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Interview with Patricia Lee

Patricia Lee wrote her first paragraph as a six-year-old, and she hasn’t stopped writing since then! With multiple works published across different formats, she talks about her novel, The Sister’s Plight. Patricia discusses the unique challenges of writing a split-time novel, some interesting research, and even a funny time she almost ended up walking home from a writing conference.

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Congratulations on the publication of your book! When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?
I don’t think I ever knew I wanted to be a writer, the idea was just always present. I wrote a paragraph with all the words I knew when I was six, and my first grade teacher was so impressed that she gave me a bookmark that said, “Keep writing, Patty.” And I did. Through grade school, middle school, and high school. In college I studied journalism. It seemed like a good fit for me. Still is.

The Sister's Plight is a split-time novel. Do you find a dual timeline harder or easier to write?
Dual time is not for the faint of heart. The author has to coordinate both timelines and make sure the chapters from one lead to the next chapter in the other. Fortunately for me the historical timeline had been outlined by a family member who wanted our family’s story remembered. That helped a lot.

When writing a split-time novel, do you go back and forth between the stories or write them separately and then weave them together?
I went back and forth between the stories. I wanted to make sure the contemporary timeline would lead to a coordinating scene in the historical section of the story. All characters were on their own journeys so the two stories had to work with each other.

Have you ever discovered an abandoned building like your character, Blake?
I lived in the area where the story is set. There were a number of older structures around. Old barns were part of the landscape. With those images in my head, it was easier to create the interior of the barn where Blake discovers the treasure from the past.

Both the modern day characters discover a watercolor painting. Do you paint?
No, I don’t paint. But I have had a fascination with the watercolor portraits that people of old had made of themselves and of loved ones. The first book in the series dealt with diaries and old mansions, so this story needed a fresh approach. Hence, the portraits hidden away to be found later.

What is the most interesting thing you've done for research?
For this novel, I was confronted with places along the Oregon Trail that I’d never seen or experienced. Researching the terrain, the flora and fauna, and the weather became an interesting pastime. Buffalo herds and their migration, as well as the government’s part in their demise, raised my ire. Who knew the original herds often had numbers upward of half a million animals? Those herds still roamed during the time of my family’s wagon train.

What's your favorite writing snack?
I don’t snack while writing. I drink coffee with milk. Writers sit a lot, and adding calories we won’t burn is not a healthy approach. I have enough problem with weight as it is.

You mention you have a bunch of furry friends that live with you. Is one a particular writing companion?
For several years, I had a male cat named Pepper who was everywhere present. He followed me to the garden, slept on my shoulder in front of the television, and kept me company while I wrote at the computer. He became suddenly ill one spring, and I lost my buddy. He’s still missed.

What is the greatest struggle you have overcome as a writer?
What new writers don’t understand is that when you write your first novel, you can pace yourself. Then comes the contract, along with the release date and all the things that go with that— book cover reveals, giveaways, promotional blogs, release day memes. Follow that with a new deadline for the next book, and the marketing, and the myriad other tasks that go along with a new book. It can be a monumental task to get it all done. I once had to write seven (7) blogs within a week to promote the book due to release. Think tired!

What is the funniest thing that has happened to you as a writer?
I was returning home from Dallas, Texas, after an ACFW conference. I found my gate at the airport and sat down to wait since I had a lot of time. As the hour approached for my flight, I wondered what was happening as there were no other passengers lounging around waiting for the flight. I dug out my ticket and discovered I had misread it and was at the wrong gate. I hurried to where I was supposed to be. The plane had already boarded and the flight attendant was paging me. That would have been a long walk home.

What message do you hope readers will take away from the book?
This book is about the faith of a family to walk through uncharted waters to find new life in a new land. They suffered their share of hardship, but they kept praying for guidance as God led them home. He is always there.
Jody Stinson believes every story deserves a happy ending—even if she has to write one herself. After an international upbringing, she continues to travel whenever she can. Her goal is to take her readers somewhere new, make them smile, and give them hope through Christ. She currently writes freelance including articles, devotionals, commercials, and even a client's wedding toast.

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