Let's give a hearty welcome back to Patti Hill.
Patti, why do you write the kind of books you do?
I write the kind of books I love to read—relational, winsome, and authentic. When I read a great book, I’m left with questions to ponder and friends to remember.
Besides when you came to know the Lord, what is the happiest day in your life?
Marrying my husband, Dennis, followed closely by giving birth to Geoff and Matt. I’m blessed to have wonderful men around me. I also have a lovey-pie dog named Tillie.
I only had girls, but I got the guys as grandsons and now a great grandson. How has being published changed your life?
Oh boy! I’ve gained relationships with amazingly creative people all over the world; I’ve wrestled with ideas and beliefs that may have gone unattended had I not been forced to face them in the writing process; and best of all, the circle between writer and reader has become more intimate. I love hearing from readers. I consider their e-mails replies to my books. What an honor to meet so many wonderful people.
Yeah, the readers keep us writing, don't they? What are you reading right now?
I just finished Sharon Souza’s Lying on Sunday, a truly wonderful book. Now, it’s on to Tuesday Night at the Blue Moon by Debbie Fuller Thomas for my fiction read. In the nonfiction category, I’m reading The PAPA Prayer by Larry Crabb. This is NOT just another book on prayer. I’m back in prayer kindergarten and loving it. I also keep a writing related book percolating. I’m reading Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art by Madeleine L’Engle, a true classic and quite inspirational.
What is your current work in progress?
We haven’t nailed down the title yet, but I’m excited about the story. I’m going from a 17-year-old protagonist to a 72-year-old protagonist with macular degeneration. What a fabulous journey! Birdie is all I want to be in a few years—independent and athletic woman with a tender ear for God’s voice. She also spends time with Huckleberry Finn. Hmm. I wonder how she does that? You’ll have to wait until October 2009 to find out, but the wait will be worth it. I love Birdie!
What would be your dream vacation?
Early February. Southern hemisphere. Tahiti. Snorkeling. Eating. Napping. And more napping.
Can I come with you? Seriously, how do you choose your settings for each book?
I make the setting of each book a character, so I must immerse myself in the climate, geography, culture, and history of a place. That usually means I pick a place within driving distance that will provide subplots for my story. The Queen of Sleepy Eye is set in the North Fork Valley of Colorado, just over an hour from where I live. Traditionally an orchard and ranching community, the mid-seventies brought new players to the valley—back-to-the-land types or hippies. Along with the coalminers, the place literally sparked interesting possibilities, besides being a beautiful place to visit. The people there are lovely, so eager to share their stories. I loved spending time there. I’m trying to convince my husband that my next story must take place in Ireland, which would mean an extended stay on the Emerald Isle. And just think, no snakes!
Seriously, I just penned a dream list—a bucket list of sorts—and I want to do some short mission trips. Our pastor just got back from Thailand and Japan. I’m game. Here I am, Lord, send me!
I love mission trips. The farthest one away I've been on is Guatemala. If you could spend an evening with one person who is currently alive, who would it be and why?
This is a tough question because there’s not a smarter man or better companion than my husband, so I would have to say: Give me a lonely child to bathe and clothe and feed and cuddle.
What are your hobbies, besides writing and reading?
My husband and I love to try out new recipes and invite folks over to share the outcome. So far, we haven’t made anyone sick. I love hiking in the high country in aspen and spruce forests during the summer and snowshoeing in the winter. Travel to almost anywhere is on my list as long as I’m not rushed. I want to meet people and spend time with the locals. Also, I have lots of flowers in my garden, so I enjoy early-morning puttering to weed and tidy. Mostly, I spend non-writing time maintaining relationships with people God has graciously gifted me as friend and family.
What is your most difficult writing obstacle, and how do you overcome it?
Writing is definitely brain work, and when my brain gets taxed, it’s likely to wander. I check the mail, clean out a drawer, round up dust bunnies, bake a loaf of bread, call a friend…anything but write! If I give myself a reasonable daily goal, then I’m more likely to meet that goal, so I can go play. There’s nothing like sorting through an underwear drawer! Remember: Writers need recess, too.
What advice would you give to a beginning author?
Be prepared! Take the time to learn the basics of stellar storytelling. Don’t hurry. You’re writing for the King. If he’s given you the gift, you owe it to him to wield it to his glory. Also, pray a lot and dive into Scripture. Get to know the heart of God. You’ll be representing him in your stories to one extent or the other.
Wonderful advice, and very timely. Tell us about the featured book.
The story is a look back to the summer of 1975 for Amy when she was seventeen years old. She has just graduated from high school and believes it’s high time her mother, Francie—the deposed queen of the 1958 Sleepy Eye Corn Festival—lays aside her tiara and grows up. Studious and focused, Amy is twilight to Francie’s midnight beauty. But Francie, as gregarious as she is impetuous, can’t imagine her life without Amy. She detours her daughter’s push for independence with an unplanned stop in Cordial, Colorado, where ranchers, coal miners, and hippies struggle to find common ground. In this tender coming-of-age story for both mother and daughter, values clash, belief sparks, myths fade, and mature love debuts.
How can readers find you on the Internet?
Yes, come and visit me! I love hearing from readers.
Web site: http://www.pattihillauthor.com/
And my newest and grandest presence yet: http://novelmatters.blogspot.com/
I will be blogging with seven other amazing writers with powerful and gentle voices. We’ll blog on a rotating basis on all things that make books irresistible. Writers can hone their crafts. Readers will gain an inside look. This blog goes live on January 1, 2009. Come see Jennifer Valent (starred PW review for her first novel), Sharon K. Souza, Latayne Scott, Debbie Fuller Thomas, Bonnie Grove, eh?, Kathleen Popa, and little ol’ me. From our conference calls, we can guarantee no dull moments.
Lena, thanks for your hospitality. It’s been an absolute honor to spend time with your readers.
And thank you, Patti, for spending this time with us. We loved it.
Readers, you can order The Queen of Sleepy Eye by clicking this link:
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