Sunday, March 22, 2009

Patti Lacy's Debut

I'm blessed to offer you a glimpse into the life and work of novelist Patti Lacy, a friend from American Christian Fiction Writers and a joy to those who know her.

Patti, those who read your debut novel from Kregel—An Irishwoman’s Tale—appreciate your attention to detail and historical/geographical accuracy. Is your research homegrown (from your ancestry), Web grown (Internet), onsite (visits to Ireland), or bookish (library)?

Hello, dear Cynthia! ’Tis a blessing to be on your blog, now, isn’t it? My attempt at brogue, and the gorgeous Irish turns of phrases, comes from a research trip to those mystical cliffs in 2005. I was so blessed to accompany the real-life Mary to her homeland. God had so many miracles wrapped up—in shades of green, of course!

I also devoured the usual Irish fiction (ala McCourt, Uris) and some lesser-known gems, like Little Green Apples, looked at maps, websites, and found a wonderful toll-free connection called Tourism of Ireland, which employs writers, students; a hodgepodge of brilliant Irish lads and lasses bored of the usual hotel/pub questions and just itching to help a Yank write her debut novel!

Like my novels, my answers go on and on…Sorry!

What did your journey to publication teach you about yourself? Your faith? Your family relationships?

God keeps showing me that my job is to write for the Audience of One—Him—and not worry about the rest. Oh, He is faithful! The wild, wacky world of publishing has taught me that I am far too high-strung to deal with the ups and downs without His guidance and a good support group. Thanks to Beth Moore’s, A Woman’s Heart, I recently reread Exodus 17:11-12 and marveled at the teamwork needed to do the tasks God sets out for us. Thank you, writer friends, encouraging readers, agent, publicists, editors…it goes on and on!!! It takes a metropolis to make a writer these days!!!

Did you begin writing An Irishwoman’s Tale with the ending in mind or did you discover the ending as you wrote?

Oh, Cynthia, I’ll have to send this question to Dawn, my Kregel editor so she can ROFL! One of my many writing weaknesses is getting the ending right. I think four different professionals took their turn at poor Mary and her climax on Croagh Patrick’s rugged slopes. After y’all read it, e-mail me a better ending…and I’ll consider it…next time!!!!!

What three factors made the greatest impact on your writing career to date?

Timing. God fitting together all the little pieces of my background (avid reader, English teaching field, court reporter career, half a master’s in African American literature, some dysfunctional experiences) to start me writing at just His moment.

A true passion for all the little words. With generous friends like Nancy Drew and Beautiful Joe and Pippi and Jo—oh, hundreds and hundreds of them—I combined loads of voices and found the right one for me. If you want to learn to write, READ!

God’s manna. I have prayed big for God to give me soul food on those bad days. He has been so faithful to send a phone call, a card, an e-mail, a good review, my way. Manna is still raining from heaven—in just the right portions!

Is there a subtle thread that laces An Irishwoman’s Tale, one that thrills you when readers pick up on it?

Well, Cynthia, subtlety isn’t normally a word people use with this displaced Southerner!  I did thread Irish songs and folk sayings through the book hoping to capture the minor melancholic chords that lace many an Irish personality. I also explore first memories in this novel and in What the Bayou Saw. The theme of forgiveness is trumpeted as well. I did use the puffin as a motif for a misfit since the odd-looking birds pop into and then away from Ireland, like my dear Mary. That’s probably the one subtle thing! 

Most  authors have partial novels tucked away in computer files. Which one keeps calling to you?

Right now I have three books in “to-do” files. I’ll soon start the next one as I can’t WAIT to write God’s stories. All my novels explore the secrets women keep and why they keep them. “Spanning seas and secrets” emphasizes the multicultural link I so love to include in my books!

Here’s my about-to-be WIP, Recapturing Lily:

Xiu Ling abandons her baby on the banks of the Yangtze and returns to the studies that she hopes will gain her entrance to Harvard’s ivy-covered gates. When her grades begin to slip in the competitive Chinese education system, Xiu offers atonement to the gods by volunteering at a local orphanage. A darling baby—her own dear girl—is brought in by a raggedy peddler and then adopted by an American pastor and his wife. Xiu plunges herself into her schoolwork and is soon bound for America—but with very different motives than she has listed on the student visa.

Recapturing Lily will explore the Christian notion of sacrifice, of roots, of the tension between God’s dream and the dream of the individual.

 Where were you and what were you doing when you heard that Kregel was interested in publishing An Irishwoman’s Tale?

I got a very short e-mail from Dennis Hillman saying Kregel would like to publish my book. If I remember, I was working on Bayou, my second novel.

What unusual opportunity has your book opened to you?

Oh, the places you’ll go, the people you’ll meet! Thanks, Dr. Seuss, for saying it better than I could. Just last week I got to share “all my broken pieces” with an amazing group of women at White’s Chapel UMC women’s gathering in Southlake, Texas. I met a woman at a Barnes & Noble in San Antonio who stepped out for the first time after a long ordeal of chemo, just to buy a book. In Corpus Christi’s bookstore, a woman brought her daughter to meet a writer—and I met a former student of my dear father, who has been dead for nearly a decade. Viola expressed gratitude to my father for being tough on her—and making her a tough teacher. Viola inspired her daughter to become a teacher—no amount of book sales could equal the high created in that glorious Barnes & Noble in Corpus!  And this was just over a three-day period!

Whose appreciation of your book has stirred you to the depths?

The heroic readers who’ve taken the time to share their connection with Mary, either because of their own bout with the devil’s tools of suicide, substance abuse, and familial dysfunction.

Are your future projects linked to this one by emotion, location, characters, or some other factor?

Yes. I’m broken-record stuck on women and their first memories and secrets and how God will use even the worst past to pull us from the mire of dysfunction.

How would you complete this sentence? If I could choose my ideal location for a book signing, it would be the Cliffs of Moher, County Clare, Ireland.

What was the last stamp on your passport?

Ireland, 2005. If my budget cooperates, the next stamp will be China, 2009.

Where can readers find you on the Internet? I’ve tried to create a hybrid blog/website; y’all come on over and enter the March heroes contest! 


Eileen Astels Watson said...

Always great to learn more about you and your writing, Patti!

I do hope China becomes a reality for you!

Thanks Cynthia for featuring Patti, and all the best to you.

Anonymous said...

I loved An Irishwoman's Tale and can't wait to read more!! Thanks for sharing, Cynthia and Patti. :) -Kas

Sara said...

What a fun interview! I can hear your voice behind your answers, Patti. And I can see your heart. What an encouragement and blessing you are! So glad more people will have the opportunity to learn about An Irishwoman's Tale. Blessings as you continue to shine light and hope into women's lives.

Catherine West said...

Great interview and the book is wonderful!! I look forward to more excitng stories from Patti in the near future!

Patti Lacy said...

Cynthia, thanks for having me on your blog! The cover of "They Almost Always Come Home" is stunning! Wow! It gives a hint of suspense, darkness, in the middle of such a great scenery shot. And I've always liked that title.

You have some fun days ahead with the editing!(Truly, that's my favorite part!)