Today we welcome Patti Hill, one of my all-time favorite voices in Christian fiction. When you pick up one of her books, you’ll see why. She has a fresh, beautiful voice – lyrical without being ostentatious, heartfelt and whimsical and easy to read and emotionally complex all in one. Oh, and did I mention funny? It’s no wonder she’s multi-published and a Christy award finalist. Not only that, she’s just the sweetest person you’ll ever meet. I’m so thrilled to have her with us at the Alley on this extremely exciting day!
What’s that? Why is today exciting? You mean you didn’t know? Today – drumroll, please – is the official launch of Patti Hill’s newest release, Goodness & Mercy! To kick off with a bang, Patti’s novel will be FREE on Amazon in e-book form for three days only, starting today! If that’s not enough, Patti will also be giving away a paperback copy to one lucky commenter – all details at the end. Without further ado, here’s Patti:
Bio: Patti Hill is an unlikely novelist. Books played only a small part in her life until her high-school years. And she only remembers her mother reading to her once. Her mother’s voice flowed like water.
Always resistant to sleep, young Hill created stories to entertain herself until stories of galloping Arabian stallions and pirate ships segued into dreams. That was the beginning. Then she discovered people enjoyed hearing her stories—real or imagined. She loved having an audience. Still does.
She didn’t think to write a story until she read a novel so beautiful that when it ended, she was bereft. A passion to orchestrate words, characters, and stories consumed her. Fortunately, she’d married a man who thought leaving a good-paying career to write novels was a splendid idea. In other words, she is a kept woman. Happily so. In Colorado. She is the author of six novels. Writing is one way she worships Papa God.
Welcome, Patti! We’re going to pick your brain a little today. Goodness & Mercy is your first historical fiction. What challenges did you face in this new genre?
I had a terrible time stopping the research phase. I interviewed people, picked peaches, spent hours in the oral history department of the local museum, anything to get into the skin of the people who lived during WW II and insert myself into their lives of the people of Palisade, Colorado. I met the most amazing people, like a 95-year-old man who ascended Mt. Belvedere with the 10th Mountain Division. Everyone was generous. The bonus was learning so much about my own valley.
I can just about smell those sun-warmed peaches. You actually make research sound like fun. (Can you tell I’ll never be an historical fiction author? Love reading it, but phew – hard work for the author!) Why did you decide to try historical fiction?
Over the years, my mom had asked me repeatedly to write her story. Writing my family’s story, including six siblings and all of their children, scared me to death. There were too many perspectives on what had happened. So, I borrowed the premise of my mom’s story.
In 1946, my grandmother was declared an unfit mother, and my grandfather was institutionalized for a mental breakdown. At sixteen, my mom quit school and set about being breadwinner and caregiver to her six siblings, ranging in age from 2 to 14. The state eventually stepped in and took her siblings to orphanages.
Although dispersed, Mom managed to keep her siblings a family. I have relationships with all of my aunts and uncles. Thanks to Mom, we are a family.
I love the tenacity Mom demonstrated, and I put that quality in my main character, Lucy. She has twin siblings, Goody and Mercy, a boy and girl, when her parents are killed. Lucy tries to be all the twins need, but the state steps in and the 8-year-old twins head off for an orphanage. When a farmer and his wife decide to adopt Goody, the question becomes: How far will Lucy go to keep her shrinking family together?
I love your premise. The fact that it’s based on a real-life story is goosebump-worthy. What a rich vein of family lore you have to mine. Okay: let’s get down to the nitty gritty. What is your writing day like?
Since I work in my home, I like to have my ducks in a row before going to my desk. For me, that means time with Papa God. I talk back to Him daily in my journal. It’s a great time. Then I take my Australian shepherd, Tillie, for a long walk. We both need to work out the kinks. Once I’ve cleaned up, I do a household job, and then it’s off to work. I unplug the phone, look at the pages I wrote the day before, and write three more. It’s amazing how quickly the pages add up. When I reach my writing goal, I’m out the door to meet a friend for a cold drink or spend time with my dad. This is how I regenerate.
Sounds like you’ve achieved a great work/ life balance. Did you always want to be a writer?
Heavens, no! I told my 8th grade math teacher I didn’t need to solve for X because I was going to be an entertainer. I left my ingénue stage in time to marry and have two sons, so I stayed home with the boys for most of their growing-up years before I returned to college for my literature degree. I was born a teacher, so I taught elementary school for a while.
But I’d read that beautiful story. And I couldn’t think of anything else I wanted to do. I quit teaching—the original plan was for a year—but I hadn’t even written the first page after one year. I was discovering that writing was hard work. I buckled down, got the first chapter written. Within months, I had a book contract for Like a Watered Garden.
You realize we all hate you right now. Or at least, we would if you weren’t so completely loveable. Seriously, it’s a credit to the caliber of your writing that you snagged the attention of a publisher so quickly. I’m impressed. What advice do you have for aspiring writers?
Don’t make publication your goal. Make writing God-honoring stories your goal. Be willing to put the time and sweat it takes to be a good writer. Take classes at your local college or attend writers conferences to hone your skills. Keep learning. Never be satisfied, but never go safe either. Above all, persist. Persistence is the secret ingredient to being a good writer. And one more thing I wish someone had told me: Start small. Write short stories or novellas. They’re a great way to experiment with ideas, and if your experiment tanks, you haven’t lost all the time and effort a novel requires.
Great tips, Patti. There’s a lot to chew on there. I’m so pleased you could come and hang out with us today.
The best to you!
Isn’t she lovely? So here’s the lowdown. To win a SIGNED paperback copy of Patti’s novel, please comment below with why you would like to read Goodness & Mercy. One winner will be announced in the weekend edition.
Then after you’ve commented, skip right on over to Amazon and click yourself a FREE copy of the e-book. (Don’t forget – it’s FREE for three days only! Help spread the word!)
If you win, you can keep one and give the other as a gift to a book-loving friend. Or keep it just to sniff the pages (I know you still love the smell of paper and ink, even if you ARE a Cool Kid with a Kindle). Or leave it casually lying around on your coffee table, open to the autographed flyleaf, so everyone can be suitably impressed by your authorial connections.
Whatever the case, we are determined to get Patti’s newest novel into as many hands as possible, so get commenting and get clicking! And if you read it and enjoy it, please help spread the word by writing a review or recommending the book to a friend!
The heart-wrenching true story that inspired Patti Hill's newest novel, GOODNESS AND MERCY: Click to Tweet
Author Patti Hill on her latest release, the writing life and making her first sale: Click to Tweet
FREE e-book, GOODNESS & MERCY, available three days only: Click to Tweet