Find a Christian store

Interview with Patti Stockdale

When Patti Stockdale’s mom and aunts found an old tin of letters between her grandparents, she knew she had discovered the perfect inspiration for her college writing project. Her favorite genre is historical romance, so what could be better than writing her grandparents’ love story? After graduation, she put the manuscript away. Years later, she pulled it out again. She researched World War I, rewrote, and eventually decided to let her grandparents go in favor of fictional characters. Today, she shares about her inspiration, a special endorsement, and her unique—and humorous—experience setting up her launch party.

Welcome, Patti. Congratulations on the publication of your debut novel! I look forward to hearing more about Three Little Things. What is the inspiration behind the novel?
I returned to college over twenty years ago and needed a new project for a creative writing class. At the same time, my mom and her sisters uncovered a tin box brimming with letters their parents had exchanged during their courtship. After a few negotiations, I was allowed to use the letters as inspiration for Three Little Things.

Reflecting back, what do you see as the most significant to your publication journey?
Since I started writing the book over 20 years ago, I’m shocked I didn’t quit at some point on my journey. I accepted a busy job at a nonprofit after graduation and shelved my manuscript for 16 years. After I brought it out of retirement, I completed more research and two rewrites.

I know that an airport meeting led to a special endorsement. Could you tell us about that?
Debbie Macomber served as the keynote speaker at the ACFW Conference in 2018. On the following Sunday, we sat side-by-side and waited for our respective flights at an airport in Dallas. We mostly chatted about professional football and knitting. When she asked if I was published, I had to tell her no. She then asked what I wrote. I fumbled my elevator pitch. Then, I mentioned the inspiration for the novel. Debbie drew her hand to her chest and said, “That touched my heart.” Her sweet words left an imprint on mine.

I sold the manuscript six weeks later and, somehow, found the nerve to ask her for an endorsement. She graciously agreed. I’m forever grateful.

As your novel is set during World War I, what is the most unique thing you did to research that time period?
For the price of a cup of coffee, a living historian and WWI re-enactor answered my top ten military questions. I also contacted or visited Camp Dodge in Des Moines, Camp Pike in Little Rock, the WW I Museum in Kansas City, and the National Museums Liverpool. At the Garnavillo Historical Museum, I teared up at the sight of my grandpa’s khaki army uniform, old ham radio, and other family heirlooms.

I know this is inspired by your grandparents’ story, but it is fiction. What was the biggest change you made and was it hard to let the real Arno and Hattie go?
Initially, I tried to tell the story revealed in the letters, but I needed more details to create a captivating plot. I grew protective of my grandparents. How could I give them flaws? It was freeing to let them go and allow my imagination to dictate the story.

What is the funniest thing that happened to you as an author?
After three different venues fell through for my launch party, I ended up at a great gift shop. But the owner repeatedly called me Pam, mixed up my event with the Girl Scouts coming the following Saturday, thought I wanted a lunch party and not a launch party, and told me she’s not a reader. The memory still makes me smile. Fortunately, she’s a lovely lady and everything turned out fine.

Do you have a new project in the works?
I’ve finished my second manuscript, need to finetune the synopsis, and send it to my agent. It’s about a man and a woman stuck between heartbreak and home.

What message do you hope readers will take away from this book?
I hope it makes readers smile at the humor and tear up during the tender moments. Maybe they’ll learn something new about the era. Although the book no longer features my maternal grandparents, the make-believe Arno and Hattie couldn’t feel more real to me. I hope readers love them too.


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.

For more great interviews, visit our Author Interview Archives.

ACFW Members, click here to apply for an author interview!

Developed by Camna, LLC

This is a service provided by ACFW, but does not in any way endorse any publisher, author, or work herein.