Welcome to Readers Write to Know! I asked you, my readers, what questions they would ask their favorite authors if given the chance, and the authors visiting my blog answered them! I’m always excited when I have a friend as my guest, and this week I am so excited that my friend Robin Patchen is joining us! I just spent the week with Robin at the NINC conference and absolutely love her. She is truly one of my favorite people and I always treasure time spent with her. She’s giving away a copy of a paperback in her latest series! Read on to see how you can enter to win!
Tell us a little bit about yourself. I grew up in New Hampshire about forty miles north of Boston, where my dad flew for Eastern Airlines (remember them?) out of Logan Airport. Our family lived in a big red house on a dead end surrounded by tall pines and maples and birches and oaks. There was a pond across the street—a pond when the water level was high. It was more like a swamp when it wasn’t. But it was beautiful all the time, teeming with life. Birds and beavers and frogs, oh my. Back then, my hometown boasted acres and acres of apple orchards. In the spring, the white blooms blanketed the rolling hills. In September, you could smell the fresh apples for miles. Summers brought high temperatures and humidity, which led to trips to the beach or the mountains to escape the heat. Winters meant bundling up and trudging through inches, sometimes feet, of snow to go sledding or skiing or just to get to your car. They also meant wood fires and hot chocolate and cuddling under fuzzy blankets. There’s something magical about the place where I grew up. Does everybody feel that way? Or maybe I’ve romanticized it. Now that I live in Central Texas (it’s 104° today), I long for the wooded world of New Hampshire. I suppose that’s why I write about it in my books. Oh, I probably ought to tell you about my family. Eddie and I have been married for 29 years. We have three kids. The oldest is married and lives in Hawaii. The other two are young adults and live with us here in the Austin area.
Tell us about your current release. You know, it’s no picnic trying to come up with unique and suspenseful ideas when all your stories take place in a small town. This time, I decided to write a political thriller. The thing is, when you write a political thriller, you have to have an issue the characters can be fighting for. I’m not sure if I have the best timing or the worst, but I chose…abortion. (Who knew Roe v. Wade would be overturned?) But the book isn’t about abortion. It’s about corruption in our government. (I don’t bother mentioning either political party by name. There’s plenty of corruption on both sides of the aisle.) The book is about the evil some people will resort to when big money is at stake. Mostly, though, it’s about the daughter of a US Senator and the men who love her and want to keep her safe—and win her heart.
In the world of big money and big politics, nobody walks away unscathed.
The people of Coventry never suspect that Josie Smith, owner of the local coffee shop, is the daughter of a powerful senator. She went to Washington to serve constituents, but her desire to do good morphed into a desire to win at all costs. When one of those costs grew too heavy to bear, she changed her name and left DC, vowing to never get involved in politics again. But when her father becomes his party’s lone voice standing against corrupt legislation, his enemies will do whatever it takes to get his vote, and Josie finds herself caught in a familiar web of malicious tactics.
Thomas Windham never planned to run for office, but when Coventry’s disgraced mayor is replaced by a dishonest appointee, Thomas can’t stand to see his town torn apart by corruption. He feels he has no choice but to throw his hat in the ring. He doesn’t have a chance in the mayoral race against the well-known politician, that is until he meets Josie, who knows more about running for office than a typical café owner would.
When Josie is threatened by two masked men, she and Thomas form an alliance—her wisdom for his protection. The election becomes secondary as Josie’s adversaries escalate their attacks. How can she and Thomas withstand enemies determined to get what they want at any cost?
Do you feel pressured to compromise your standards in order to reach a larger audience or be more successful? This is such a good question, one I wrestled with when writing this book. I’m pro-choice, but I understand that not everybody is. To put my views on abortion into a novel…it’s risky. There’ll be readers who don’t like it. And as we’ve seen, a lot of people don’t know how to disagree like grownups anymore. “I disagree with you” has morphed into “I hate you,” and then, “I will cancel you.” So yes, I wrestled. And then I remembered that I have a God who has my back, and I wrote the book anyway. I aim to please Him first, last, and always.
With all those characters in your head screaming to get out how do you write fast enough to get it all down? I wish I had loads of characters in my head all the time. I have to fight for my stories. I’m not one of those writers who has hundreds of ideas at a time, the kind who has to discipline myself to keep from jumping from one to the next. I usually just have the one idea. I always try to have the next book simmering on the backburner, but honestly, it’s rarely more than a premise. I’m a very focused person, and that’s definitely true with my writing. (Deep down, I always worry that this idea—whatever this happens to be—will be my last.)
What inspired you to start writing, or did you always want to write? I had a story in my head. It had been living there for years, growing out of control. When my husband bought me a laptop for my fortieth birthday, I decided to start writing it down. At the time, I didn’t think about writing a novel. I just thought I needed to get that story out of my brain before it drove me insane. It was 700+ pages long and dreadful, but by the time I reached “The End,” I knew I wanted to be a novelist.
What made you take the plunge and finally do it? In my case, my agent tried to sell my first full-length novel, Finding Amanda, to a traditional publisher for a year. When he was unable to, he recommended that I try indie publishing. I probably wouldn’t have done it without his encouragement, but since he was a professional who knew what he was doing, I figured the book must be halfway decent. That was twenty books ago. Once I made the indie publishing plunge, I’ve never looked back.
At what age did you know you wanted to write? I’ve heard stories of people who were writing stories in childhood (which is what I’d expect). But I’ve heard of others who randomly started much later in life, and that is so interesting to me! Deep down, I always wanted to be a writer. I was a pretty insecure kid, and I didn’t think I had it in me. I was a journalism major in college, but even then, I chickened out after I graduated and got a job in marketing and PR, figuring I’d make a lousy reporter. (Honestly, I probably would have.) It never occurred to me when I was young that I should write a story. In fact, I didn’t decide I wanted to be a novelist until I’d started writing my first book—at forty years old.
How hard is it to come up with names for your characters? What are some of the sources you use? I am terrible at coming up with names! They all sound stupid to me. Often, I’ll figure out about when a character was born and then look for boys or girls names that were popular that year. Also, I’ll often pick a letter. I don’t like having characters with names that begin with the same letter, so I’ll go down the alphabet to find a letter that isn’t represented, then search for names that begin with it. Another thing…I like my men to have traditional men’s names. Thomas is the main character in Lineage of Corruption. The last one was Garrett. Before that, Andrew. The book I’m writing now—the hero’s name is Jon. I like manly names for my heroes. (My sons are Nick and Jake, so at least I’m consistent.) First names are hard, and don’t even get me started on last names.
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