So I turned another year older this weekend and I'm running with that as my excuse. Pat's visit was supposed to be on Saturday. But all good things are worth waiting for and I believe you'll be thrilled to meet today's guest.
Welcome, Patricia. I'm so glad you joined us today. While I preform my hostess duties, why don't you start and tell the others about what interests you enjoy.
I read historical fiction. Having a PhD with a minor in American history, My Dear Hamilton is one of my favorites. My mother was a Latin teacher, and my sister and I grew up on the Roman and Greek myths—so it’s not surprising that I also love novels based on mythology. Madeline Miller’s Circe is one of my current favorites. I also enjoy memoirs (Tara Westover‘s Educated, Harry Belafonte’s My Song), and books about nature (anything by Janisse Ray).Finally, as a writer of romance, I still love such classics as Jane Eyre, Pride and Prejudice, and, yes, Gone with the Wind.
As for hobbies, I’ve always loved photography, and whenever I travel, a camera is usually in my hand or hanging on a strap around my neck. I have to admit that lately, my phone seems a lot easier than my Nikon to carry around!
My DH and I also are history buffs who love to travel and I agree about the phone Speaking of Pete he's an amazing cheerleader for me. Who is your support system?
My sister Dorothy Altman and my friend Jane Marston are the first persons I sent drafts of my current novels to. Both are talented writers themselves and give excellent advice. Being fellow English teachers, they also are my first editors as well. Actually, my sister and I have served each other in this role since childhood. We remember excitedly waiting for the other one to finish typing the latest page of the current novel or story she was writing to see what was going to happen next .
I have a sister named Dorothy too! Do you have any particular books or authors who are your inspiration?
Almost anything I read shapes me and my work in some way, but here I’ll talk about two novels that made think more about the mysterious process of writing fiction. In Wallace Stegner’s Angle of Repose, the main character, writer-researcher Lyman Ward, alternates between telling his own story and the biography of his grandmother, and we soon realize we are seeing not the actual life of the grandmother, but Ward’s very personal interpretation of her. Similarly, in Faulkner’s Absalom, Absalom! Quentin Compson and his friend Shreve imaginatively recreate the figures Charles Bon and Henry Sutpen—but at the same time they (I think) shape these figures with their own stories. To me, the two novels suggest the inescapable biographical element of the magical process of creating fiction.
I'm sorry to say I haven't read either of those books. Stegner's sounds extremely intriguing. You are a talented multi published author. Do you have any other fun or outrageous talent?
I type very fast with two fingers. I started typing that way as a child on my father’s typewriter and have never been able to move beyond that. My husband, who types properly, with all his fingers, always is amazed I type so fast. When we were in graduate school writing our dissertations in our separate offices, he would sit there hearing me clatter away on my old manual typewriter and think, “She’s going to finish her dissertation first.”
So people we meet and books we read help shape us as authors. I believe our surroundings do as well. What is your neighborhood like? What makes it special?
My husband I have lived in our old (1883) house on Dearing Street in Athens, Georgia, since 1996. Our “next door neighbor” is known as The Tree That Owns Itself, a sizeable white oak with eight feet of land around it that legend says are its property. It was grown from an acorn from the magnificent old tree which nineteenth-century a Dearing Street resident supposedly so loved that sometime between 1820 and 1832 he willed to it that eight feet of land. Old postcards of that tree (by then 100’ high) proclaim in capital letters, “THE ONLY TREE IN THE WORLD THAT OWNS ITSELF”—with sometimes a corner of our house showing on the edge of the picture. Today’s tree, renowned like its parent, is visited every day by tourists, students, and walkers, who often ask us to take their picture while they stand in front of it.
That is an amazing story. Trees hold history. I have a huge maple in my yard that my mother in law planted. and I think one of the most memorable trees I've seen is the Burnside Sycamore the witness tree at Antietam. What is your favorite T-shirt with graphic or meme
My favorite sweatshirt, a warm hooded navy blue one, was given to me by my sister-in-law. Emblazoned across the front in large letters it says, “Careful, or you’ll end up in my next novel.”
Love it! Who is the most interesting person you’ve recently read about?
I recently read Harry Belafonte’s memoir My Song. I was fascinated not only by the recounting of his amazing meteoric rise as an iconic singer (“Day-O,” “Jamaica Farewell,” “Scarlet Ribbons”), but by the descriptions of the prejudice he encountered, the way he broke many racial barriers, and his key role in the civil rights movement.
We all start somewhere, what was your first job?
For two summers I worked in in a glove factory in my hometown of Johnstown, New York doing something called “blackedging.” The black leather used in making many gloves had a white underside, and when the fingers were stitched, that underside showed at the edges. My job, along with several other women, was to sit at a table with a brush and jar of black dye and paint those white edges to match the rest of the glove.
What’s the most amazing natural occurrence you’ve witnessed?
The total eclipse of the sun in 2017.
LOL, now I have Bonnie Tyler in my head. What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
In writing romantic suspense, I’ve had to look up information on legal matters, guns and police work, death and dying, physical and mental conditions, and even on details like what cell phones were like in 2009, the year my current novel, The Student in Classroom 6, takes place. I mostly do research not before writing the book, but during the writing process, as questions come up.
How do you select the names of your characters?
Often I just pick a name out of the air. A couple of times I discovered such a name came from subconscious memories. In The Student in Classroom 6, I’d named the fictional head of the University English department "Dr. Flatt." My editor said he needed to have a first name, and I randomly chose the name "William." It seemed to fit and had a nice ring. I didn't think of a friend from years past with the last name Flatt, whom I’d always thought of as “Bill.” When I realized what I’d done, I wrote to him and confessed. To my relief he replied, “It is an honor to have a character in your novel named for me.”
Patricia, thank you for being such an engaging guest around my fire. Before you head out, please let our other guest know where they can find out more about you and pretty please a peek into your book? And to our other guests, make sure you scoot to the end and see the picture of Patricia and her special friend.
The Student in Classroom 6
Although a faculty member has been killed on campus and the murderer is still at large, English instructor Katherine Holiday never suspects the criminal might be one of her students. In fact, there’s a man in her adult evening class she wishes she could know better.
Seeing no need for a college degree, Tyler McHenry, a partner in his father’s successful tree service, writes fiction for his own pleasure. No one at the University needs to know his personal reasons for enrolling in a first-year composition course. Still, he finds himself fascinated by the pretty teacher, who believes his writing should be published.
What others are saying.
“…With a killer on the loose and her job on the line, Katherine Holiday knows better than to act on her feelings for the sexy, intelligent student in the back of her college classroom. But the attraction is too strong to ignore. The Student in Classroom Six is a fast-paced romance with a dangerous edge that is easy to read and hard to put down…” Lori Duffy Foster, author, Lisa Jamison Mystery Series
The novel provides an excellent portrayal of a college town, classroom teaching, romantic love, the conflict of parental dreams and reality, and the death of a parent. The possibility of murder lurks. But who is the murderer?— goodreads review
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Your Host D.V. Stone
Award winning multi-genre author and blogger. Fantasy, romance, mid-grade. Nothing better than a campfire, book, and glass of wine. Okay maybe there is.📚
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