Welcome, Patti. Tell us how much of yourself you write into your characters.
Two words. A lot! There is a ton of me in Caroline Marris, the oldest sister in Seaside Harmony. She’s a dreamer, and I’m definitely that. I know life isn’t always perfect, but I like to think I can turn not-so-great things into something wonderful. I can be a bit scattered at times and far too often a bit of a procrastinator, but I always have the best of intentions, just like Caroline. And then there’s the fact that I like to place my characters in settings that I love. For Caroline, I gave her a beautiful old cottage in the Cotswolds
village of Chipping Campden, with a view of the 12th century
Norman . Oh how I’d love to
live in a place like that. tower of St. James Church
Many of my other characters love the same music as me: Sam Cooke, Perry Como, Rosemary Clooney. And then there are the classic cars that fascinate me: ’57 Chevys have appeared in quite a number of my stories; I yearn to own a 1932 Duesenberg SJ, just like the yellow and green one Gary Cooper owned, so there’s one in my book If I Can’t Have You, not to mention the red 1941 Packard station wagon that’s one of the “characters” in the Postcards from Misty Harbor Inn trilogy. To me, it seems impossible to create a story with a cast of characters and not include bits and pieces of yourself. Those are some of the personal touches that bring your book to life.
What is the quirkiest thing you’ve ever done?
Quirky? Me? That’s a tough question. Ask most anyone and they’ll tell you I’m pretty straight-laced. A bunch of friends back in the 60s called me “Miss Goody Two-Shoes,” not that I think that title totally applied! I’d have to say that anything quirky I’ve done was probably done by accident, like the time I went to
Niagara Falls and drove the wrong way over
the bridge that goes into .
I was only 25 and took an around-the-country trip (all by myself!), leaving
from my home in southern Canada .
was stunningly beautiful. Whether I was mesmerized by the falls, or something
else, I haven’t a clue. All I know is that I turned left out of the parking lot
and suddenly realized there were a whole lot of cars coming toward me. It was
impossible to turn around. I was on a bridge, after all! But… Niagara Falls
I spotted a building that separated the two directions of traffic, and there was a wide sidewalk around the building. Thinking fast, I zagged to the right, bumped my car up onto the sidewalk, circled the building, and luckily ended up on the right bridge going with traffic, rather than against. When I reached the border crossing, the guards looked at me, shaking their heads in disbelief.
One of them looked through my window and laughed. “How on earth did you make it all the way here from
Driving like that, you should have been…” California
I don’t remember everything he said. I was totally embarrassed, but I’d survived. I can’t help but wonder if my quirky driving is one of the reasons my husband prefers to drive when we’re together, and shakes on those few occasions when he’s in the passenger seat and I’m behind the wheel!
When did you first discover that you were a writer?
That’s an easy one. At one point in time during elementary school, I wrote a story for my little brother, who was sick. I don’t remember anything about that story, but I was rather quiet and wouldn’t dream of telling him a story out loud. So I wrote the story.
Then in fifth grade, I cemented my love of the written word by writing a play about Eeyore losing his tail and his friends--Winnie the Pooh, Piglet, and Owl--consoling him as they searched for Eeyore’s missing part. Then, feeling brave, some of my girlfriends and I performed my play, as a puppet show, in the children’s ward at our local hospital.
What a great memory. A few years later I was writing love stories about me and my idol, Paul McCartney. After that, I never stopped writing.
Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
I’ll read most everything, since I have such a wide variety of interests. Most of my reading time is spent on mysteries, especially cozies, ones that usually contain quirky characters. (I may not be all that quirky, but those are the characters that are the most fun to read and write about!) I love reading biographies and autobiographies about movie stars from the 30s and 40s, historical tomes about tragedy and triumph, thrillers, and a lot of travel books, allowing me to dream about the places I’d love to visit. I love recommendations. If someone tells me about a great book, I automatically write it down, then put that book on my To-Be-Read list. Thankfully we’re blessed with a whole lot of good books!
How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?
I wish I could say yoga or jogging or going for a quiet walk, but I’m more of a plop-down-in-front-of-the-TV type. I also enjoy traveling with my husband, lunching with girlfriends, and visiting my daughter’s family and playing with my four grandchildren.
How do you choose your characters’ names?
I don’t have one specific way of doing it, but sometimes a character screams to be called by the name of a friend or family member. A book I wrote 14 years ago had a character who was a very nosy neighbor. Not that my cousin Fay could have ever been called nosy, but I’ve always dearly loved her and her husband John, and I could easily picture them playing the part of the western rancher and his wife. Another character in another book was a man who made beautiful fishing lures and rods. Another cousin’s husband fit that role to a T--so the character could only be named Wes. I try to go with names that I’d name my children (if I were to have more kid, which isn’t going to happen!). I also like to give secondary and quirky characters quirky names, or names that you don’ t see every day. I want names that will set them apart from the rest. These people might play a small role in a book, but their names and personality make them shine.
What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?
Having my first book published in 1994 was thrilling. Making the USA Today bestseller list in 1999 was quite the accomplishment, and hitting that list over and over again for quite a number of years was a writing dream. But my greatest accomplishments are more personal and closer to home: having a loving husband and a marriage that has been near-perfect for 36 years; giving birth to a beautiful and much-loved daughter who has given me four fabulous grandchildren, who are the light of my life.
If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?
Don’t laugh. A moose. I’m completely fascinated by them. These gentle creatures have long legs and a distinguished head; they’re regal and totally magnificent. They’re equally comfortable on land and water and can usually be found in tranquil surroundings. I have searched for them in
and Yellowstone. They’re terribly elusive and
not always easy to find in the wild—at least in the places where I’ve traveled.
Maybe that’s a part of their fascination—that they’re peaceful, solitary
creatures, perfectly happy alone in the wilderness. Visit my home and you’ll
see just how much I love them; I have an endless number of stuffed moose scattered
around my home. Just looking at them makes me happy.
What is your favorite food?
Oh gosh, choosing is difficult. I love food. Most anything will do, but I’m a sucker for my son-in-law’s mashed potatoes. He mixes in ranch dressing, lots of butter, garlic, and whatever suits his fancy. Yum! I’ve been a mashed potato lover since childhood, and my mom always made the best gravy. That combination is absolute heaven!
What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?
I’d have to say my biggest stumbling block early in my career was fear of people reading what I wrote. That fear kept me from getting serious about my writing until I was in my early 40s. I’d loved to write since elementary school, and I truly believed I was pretty good at stringing words together and creating a good story, but I wasn’t sure anyone else would agree with me. Then one day in the early 90s I joined Romance Writers of America, joined a critique group, and actually let people read my attempts at fiction—and they liked it. Six months later I got brave, sent my manuscript off to Bantam Books and the editor who read it liked it, too. Although she didn’t buy that story, she recommended it to an editor at another publisher, and she bought the book. I was amazed! After that, I was offered one contract after another, which meant I had to write. I had no choice! Receiving fan letters and nice reviews definitely helped to wipe out my fear.
Tell us about the featured book.
SEASIDE HARMONY is the first book in the Postcards from Misty Harbor Inn trilogy, three stories about three sisters who buy a rundown whaler’s mansion on
hoping to make one of their late mother’s dreams come true. SEASIDE HARMONY is a warm,
lighthearted, and inspirational story about Caroline Marris, who talks her two
younger sisters into buying a beautiful yet dilapidated inn, even though Gracie
and Sam wonder if big sis can stay focused long enough to make opening the inn
a reality. When century-old postcards draw the sisters into the mystery of
Hannah Montague, the young widow of the inn’s original owner, the sisters band
together to discover the fate of the woman who disappeared in the 1880s. As the
charming story unfolds, the sisters bond in ways they never expected, and
Caroline finds her life—and those of her sisters—transforming in ways she never
Please give us the first page of the book.
Caroline Marris remembered the view. She’s dreamed about it for years. But still, seeing it now, it took her breath away.
She stood at the top of the dune. From here, blue-gray ocean stretched as far as she could see. At her feet, the golden sand was laced with delicate but sturdy ocean grasses, and it sloped down to a pale strip of beach. Waves splashed onto the shore, leaving behind a trace of frothy white foam.
Caroline drew in a deep breath, basking in the scent of salty air and the calming sound of the gentle surf. She’d spent so many years away, but it was just like she remembered. Her memories were as fresh and alive as the warm breeze and the midday sun that kissed her face.
She hadn’t been sure she wanted to come back to
Nantucket, but standing here now—her
sisters Gracie and Sam toiling up the dune and her cocker spaniel Max playfully
chasing butterflies and bees—she was glad they’d talked her into coming. They
needed these two weeks together.
How can readers find you on the Internet?
Webpage: www.pattiberg.comFacebook: www.facebook.com/patti.berg.author
Guideposts Books is celebrating the release of their new Postcards from Misty Harbor Inn series with a fun giveaway and a Facebook party on May 9th.
One fortunate winner will receive:
- A Nook HD
- Seaside Harmony and Sunflower Summer by Evangeline Kelley
So grab your copies of Seaside Harmony and Sunflower Summer and join readers just like you on the evening of May 9th for a chance to connect with the authors and make some new friends. (If you haven't read the books - don't let that stop you from coming!)
Don't miss the fun. RSVP today and tell your friends about the giveaway via FACEBOOK or TWITTER and increase your chances of winning. Hope to see you on the 9th!
Thank you, Patti, for sharing your life and book with us.
Readers, here are links to the book. By using one when you order, you help support this blog.Seaside Harmony (Postcards from Misty Harbor Inn series) - paperback
Seaside Harmony: 1 (Postcards from misty harbor inn) - Kindle
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