BLOGWORDS – Thursday 16 February 2017 – CHAT THURSDAY – AUTHOR INTERVIEW – ROBIN PATCHEN
CHAT THURSDAY – AUTHOR INTERVIEW – ROBIN PATCHEN
“I love helping authors polish their work.”
“If time and money were no object, Robin would spend her life traveling. Her goal is to visit every place in the entire world—twice… so Robin does the next best thing: she writes. In the tales she creates, she can illustrate the unending grace of God through the power and magic of story.”
rem: Hullo, Robin, and welcome! Tell us a little about yourself. Where were you raised? Where do you live now?
ROBIN: My family moved to Londonderry, New Hampshire, when I was three years old. I went to college in Boston and lived in that area until my husband and I moved to Oklahoma in ’96. We’ve been in in Edmond, OK, ever since
rem: That’s gotta be some culture shock! Tell us three things about yourself.
ROBIN: I’ve been told I’m a good cook, I love to entertain, and I desperately hate to clean.
rem: We have more in common than our name then. What is your favourite quotation and why?
ROBIN: “A man can no more diminish God’s glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word, ‘darkness’ on the walls of his cell.” C.S. Lewis. I’m not sure that this is my favorite quote, but it’s the one that comes to mind. I love it because I’ve known a lot of folks who’ve spent their lives scribbling “darkness” in their self-imposed prisons.
rem: It’s a good quote, and very true, and I’m guessing that someone who reads the interview needs to hear it. If you could go back in time, what era would you choose and why?
ROBIN: I’d like to experience America in the years between the Revolution and the Civil War when we as a nation were discovering who we were and what we were about. I would especially like to experience the Second Great Awakening. I’ve been thinking a lot about revival lately—and praying for another great revival in America—so perhaps that’s why I would like to see it firsthand.
rem: Don’t see much on that piece of time—can I come with you? Would you bungee?
rem: Let’s do it! Favorite season? Why?
ROBIN: Autumn, because I grew up in New Hampshire, where the leaves explode in indescribable beauty every year. Unfortunately, Oklahoma leaves leave much to be desired.
rem: Ya, in New England I guess that’s a given. 😉 Do you have a favorite Bible verse? And why is it a favorite?
ROBIN: Psalm 1:1-3. It was one of the first verses I memorized after I became a believer over twenty years ago, and it helped to solidify for me the need to memorize and meditate on Scripture. Even today, the Lord teaches me from this passage.
Blessed is the man
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law he meditates day and night.
He is like a tree
planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.
rem: So powerful in its simplicity. If you could spend an evening with one person who is currently alive, who would it be and why?
ROBIN: My son is currently studying at Youth with a Mission in Hawaii, and I’ve learned a lot about the man who started that ministry, Loren Cunningham. I would love to get to know him and to hear his thoughts on revival in America and around the world.
rem: I’ve heard of YWAM. What is your favorite bird and why
ROBIN: I’m going to have to say the robin, and not just because I’m named after them. There’s something special about a robin bird. They’re not exotic. They’re not particularly special, and they don’t have the most beautiful plumage of the birds, and yet look how God allows those common birds to soar. I feel like a robin bird sometimes—commonplace, but with God’s love carrying me, even I can fly.
rem: I love your reasoning—and ya, I can fly too! Do you like to fly? What’s the furthest you’ve ever flown?
ROBIN: I love to fly! My father was an airline pilot, so I’ve done a lot of flying in my life. The furthest was probably to Rome when I was about 15. I was involved in an exchange program, so I went by myself to Rome to stay for a week with a family I’d never met. It was an amazing experience that began on the flight when there were no seats in coach or first class, so they bumped me upstairs to business class. The seat was so big, I slept on it like I would a twin bed. It was total luxury.
rem: When is your birthday?
ROBIN: December 12, just 13 days before Christmas.
rem: We’re close, month-wise if not year-wise. What is your favourite birthday memory? All-time favorite birthday gift?
ROBIN: Not that they were all birthday gifts, but many of my favorite gifts are the robins I’ve collected over the years. Most were gifts from my mother, but I’ve received some from my husband. A dear friend did a small drawing with colored pencils of a robin, which is a treasure, and my sister-in-law took a photograph of a robin just hatching in a nest. When I was young, I thought the robins were silly, but now that I’m older, I treasure them.
rem: Oh! They’re all so lovely! And I’m a wee bit jealous! What do you think is significant about Christian fiction? How has being a novelist impacted your relationship with Christ?
ROBIN: Being a novelist is hard work. Attempting to write stories that glorify God and reflect truth is even harder. Dealing with rejection can be torture. My relationship with Christ has grown as I’ve learned to trust Him with all of it—the stories, the themes, the rejection. I have become more patient and more faithful as I’ve waited for the Lord’s timing in my writing.
rem: Robin, you are so right. When reading, what makes or breaks a story for you? Your fiction pet peeve?
ROBIN: I hate it when heroes and heroines do things that don’t make sense. If you want the heroine to go into the creepy basement all alone (like in every horror movie I watched in my youth) she’d better be on the hunt for a shotgun. When a hero or heroine behaves like they’re too stupid to live, I often don’t want them to.
rem: Haven’t heard it put quite like that, but great point! LOL Which is more important: plot or characters?
ROBIN: Yes to all. Without one, the other is irrelevant.
rem: What would you do if you weren’t writing?
ROBIN: I’d be an editor. Oh, wait, I am an editor when I’m not writing. J
rem: Touché! What are you reading right now?
ROBIN: Donald Maass’s The Emotional Journey, Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert, and I’m about to start James L Rubart’s The Five Times I Met Myself. I’m a little scattered with my reading these days.
rem: What do you munch on while you write?
ROBIN: I try not to munch, but I drink loads of coffee and tea.
rem: Good on you! Such discipline! Tell us a little about your writing journey.
ROBIN: I wanted to be a writer as long as I can remember, but for most of my life, I lacked the courage to try or even admit that dream. I didn’t start writing my first novel until I was forty, just (ahem) years ago. Once I started, though, I haven’t been able to stop. Through this journey, the Lord has given me the courage to share my work and the ability to do what I’ve done. He gets all the credit for the good things. The bad things—those were all me.
rem: Yeah, well, you’re ahead of me! I was past fifty when I started… But yeah, can’t stop. What is your Writing Routine? Where do you write: In a cave, a coffeehouse, or a cozy nook?
ROBIN: I usually write standing at my kitchen counter, though sometimes I sit at the kitchen table. I love to write in coffee shops, but it’s hard to justify the cost when I can write at home for free.
rem: I love the ambiance of a coffee shop—but I get too distract—squirrel… What makes you struggle as an author? How do you handle it?
ROBIN: Every aspect of writing is hard. Every aspect of writing is joy. It just depends on the day. Right now, the problem is trying to figure out how to get my hero and heroine into the danger that will culminate in the climax. This isn’t the kind of problem normal people have at work. J
rem: No, and I wouldn’t trade to normal for nuttin!! You’re a writer and an editor—do you prefer the creating or editing aspect of writing? Why?
ROBIN: I write because you can’t edit a blank page. I much prefer editing.
rem: Ha! Good point! Which came first, the writing or the editing?
ROBIN: I’ve always been both a writer and an editor, but for me, editing is much more natural than writing. That’s why I rush through the first draft—because the magic happens in rewriting.
rem: What do you enjoy most about being a writer?
ROBIN: I get to do what I love all day, every day. It get to make up stories for a living. I get to string together letters and words and sentences and paragraphs and create something from nothing. It’s the greatest job in the world.
rem: So true. What do you enjoy most about being an editor?
ROBIN: I love to take a mediocre passage and make it sing. I love to take a scene that’s falling flat and make it soar. I love doing that with my own stories and with other people’s stories.
rem: What are your top 3 recommendations for a new writer? What 3 things would you recommend not doing?
ROBIN: What to do: 1-Read a lot of books, both within your genre and without, and both in the CBA and in the general market. 2-Read craft books and go to writers workshops and then try to implement what you learn. 3-Find some great critique partners. What not to do: 1-Take every piece of advice as gospel truth. 2-Discard every piece of advice because you’re sure you know better. 3-Break rules for no good reason or because you never bothered to learn the rules. Picasso is a great example of this. Before he painted his signature rule-breaking pieces, he spent years and years studying and perfecting the techniques to his art. Only then was he able to break the rules with style.
rem: Super analogy! (and one of my cardinal “rules” – know the rules so I know how to break them.) Where do you get your greatest ideas for writing?
ROBIN: I have no idea. The ideas just sort of come. It’s terrifying sometimes, because what if no more ideas come? And then I have to remember that God will provide the next idea when I need it.
rem: Sheesh, we think a lot alike! How do you choose your characters’ names?
ROBIN: I’m terrible at names and titles. Often, I’ll start with a nationality. For instance, the hero in the story I’m writing right now comes from a Germanic background, so I looked for German names and chose Garrison Kopp. The heroine’s last name is Messenger. I chose that because at the start of the series, she’s the only Christian in the group of friends—the messenger. I doubt any readers will pick up on that, though.
rem: I dunno, I rather imagine some will. Do you think of the entire story before you start writing?
ROBIN: Usually, I have a good idea how a story will begin, I know what the major plot points will be, and I know how it’ll end. I like to follow the plot outline in Save the Cat, so I try to have a lot of those blanks filled in. But even if I plot the stories really well, I always end up changing things around when I’m writing, so I’ve learned that for me, a rough outline is the best plan.
rem: Tell us a little about your latest book? What is your current project?
ROBIN: I just released the second book in the Hidden Truth series. It’s a romantic suspense called Twisted Lies. Here’s the blurb:
She thought they’d never find her. And then her daughter vanished.
Marisa Vega’s life as an adoptive mom in a tiny Mexican village isn’t what she’d dreamed while growing up in New York, but as the target of a man who’s convinced she stole millions of dollars from his financial firm, Marisa believes hiding is her only way to stay alive. When her daughter is snatched and held for ransom, Marisa must discover who really stole the money in order to rescue her.
Months after being kidnapped, tortured, and left with PTSD, Nate Boyle is ready to live a quiet life in rural New Hampshire. When the source of his breakout newspaper article—and the woman who haunts his dreams—begs for help, he gets pulled into a riddle that’s proved unsolvable for nearly a decade.
Can Nate and Marisa unravel the years-old mystery and bring her daughter home?
rem: What is YOUR favorite part about the book or why do you love this book? Why should we read it?
ROBIN: The heroine, Marisa, has spent eight years in hiding because she was afraid of the people who had her fiancé killed, the people who believe she stole millions of dollars from them. But now her daughter has been kidnapped, and in order to save Ana, Marisa comes out of hiding to fight for her. I love the courage of a mother willing to face death to save her child.
rem: Nothing like a mother (bear) fighting for her cub! Tell us about why you wrote this book.
ROBIN: I started writing it because of the hero, Nate. He was a secondary character in the first book of the series, Convenient Lies. Here was a guy who endured serious trouble in order to protect a woman who’d dumped him. And what he had to go through for her…well, I won’t give it away, but he captured my heart. He deserved to have his own story told.
rem: Stories lurking everywhere, even within stories. Please give us the first page of the book.
Nathan Walter Boyle had come to New York City with a handful of dreams. He was leaving with a truck full of nightmares.
Well, not a truck, exactly. He stopped at the bay window and looked out front. There in his driveway sat the weird container his father’d had delivered. The Pod was as big as a Dumpster, only shiny and white.
Nate had called his father before the delivery truck pulled away. “A U-Haul would have been fine, Dad.”
“This will give you time to sort it all out.”
Nate had a lot more to sort out than just the paraphernalia he’d accumulated in the fourteen years he’d lived in the city. If only he could figure out how to pack the nightmares away along with the detritus of his life.
He grabbed a packed box from the kitchen table and headed for the front door. He stepped onto the front porch, where he took a deep breath and blew it out slowly, like he did a thousand times a day. All was well. The guys who’d taken him were dead. He was safe.
Tell his pounding heart that.
It was sunny and chilly, mild for late March in New York. Spring had always been his favorite season in the city. The once slushy streets were clear. Trees budded along the sidewalks. Flowers bloomed. Even the people seemed to reawaken after their long grouchy winters. As the weather warmed more, kids would soon skateboard along the sidewalks, cords dangling from their ears. In city parks, the thump-thump of dribbling basketballs would serve as the rhythm for the season, while little children’s laughter would supply the melody.
For just a moment, Nate wished he could stay.
rem: Well that says a lot in a few words—as any good beginning should. What is one take-away from your book(s) that you hope readers identify with?
ROBIN: Nate is suffering from PTSD and feels like he can never play the hero—he tried that, and he failed. At the end of the story, his friend says something like, “A hero is someone who’s scared but does what he has to do anyway.” I hope the reader leaves with the truth that heroism isn’t the absence of fear but the courage to face yours fears and do what you have to do.
rem: Face the enemy and don’t back down. Anything you’d like to add?
ROBIN: It’s been a pleasure. You ask some hard questions!
rem: Well, ya know, gotta dig a little to know you better. Robin, thank you so much for joining us today! It has been my pleasure to have you here!
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“Robin’s red pen is the best thing that ever happened to my writing. Her grammar and punctuation edits are right on target, and her content suggestions always make my stories flow just a bit smoother. If you’re looking for an editor who’s unafraid to tell you what’s wrong, while freely praising what’s right, you’ve come to the right place.” – Sharon Srock, author of The Women Women of Valley View series.