Patti: It’s such a blessing to be here again, Sharon. Thanks!
May I get you a cup of coffee?
Patti: Ooh, yes. Do you have soy? I’ve been on a vegan diet since February…excepting chunks of milk chocolate here and there J
Sharon: Here you go. I found some soy with vanilla flavoring will that do?
Patti: Perfect. And chunks of chocolate too, you did think of meJ
Sharon: Now, then. When and how did you get interested in writing?
Patti: In 2005, a brave Irishwoman shared her amazing story of forgiveness despite being yanked from her beloved Irish cliffs and being dumped in a dysfunctional home in Lisle, Illinois. God whispered for me to write that story. In 2008, Kregel Publications released An Irishwoman’s Tale…and jump-started my writing career.
Sharon: I enjoyed that story Patti. Who has been one of your best encouragers on your writing journey?
Patti: Oh, Sharon, there’s been so many. The influencers who, with no reward except a thank-you, tirelessly spread the word about my books. Sharon, you are one of those encouragers! THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!
Sharon: Hey, I like your books!
In spite of everything, though, do you ever experience self-doubts regarding your work?
Patti: Only every couple of days L. I don’t know why it’s gotten harder the longer I’m in the business. My mantra has long been to write for the Audience of One. If only I would perk up my ears to that message and tune out everything else!
Sharon: Is there a particularly difficult set back that you’ve gone through in your writing career that you are willing to share?
Patti: Criticism or poor reviews by fellow writers cuts deep. I don’t know why I place so much stock in what others say my stories, because I love being in a country that promotes freedom of speech. Still, we all want to be respected by our peers…
Sharon: At times like that, in times of uncertainty . . . what keeps you writing?
Patti: The whisperings of the Holy Spirit. Sometimes I do stop for a season, though. Be still and wait can be pretty good advice!!!
Sharon: What makes your writing different from that of other writers? What is your brand? What can a reader expect every time she picks up one of your books?
Patti: I love exploring the secrets women keep and why they keep them. I love novels inspired by true stories. I love to thread literary elements in my books. My books involve a quest narrative, usually a trip across oceans. Thus my tagline Spanning Seas and Secrets!
Sharon: I knew your novels came from true life. Spanning Seas and Secrets! I like that.
Patti: In 2009, my mother contacted a physician named Dr. Chang for a medical procedure...and discovered a "God" connection, because years ago, my parents had taught English in Dr. Chang’s city.
After that medical procedure, my mother awoke from anesthesia to find Dr. Chang in tears, saying, "You have cancer. But from this moment, you will be my American mother, and I will help you beat this."
Our family embraced Dr. Chang, who shared the story of how she and her sisters saved their parents following their release from a Cultural Revolution era prison. I now had the multicultural and historical links that give breath to my stories.
Because both of my brothers are adopted, the questions swirling about that process fascinate me. Where’s that other family? Why did they place their precious swathed bundle into the arms of other folks? Since my parents had served in China, I was drawn into the “Lost Daughters” phenomena that has gained worldwide attention since the doors of China's orphanages have been flung open. The seed of my character Lily/Joy germinated by a combination of those two interests.
A friend's battle with PKD (polycystic kidney disease) provided the Jodi-Piccoult-like crisis that sizzled conflict through my story. Reclaiming Lily was born! After my agent’s tear-down and rebuilding of my proposal, e-mails zipped into publishers’ “in” boxes. I later signed a contract, traveled to China, and turned in my rough draft on November 15, 2010.
My adoption information is taken directly from the files and life of a friend who shared her daughter's journey from China to central Illinois. I also read over twenty books about China, its history, its people, with a focus on those lost daughters. A key resource was The Waiting Child by Cindy Champnella.
Whew! If it sounds complicated, IT IS! Writing on other countries demands research, patience, and a willingness to bend old mindsets.
Sharon: And it shows in the finished work! Tell us, in Reclaiming Lily, what was your favorite scene to write?
Patti: Probably the tornado scene, which rocks the world of one snotty teenager and jump-starts her journey back to God! Thanks to a meteorologist and a good friend who loves to chase twisters, I think I got it right!
Sharon: And then, which were your most difficult parts?
Patti: The scenes which reflect the current social ill of self-mutilation or cutting. During this time, I discovered two women at our church who are drawn to this form of pain release. I had NO idea that one of every five teenagers is believed to have dabbled with self-mutilation. God help us all.
Sharon: I didn’t know that. It’s sobering. During the writing of Reclaiming Lily, what else did your characters teach you?
Patti: That sometimes, love means letting go so God can take hold. That I have NO CLUE of the breadth and depth of true love and sacrifice.
Sharon: What impact do you hope this book has upon the reader? Are there any themes you weren't expecting? Any that developed as the story progressed?
Patti: Oh, Sharon, so many themes developed during the writing of Reclaiming Lily! One is the extent to which God will go to call others to Him, often in supernatural ways. I also examine the old faith vs. works argument, hopefully in an unusual way. The real Dr. Kai also inspired me to portray a true healer as opposed to someone who just has the initials M.D. after their name.
Sharon: Any parting words?
Patti: Dear ones, if you write, focus on that Audience of One. He will never reject your stories or belittle your efforts.