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Interview with Patty Smith Hall

A native Georgian who loves her home state, Patty Smith Hall returned to her dream of being a writer after a nursing career. A Genesis Award winner in 2008, she has now published several historical romances, including her upcoming story included in The Librarian’s Journey. Read on to discover the unusual place where story ideas often come to her.

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Where in the world do you call “home”? And what's the best thing about where you live?
I live in North Georgia about 50 miles outside of Atlanta. Being the rare native, I love everything about my home state from its hot summer days to the occasional snowstorm that shuts down the city. But what I love most of all about Georgia is this is where my family lives. Both sides of my parents’ families have been in the Marietta area since before the city was founded in 1827.

When did you know you wanted to be a writer? And what was your journey to becoming a published author like?
I’ve wanted to be a writer for a very long time, probably since my tenth-grade English teacher told me I had a talent for storytelling after I took a short story assignment and turned it into a novella! I even flirted with the idea of majoring in writing in college, but my parents worried I wouldn’t make a living at it so I became a nurse. It wasn’t until I was in my late 30s that I decided it was time to chase my dream of being published.

But dreaming about being published and actually doing it are two very different things. The first few years, I struggled to find time to write while caring for my family, working, and serving in church ministry. Most of my friends were getting published, so it was a bit frustrating. Then I took this wonderful class called ‘Eight Minutes to Completing Your Novel’ that confirmed my call to writing. After that, I found time to write, enter contests, work with agents and critique groups. After winning the 2008 American Christian Fiction Writer’s Genesis Award for Historical Romance, I finished my second book (the first one was my practice one!) and sent it to Melissa at Love Inspired Historical. Three months later, I got my first publishing contract. I scared the poor girl who had my drink order in the drive-thru to death when I screamed!

How did you choose the genre in which you write? And is it the genre you most like to read? Who are some of your favorite authors?
My agent helped me find my genre! She asked me to look at the books that I loved to read, and when I did, I discovered 85 percent of them were historical romance. I’ve always been a history buff, so it made sense. I still love to read historical romance. My favorite authors are Louisa May Alcott and Gilbert Morris—Dr. Morris’s Cheney Duvall series is my absolute favorite!

What's the most unusual place you've jotted down a story idea or plot point?
I find my best ideas pop up when I’m cleaning the bathroom!

What are you working on next?
I’ve got a couple of things in the works. First, I have a novella, Gold Dust Bride that will release with Winged Publishing on January 1, 2022. Then I’ll be working on a Christmas novella set in a Five-and-Dime store that releases next fall from Barbour. I also have a full-length book I’m writing, but I can’t talk about it yet.

Are you a plotter or pantser or a little of both?
When I first started, I was pure pantser, but it led me down rabbit holes and I wasted a lot of time writing myself out of them. So, I took some time off and learned how to plot. It took some time to get plotting down, but once I did, I sold my first novel. Now, I’m a combination of both. When you’re writing on deadline, you have to plot some, at least, I do. It keeps me focused.

How has the pandemic changed your writing routine?
Not much! To be truthful, going back to college has changed it more. Going to school has made me learn time-management skills so that I can keep up my writing pace as well as juggle homework and family life.

What do you like to do when you're not writing?
I spend time with my family, particularly my grandsons, Carter and Noah. They give me such joy. I love spending time with my husband—we binge-watch old TV shows or try new restaurants. And I enjoy reading.

What are your must-haves when it's time to sit down and get to work?
A Vera Bradley notebook, my favorite pen, a Flip dictionary, a Reese’s peanut butter cup, and a Coke over ice.

Any parting words?
Don’t ever give up on your dream. It takes time and a lot of determination, but you can get published! Just keep writing!

Lisa Bartelt is a child of the flatlands fulfilling her dream of living near mountains in Pennsylvania. She loves reading, writing, and listening to stories—true ones, made-up ones, and the ones in between—preferably with a cup of coffee in hand. Wife, mom of two, writer, ordinary girl, Lisa blogs about books, faith, family, and the unexpected turns of life at

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