Title: Behr Facts (Foothills Pride #3)
Author Name & Publisher: Pat Henshaw (Dreamspinner Press)
Publication Date & Length: October 28, 2015 – 92 pgs
Big, burly CEO Abe Behr is dismayed to discover someone—possibly a family member—is stealing from Behr Construction, which primarily employs Behr relatives. Abe takes the unprecedented step of hiring an outsider, likeable CPA Jeff Mason, to go over the books and help find the culprit. They are drawn to each other as they talk to workers, including Abe’s two younger brothers and their shifty cousin.
Since he has sacrificed romance all his life to build the business, Abe’s surprised by his feelings for the handsome Jeff. He’s even more shocked when they are confronted by bigotry in the Sierra Nevada foothills community, which is being inundated by gays moving from the San Francisco area. As he and Jeff get closer, Abe must come to grips with coming out to a family and community that aren’t very tolerant. Fortunately, being the head Behr helps him find his footing and grab onto love when it bites him.
“You ever come up the bank to sit under my tree? Looks like a much more comfortable place to fish. Not as rocky at any rate.” Jeff took a drink of his beer as I again scrambled to keep up. “My dad called it the Fishing Tree. He seemed to think fish congregated off the shore there.”
We sat in silence. It was my turn to talk. I’m pretty good in business situations. Not so much in social ones. At social events, mostly I hold up walls. Shake hands. Grunt a lot. Let others carry the conversational load.
Lorraine set our meals in front of us. The full burger with everything for him. The grilled mountain trout and steamed vegetables for me.
“You do a lot of fishing?” I managed after a long silence.
“Not really.” He gave a self-deprecating laugh. “My dad said fishing couldn’t be taught. He said it was something intuitive. I never had any idea what I was doing. So I never saw any use in fishing. I never saw any fish either.”
Again, silence as I processed and caught up. “It’s not rocket science. You figure out what kind of fish you want. Where it lives. Lure it to you. Then catch it.”
He looked skeptical and almost self-conscious. “It can’t be so easy,” he said with a little laugh.
“What about the different rods, lures, tackle, stuff?” He looked so serious, as if I were missing the point. As if I didn’t understand. He was right. I didn’t.
“Look. You can catch fish with your bare hands. If you want to. The extra stuff is just extra stuff.”
“If you say so.” He shook his head, a smile still on his lips. “Have you ever caught a fish with your bare hands?”
I lifted my hands and looked down at the mess that were my paws. Calluses, nicks, cuts, punctures, blunt fingers, the bandage now off the one with the splinter. These were the hands of a man who’d framed houses as a tall, rangy preteen and had lived in construction ever since. Could I catch a fish with my bare hands?
“Yeah. All it takes is absolute stillness and patience.” I sighed. “Not a whole lot of people have both together. Somebody once told me it’s all about Zen.” Somebody else said the only reason I could do it was because I was too stupid to know it was impossible.
“Zen.” His tone said he was surprised I knew such a word.
“You know, like the Eastern religion,” I answered. “Though why we still call it Eastern is beyond me. It’s really Far West, not Far East to us.” I was grumbling and rambling. Avoiding for some reason.
He rattled me. Nobody ever rattled me. I’m Abe Behr, the big Behr.
He was studying me as intently as I was him. He appeared too beautiful, too perfect, too unscarred. I just hoped his accountant skills were as perfect as he looked.
“What kind of fish you want to catch?” I asked. Staring at him wasted our time.
He pointed his fork to my plate. “How about that? It’s good, right?”
“Trout,” I agreed. “Lots of different kinds of trout.”
He looked like he’d never eaten any in his life.
“This is trout from our lake. Have a bite.”
He’d finished his burger but didn’t make a move on my fish. His expression was split between wanting to dig in and reluctance to do so.
“Just taste it,” I growled. “It won’t bite.”
His eyes snapped up to meet mine. His puzzled stare asked if the stupid bear had deliberately made a joke or not. Then he gave a happy, hearty laugh, and his fork raided my fish.
“So? What do you think?” I asked after he swallowed.
“I think you made a great joke,” he said with twinkling eyes. “And the trout is delicious. Is this why you threw your catch back? Did you know you’d get it cooked perfectly here at the cafe?”
“Naw. I was stalking the pie. Fish was a bonus.”
“They have good pie here?”
“Wait and see.”
1) Can you describe in detail what your writing environment is like?
Sure. On the walls: A Chinese radicals chart, a goodbye poster from the Journal Newspaper, a painting called “Spectators at the Crucifixion” done by a Texas State Prison inmate, a map of Great Britain, and prints of photos I’ve taken.
On the desk: Too many things to recount, but the highlights are three dictionaries, enough pens and pencils to start a large business, Ice Cubes gum, glass of water, and my miniature gallery: a miniature statue of Bast, two mini meerkats, an unpainted avatar, and a fan-tailed bird carved out of one piece of wood.
Furniture in the room: Five bookcases packed with books, desk, printer on printer stand. Originally, I think this was supposed to be a bedroom with an outside window. Then the previous owners added an enclosed back porch which means I have a window that looks out over the porch which we’ve turned into what we call the “lower family room.” As a bedroom, this room’s a total failure since I don’t think you could get a single bed in it comfortably. It does have a small clothes closet, but with a bed in it, I can’t imagine a person could move around at all.
As a writing room, it’s absolutely wonderful.
2) Is there one of your characters that you relate to (from any of your works)? Why?
Yes. Abe Behr is somewhat like my father in that my dad was a tall, husky, no-nonsense guy who thought that family came first. Writing Behr Facts was a little like sitting down and talking to my dad, who died about twenty years ago.
3) If you couldn’t be an author, what would you do instead?
Since I’m retired, the answer is that I’ve done a lot of other things while I’ve been writing novels in my “spare” time: I’ve reviewed books for Publishers Weekly, Booklist, and a number of other print and online publications. I’ve taught English composition on the community college level. I’ve been a publicist for a public TV and radio station. I’ve been a theatrical costumer for a regional professional company. I’ve been an editor and columnist for newspapers. Most importantly, I’ve been a mother to two extraordinary women. What would I do instead? I’d do everything I’ve done. I’ve had a great life.
4) Is there anything that you learned during the writing process that you wish you had known before hand?
I wish I’d known what the process entails. Having worked in newspapers and magazines, I thought the process would be very similar. But they aren’t the same at all especially in the editing side of the process. The turn-around for newspapers in particular is so quick that writers don’t have much time to think about what they write and are doing it by the seat of their pants much of the time. Novel writing is a longer, more drawn out process, and with all the edits, the manuscript really does become the author’s baby whereas with magazine and newspaper copy, the writer doesn’t bond with it much at all.
5) Is there anything that you wish you could change about your book now that it is out?
Not so far. I’m sure given more time between its publication and my writing subsequent books, I’ll probably wish I’d done some things differently.
6) How do you come up with new ideas for your story?
I hate to say that the ideas just come to me while I’m sitting around playing simple computer games or traveling or otherwise not engaged in some thoughtful activity, but it’s true. I once interviewed folksinger Arlo Guthrie who said that songs are around us all the time, all the songwriter does it catch one of the songs as it floats by. His theory was that that’s why a bunch of people come up with similar ideas all at one time. I think plot or character ideas are the same. They’re there in the air. All we have to do is tune into them.
7) What’s next for you as a writer?
I’m currently writing the fifth of the Foothills Pride series, Short Order. (Thank you author Frederick Eugene Feeley Jr. for the title!) I haven’t decided on the sixth story yet since this summer has been filled with family drama, but I’m sure it will come to me soon.
8) Where do you live? Do you think this influences how or what you write?
I live in Sacramento, California, and it’s definitely had an influence on what I write since the Foothills Pride series is set east of Sacramento in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains.
9) What is your favorite genre outside of the one you write in? Why?
Outside of romance, my favorite is fantasy since I admire writing which can take me totally out of the world I know and make me believe the fictional world is possible. In the romance genre, I love historical romances, particularly Regency romances. Again, we know in a way what the world was like back then, but it’s so foreign to how we live today that making a reader believe in the characters and plot is a lot like fantasy writing.
10) Do you have any vices? Shoes, coffee, shopping…etc.?
Making miniatures is my main obsession. I have more materials and kits than I can probably make into miniatures in my lifetime. But when I see something totally cute and doable, I have this compulsion to buy whatever I need to make it. I’ve been working on quarter inch ice cream cones lately. Think about it—one quarter inch equals a foot. How big is the ice cream cone? Right. Really tiny.
Pat Henshaw, author of the Foothills Pride Stories, was born and raised in Nebraska and promptly left the cold and snow after college, living at various times in Texas, Colorado, Northern Virginia, and Northern California. Pat enjoys travel, having visited Mexico, Canada, Europe, Nicaragua, Thailand, and Egypt, and Europe, including a cruise down the Danube.
Now retired, Pat has spent her life surrounded by words: Teaching English composition at the junior college level; writing book reviews for newspapers, magazines, and websites; helping students find information as a librarian; and promoting PBS television programs.
Her triumphs are raising two incredible daughters who daily amaze her with their power and compassion. Fortunately, her supportive husband keeps her grounded in reality when she threatens to drift away while writing fiction.