Friday, December 16, 2016

Interview with novelist Patrice Locke

Author Patrice Locke is here chatting with me about her new romantic comedy, Exit Signs.

During her virtual book tour, Patrice will be awarding one $10 Amazon or Barnes and Noble (winner’s choice) gift card to a lucky randomly drawn winner. To be entered for a chance to win, use the form below. To increase your chances of winning, feel free to visit her other tour stops and enter there, too!

As a journalist, Patrice Locke wrote a lot of stories with unhappy and even tragic endings.
 Facts are facts, and a writer doesn't mess with facts.

But fiction is another world. Patrice began writing novels, where she could control the endings and make them as happy as she wants. The best thing about fiction, she says, is having time to think before her characters speak, so they can say the things most of us only come up with after the perfect moment has passed.   

She loves to write, read, and watch romantic comedies where life always turns out the way it should. Her only obsessive relationships are with semicolons and Oxford commas. 

Though she doesn't like to brag, Patrice is an award-winning artist. She won a gold and diamond watch when she was 13 for decorating a turkey drumstick bone to look like Batman. Alas, that was her last recognition in the fine arts.
Patrice lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where the blue sky is brilliant, the air is thin, and the vistas are breathtaking. She is none of those things, which is one reason she enjoys living among them.

Welcome, Patrice. Please share a little bit about your current release.
Exit Signs is the story of researcher Tracy Price who becomes obsessed with finding a writer who disappeared in the 1930s and decoding the enigma of a musician whose ‘fans’ either idolize him or despise him.

Content to live her life in the no-drama style of the documentaries she creates, Tracy is not pleased to realize that rock star Jesse Elliot is inadvertently rewriting her script, turning her life into a convoluted combination of slapstick comedy, classic cartoon, tear-jerking drama, western adventure, and love story, not necessarily in that order.

She’s not sure whether she wants to sleep with Jesse or take a swing at him with a ball-peen hammer because he gives her such mixed signals. The key to their relationship turns out to be snarled in the middle of advice from the mysterious missing writer.

What inspired you to write this book?
I was bored, sitting in the Denver airport, paging through a People Magazine, thinking about celebrities when I saw a man who looked like a famous musician – a poor man’s version of the star, anyway. I started to create a story for him and wrote up the results of that as an isolated scene.

After that, I couldn’t stop wondering how he got into the predicament I imagined for him, how he would respond to it, and what affect would his situation have on his life.

Voila, Jesse Elliot, minor rock star was born and his reluctant fan Tracy appeared to tell his story.

Excerpt from Exit Signs:
Jesse lunged toward me. It was too late. I had already launched. He reached out but didn’t connect. Instead, I broke the trajectory of my upper body by grabbing him at chest level and sliding down. He was pushed backward into the table, which stabilized our ungainly host-parasite tableau. He softened my landing so that physically I was fine, but my pride was ready for intensive care.

Heaped at his feet, like a demented penitent, I hugged his knees, my face pressed flat into his thighs. I might as well stay down. What’s worse? To stand up and face you, or remain here, nestled between your legs? What do you think? Then, the finishing touch: I erupted into nervous, snorting laughter. He guessed there was no serious injury.

“It’s nice to see you, too. You are okay, aren’t you? Can you stand?” He reached for my arms to unwrap them from his legs and help me up. I jammed my eyelids together to conjure up a do-over, but no such luck.

I would have to deal with it.

He held my elbows in his hands. “I guess we were both in a hurry to see each other.”

I do appreciate your attempt to lighten the mood, but you are standing SO close. I can feel your body heat. Or is that mine? By the way, you smell tart and fresh, like a lime.

I stared at his shoulder. My dignity meter was stuck on empty.

“Enthusiastic greeting. Thanks for that.” He was blatantly amused.

“It was nothing.” I stepped backward to regain a semblance of independence. Don’t mock me. But, you did go to all the trouble to bring your hair. And your eyes. I might forgive you for witnessing my disgrace. That hair.

What exciting story are you working on next?
The working title is “Ghostsitter.” I’m having fun creating an unreliable narrator who is trying to turn her life around while she keeps backsliding into her old ways. She’s spent her life getting by on her good looks and just as she hits rock bottom a series of problems begins to rob her of her gorgeous hair, alabaster skin, and physical grace. Limping around, wearing an eye patch and finding herself destitute, she has to find a way to rearrange her character and her life.

On the surface, she’s a scoundrel, but I’m finding that the more I know her, the more I like her. I’m hoping readers will feel that way as well. Also, she gets to fall in love with someone who looks past her appearance and likes what he sees. He has to look deeper because she’s really falling apart.

One thing that inspired me was a 100-year-old high school complex in Albuquerque that has been renovated and turned into urban lofts. A lot of my story centers around a building modeled after that one. I’ve been fascinated by that whole concept and the building itself for years.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Forever. I think it’s hereditary. My maternal grandmother, who was from Scotland, was renowned in the family for her morality tales of “Helpful Joe.” My mother was a memoirist who tracked family history and was a faithful correspondent with dozens of people.

I started with a degree in journalism, writing news and feature stories and then switched to fiction, so I’ve always thought of myself as a writer.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I’m a teacher with a few years to go before I can retire. My nest is empty, so I can arrange my time off and weekends to accommodate writing, which is my first love.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
Obsessive revision. I teach writing and ‘read, re-read, re-read, re-read’ is my motto. My personal classroom quote of the year is “Writing is a process, not a race. You get the best results when you s-l-o-w down.” If I can only impart one tidbit of knowledge, I think that would be it. I feel that I am on a quest to get people to RE-READ what they write before they share it.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
An archaeologist. I grew up in Detroit and the King Tut exhibit came to the city as it traveled the world when I was in elementary school. I was obsessed with Egyptian lore and King Tut. Working in Egypt would have been a long shot, but then I did end up living in New Mexico, one of this country’s most archaeologically rich areas.

But when I realized that archaeologists work on tiny bits to create big theories, I realized I wouldn’t have been good at that. I like to work the opposite way – big idea down to the details. I think that’s what writers do, in general. My brain does not follow a linear path. When I see the painstaking, jigsaw-puzzle like work archaeologists do, I know I would not have been good at or happy while doing that. I’m a history geek, though, so writing allows me to research the past and weave it into stories that take place mostly in the present.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Rather than blab on about myself, I’d love to hear recommendations from readers of good romantic comedy. I like most of Susan Elizabeth Phillips’ books and I enjoyed the first two Bridget Jones books. I love snappy dialogue and I’m always on the lookout for smart romances. I guess I would ask, what makes you laugh and satisfies your urge to read happily ever after romances?


Thank you for being a guest on my blog!
Thank you for having me!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Bernie Wallace said...

What is the best book that you have read recently? Thanks for the giveaway. I hope that I win.Bernie W BWallace1980(at)hotmail(d0t)com

Victoria Alexander said...

Thanks for sharing - have a great weekend! :)

Unknown said...

Congrats on the tour and thanks for the chance to win :)

Anniek Snowroses said...

The excerpt got me interested!

justpatrice said...

Great! Thanks for that.

Anniek Snowroses said...

As a journalist you wrote many stories. COuld you name one that really stuck with you?

Teresa said...

Sounds like a great book.

Anniek Snowroses said...

Just put this book on my WTR list!