Friday, August 7, 2009

Interview and Book Drawing: A Writers' Writer, Patti Lacy

I chose for my first author interview one my favorite novelists, Patti Lacy. When I met Patti in March at the signing of her first book, Irishwoman’s Tale, I little dreamed what a positive impact this Southern humanities professor-turned Midwestern novelist would have on my life and writing.

Patti has shared her heart and home with me, welcomed me to her writers’ group, edited my first book, even toted me to Barnes and Noble for a late night browse-a-thon (I hadn’t the heart to tell her I go to bed at 8:30). She enjoys taking fledging writers under her wing like a gentle mama bird, teaching them how to soar above the wayward winds of discouragement and self-doubt. Patti is a writers’ writer, and I believe you will perceive that in the interview below.

Yesterday I spent the afternoon with Patti and fellow writers, Cammie Quinn and Clella Camp, at a book signing for Patti's newest novel, What the Bayou Saw:

If you'd like win a copy of either of Patti's books, please leave a comment with your email address. For every ten comments on this post, Patti will gift one autographed copy of What the Bayou Saw, a haunting tale of racism, buried secrets and the freedom of forgiveness. As a special bonus, I will give away one autographed copy of Irishwoman's Tale, the poignant story of a troubled woman's quest to uncover the painful mysteries of her childhood. These stirring novels are endorsed by Tosca Lee, Julie Lessman and Dennis Hensley. You have until Thursday, Aug. 13th at 4:30 to post your comment. I will draw the winners and announce them on Friday the 14th, my birthday!

And now, it is my honor to present Patti Lacy:

Jen: You are fairly new to the writing world, although you have a background in arts and humanities, is that correct?

Patti: If you call a last-minute hire by a Humanities chair at a community college and half a master’s in literature “background,” yes, I do! Mainly I’m an eclectic lover of the arts and a lifelong reader.

Jen: How do you account for your rapid success?

Patti: Jeanette, I’m cracking up! I just got off the phone with a soulmate writer friend who listened to me rant about my latest publishing world disappointment. My dear friend patiently reminded me of my own mantra: Write for that Audience of One. You believers know that whether we’re plumbers, teachers, and/or stay-at-home moms, that’s the key to success.

Jen: What encouragement can you give for those of us who are not getting published as quickly as you have?

Patti: Determine with God, once and for all, if you are meant to be a writer. If the answer is yes, ask the Holy Spirit to guide your every word. Then envision that day when you will be met by His words, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” Forget about all the rest. I don’t know if you will get published or not, and neither does anyone else. I don’t know if MY next manuscript will get published!

Jen: Whereas An Irishwoman’s Tale is based on a true story about a friend of yours and is mainly factual, What the Bayou Saw is a fictional story. Do people who read Irishwoman’s Tale often think that Bayou is your own story, since the main character, Sally, in I.T. is a characterization of you?

Patti: Well, my mother and brother were worried enough about it to hash things out in a couple of very long phone calls. The hard thing is that we writers interweave things from our lives into fiction—or at least this writer does. My mama really did wear her hair in a bun—like Sally’s mother in Bayou. My father taught at the local college—like the father in Bayou. However, the lion’s share of the plot, the conflicts, the tragedy, did not belong to our family. I did draw from some heartrending oral narratives about prejudice and utilized the services of three black women to put together my novel.

A rambling discourse that still didn’t answer your question. People are confused about which parts of me are in Bayou. You know what? So am I! And isn’t that the fun of writing??

Jen: I know you are a woman of prayer. How does prayer factor into your writing life?

Patti: Before I get aboard my writing chair and tap away at the keyboard, I get on my knees and beg the Holy Spirit to guide my words. Being a strong-willed woman, I sometimes trump that still, small Voice that often whispers for me to follow the less-traveled plot line. I wish I could say that I always listen.

Jen: The title of my blog “Audience of One,” came from a conversation with you, where you encouraged me to write for God alone, to please Him. Please tell us when you first heard this phrase, and how you apply it to your life.

Patti: Lynn Austin keynoted the first writers’ conference I attended, Write to Publish. Lynn commanded all of us to go back to our dorm room there at Wheaton and wrestle with God until we settled on the issue of whether we were writers. Then after that dust cleared, we were to determine that we would write for His glory, for His name.

I really have just stolen Lynn’s advice. It’s a good idea for you folks to steal as well. That way you will never be disappointed by the countless rejections that you will receive not only initially in this business, but all along the way. Believe me, it just gets worse…

Jen: You are from the South, which shines through not only in your writing, but your transparent, caring personality. How important are relationships in a writing career?

Patti: A computer chair and a keyboard with the letters worn away don’t make for the greatest friends. Only by God’s grace and the manna He gives me in the form of writing soulmates, prayer partners, and a support system including a great agent, Cheri Kaufmann, and a brilliant publicist, Jeane Wynn, can I make it.

Plus I LOVE gabbing away in coffee bars under the auspices of “collecting fodder for writing.” Wouldn’t it be fun to print up cards with The Coffee Hound’s logo and address and hand ‘em out??!! On second thought, maybe not!

Thanks, Jeanette, for a blessed opportunity. Can’t wait to hear from you, Dear Readers!


  1. Hi Jeanette,

    I'll have to come back later to read this. I'm about to leave for day 2 of the Philly Christian Writers Conf. I've been traveling back & forth with Susan Reinhardt! I know you've mentioned her before. I don't know if you all have actually met, but she's a doll! Have a wonderful weekend!

    Blessings, Leslie

  2. Wow! That was an incredibly encouraging interview! Thanks, Jen, for hosting Patti Lacy. And thanks Patti for the reminder that I need to get on my knees before I write and beg the Holy Spirit for his words. I don't do that they way I should. Because ultimately if we're writing for Him, we really want His words and thoughts and direction!

    Blessings to you both!

  3. Leslie, you caught me on a Holy-Spirit-in-control day! Jody, so glad God used me to point you to Him. I'll have to check out both your and Leslie's work sometime...If you have a chance, e-mail me at I can Google about, of course!

    Jeanette, you encourage like a dedicated coach. I'm humbled by the space on your popular blog.

    Talk to y'all later...

  4. Wow, what a great interview! She sounds like she has a great support system. And Patti's book sounds really moving.

  5. Jennifer,
    Well, just join this train and let's move some books on down the line. There's room for coaches, engineers, riders (aka writers), conductors, and even ONE caboose!!!!


  6. Love this interview. I don't know which I liked more - the questions or the answers! Good job Jen.

  7. Isn't she amazing, Jan? Like a good Mexican platter--just the right combo of spice and soothing!

    I'm humbled to be on here!


  8. You guys are so sweet, all of you. Thanks for making my day and week.

    Patti, I love the Mexican platter analogy! LOL!

  9. Write for that audience of one. That's good advice. Thanks for sharing this.

  10. Oh gosh Jen you are so cute!

    What an AMAZING interview!!!!! It touched my heart in so many ways. I often pray Lord if this desire is not from you take it away and you know what? It gets STRONGER. I have peace and I know whatever happens on this journey whether or not I achieve what I believe I want the Lord to achieve in me what he wills. That my friend was not an easy place to get to.

    How lucky you are Jen to have such a great writer friend I'd love to win her book. Please enter me.

    (now I have to go and re-read that great interview!)

  11. Patti, my wonderful critique partner, it's always wonderful to learn more about you and hear your encouraging soul reaching out to us all.

    Thanks, Jen, for sharing this interview and those wonderful pics too.

    I'm lifting prayers for both of you!

  12. Stephanie, glad to have you in the AOO club! T. Anne, your gratitude blankets me with warm fuzzies! Eileen, you Genesis Finalist, why aren't you busy getting that next submission ready for me????????

    Jeanette, glad you stepped in to say hi. You might wanna clamp down some controls on these folks, they're goin' kinda wild!

  13. LOL!
    No way would i dream of trying to control what goes on here-- this is the funnest part of my life!
    Thanks for adding to the excitement, Patti!

  14. What a wonderful interview! I've heard so much about Lacy and her books. Great advice here. :-)
    And it is funny how bits and pieces of ourselves and our life end up in our fiction.

  15. This was an awesome interview! I want to know her:) You asked great questions and her answers were so real and honest and filled with her handing everything over to God! I love the name of your blog and meeting her is like finding another piece of the puzzle. Thank you!

  16. Jessica,
    I hope "so much" is GOOD so much!

    Terri, hope to see you at a signing or conference sometime. That's how I met Lucille--I mean Jeanette!

  17. Thanks for the awesome interview, Jen and Patti! It was a joy to read! :)

  18. Patti and Jeanette:
    I am inspired to try to follow Patti's advice. Thank you Patti for your openness. Thank you Jeanette for having interviewing Patti.

  19. Katie and Quietspirit,
    Hope you win the book--and remember that I have been known to be fallible on following my own advice.

    That's why it helps to get it out there--in black and white!

    Blessings to y'all!

  20. What a wonderful, transparent interview. Hey, Jeanette, I know that Camp "lady" in the picture. She's a very good friend. Patti how wonderful to share your time and ministry.


  21. Karen,
    Jeanette did a great job with those questions, didn't she?

    Thank you.

  22. thanks for the opportunity!

  23. Diane,
    Thanks for stopping by!

    Sigh...back to squeezing the right words for current proposal out of my sluggish brain.


  24. I have heard such great things about both of these books. I would love to win either one. Please add my name to the drawing. Thank you and Happy Birthday on Friday!

  25. Carly,
    Thanks for emphasizing Friday's important event. I'm so glad that you're interested in Bayou and An Irishwoman's Tale.

  26. I love the questions and interview! Questions I've not heard before that brought out the substance of the author. I would love to be entered to win. Thanks. I would prefer The Irishwoman's Tale as it is based on a true story.
    newdesertroses at gmail dot com

  27. I really enjoyed this interview and the lovely pictures. Please enter my name in your giveaway...I'm dying to read both of these books! Thank you.



  28. Linda and Sandee, thanks so much for your interest in my writing.

    Just remember, though, Linda, that chunks of Bayou have been torn from my hide!!!

    Blessings to y'all,

  29. I'm late getting to this post but really enjoyed the opportunity to get to know Patti a little better. I love her reference to "writing soulmates, prayer partners, and a support system" being manna from God. So true. Thanks for a great interview, gals.



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