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Interview with Patty Smith Hall

The word that came to mind when I was getting to know Patty Smith Hall was perseverance. In 2008, Patty won the ACFW Genesis Award in historical romance. Love Inspired Historical released that award-winning entry, Hearts in Flight, this month. And then Publisher’s Weekly picked Heart’s in Flight as a top inspirational read for the 2011 spring and summer season. This week, it is my privilege to introduce Patty as ACFW’s Featured Author.

How did you know you wanted to write fiction and historicals in particular?

I think I’ve always been a storyteller. When I was a kid and gasoline didn’t cost almost four dollars a gallon, my parents would take these long car trips every Sunday afternoon after church. Now, I was bored silly, looking out the window at another crop of trees or field of cows so I would make up stories in my head. I came up with a lot of stories in those car rides! Silly, I know but looking back, that’s when the thought of writing fiction started for me.

As for writing historicals, I owe that piece of advice to my wonderful agent, Tamela Hancock Murray. A few years ago, I was wandering in the writing desert, trying to figure out what I wanted to write—contemporary, historical, mom lit, romantic suspense, even nonfiction. Talking with Tamela, she asked me one question that rocked my writing life—what genre populated my personal bookshelf? Looking at my own books, I knew I had to write historicals.

Reflecting back, what do you see as most significant to your publication journey?
When Laurie Alice Eakes volunteered to become my mentor. She unselfishly gave of her time and expertise, and worked with me, critiquing my chapters or brainstorming an idea, all in the effort to make me a better writer. I thank God for giving me such a caring and giving friend and mentor.

What’s your biggest challenge in balancing writing time with your other responsibilities?
Staying on a set schedule. I get so involved in the story that sometimes, I’ll be working on a new story and look up only to find out that it’s midnight. It’s something I’m still working on.

How do your faith and spiritual life play into the picture and affect your storytelling?
My faith is a living, breathing part of who I am so I can’t imagine writing any other way except from a Christian world view. I work hard to make my characters come across as real people with believable problems who turn to Christ like I try to in my own life in times of trouble.

What do you think makes your style of storytelling unique?
I start off with a historical fact that few people have ever heard of and build a story around it. For example, in Hearts in Flight, my heroine, Maggie Daniels is a member of the Women’s Army Service Pilots. Now most people don’t know the USA used women pilots to ferry planes, teach recruits how to fly, and even served as a target in ground-to-air missile training. Or that these women were considered part of the military until Jimmy Carter became president and only in the last year, received the Congressional Medal of Honor. I call it fiction with a twist.

Finish this question. The best piece of advice I can give to a new author is . . .
Set a reasonable daily word count and stick to it.

What’s next for you?
Well, I’m polishing up the sequel to Hearts in Flight, a novel I call Capturing the Enemy’s Heart, then I’m going to edit a book I wrote last July during Novel Track, an interesting story set in the Georgia gold rush.

Any parting words?
Writing is a life of perseverance. You have to keep learning, keep honing your craft and most importantly, keep writing if you want to have a glimmer of an opportunity to realize your dream of publication.

Thanks for sharing with us, Patty!
Thanks for having me here—I appreciate it!

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