It is a pleasure to have Patricia Yager Delagrange with us today for Author Interview Friday. Patricia was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, attended St. Mary’s College, studied in her junior year at the University of Madrid, received her B.A. in Spanish at UC Santa Barbara then went on to get a Master’s degree in Education at Oregon State University. She lives with her husband and two teenage children in Alameda, across the bay from San Francisco, along with two very large chocolate labs, Annabella and her son Jack. Her Friesian horse Maximus lives in the Oakland hills in a stall with a million dollar view.
Joanne: What was your motivating factor to becoming a writer?
Patricia: In 2009 my daughter came home from school and said her friend asked why her mommy didn’t work. I had been a stay-at-home mom since giving birth to my son and loved being an at-home mom. However, when my daughter asked me that question I realized both my kids were becoming more independent and indeed, I did have more free time. I went to the Apple store, bought a MacBook and told myself and my family I was going to write a book. That marked the beginning of my “new” career.
Joanne: Well, thank God for children’s inquisitive minds. That is certainly a different answer than I have ever heard before. How long did it take you to write and publish your first for manuscript?
Patricia: It took me maybe two to three months to write my first book, but after I wrote “The End” the real work started. After entering several contests I discovered not only was I “not” writing romance but I was “telling” the story and not “showing” it. I took several online classes and joined online writing groups, made hundreds of changes to my book from the comments made by the contest judges then began sending query letters to agents. I received literally hundreds of rejection letters. So I hired an editor. She taught me how to “really” write and not long afterward I signed a contract with Musa Publishing for my book Moon Over Alcatraz.
Joanne: That is very exciting. Some authors write for many, many years before getting a contract. Do you always write in the same genre?
Patricia: I write women’s fiction though I didn’t know that’s what it was called when I started. All my novels have a romantic element but the woman’s journey is the central focus of the story.
Joanne: Has your style or narrative changed in the course of writing?
Patricia: My first four novels are written in first person POV. My fifth novel I wrote in third person from the female main character’s point of view. I enjoyed that POV the most and may continue writing in that same POV or in a different third person POV for the next one but I haven’t decided yet.
Joanne: What does the term “finding your voice” mean to you and how did you find yours?
Patricia: I didn’t find my “voice” until writing my fifth novel. I’d read over and over again about your “voice” but never was quite sure what it meant nor whether I had one. I figured I didn’t have a voice since I didn’t know what the heck it was in the first place. Then, voila’, I finished my fifth novel and wrote “The End” and started the months-long editing process. That’s when I saw it. Or, I should say, I felt it. When I was re-reading that novel I realized I had my voice. It was there on the pages I’d written and it read differently than the other four books. It was “me”.
Joanne: Who are some of the authors whose work you admire the most, and why?
Patricia: I love Barbara Freethy, Jodi Picoult, Susan Mallery, Debbie Macomber, Nicholas Sparks and Richard Paul Evans. I love their writing because their books, in my opinion, are character-driven. I get bored when reading a novel that has too much description of every little thing to the nth degree because I love dialogue and like to get to know the characters. The authors I like write in a manner that lets me know the characters and shows just enough for me to get a feel of the environment in which they live.
Joanne: I couldn’t agree more. Jodi is my all-time favorite author as well. Do you consider yourself to be a “pantser” or a “plotter?”
Patricia: Oh, I’m most definitely a pantser. The only real planning I do before writing a novel is a list of the characters and their ages and professions, a blurb on what the book is about, and finally a short description of the first few chapters. Then I “take it away” from there and usually go off on several tangents but I know where I’m going. I look at my writing as coloring with crayon inside the lines of the story.
Joanne: Do you have any advice for new writers just getting started with their first manuscript?
Patricia: My advice to new writers would be to write the novel and perhaps while doing that, take a few online classes to help you out with ideas to enhance your writing, always with the rule in mind of “show, don’t tell”. And, if there’s any way you can afford it, get yourself an editor. My editor taught me how to write. I couldn’t have done it without her.
Thanks Patricia. What a pleasure to have you part of Author Interview Friday. Your novel sounds like a gripping story of life struggles that many people could relate to. I can’t wait to read it.
Readers; below is a short synopsis of Moon Over Alcatraz followed by a few chapters right from the book. Links to buy her book are below.
Here are links to buy Patricia’s novel.
Blurb about Moon Over Alcatraz
Brandy Chambers was looking forward to the birth of her first child. She and Weston move from San Francisco to the small town of Alameda to start a family, she’s writing her second book, and Weston has a fantastic job working on the Oakland-San Francisco Bay Bridge project. Having this baby would make her already-wonderful life perfect.
But when the baby dies after a difficult birth, Brandy’s perfect life blows up in her face. Stricken with grief, she and Weston pull apart. This new distance leads them both to disaster. Not until a chance encounter with her high school friend, Edward Barnes, does Brandy pull herself together. Brandy and Weston agree to recommit to each other, striving to forgive infidelity and recreate their previous existence.
Everything is once again going according to plan–until Brandy discovers she’s pregnant. While she struggles to cope with this new obstacle, Edward Barnes returns to town and discovers she’s having a baby, while Weston is torn between his love for his wife and his anger at her betrayal. Can Brandy manage to keep her marriage to Weston together? Will Edward be a part of Brandy’s life if she and Weston separate?
Sneak Peek into Moon Over Alcatraz
“What are you doing? Where are you going? Please, let’s talk about this.”
“I work my ass off in New York while you’re at home screwing other dudes?”
I pulled the sheet around me, ran over and grabbed his arm. “I wasn’t screwing other dudes.” He ripped his arm out of my grasp. “I was the one who was all screwed up. Then you went to New York and all we ever did was argue on the phone. You don’t tell your secretary you’re married and she treats me like crap on the phone…”
By now, he was fully dressed, shoes and jacket on, wallet grabbed off the bureau. His hand hovered above the door knob. His face looked void of emotion, wiped clean of all expression. “I can’t do this,” he mumbled.
I sobbed, knowing I’d hurt him and betrayed his trust. I felt like a slut. “I’m sorry. I made a mistake. But I love you.”
He stood near the door, shaking his head, tears dripping from his chin.
My legs shook. My stomach cramped. I had to make him understand. “I know I’ve hurt you and that wasn’t my intention, but I wasn’t thinking straight. I’ll regret it forever. You don’t deserve this but I’m asking you to forgive me.”
His eyes swam with tears and his chin quivered. His Adam’s apple twitched up and down as he swallowed. “I had sex with Carol Smith.”