I'm really happy to feature Patti on my blog. We were together at the national American Christian Fiction Writers conference in Minneapolis this month.
Sally, in An Irishwoman’s Tale, is Southern and moves to the Midwest, like I did in 1995. She loves chocolate and eats when anxious, like I do. I wish I had more of her sympathetic heart. Since this novel is inspired by a true story, it has more of “me” in it than my next two. My husband, who reads my proposals, is always saying, “Did this happen to YOU? Is this YOU?” It’s fun to keep him—and everyone else—guessing. Nearly all of my characters are based on someone—or a composite of someones. So watch out, friends and acquaintances!
I know. I own a T-shirt that says, "Careful or you'll end up in my novel." What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?
Ran outside in my nightgown on a rainy spring morning to save drowning earthworms. I love the little creatures that enrich my perennial bed and can’t stand to see them all waterlogged, swollen, stranded, and comatose on the concrete after a downpour. At the time, a friend of my daughter was living with us, and she happened to be looking out the window. Of course she ran screaming the news to my daughter and son, and they spread it all over the neighborhood. (I still do this from time to time but usually get dressed first.)
When did you first discover that you were a writer?
I didn’t start writing until 2005, when God whispered to me that I needed to tell The Irishwoman’s story. However, I did begin inhaling everything I could read around the age of five, starting with Illustrated Bibles and Dr. Seuss, and I think that’s the best training ground for picking up the old ballpoint and scribbling on paper.
Tell us the range of the kinds of books you enjoy reading.
I read everything from Agatha Christie to literary fiction and nonfiction. This is a three-pronged screening test I apply: 1. Values that need to be examined. 2. Several recommendations by time-tested reader friends. 3. Writing, settings, characters which grab my attention and won’t let me go when I sit down in a coffee bar with the book. Latest rave reads? Three Cups of Tea, The Family Nobody Wanted, Demon: A Memoir, Just Jane, LBJ biographies by Robert Caro.
What other books have you written, whether published or not?
What the Bayou Saw, Sally’s story, will be published sometime in April 2009. I’m halfway through My Name is Sheba, the premier novel in a four-book series entitled “Spanning Seas and Secrets.”
How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?
Mainly by walking, walking, walking down the very ordinary streets of my town, Normal, Illinois. Discipline keeps my life simple. I try to get up early, write a set number of pages, take my daily constitutional (walking or jogging, depending on how achy old legs are), do housework, and cook dinner for our family. Spice is added with the occasional coffee shop chat with a friend or a video with hubby.
How do you choose your characters’ names?
I draw from Biblical characters, those nearest and dearest, stereotypes, phone books, other books. It’s all fair game!
What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?
Raising godly children, both of whom love the Lord. However, that’s not really our accomplishment, but God’s grace.
If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?
A sea otter! I love paddling through the water even though I’m not a great swimmer. How wonderful it would be to have a sleek body, glide effortlessly through deep sea waters, then surface with a splash and a shake or two. The fish diet wouldn’t be a problem, either.
I loved watching the sea otters when we visited Pacific Grove, California. What is your favorite food?
My kind of woman. What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?
Getting the emotion that I felt in my heart down on paper. Camy Tang helped me with ruthless editing. She also pointed me to several great reads, Writing for Emotional Impact (Iglesias) and Getting into Character (Collins).
What advice would you give to an author just starting out?
Honestly assess the time you can devote to writing. Then set a daily goal, either number of words or time, whichever yanks the most pages from you. Do not pass go, collect $200, or even get a fresh cup of coffee until you meet that goal. Read that section, then rewrite. Do it again. Find a critique partner and repeat until they have run out of things to mark on your pages. Then hire an editor and do what they say, which will probably be…rewrite.
An Irishwoman’s Tale explores the painful first memories of Mary, an impetuous Irishwoman. When she dares to share them with her new friend, a gregarious Southerner, God jump-starts the healing process by leading the women on a wild trip, On rocky Irish cliffs, Mary glimpses God’s plan for her life and begins the long road to recovery from those early memories. In this novel, I examine issues such as substance abuse, Catholicism, and Alzheimer’s looking through the rose-colored glasses of Romans 8:28, God’s working for good in the lives of those who love Him.
Patti, how can readers find you on the Internet?
I’d love for you to leave a message at Contact Me, www.pattilacy.com.
Thank you, Patti, for spending this time with us.
Readers, leave a comment for a chance to win a free copy of the book. BE SURE TO CHECK BACK EVERY WEEKEND TO SEE IF YOU HAVE WON!!!
Then go to Patti's web site and leave her a message.