So, I interviewed the lovely Patricia Iles sometime in late 2012…and in all the Parasite-related chaos completely failed to post it. Because sometimes I absolutely fail at life. So, with my apologies to Trish, here it is!
Patricia: Thanks for having me as your guest, Paige; I am so excited and honored to be here!
Paige: We’ll start with the simple stuff. Hi! How are ya? Where ya from?
Patricia: I was born in New Jersey, just five minutes from the shore. Do not let that mislead you: you would never confuse me with Snooki. We moved to Divide, Colorado when I was small (I had my fifth birthday on the trip west), and then the summer before I was a senior in high school, we moved to Payson, Arizona. I’ve been here ever since. About ten years ago, my husband and I bought land in western Montana. He built a gorgeous little house, I decorated it, and now that is where my heart lies. We hope to move there before we are too old to face the winter.
What inspired you to be a novelist? Did you always want to write?
My sister taught me to read and write quite early. That started a love affair with words and stories that has lasted all my life. It was also the one place that I was always encouraged in school. My English teachers always made me feel like I had something to say and that others would want to read it. For a girl who took two years to get through Algebra I, from which I was finally pity-passed…that success was powerful!
Why did you choose the American Civil War as a backdrop for your Light Gatherers series? Did you already have lots of knowledge of the era, or was extensive research required?
There are a few reasons. The first is that the real-life event that inspired the character Sarah Westbay occurred during the last days of the War Between the States. From there, I wanted to show a variety of experiences of different people at the same point in history, tied together by the same paranormal gift. I am certainly a history buff, so I was familiar with the general time period. The main things I needed to research were timelines and places. One thing I do as part of the research process is to look at historical images of the kinds of people and places I am writing about. I also find a lot of inspiration there. Sometimes, just a moment captured in time can lead me to a part of the story.
Were any of the characters in your books based on actual people? You’ve written some very unique, complex characters.
In some ways, every character is someone I know. Or, more accurately, every character is a combination of people I know or have read about. There is a great advantage to being a member of a big family! Plus, my “real job” (edit out the steam that comes out of your ears as you think about your Dad’s email!) allows me to talk with a lot of different people. There is a lot of inspiration in their stories. I have customers who went to work at age 12 when their father was killed, war brides, WWII bomber pilots, retired dairy farmers, rodeo queens, a woman who outlived five husbands and six children, the list is endless. Each one is fascinating!
Were any of the romantic relationships in your novels inspired by your own life?
Just the sex scenes! (Gasp! Did I SAY that?)
Tell us a bit about your writing process. What does your average writing day look like?
Most of my writing process doesn’t look like anything at all. When I have a story perking, it stays on my mind day and night, while I sort out different scenes and I get to know my own characters. After that, it is just like playing with Barbie when I was a child. I have Barbie and Ken and whoever else, I put them in their setting and see how they interact. I sit down at my computer, put my hands on the home row, and see what happens. All the while asking myself, “What happens next?” “Why would they do that?” “How would they feel about this?”Then comes the painful part. Revision, revision, revision!
Who are your absolute favorite authors and why?
I love authors who take me into a story, inside the character’s head, and to a place that feels real. Larry McMurtry is certainly in the top ten. If you read Lonesome Dove, you really feel like you would recognize Augustus McCrae in a crowded room, just on the strength of Mr. McMurtry’s portrayal of him. I also love Pearl Buck and Harper Lee and James Michener,,,oh, a whole HOST of authors!
A lot of my readers are also writers. What’s the best piece of advice you could give them?
I would have to say: you have to show up. Ass in Seat. Don’t wait for some grand inspiration for a blog post or a novel or an article. Sit down, put your hands on the home row and see what happens.
LGBTQ and deaf characters seem to be under-represented in fiction, especially historical fiction. Have you ever considered writing any of these characters?
What an interesting question! I really have no important experience with either, but learning and finding those stories is the journey that makes writing so thrilling. Just asking the question, “What is the story, here?” is where a lot of inspiration comes from. So, yes, I would certainly consider it.
If you could have one super power, what would you choose?
Oh, that one is easy! I wouldn’t want to be able to fly, or be invisible. I would like to be able to go around and tell people what I REALLY THINK, and have no negative ramifications from that. First stop: Wal Mart!
What if you couldn’t choose? What do you think the universe would bestow upon you?
The gods being the comical and fickle beings they are…I would probably be given the ability to fly. And I am so afraid of heights that I don’t even like to stand on a chair. J
What are your favorite and least favorite things about being an author? Would you change anything about your author-journey thus far?
Of course, I would love to be able to crank out the story, error-free and without the need for revision on the first draft. Ha! That wouldn’t be writing– it would be a miracle. But I love the process and I love-love-love when someone (!!!) tells me that they ended the last page with a sigh of contentment. So far, I still don’t feel like a bona-fide author. I still feel like a wannabe. I would change that, if I could do it without feeling like a fraud or an arrogant jerk. Only time and validation will do that, I guess.
What can we expect to see in the third book in your Light Gatherers series? Any secrets you’re willing to share?
Ooo! Love this question! The third book takes place in yet another part of the country, with a main character who has the same miraculous gift. Writing this one is exciting to me because I have no personal experience with the places or the life experiences of the characters. That makes it a journey of a different sort for me. I have studied the history, but writing what is (for me) mostly academic into a work of fiction is a fascinating challenge.
I will share a secret about this one. It was inspired by the town of Nicodemus, Kansas.
What is your favorite thing in the whole world?
That would be a long list. The way it feels when my husband wraps his arms around me. A glass of sweet wine and a qwerty keyboard? Roasting green chilies on the barbecue? The smell of a clean baby? A good review! Hear words like, “Hi, Mom,””I love you”, and “You crack me up”…too many to name, really. That is what makes life a joy!
UPDATE! Well before I finally pulled my head out of my ass, Patricia Iles both finished and published the third book in her Light Gatherers series! I haven’t got my hands on a copy yet, but I’m extremely excited to do so. It’s called The Light of a Fire Opal and THIS ENTIRE UPDATE CAN BE CLICKED TO GO TO AMAZON AND GET YOUR COPY! And if you don’t have a Kindle, it looks like it’s available pretty much everywhere else e-books are sold, too.