Today we have my friend with us on Author Interview Friday. I first met Patty last year at a book event in Mt. Dora and had the privilege of spending some time getting to know her. Welcome Patty. Why don’t you tell the readers how you got started in writing.
I always enjoyed writing but I never did anything about it until I went to work for the Caloosa Belle, local newspaper in LaBelle. That was in 1985 – so I’ve done a lot or writing since then, all with a journalistic approach. There were times when I thought “Wouldn’t it be great to write a book?” That was followed immediately by “You’ve got to know something to write a book!” So that was always the end of it.
A lot of people could relate to that. The hard part is pushing past that.
It wasn’t till about ten years ago that I seriously thought I could do it. That’s when an idea hit me for a story. I was just driving home, nothing on my mind in particular. Then it was like someone opened up my head and dropped the words “I see faces” into my head. I thought, “You could write a story around those three works. Heck, you could write a whole book around just those three words.
So for the next couple weeks I was thinking about who these faces might be; what their circumstances were; Where in time they were as well as place. It became a mental exercise. When I wasn’t thinking about something else, I was building my little framework for these faces. I actually had the first several paragraphs in my head when I thought I should probably get them down in writing, and it all just grew from there.
They say there is a story inside all of us. Did you have any friends or mentors to help you?
I happened to know a very wonderful published writer named Barbara Oehlbeck who had written a book on roses, one on the sabal palm tree and many poems. A couple of years ago she wrote a wonderful memoir called Mama; Root, Hog, or Die. Barbara had always been very complimentary of my writing and even asked me once if I ever thought of writing a book!
I showed her what I had and she was very supportive. Every so often I’d show her what more I’d done and she would encourage me to keep going.
Finally, I had it done – but I finally finished my first book, Bitter Secrets, a mystery about a missing family with an otherworldly twist. It took me at least three years – probably more. I write off and on when I have the time. I can write all day, all night and all day again, but I have to be alone and have quiet. That just doesn’t happen.
Do you have a background in writing or take any special writing courses that helped you along the way?
Just with the newspaper – 29 years now. I have an AA degree in liberal arts and did well in writing classes there. Funny, though, I went to Catholic schools for 12 years – starting elementary school in 1955. I can still remember things the nuns said about writing.
What else can you tell us about yourself?
I’m from Canton, Ohio. Lived in Virginia Beach for two years (my husband was in the Navy at the time), moved to Florida (my husband’s home) in 1969. My husband was in law enforcement for 40 years. He’s retired now and keeps wondering when I’m going to retire.
We have two grown daughters, a son-in-law, and three grandchildren.
Do you always write in the same genre?
Not sure how to answer that, but I think so – so far anyway. I’m putting the finishing touches on my second book now – Full Circle – which is a sequel to Bitter Secrets. It’s a little different, though. The mystery of what happened to the Parker Family has been solved, of course, and Full Circle picks up the lives of my protagonist and several other characters from that point. There is another mystery to solve and other threads in this new story as well.
Do you always write in the same POV or narrative or do you switch it up in different stories?
Both my books are in first person. I chose that originally because everything I write for the paper is in third person, so I figured it might be a nice change.
I had several publishers try to steer me away from first person. I’ve never understood quite why.
Do you follow a structure pattern such as staying in chronological order, or alternating points in time or different POV’s?
My stories alternate in time. The original mystery in Bitter Secrets actually occurs in the 1940s. It isn’t solved until the 1980s, so I kind of straddle those four decades in that story.
There are several story lines in Full Circle, so I do more alternating of the story line in that one. That can be a little tricky because you still need the action to flow.
I also don’t want to get stuck into formula writing, I know that’s what a lot of publishers want, and it might sell, but that’s not my idea of what I want to do.
Many of us cross over genres and it is difficult to pinpoint one to fit our books. For the book we are promoting today, what shelf would we find it on if it were in a bricks and mortar bookstore?
I guess it would have to be Mystery. Like most things in my life, I find it hard to categorize.
Why did you choose to go the self-publishing Indie route in lieu of traditional publication? What were the deciding factors to choosing your publisher? Would you recommend that same Indie publisher to a colleague?
I checked companies out online and sent many, inquiries to traditional publishers. I got a few nice letters, but no takers. Talked to people who said yes, you need an agent; others who say no you don’t After going on this way for several years, I finally took the plunge and decided on iUniverse.
They have been very professional and very helpful. I know you have to be careful about “add on” services that you may not really need from any self publisher. I have used several of these services for my second book Full Circle, They were quite expensive but I also think I have learned a lot from them and I think the developmental editing service has made my book much better than it otherwise would have been.
What was the hardest part for you in the writing process; the outline, synopsis, query or building the story itself?
Well, I didn’t do an outline – maybe I should have but I really didn’t know where Bitter Secrets was going. I just kept coming up with scenarios and wrote some more. I was probably about half way through when I knew my ending, so then I could head for the light at the end of the tunnel.
I really hate trying to do a synopsis or query.
I have to laugh at that. “the dreaded synopsis and query.” Every writer’s worst nightmare. What advice would you give to new writers just getting started with their first manuscript?
First of all, know your English – grammar and spelling do count to professional writers and to serious readers. The best story in the world can be ruined by lack of attention to basic English rules. It doesn’t have to make your work stuffy.
Beyond that, I think you need a good story to tell. I think my problem for a long time was that I just didn’t have a story I wanted to tell. When I found one, I went with it!
Tell us a little more about your current work in progress.
As I said, it’s a sequel to Bitter Secrets called Full Circle and it takes up my protagonist’s life where Bitter Secrets ends. Actually, in some ways it’s an extension of Bitter Secrets. At the end of Bitter Secrets Molly (my protagonist) was given a job to do by her friend and other main character in Bitter Secrets so she must find a way to carry it out in Full Circle. Full Circle also incorporates a little romance and a good old fashioned cop story.
I’m doing the final rewrite of Full Circle now (wish I had a nickel for every time I said that!). In a week or two I should be sending it back to the publisher and the race will be on.
We must have you back on Author Interview Friday when that book comes out. I loved Bitter Secrets and look forward to the sequel. Can you tell the readers the premise of Bitter Secrets, the novel we are promoting today?
Molly Martindale came to Oxbow, Florida, (a fictional town in Southwest Florida’s inland area) as a scared and lonely 13-year-old orphan to live with an aunt she barely knew. Sixteen years later she is a reporter for her hometown newspaper when she becomes interested in a family that “moved away” 40 years earlier. She’s never heard of this family before – in a small Southern town that prides itself on its roots, that’s hard for her to understand – and even more perplexing is that no one will talk about them much. She’s also the focus of visits by bone-chilling “faces” that seem to be begging her for . . . something. So Molly’s reporter instincts are roused and she starts poking around in old matters some folks would rather be left covered with dust.
In her quest for the truth, she gets help from the town drunk, a wheelchair-bound Viet Nam veteran, a savvy old black man and, of course, her faces.
A little bird told me you won an award for Bitter Secrets. Congratulations. Tell us about that.
Yes, quite an exciting surprise. Bitter Secrets was a finalist in the 2013 Indie Excellence Book Awards.
Please share a few paragraphs from Bitter Secrets.
Excerpt from Bitter Secrets by Patty Brant
I see faces.
I can’t quite remember when I first started seeing them. They were so faint, so unobtrusive, like mist gliding above the sand. More like a sigh, really, flitting just at the periphery of vision, or tangled among leaves like low-lying clouds. At some point, they began to register in my consciousness like little feathers gliding across the bottoms of my feet. Almost imperceptible, but not quite.
I had been in this small town since high school, coming as a brokenhearted thirteen-year-old orphan to live with a widowed great aunt I barely knew. Now a reporter with the Oxbow Independent, our local mullet wrapper, I, Molly Martindale, had settled quite comfortably into my life. This town had become my own.
I remember quite clearly the day I could no longer ignore these faces. I had just spent the better part of my day wrestling with an absentee boss—you know, the kind who rarely shows her face and still manages to give you grief. As I finally hung up the phone for the last time and switched off the light, it was just about dusk. When I pulled the key from the front door lock and turned to the darkening street, it must have been bedtime for the birds. They were swishing through the air, calling to each other, making quite a ruckus. At first I hoped the waning light was playing tricks on my strained eyes.
But no, I was certain. There really was something up in the branches of that old orchid tree. All my instincts said there was.
Thank you so much for this opportunity to connect with other writers and readers. It’s always encouraging when someone shows an interest in your passion.
My Web site: http://pattybrant.com/