***I am re-running this fun interview with Patti Callahan Henry this week to let you know about a LIVE CHAT with Patti on Tuesday, June 25, at 3:30 p.m. EST on BookTribChat! During the chat you can:
- Ask Patti questions directly
- WIN a free copy of the book
- See Patti’s fabulous, creative writing space where all the magic happens
I will be there, and I hope to see you guys there too!
I was first introduced to New York Times bestselling author Patti Callahan Henry. I was introduced to Patti when I was assigned to work on her novella, The Perfect Love Song. Telling a complete story in that condensed format is no easy feat, but Patti pulled it off–so much so that I immediately read her other books once I’d finalized the edits.
Patti has such a strong presence on the page, editing her is almost too easy. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again and again, no one puts emotion on paper as gracefully and seemingly effortlessly as she does. I know for me as a writer, sometimes trying to convey my soul in words feels like a dopey kitten that’s gotten all tangled up in a ball of yarn. Patti takes that “yarn” and weaves it seamless into a beautiful shawl you can’t help but wrap yourself in. Don’t believe me? Read the excerpt at the end of this interview from And Then I Found You, about the main character, Kate, and her experience placing for adoption the baby she just brought into the world. (Have tissues or at the very least, a dry sleeve, handy. You’ll need it)
Before we get to know Patti and what fuels her as a writer, here’s how to find her out in the world:
1. I am a big fan of your books and And Then I Found You, did not disappoint! I laughed and I cried. I couldn’t put it down; actually read it in two sittings, the second sitting in the middle of the night. I know this story is particularly special, for you and your family. Can you tell us a little bit about the background of the story?
Can I say that I’m glad I made you cry? Hopefully in the good kind of way. The background of the story is that twenty-three years ago, my sister, Barbi, bravely placed her baby daughter for adoption. And then three years ago, that beautiful girl found us on Facebook. The real story is full of magical synchronicity and reunion. I wrote a fictional version using this backdrop.
2. We all put bits and pieces of people we know into our books, but your characters and at least “the big event” that grounds the story are very real. Did you have any issues with family members and friends when they learned you were doing this?
My family wanted me to write this book. The only issue we had was when I tried to write the “True Story” – I couldn’t do it. I sat down with my sister and told her that it was her story to tell; I couldn’t “become” her. So we agreed that she’d work on a memoir while I wrote a fictional version. What I did was ask myself this question: What is the heart of the story FOR me? And then I took it from there.
3. You have a such a gift for describing emotion. It seems to glide through the story without any awkwardness whatsoever. Do you find it easy to write emotion or do you struggle with it? And can you give some advice on how to craft it as you do?
This is the nicest compliment. It means so much to me because this is an important part of the writing for me—to convey emotion while moving the story forward. I don’t know if it comes easily; I don’t think anything about writing comes easily if it is any good. Advice? For the first draft: Pour it out there on the paper. Dump it without editing. Dig deep. Tell the truth. THEN edit it to smooth. I think maybe it’s like making something out of wood and then smoothing it with sandpaper when the shape of it is done. But you can’t smooth it if you aren’t pouring the truth (the emotion) out there.
4. Do you have any special rituals for writing? A time of day you like writing, a special drink to sip, or sweater to wear? Or maybe a special feather to have close by… (Read the book, guys!)
I believe I do my best writing when I get up to my attic (my office) first thing in the morning. Light a candle. Wiggle some words around in a journal and then dive into the story. This might be a myth I’ve created for my own use, but it works. My office is full of all my favorite things: feathers, books, photos of my children, poems, artwork, etc… and I believe this helps.
5. It was such a great idea to release Friend Request as a lead up to And Then I Found You. Do you see yourself doing more of that kind of thing with your books going forward? How do you see yourself evolving as an author in this ever-expanding publishing environment?
Thanks again for the kind words! I do see doing this again. Because I always love to read “the story behind the story” I assume others do also. I don’t exactly know how I see myself in this expanding publishing environment—I think it has something to do with continuing to try to write a story well told while staying active in the social media community. A fine line to be sure.
BONUS QUESTION: Thanks to advances in technology and communication, you could literally “be” at a book club meetings anywhere in the world, just by sitting in front of your computer. Is this something you’re doing now or may consider doing going forward?
Absolutely. I’ve done it before and I love talking to my readers.
Great to know, Patti. Maybe sometime we can do a Google Hangout book event together. 🙂
Thanks for sharing with us today!
Excerpt from And Then I Found You
There was, she found, a tunnel of darkness that she willingly entered as she pushed Luna from her body and into the world. Only the two of them existed—the crush of body cooperating outside time and space, allowing life to endure. The doctor, the nurse, and her mom were all in the room, yet they seemed somehow outside the world, another dimension.
Bearing down one final time, Katie was silent and resolute as Luna was born. For the briefest moment, the baby was simultaneously attached to Katie and in the world. The doctor cut the umbilical cord, releasing Luna from Katie’s body. It would be Katie who would have to release Luna from her life.
The nurse walked around the bed and placed a wide-eyed Luna into Katie’s arms. Katie looked down into her daughter’s face. “Oh, she’s the most perfect. Most perfect.” Luna’s hair was dark and thick, poking out in wet clumps after her journey. Her eyes were green, clear: Jack’s eyes. If grief had a sound, it was the silence of that birthing room.
Nicole walked over and took Luna from Katie’s arms, and the room filled with the deepest and most awful knowing: They would hold Luna this once and then she would be gone. Somewhere in the same hospital, a family waited to hold their new daughter.
Nicole held Luna and stroked her face, staring into her eyes. “We love you, baby Luna. We will, from this day forward, pray for you every day.” Nicole handed Luna to Katie.
Pictures were taken as if it was a normal birth—a day of celebration even—and then it was time to say good-bye.
“How do I do this?” Katie looked to her mom.
“I don’t know.”
Katie held her daughter, her heart yielded to the good-bye she hadn’t yet spoken. “I can’t go through this pain if there isn’t peace at the end. I can’t. Please promise me there is peace at the end of this.”
Nicole placed her hand on Katie’s forehead, but didn’t promise anything at all. The nurse entered the room with her own tears. The social worker stood at her side with papers and a sad smile. “Are you ready?”
Katie pulled back the blanket, memorizing every bend and curve and sinew of Luna’s body. Touching her. Kissing her.
Jack was there, at the hospital, waiting in a separate room to both meet and then say good-bye to his daughter. If a last living piece of Katie’s heart existed (which she wasn’t sure about) seeing Jack would have killed it.
“You, Luna, are beautiful and special and you are going to have a wonderful mother and dad. I want you to grow up to know your God, and be surrounded in and by love. Be a good girl. I love you with every piece of me.” Katie kissed her daughter’s forehead as a tear dropped on Luna’s wild hair.
In a motion she would have thought impossible, Katie handed her child to the social worker and then reached into her bag. “I have something I want to send with her,” Katie said in a voice suffused with sorrow. She handed the social worker a small feather.
“It will be up to the parents whether they will take this,” the social worker said softly.
“I found it the first day I thought I might be pregnant. It’s my only gift.”
Nicole laid her head on the pillow next to her daughter. “Life is your gift, Katie.”
“Kate,” Katie said to her mom. “Now, from now on, call me Kate.”
Kate handed Luna to the nurse, and something felt torn away, a hollow feeling like her insides had been scooped out. A great wind could blow through her without hitting resistance.
Kate’s words echoed across the empty hospital room. “What will fill the place where you were?”
The question was meant for her daughter, who was now someone else’s child.
Kate Vaughan is no stranger to tough choices. She’s made them before. Now it’s time to do it again.
Kate has a secret, something tucked away in her past. And she’s getting on with her life. Her business is thriving. She has a strong relationship with her family, and a devoted boyfriend whom she wants to love with all her heart. If Kate had ever made a list, Rowan would fill the imagined boxes of a perfect mate. But she wants more than the perfect on paper relationship; she wants a real and imperfect love. That’s why, when Kate discovers the small velvet box hidden in Rowan’s drawer, she panics.
It always happens this way. Just when Kate thinks she can love, just when she believes she can conquer the fear, she’s filled with dread. And she wants more than anything to make this feeling go away. But how?
When the mistakes have been made and the running is over, it’s time to face the truth. Kate knows this. She understands that a woman can never undo what can never be undone. Yet, for the first time in her life she also knows that she won’t fully love until she confronts those from her past. It’s time to act.
Can she do it? Can she travel to the place where it all began, to the one who shares her secret? Can the lost ever become found?
And Then I Found You gives new life to the phrase “inspired by a true story.” By traveling back to a painful time in her own family’s history, the author explores the limits of courage, and the price of a selfless act.
Advance praise for And Then I Found You: