V9i6 Patricia Briggs

Narrated by Shae Strong

(Click the link above for more info)

We all know what fantasy is, but what about urban/suburban noir? Urban noir is speculative fiction set in urban areas in the present day (or near-present day), but with magical/fantasy content. Suburban noir is pretty much the same but set in an area that does not quite qualify as urban, such as here in the Tri-Cities. Patricia Briggs (, who resides in the bustling metropolis known as Benton City, is a bestselling author who is a master in this small slice of science fiction, fantasy, and horror.  

Briggs was born in Butte, Montana, and is the daughter of a librarian, so books were a huge influence growing up. Briggs majored in history in college, but fell in love with writing while in Chicago. She spent much of her writing career in Eastern Washington and Montana, both of which act as backdrops in her writing. She now raises registered Arabian horses at her home in the Benton City area. 

Her first book, Masques, was published in 1993. It was then revised and reissued in 2010 by Ace books at Briggs’ request to make it more accessible to her fans, as the first edition paperback had become a scarce and expensive collectible in the used market, and she was not satisfied with it. She also published a short story, Wishing Well, in Adventures of Sword and Sorcery #6 in 1999, and published numerous fantasy novels in the early 2000s. It wasn’t until she published the suburban noir novel Moon Called in 2006, set in the Tri-Cities with Mercy Thompson as the main character, that she made the USA Today Bestseller List. Her next Mercy Thompson book, Blood Bound, made the New York Times Bestseller List, and the third book in the series, Iron Kissed, made it all the way to number one. Since then, most of her books have been best sellers. 

Briggs is now a successful member of the Northwest science fiction, fantasy, and horror literary community. She often provides short stories to urban noir fantasy anthologies, and has edited one herself. Briggs has been nominated for the Endeavour Award for three novels: Silver Borne, River Marked, and Night Broken. This award is given annually at OryCon in Portland, Oregon to recognize a science fiction or fantasy author from the Pacific Northwest.

Briggs’ newest Mercy Thompson book, Winter Lost, is planned for release this June. It will be available locally at our local bookstores (Adventures Underground, Barnes & Noble, and Xenophile Bibliopole & Armorer, Chronopolis). Briggs’ website, is maintained by her assistants, Anne Peters and Linda Campbell.  

For those few of you who have not read Briggs’ books, her Mercy Thompson series is set here in the Tri-Cities and the Alpha Omega books are set primarily in Montana, although there is some character crossover between the two series. Briggs said in an interview:

Of the thousands of characters I’ve written, four have been deliberately based on people I know. Zee, my fae mechanic, is loosely based on a dear friend, our own VW mechanic, who was dying from cancer as I began the first Mercy book. He was a wonderful human being, a real character, and I found that he was the perfect mentor for my little coyote. Buck died before the book was in print, but he was delighted to play his role. 
Friends, not understanding just how intimate a good character portrait is, sometimes asked to be put into books. I usually resist, but I had a friend who was an antiquarian bookseller who told me that Mercy needed to do some research in the store he helped to run. A couple of books later, I discovered he was right. It was supposed to be a walk on part — so I didn't see the harm in it. Then a couple of books later, I thought the story was going to require me to kill him… er, his character. I called him and told him that I might have to kill him — and he was okay with it. 
Finally, early on in my career, I had two characters (in different books) very loosely based on one of my husband's coworkers. I just picked a couple of traits that time, not the whole person, but usually I don't know where I get the bits of character I shove in a paper bag and shake together. But using real people to make your characters is full of possible disasters. I don't recommend it.

The antiquarian bookseller Briggs referred to was a friend of mine, Jesse Robison. I think she caught his personality, and I know it was a highlight in his life. The Tri-Cities itself is also a character in these books (recognizable traits of the local area are often reflected in noir novels). The Volkswagen repair garage that Mercy owns is in downtown Kennewick. The bookstore she referenced is in Uptown Richland. Mercy Thompson and her boyfriend/husband live in Finley. Hanford and the Lampson Crane Company are examples of local facilities that are part of various plots in the series, and there are many references to particular areas of the Tri-Cities. I can tell you from experience that reading a Mercy Thompson book while sitting about 150 yards from the canal that separates Finley from Kennewick alters the suspension of belief normally felt with these science fiction and fantasy novels.  

A summary of Briggs’ U.S. publications can be found at  She is also published in other countries and languages. We have a selection of her work at Xenophile Bibliopole & Armorer, Chronopolis.

For more information about Patricia Briggs, go to, or visit your friendly local bookstore:

2240 Robertson Drive, Richland 99354

Steven Woolfolk is the owner of Xenophile Bibliopole & Armorer, Chronopolis: