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Interview with Patricia Lee

Setting plays an important role in Patricia Lee’s creative process—the variety of seasons and topography offered by her home region of the Pacific Northwest spurs on her storytelling. Read on to discover the surprises Patricia found when switching from journalism to novel writing, and what other creative outlets she gives her time to when she isn’t writing.

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You have a long history of writing in your life. Was there ever a question in your mind that you wouldn't write? And when did you decide to try writing novels?
I wrote my first short story when I was six. It was an entire paragraph using all the words I had learned to read. My surprised teacher told me to keep writing. From there I wrote news columns for the local paper representing my middle school and high school. I studied journalism in college with an emphasis on magazine article writing. Writing a novel was only a fantasy I entertained at the back of my mind. Then one day I discovered my children were homeschooled and grown and I had a lot of disciplined time with nothing in it to do. I decided to explore my fantasy.

How does novel writing differ from the other writing you've done? What did you learn about writing a novel that surprised you? What was similar to other writing projects?
In journalism school, you learn how to take four hundred words of facts and turn them into a newspaper piece in under ten minutes. I became quite polished at the technique. Writing a novel is a much lengthier project. You use the creative side of your brain and make up the details as you go. Characters tend to have minds of their own. That surprised me. They talk back. That surprised me. The research is a lot like writing a year-long research paper, only with characters telling the material.

How did your debut novel come to be published? What has your journey to publication been like?
I'd had several books go before publishers and had some positive feedback. But nothing seemed to happen with those books, so I kept writing. Practice is important. I kept going to conferences, kept making connections. Rejection is part of the journey and it is important to remember the publisher is not rejecting you, but is looking at the project to see if it is right for their publishing house. Then my agent recommended MBI to me as a company to show my novel to. The owner, Miralee Ferrell, loved it and was ready to offer me a contract. How could I say no to that?

Tell us how you came up with the idea for An Anchor On Her Heart. Where do you find story inspiration?
This novel came as a result of an early contact with another agent telling me that a book with autism in it wouldn't be something anyone would want to read. The subject would be too negative. I decided to prove her wrong. I had reared an adult autistic daughter and was quite familiar with the subject matter. My son had completed a season working on a catcher processor (boat) as an observer biologist in Alaska. When he came home with his stories, I put the two together and the book was born.

Your tagline is “Broken people in need of an unbroken God.” What does that mean to you? And how does that theme come through in your books?
Life experiences often leave people feeling broken, unappreciated, forgotten. God is not broken, He is whole and can make them whole again. They need only to turn their hearts his direction and find new meaning for their lives. This series is called Mended Hearts and people with past disappointments find their way to new lives.

You have another book releasing soon. Is this part of a series or a standalone story? What was different (if anything) about writing your second novel as opposed to your first?
Yes, Love Calls Her Home releases in March. The publisher wanted a series and the characters are minimally related. The main character in book 2 is only a cameo in book 1 and the story takes the reader to a different setting. Book 3, A Kite On the Wind, which releases in the fall of 2018, also has a cameo character from book 1, but the setting is the same area. The books could each stand alone without the other two.

What do you do when you aren't writing?
Creativity is in my blood. I grow flowers in the summer and I cook for my family and an elderly neighbor across the street whose wife died and they had no children.

What part of the world do you call home?
I'm a Pacific Northwest girl. I love the change of the seasons, the cold and the hot, the tree-covered mountains which are an hour's drive from my house, and the ocean only sixty miles away. Variety feeds my creative spirit.

Any parting words?
To the person reading this who is discouraged, don't give up. Others around you may be experiencing successes that you aren't, but God has plans for you. Be open to His calling. He wants to direct your paths. I have a friend who decided to write devotionals and heart-warming pieces for anthologies when her books were at a standstill. She has carved out a niche for herself with which none of the rest of us can compare and all because she listened to His voice. When we write for the ultimate editor, He is the only one we have to please.

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