Thursday, October 26, 2006

Interview with Patti Hill

Captain’s Log, Stardate 10.26.2006

Today I’m joined by my friend Patti Hill! Patti’s first novel, Like a Watered Garden, was a finalist in the prestigious Christy Awards!

Patti's latest novel is In Every Flower, book 3 of the Garden Gates series.

Sometimes you get a second chance...

Remarriage isn't the happily-ever-after Mibby McManus hoped for. Between conflicting work schedules, a rebellious teenage son, a mother-in-law who can't get enough of the Food Channel, and a cat-in-law bent on destruction, Mibby and her new husband, Larry, never seem to find enough time for each other.

Then there's the part Mibby really didn't expect: the constant intrusion of memories.

Just when she thinks she's gotten back on track, a phone call from California unsettles everything. It's time for Mibby to face her past or risk losing everything.

And now, here’s Patti!

What inspired your Garden Gate series idea?

Like all potential writers, I'd heard over and over to write what you know about. I've been married to a horticulture genius for almost thirty years (We married when I was 12.) He owns a garden center, so gardening has always been a huge part of our relationship. It seemed so natural to create a garden designer who could move through character's garden gates and into their lives. Besides, it's very handy to live with your technical advisor.

What's next for you? Can you tell us about the story you're working on now?

I'm loving my next story, a stand-alone novel, tentatively titled The Queen of Sleepy Eye. It's a coming-of-age story of a mother and a daughter set in a smallish Colorado town in the 1970s. At that time, the town attracted a lot of attention for having more churches per capita than any other American city, a burgeoning coalmining operation, and an influx of back-to-nature types. What a mix! I love my main character, Amy, who is desperate for independence, and I'm very empathetic with the mother as my sons are thousands of miles away.

The story of your injury and how God worked through it all is very inspiring. How did you rupture a disk in your neck? Can you tell us about your recovery?

I ruptured my neck by lifting a heavy bag of books in an awkward position. The pain in my neck quickly subsided, but pain showed up in other interesting places, like my hands and feet. The pain was severe enough to keep me from touching a keyboard. It took 15 months for doctors to agree that surgery might help. In the meantime, pain stripped me down to the bone. I couldn't figure my way out of the dilemma, and really, I'm glad I couldn't. The pain forced me to look beyond this life and to live for the far shore. And I had never experienced such an intense time of intimacy with Jesus than during those years of injury and recuperation. My main character, Mibby, is struggling against incredible hardships in the second book. I borrowed a word picture from my own experience to help Mibby through hers. That's how art and life commingle.

Finish this sentence: Writing a novel is like...

twirling too many plates on sticks on a deserted a hurricane!

Since you're Miss Gardener, if you were a flower, which would you be and why?

A sunflower! They are phototropic, meaning they follow the path of the sun through the day. I always want to have my eyes fixed on the Son.

As you know (or maybe you don't) I'm very food-oriented (I just went to a faboo Asian-fusion steak house and had kobe beef for the first time!). What's your favorite ethnic food and why?

Italian food full of garlic and fresh ingredients. Mexican food is a close second because of the layered flavors and portability.

You're a Curves member, right? Do you have any cool health and diet tips for me so I can one day look as fabulous as you do?

Are you sure you're thinking of the right Patti Hill? Okay then, yes, I go to Curves...I had a book signing there this weekend. But I also walk my dog most mornings or suffer the consequences. (Tillie moans the rest of the day, if I don't take her for our daily constitutional.) I drink three glasses of milk a day. But the most important thing is this: Don't ever try to use food to meet a need that can only be met by Jesus.

You're off the hot-seat! Any parting words?

The writing life isn't anything like I imagined it to be. First of all, editors aren't the pinched-faced curmudgeons I'd expected. I love my editor. She says nice things about my writing and then drops the boom. Also, meeting and knowing other writers has been like having a glimpse of heaven. We cheer each other on and love one another enough to say when we've missed the mark. The time I spend with writers is the truest expression of the body of Christ I've experienced. The best part is adding a new dimension of my walk with Christ. Co-creating with Him is a blast and very exciting. It's a ride!

Camy here: Thanks so much Patti!