I really enjoyed Patti Lacy’s debut novel, An Irishwoman’s Tale, but her latest, What the Bayou Saw, is even richer. I love Patti’s voice and can’t say enough about how much I love her latest novel. Her books are great book club reads that will inspire discussion for hours. Enjoy this interview with Patti and be sure to read her novels.
What are some of the favorite novels you have read over the years and why did you love them?
Tina, if I listed all the books I love, we will be here until Labor Day! I’ll list three that pop into my mind.
Les Miserables, that grand epic portrayal of Biblical themes through the life of French hero Jean Valjean. I remember flying to New Mexico as I absorbed the last page of a shedding-pages copy of this novel, then sobbed out loud. My poor seatmate poised her finger near the call chord but thankfully didn’t yank it!
Beautiful Joe, which fostered a desire to care for unwanted pets and taught me that dogs really CAN write!
The Children’s Illustrated Bible, This book laid a foundation for my faith in God. The cement continued to harden and set years later, when I shared this same wonderful volume with my babies.
Your first novel, An Irishwoman’s Tale, released in 2008, only a year before What the Bayou Saw. How have you grown between your debut novel and now?
Only a pants size or so! Sorry, Tina. I cover such heavy stories, I have to get my laughs elsewhere!
Since I only began chasing a writing career in 2005, the learning curve’s been steeper than Everest! It took months to grab POV by her shirt, even longer to catch up to proper pacing. An Irishwoman’s Taletaught me to determine the story’s ending ahead of time AND how to lasso that elusive POV. I experimented with different dialects and took on the POV of two men in What the Bayou Saw. (I agree, that was crazy!)
Part of my joy in writing is deriving from that desire to do it better. Each time.
What The Bayou Saw is about some pretty heavy issues, yet the novel is also heavy with hope. How did you come up with the story line?
Through the stories of women I’ve met in coffee houses, at Bible studies, and through cold-call research. Be careful when you pick up that phone! I may be on the other end, wheedling your story out of you and into my next book.
My brother, an Air Force colonel who was one of the first uniformeds back into New Orleans post-Katrina, lent a soldier’s heavy brush strokes to the Southern canvas of Bayou. One college employee shared her awful first memory of “whitey.” I kinda put all the little pieces of stories on the jigsaw table, then pieced them together. It’s like a 1,000 challenger—fun, but difficult. And a nice pretty picture when you’re done!
How much of real life ends up in your novels?
An Irishwoman’s Tale strove to capture the ability of my best friend to forgive not one but two dysfunctional families. My statistics expert husband claims 85% of the book is true while I’d wager 90%. While What the Bayou Saw is classified as fiction, I tried to weave pieces of my own life and the stories I just described into the work. It’s kinda fun to keep everybody guessing about what’s what and what isn’t what.
You are a Christian, so in what way does that influence your writing? As a writer, do you ever feel limited by your beliefs or do your beliefs serve to add more depth to your stories?
Oh, my! I truly believe that God has gifted me with every story I’ve written. So far, we’ve covered the themes of forgiveness, restoration, grace, and packaged them all under the tenets of Romans 8:28, God working for good in all things in the lives of those who live Him, who call on His name. Even abuse. Even alcoholism. Even mental illness. Even a rape. Far from limiting my stories, God has expanded them!
How do you balance your writing career with the rest of your life’s journey?
When the muse grabs my brain and shakes it until the fragments of a hundred scenes remain, I try to rise at 5:00 a.m. and meet a daily page rate (usually between three to eight pages.) Then I work on critiques, book reviews, do research, and take care of any publicity details that have zipped in via e-mail. My son and I manage to have lunch, my dog gets walked, groceries fill the fridge and pantry, and we all gather for a home-cooked dinner. Since I work at home, the commute from coffee pot to study is short, so I probably work a little less than the normal eight to fiver. Because there’s Bible study and coffee time and an occasional date night—the ingredients to my “life journey—“ just waiting to happen!
Thanks, Tina! It sure was fun.