I am so excited to have Patricia Hickman on my blog today. She is one of my favorite authors and her lyrical “voice” makes any story she writes GREAT! She has graciously agreed to do an interview and give away a wonderful prize including her latest release – The Pirate Queen. Let’s find out more about this wonderful writer!
Thank you for inviting me into your place, Jamie. I love giving generously, so I’ll give away a free Pirate Queen Bookmark for every person who participates. For the random drawing, I’ll give away a dual-prize of an autographed copy of The Pirate Queen PLUS a traveler’s coffee/tea mug imprinted with “I Treasure Fiction”. My readers tend to settle down with a favorite beverage when they read my novels, so I had these traveler’s mugs made up special in “Pirate Queen” orange.
Thanks for such a generous offer, Patricia! Tell us a little about yourself and how you got into writing?
When I was a girl, I was an early reader and was reading chapter books before second grade. I was immensely eager to leave behind Dick and Jane books. When I got my hands on chapter books, I devoured them. One day I brought home a chapter book and told my mom, “I’m going to write these when I grow up.” I was also a kid who was curious about every person I met, especially those who were different from us—we were such an odd family, so that was nearly everyone. I often asked a person to tell me their story. I grew up seeing a story in everyone I met.
What is the best part of being an author?
The hardest part is writing the novel, so the best part is finally seeing it in someone’s hands. When I read how one of my stories has touched another life, it makes me feel as if our stories have intersected. I tend to re-read those reviews online because they give me such a charge.
What are your inspirations for your books? What was the inspiration for The Pirate Queen?
The seed idea for each novel comes uniquely. As an example, the seed idea for Fallen Angels became my first proposed novel, but it didn’t sell. It wasn’t ready yet. However, I allowed it compost and eventually Fallen Angels became my thirteenth pubbed novel.
This is one of the first stories I share with emerging writers. I sold my thirteenth proposed novel and then my thirteenth published novel was drawn from my first rejection. I always want to prepare the new writer for the rigors ahead—don’t write one novel and then sit on it. Keep churning them out until you make your first sell. However, keep all of your first ideas because one of them might actually work later on.
The Pirate Queen came to me so easily I was nervous about it. Yet it has sold well and continues to sell. The fluidity of the writing taught me more about pacing and reading flow than some of the other stories that I’ve labored to put out.
As far as inspiration for The Pirate Queen, the bit that seems to interest readers most is the story behind the peripheral character Tobias. I worked for a decade to build a bridge of compassion between the public and HIV victims. I met many children born to HIV who inspired the character Tobias. No spoilers, but the story of what happens to Tobias at a public swimming pool is taken from a true story here in the Carolinas. We all like to believe that people (children especially) are not stigmatized in contemporary western culture. All I might add to that misperception is that if each person will seek out people in their community who are otherwise excluded, invite them to break bread and ask them to share their story, they may discover that the humanity they’re tapping into will break them open as it did me.
I feel as if I stumble into these places accidentally. It’s all an adventure. Then I find I’m awakened to a whole subculture of people existing outside my safe haven. Their suffering becomes a beautiful place to stop and engage because they never tell you, “I’m suffering,” or “I’m miserable” or “Life is unfair.” That is astounding to me. It reminds me why I’m here and Who has put me on this pilgrimage. I think that somehow I’m going to make a difference in their lives and they change mine instead.
Do you have a favorite part? Favorite character? And/or background story about The Pirate Queen?
The Pirate Queen is, above all, a story of compassion. I posted on FB one day that when I started out writing, I hoped that the theme of love would somehow work its way into each story. But as time passed, compassion took over and is now part and parcel of the subtext of my novels. That doesn’t mean that my stories have a heavy agenda—I avoid reading books bent toward an agenda. (I pray that I craft deeply enough to prevent such temptations.) So how does it work, you might ask? I’ve met people who have made me want to be a better person, and I’ve invited their story into my story. When I do that, the human themes borrowed from each of them inform my stories. Their lives are like the perfume of violets left on the heel when crushed beneath a foot.
If I don’t mishandle such precious ointment, the perfume of the human condition in its redemptive progress will cause the reader to think about the story for days after they’ve closed up the book. I hope my stories leave such an aroma in each reader’s thoughts.
Where can people find you and your books?
I teach creative writing at a college campus here in the North Carolina Sand Hills—golf country. Our best days are spent in the campus botanical gardens where my writing students share from their stories.
You will find The Pirate Queen and my other novels in your local bookstore or online. However, if it’s sold out, you must make a really great big fuss at your local bookstore about The Pirate Queen or any of my other novels. They listen to their customers.
What’s next for you?
My next novel is nearly finished and is called Tiny Dancer. It is set in the racially charged 60s right here in the Sandhills of North Carolina. It’s a story of a forbidden friendship between a fifteen-year-old white teen and a middle-aged African American minister, a man who has only been known to her as “the Sunflower Man”. He is reticent to allow a white teenage girl to traipse through his giant sunflower forest to make friends with him and his eclectic guests—friends who feast and dance each night under the sultry summer moon, much to her family’s chagrin. However, over the course of this one summer, this young woman who is desperate for his healing compassion, will give back to him in ways he could never imagine.
Anything else you would like to add?
All of my stories are set in small towns. My “villagers” are all wonderfully flawed characters as we all are here in the South. I dispel the clichés that many people may imagine about southern life as I forgo any generalizations about a place that is home to me. The South is such a potent landscape and our people are all so multi-layered that I consider each character extracted from an intoxicating mélange. I invite all readers into my “story village” where every reader from every walk of life may escape for a while and participate in a celebration of faith and compassion, a world where small town life brims with large stories. Welcome to the village.