Crime and we’ve been on a couple of panels together. She’s charming, smart, and I loved the story of how she came up with the idea for her mystery Murder in the Parador. Here’s a bit about the book:

Only one thing was certain: John Donne was dead. That fact was verified after the wedding. Marco, former police officer—currently private detective and police consultant–must follow clues from Southern Spain to Morocco in order to determine whether the brilliant scientist on the verge of one of the world’s greatest discoveries- the cure to the insidious disease of cancer- had been murdered. Marco had been assigned to Alberto Flores, a detective from the police force of Malaga, Spain, a member of the blue wall that had betrayed him. How could they work together? Moreover, Marco and the straight-laced Flores employed different modus operandi for solving crime. During this journey of discovery, Marco also finds out about himself and his relationship both to his own culture and to his family. He is also forced to examine his relationship with his live-in girlfriend, Belen, a Spanish flamenco dancer. Murder in the Parador introduces you to a diverse array of characters unlike any you’ve ever met. The various threads of the intricate plot ultimately align to reveal the startling circumstances at the heart of this compelling mystery.

Paula: The plane landed at Malaga, Spain airport on a bright sunny afternoon.  I stepped off tired after a long flight, stared into the sun and knew I was home.  Have you ever had that feeling? That sense of place, a knowing that this is where you belong.

My inner-self was not disappointed.  I first visited Marbella, Spain when a friend allowed, even encouraged me, to stay in her father’s now empty condo next to the Marriott hotel and just a walk from the beach on the Mediterranean.  I know it’s hard to believe I had to be talked into going the first time.  Luckily, my friend, Christine heard about it and said absolutely we must go.  She said she’d always wanted to go to Southern Spain.

Christine and I disembarked on Thanksgiving Day to 70 degree weather, sunshine, mountains, and the Mediterranean Sea.  Luckily, at that time, Christine understood some Spanish (I do now, but not at that time), so we easily got a taxi to Marbella 30 some miles away from the airport and found the condo.  The week-long adventure led to a permanent love affair and many excursions to the tiny condo steps from the beach.

I went often; attended Spanish immersion school, learned a great deal of Spanish, and made life-long friends. I specifically remember hanging out with a group of good friends atop a mountain near Marbella overlooking the sea, while one of our friends cooked chicken paella over the grill.  Sitting on a blanket sipping Sangria, I recall thinking how amazing it was to be in this dream. Some of these friends make cameo appearances in my book, though all of the characters are fictional.

What a magical place to set my other interest: International Mysteries.  I became entranced with MHZ networks in Washington DC, which featured mysteries from around the world.  Two of my favorites were Montalbano, based on the novels of Andrea Camilleri and Inspector Brunetti, based on the novels of Donna Leon.  It was all the inspiration I needed. They became my muses.  

I had to incorporate the mystical beauty of Spain into the mystery genre. So I set about writing my first novel, Murder in the Parador, which encompasses my own fantasy of a beautiful wedding to a gorgeous Spaniard in a Parador. (Note to reader- that hasn’t come true, but I carry on).  It’s important to me that you get the sense of place that touched me, the sea, the mountains, and the food such as well-known tapas and paella.  My main character, like Montalbano, often enjoys a good Spanish meal and delicious wine.

Magical places aren’t free from controversy though and my characters don’t shy away from it.  I purposely emphasize the diversity of Southern Spain, filled with British, Scandinavian, German and other European ex-pats, and an immigration problem.  Immigration issues from Africa, especially neighboring Morocco are similar to those in Mexico and the US.  My main characters are intended to represent this diversity and to point out the issues such as trafficking, and racism that plague even magical places.

COVID may have curtailed my jaunts to my second home, but I am always there through the stories of the characters who occupy the world of Vivirrambla.

Readers: Is there a magical place that has touched your heart?

Bio: I am an attorney with thirty-five years of experience.  My legal experience began in criminal law as an Assistant States Attorney to intellectual property, specifically trademarks at the United States Patent and Trademark Office.  I attained a Masters in Public Health (MPH), from the George Washington University late in my career.  Presently, I work for a healthcare company.

I am a native of Washington DC. I started writing mysteries due to my interest in Southern Spain, which I view as a second home and from viewing International Mysteries on the MHZ network in DC, which featured mysteries from around the world including  the well-known Scandinavian mysteries.  I also enjoy water color and reading lessons at the National Cathedral, as well as tennis.

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