Monday, March 12, 2012

A Gathering of Light

It’s time for another installment of Interview With a Writer!  It’s just like Interview with a Vampire, but with fewer vampires.  Today’s guest is Patricia Iles.

Patricia Iles as drawn by me.*  
 Patricia is the author of A Gathering of Light, an historical romance, set during and after the Civil War. Lieutenant Hixson Morris, near death on the battlefield, finds himself in the care of a beautiful woman with a mysterious gift. The story takes us from the Battle of the Wilderness, through a tumultuous series of events to the full understanding of the meaning of a miraculous gift.

What I found most intriguing about this book is that Patricia was inspired by true events, which I’ll ask her to tell us about in just a minute.

This book was an enjoyable read and I found myself cheering for the MC’s right away.  There is love and loss, heartache and triumph.  And one particular scene had my heart in my throat the whole time.

Let’s get to it and interview our author.  As usual, I’ll do my best to stay on topic, but there are no guarantees.  Everyone should proceed with caution.

SG: Before we get started, Patricia, please answer the question on everyone’s mind: Are you a vampire?

Patricia: I was once, but I overcame it with the help of meditation, white merlot and gradually acclimating myself to sunlight. I suspect my younger son is a vampire, but I haven't been able to prove it without driving a wooden stake through his chest. That seems like an extreme thing to do, just to prove I'm right.
SG: Yes, that does seem rather extreme.  I'm glad you are able to exercise self-control.

What inspired you to write A Gathering of Light?

Patricia: When I was in high school, our teacher had us go to the library and dig around in the newspaper archives. We were to find something in a newspaper (an article, obit, birth announcement) and write a story inspired by that. I came across a news clipping from a southern newspaper, circa 1865-66 during Reconstruction. It was about a recently orphaned young woman who was raped and killed by a band of renegades. I didn't write about it then, but I've carried that picture in my mind ever since. I have always wanted to give that long-ago girl a different ending to her tragedy.

SG: How much research did you have to do to write a novel that takes place during the Civil War?

Patricia: I did a fair amount of research, to make sure that my timeline worked and things like that. I'm a history buff anyway, so that was fun. I know. I'm a nerd.

SG: Yay for being a nerd!  I love history too.

How did you come up with the idea for Sarah’s special gift?

Patricia: I dreamt it. Yup. Corny, huh? I woke up in the middle of the night one night and said, "Eureka!". A lot of things get solved in your sleep if you let your brain sort them out. I can't explain why it took over 30 years for my brain to sort this one out.

SG: I don't think it's corny at all!  Our dreams are great sources of inspiration.  Your answer made me think of the quote by Saul Bellow: "You never have to change anything you got up in the middle of the night to write."

What superpower or special gift would you like to have?

Patricia: Oh, this one is easy! I would LOVE to be able to have a whole day where I could tell everyone exactly what I really think; the next day they would have the message but wouldn't remember that it came from me. The first place I would go is Wal Mart and I have me a frickin' field day.

SG: Oh Wal Mart.  Those Walmartians be crazy!

How long does it take you to write your novels?   

Patricia: It has taken me about a year for each one.

SG: Do you have any critique partners?

Patricia: Not exactly, but my sweet friend Holly is wonderful about reading my drafts and letting me bounce ideas off of her. Occasionally, they stick!

SG: Would you rather grow a monkey tail or spend the rest of your life carrying around a goat?

Patricia: Let's talk about this. Is it a prehensile tail that I could use as a third hand? I might consider that. Does it have to be covered in monkey fur? Could I get one in a cute dot or maybe a zebra print? But then, goats can be handy. I wouldn't have to weed the yard anymore. Which I don't do now, but still. Do I have to hold the goat while I'm sleeping? I'm a little on the redneck side, but that's one of those lines. You know...LINES? That you don't cross? Certainly not if you don't want it to get around town, anyway. I think I'll take the tail. Besides, goats smell funky.

SG:  Hmmm…what an odd question.  I blame…someone else for that.  Let’s get back on track.  Oh, and yes, goats do smell funky.

Patricia: I don't really gave me something to think about there...... That was rather a defining question in a person's life.

SG: What is the best writing advice you’ve ever received?

Patricia: My high school English teacher (back when they still called it English and not language arts) told us to NOT try to write like someone else. We each have a story to tell which is uniquely ours and it should be told in our own voice. I think she chipped that lesson into the cave wall, because chalk hadn't been discovered yet. Hi, Mrs. Waas!!!

SG: What are your three favorite words?

Patricia: Chips, Salsa and Wine. No.... Joy, Balance and Diligence.  Maybe: Faith, Hope and Charity? I have it! Faith, balance and wine. That's it. You can do ANYTHING if you have faith, balance and wine.

SG: So very true.

What is one rule that every writer should break?

Patricia: That you should outline your story completely. Do that as a guide if you must, but let your story grow and develop as you go: it's an organic thing and must be allowed to mature in its own way.

SG: Have you ever received any feedback that made you want to curl in a ball and rock yourself in the corner for three days?

Patricia: Not yet, but I have a blankie and a box of tissues standing by. I was going to make a smart crack about being a good shot, but that could be misconstrued if I were to someday find myself on trial.

SG: Good thinking.

I'm wondering, do you think my house will ever be completely clean? 

Patricia: Probably right after mine is completely clean, which will be right after everything the government does makes sense and I win the Pulitzer Prize.

SG: I’m sorry!  What an inappropriate question.  I suspect the husband is trying to hijack this interview.

Patricia: I don't believe you. We know what questions men would ask. He doesn't care when the house will be clean. He cares about when is the next time you're going to .....?   well. Never mind. :-)

SG: Hahahahahahahaha! Hahaha! Haha...

Pardon me for a moment while I go collect myself.

Okay, I'm back.  What does your writing space look like?

Patricia: If I'm home alone, I sit on my recliner sofa, kick up my feet and type like crazy. If my Sweet Hubs is home, I usually sit across from him at the table, each of us with our respective laptops and we sit together to do our own thing. 

SG: What is the next book you are working on and when will it be available?

Patricia: This week, I finished the final-final draft of "A Light in the Mountains", the next book in the trilogy. It should be available (if the planets line up correctly) at all the major e-book retailers by the time this interview is live! Now I need to work on the third book.

SG: On a scale of one to bajillion, how awesome was this interview?

Patricia: This was beyond a bajillion and into the besquillions! My first interview. I feel all special.

You should fee special, Patricia! We all feel special for having you here.

Guess what, everyone?  Patricia is giving a free copy of A Gathering of Light and a free copy of her new novel A Light in the Mountains.  Just leave a comment telling me what superpower you'd like to have.  Or you could talk about bacon or let me know if you're willing to come clean my house.  Winners will be announced on Friday.  First random generated number will receive A Gathering of Light and the second will receive A Light in the Mountains.

You can stalk Patricia on her blog Contemplating Happiness and check out her website.  And remember you don't have to have a Nook or a Kindle to download her e-book. You can have it sent directly to your phone or computer or you can download the Kindle app like I did!

*Patricia prefers to remain fabulously anonymous so I offered to draw a picture of her.  I have absolutely no idea what she looks like - I don't know if she has blonde hair and green eyes or black spiky hair and blue eyes or pink hair and brown eyes.  I like to think I'm helping protect her identity.


  1. A great interview! Hmmm....freezing time would be fun. I could just pause right now so I could read more blogs instead of getting ready for work...

  2. Thank you so much for the fun interview and the kind words about my book! I'm still pondering the decision about having a monkey tail vs. a goat. I may never be 100% confident in my decision on that one.

    This was a kick, Ms. SC. Thanks again!

    p.s. You really came pretty close with your portrait of me. The FBI will be looking for you as a police artist, if you can always guess that well!

  3. Nice work ladies! Now on to the fun stuff. I think my superpower would have to be super speedy woman, or something like that.
    Did you know that there is bacon jam, bacon mayo, and bacon pancakes?! Just trying to cover all my bases here.

    I would agree the portrait is really accurate.

  4. Teleportation. Without all that business about becoming spliced and put back together with fly DNA or something like in the movie The Fly. That is just nasty.

    I like goats, but would not want to have to carry one around with me all the time. Makes going out to dinner or shopping hard. Goats eat EVERYTHING.

  5. My special power would be the ability to speak every lanuguage fluently!

    I would pick the monkey tail...and have it bedazzled!

  6. I dig sarcastic interviews taht also inform. You nailed it, Goddess. Thanks...I
    ll try to read Patricia's book next week.

  7. Okay, THAT was a fun interview. Well done, lassies.

    The only superpower I wish to have is immortality. I want to be here to see every part of my son's long and wonderful life.

    I don't Patricia's book for free. I just wanted to play! :)

    1. /\ insert "need " up yonder /\ (sheesh!)

  8. Hello.
    Great interview. I would love to freeze time, so I would always be able to hear my wife's mellifluous voice and see her beautiful smile. Thanks for sharing.

    I'm also here to let you know that as a follower of my blog, you have been randomly selected as the Featured Follower! of the week. For more information & to claim your award, please click here...

  9. Very fun interview. I wish I could have the invisibility superpower, oh boy what wouldn't I do with that.

  10. Very funny interview! I'm pretty sure I have all the super powers I can handle. The ability to time travel might be nice though.

    I really don't have any bacon comments...except that a BLT sounds really good right now. I might even consider cleaning your house for a BLT.

  11. Loved the Book..A.Gathering of the Light!!! Please continue writing...I don't always comment on all the books I read...and believe me I read A LOT!!! This book had me smiling Laughing and Crying!!! Loved it.....can't wait to read more from you Patricia Iles!!! :) Thank you!!


I had to change my comment settings because I was getting too much spam. You can no longer comment anonymously. (I don't think anyone besides the spammers were doing this.) But I don't want to block the rest of you from commenting! If you're having trouble, tweet me at @sarcasmgoddess or email sarcasmgoddess at ymail dot com and I'll see what I can do to fix it.