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Local author pens 12th book
Many writers yearn to have their work published by a major publishing company. Winterhaven resident Pinkie Paranya, 75, lives that dream.
Paranya has authored 12 books, with her newest book, "Señora of the Superstitions," recently published by Wild Rose Press.
The 256-page paperback takes place in the late ’40s in Phoenix, near the Superstition Mountains. Paranya describes her latest book as a "spooky" romantic mystery about a murder, a ghost and a dangerous puma.
Her heroine, Jowanna McFarland, is searching for her missing father and trying to solve the mystery of his buried treasure. She meets love interest Kane Landry, a rough-hewn rancher who holds secrets that could mean life or death to her. The title refers to a legend of a ghostly woman who is said to haunt the Superstitions.
The new book is available on Paranya's Web site - www.PinkieParanya.com - and at Barnes and Noble. She will be having a book signing at the bookstore on May 1 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Paranya's successes in publishing make her one of Yuma's most accomplished authors. Her books are also purchased by publishing houses, versus the growing trend of people paying to have their books published.
Paranya began writing as a child. She wrote poetry and would wake up in the middle of the night with poems in her head.
She started writing songs, which she plucked on her guitar. She then wrote short stories and had a couple published. Novels were a natural progression since "I was totally undisciplined and couldn't keep stories short."
Her first published novel was "Secrets of Sebastian Beaumont." Harlequin/Silhouette published it in 1994 and sold it worldwide in English, Italian and French.
"I fell in love with the hero and wanted to publish it," Paranya said.
Harlequin/Silhouette suggested she use a pseudonym and she picked Carrie Peterson in honor of her mother. "I never told them it was my mother's name," she quipped.
Although she was born as Florence Peterson, most of her books are published under Pinkie Paranya and for "serious" mysteries she sometimes goes by PK Paranya.
"Who would buy a serious book by someone called Pinkie?" she said.
Which brings to mind the question: How did she get that name? "As a child I blushed a lot. I was very shy and my folks started calling me that."
The name stuck and, as she says, "it works well for books because people don't forget it."
She is currently working on two cozy mysteries á la Agatha Christie and rewriting her first book, "Grave of the Heart," which she describes as a "literary" novel about a dysfunctional family in the 1950s. She calls it her "starter book" because "it was my very first book. I wrote it and then put it in a closet for years, but friends who have read insist that I have it published."
Her other published books include "Saga of Sourdough Red," "Tasmanian Rainbow," "Raven Woman," "Tiana, Gift of the Moon," "Herr Schnoodle & McBee," "One... Two... Buckle My Shoe," "Treasure of the Amazon" and "Death Shall Have No Dominion."
Paranya admits to picking out settings by looking in National Geographic and finding a spot she would love to visit. She immerses herself in the locale, learning all she can about its history and culture and "then the characters and story come to me."
She likes to try out different genres and has written romances, mysteries, suspense and stories based in Early American history.
Since most of her books feature strong, independent heroines and exotic locations such as the Amazon, Tasmania and Alaska, readers might be surprised to learn that she's hardly the adventurous type.
"I'm a very quiet, mild person. I live through my characters," she said, adding, "I don't like adventure."
However, she admits to having a somewhat adventurous life. Born and raised in Phoenix, Paranya attended Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff. She traveled across the country in an RV with her late husband Andy, a professional photographer, and lived in Alaska for five years.
Her Web site notes that "during the five years that Andy was assigned photographic work in Alaska, Pinkie developed an acute interest in the lives and history of the native Inuit people of the arctic region." Her research resulted in the creation of the Women of the Northland trilogy, of which the first two books, "Raven Woman" and "Tiana, Gift of the Moon," have been published, winning praises and awards.
Paranya arrived in Yuma about 35 years ago when her husband became tired of the cold Alaskan winters and said, "I want to live in the hottest place we can find."
She enjoys a "low-key life" in the Yuma area. When she's not writing, she keeps busy with volunteer work, including being a court-appointed special advocate (CASA) in Juvenile Court and working with Planned Pethood of Yuma, which she co-founded to provide spaying and neutering services.
She is also an artist whose paintings and photographs have been shown in several galleries. Paranya is also a master gardener.
She also likes to mentor aspiring writers, sharing writing tips and her insight into the publishing world. She says she especially wants to encourage older people, since she was first published at the age of 50.
"I want them to say, 'If she can, then so can I.'"
At other times, she spends her time filling the bird feeders around her home, putting food out for feral cats and feeding her own cats and dogs. Needless to say, she loves to be around animals.
The cover in one of her books puts it well: "It's her philosophy that if people live longer because of pet companions, she should live to be 200."