June 16, 2021 — I’m here with Dr. Patricia Loofbourrow, author of the popular steampunk noir “Red Dog Conspiracy” series, the most recent of which has made the New York Times bestseller list.
A cheerful and animated woman with dark reddish-brown hair, slim, elegantly dressed, and radiating health, she made me feel instantly at home.
It’s a lovely day here — sunny, but not too hot or humid.
We’re sitting here on the front porch of her immaculate home, which she calls “her favorite place in the world” (amazing, since she’s traveled quite extensively) next to her koi pond, which is surrounded with what looks like a kind of grass with some really interesting seed heads and flowers to it … but which Dr. Loofbourrow (who insists I call her Patty) tells me is wild garlic!
The waterfall runs beside us as we talk, and there’s a light breeze — an absolutely perfect day. The smell of mint is in the air, and frogs sing in the background. There is an impressive view of the harbor from her front porch.
Interviewer: When I first read that you called yourself a “Renaissance woman”, at first I thought, “Wow! That takes a lot of moxy!” But then I looked at your resume … a family physician who taught other physicians out in California is impressive enough, but then you’ve won awards in weaving, photography, art, dance …
PL (gestures around her, with a twinkle in her eye): Don’t forget my gardens!
PL (beaming): Four times in a row now. Next week I will be hosting a garden tour. It’s one day a year, but it’s fun to show off all my plants. (grins)
I: Your gardens are gorgeous. And you designed them yourself?
PL: Yep. (beaming) I got some help with the big stuff, like the hardscape, but I did everything else myself.
I: And your garden website … what do you have there …?
PL: We have over a million unique visitors a month. My edible front yard contest started on the first and we have over 500 entries already. That’s just one of my sites, though. I have several others.
I: I’m going to have to come back one day and hear about all this.
PL: I would love to have you!
I: But tell me about your books. What is steampunk noir?
PL: Oh! At first I was like, “Which books? I’ve written so many.”
I (laughing): Yes, you have … your edible landscaping books, your other novels … but let’s talk about the Red Dog series.
PL (laughing): Okay, you got me …. (serious) Well, I don’t know if you’re old enough to remember the noir films of the 1940’s and 50’s … (laughing) … I remember seeing some of them on TV when I was a kid in the 60’s.
I (looking at her notes): My God, you’re 58? (blinking) You look 40!
PL: I’ll be 59 in August … I guess I picked my grandparents well (laughs) … and I cut out a lot of stress — did you know my hair used to be white?
I: You’re kidding, right?
PL (laughs): I’ll show you the photos …
I: I’d love to see them.
PL: Sure! (smiles) But getting back to the original question about steampunk noir … okay, noir is a film genre — you remember the old private eye and detective stories? The femme fatale, the anti-hero solving cases in the corrupt underbelly of society, and so on … well, I wanted to flip the gender, first of all, and then since I’ve always loved steampunk …
I: … can you explain a little about that?
PL: Oh, steampunk is Victorian retrofuturism … what would happen if the Victorian era of steam engines, zeppelins, corsets and top hats had never ended, and we used that fine craftsmanship aesthetic today, or even in the future.
I: Sounds a bit utopian.
PL: There were a lot of things wrong with that era as well, especially as it played out in America’s Gilded Age. Throw in the issues of Prohibition — which almost did start in the 1890’s — including Mafia-style cabals of family bosses fighting over territory, and that’s where my books begin.
I: Your books are so complex … and you’re publishing close to a book a year! … and you have so much else going on in your life … where do you find the time to do all of this? The energy? (flops back in her chair) You’re making me feel lazy!
PL: I took this course back in 2014 called the Master Key Mastermind Alliance …
I (leans forward): I’ve heard of this!
PL (nods): … and I learned to focus on the things I really want, as well as to let my subconscious mind do most of the heavy lifting. I’m all about fun, anyway — in my mind, if something’s not fun you probably need to reevaluate things … delegate, change direction, whatever needs doing …
I (nodding): Makes sense. But —
PL: … plus I let others into my life instead of trying to do it all myself.
As a bit of an aside, during the interview we had at least ten people either call or drop by, and while her assistants took the calls, Dr. Loofbourrow greeted the visitors as if they were the dearest of friends, and some stayed and sat watching during the interview.
I: … I don’t understand what you just said about the subconscious mind.
PL (leans forward): Well, did you know that your conscious mind uses 2000 connections a second, whereas your subconscious mind uses over 4 billion?
I (shocked): Billion? With a “B”?
PL: Yes. Billion with a “B”. That’s why you can do things like drive a car while you’re talking to other people, singing, or eating. You’re using your subconscious mind to drive, because you’ve done it for so long it becomes automatic. So, bottom line is if you’re doing things just using your conscious mind, you’re really very limited in what you can do, just like you have to think about driving a car or playing a piano when you first learn, and it takes a lot of energy.
But to be able to do useful things with your subconscious mind, you have to put in the time to train the parts of your mind to work together.
I: And you certainly have …
PL (grinning): Thanks.
PL (becoming quite animated): You’ll never guess what happened! Okay, this shows the Law of Attraction perfectly. I was contacted the other day by a private space agency that wants me to consult on edible gardens for a space habitat that they’re in the process of building.
PL: (talks to her assistant, who brings her a copy of Og Mandino’s “The Greatest Salesman In The World”, which has several folded papers in it, takes one out, and unfolds it.) I first wrote this in 2015, and you see that it says that in 2021 I would become a consultant for a private space firm.
I: (stares in shock)
PL (laughs): You act like you’re surprised! I told you that it’s a law, just like the law of gravity.
I: Wow … incredible.
PL: Ha! I’ll send you the link to my blog, where I post about this interview! I had to write that in 2014!
I (stunned): Wow … mind blowing! (checks her watch) We are way past being out of time. So what’s next for Ms. Jacqui? Will she uncover the mystery of who’s behind the Red Dog Gang?
PL (laughs): You gotta wait for the next book!