I am delighted that author Patti Shene has agreed to do an interview here at Arizona Inspiration. I met Patti through ACFW (American Christian Fiction Writers) which is the premier writers organization for Christian fiction writers. I have been a member for almost a year and a half and it’s the best money I ever spent. Not only for mentoring, learning and sharing the joys and frustrations of the writing life, but in meeting fellow authors like Patti.
If you’d like to learn more about ACFW, visit them at their website:
A brief bio on Patti:
Patti is married with two adult children and one granddaughter. She is retired from the VA system and currently working part-time as an RN. Patti has had a desire to write since childhood. She resides in Southeastern Colorado.
Now on to the interview!
Pat, welcome to Arizona Inspiration!
Thank you, Brenda. It is a pleasure to be here.
Between us, we share two of the Four Corners area. 8-) I know you love Colorado as much as I love Arizona. How long have you lived in Colorado? What it is about Colorado that captures your heart?
I moved to Colorado from New York in 1973 when I transferred through the Veterans Administration. That makes it 35 years this coming August.
I love the mountains. They possess a majesty that defies description. However, I happen to live on the prairie, which has its own hidden beauty. Granted, hot, dry summers result in dull, brown gramma grasses that do not exactly make your eyes ache for intensity of color. However, when spring arrives, there are fields upon fields of various colors of green and the smell of hay is sweet and fresh. They say the prairie is "flat", but not necessarily so. Between here and the next town, there are several rolling hills and mesas. Along the Arkansas and Purgatorie (also referred to as the Picketwire) Rivers, groves of cottonwoods can be found, and if you are there at just the right time at dawn or dusk, you may even spy a deer or two.
When there are clouds in the sky - those fluffy white kind that you used to play games with as a kid, trying to guess what they look like - they form shadows on the ground that lighten and darken the terrain in ways that any self-respecting artist would love to reproduce. Sunrises and sunsets produce colors from deep reds to indigo to yellows and purples.
There is a reason our state is called "Colorful Colorado". From the mountains with their earth tones of grays and browns, to the plains with their various shades of green, to the spectacular colors in our sunrises and sunsets, our state is never boring!
What types of books do you like to read?
My reading patterns have become rather eclectic. I read John Grisham, James Patterson, Nicholas Sparks in the secular market. I am also interested in end times books, such as The Left Behind Series and the works of Frank Peretti and his spiritual warfare books. I read CBA based on the authors I have come to know personally through ACFW conferences and email group contacts. My favorite Christian non-fiction author is Max Lucado. All that said, however, I still can't go very long without picking up a Zane Grey or a Louis L'Amour western.
We both love westerns. Over the last 20 years the talk of how “the western is dead” has waxed and waned. Both in film and in print, the popularity of westerns seems to come and go. Why do you think the western is less popular now?
Perhaps the western has lost its popularity because we no longer face the challenges that our pioneer ancestors encountered. Travel, communications, labor, food acquisition and preparation, all of the aspects of daily survival are so simply obtained in today’s modern world. Technology has greatly reduced the physical and intellectual requirements to exist on a day to day basis. Back in the days of the old west, people had to struggle for every aspect of success. Today, we are accustomed to a lifestyle that gives us what we want the moment we want it.
Theoretically, we no longer have rugged, untamed lands to conquer. The breed of men and women it took to settle those uncharted territories is inconsequential to the modern world. The demand now clamors for further technological challenges, ways to make life easier, do things faster.
Westerns also speak to a type of moral code that, unfortunately, today's society finds too strict. People don’t want to live by the rules anymore. They want to make their own in the name of “freedom”.
What will it take to put westerns back on the map?
I’m not so sure they ever left the map. I think they are still there, although maybe somewhat obscured by other genres. I can’t walk into my local Wal-mart without seeing a new western on display. I purchased a book recently that was three novels in one. Zane Grey and Louis L’Amour wrote two of those stories. Surely they would not be on the shelf if someone wasn’t making a profit from them.
I am just discovering some of the newer western authors. Some write with a Christian worldview, some don’t, but the fact that they are being published tells me there has to be a market out there or the books would not be contracted.
In talking with several different western writers, it is interesting (and confusing) to hear their many different definitions of what a western novel is. In your mind, what are the crucial elements of a western novel?
In my opinion, the genre represents a way of life. I enjoy westerns set in modern day almost as much as those set in the 19th century. True western characters abide by a certain code of ethics that remains as strong today as it did a century ago. The hero and heroine characters possess a stamina and a moral fiber that sets them a cut above the average. The heroes and heroines in westerns demonstrate a fierce loyalty to family, community, country, and God. They battle against all odds to stand for what’s right, despite great personal sacrifice.
Writers are always asked this question, and it is always popular. Tell us a little about your writing process. Do you write every day? A certain number of words per sitting, or a time limit per sitting? Do you have a writing routine?
My life is crazy right now! I work 11 PM to 7 AM two nights a week, so my sleep schedule is very erratic. That makes it difficult for me to establish much of a routine. Therefore, I write when I can. Sometimes, I may have an hour or two free, at which time I get quite a bit accomplished. Other days, I don’t even get to the computer. I try to write at least a few lines every day, but sometimes it just doesn’t happen.
Plotter or Pantser?
What is your favorite part of being a writer?
I fall in love with my characters. My male characters emulate the type of man I admire, and my female characters are my fantasy of the person I would like to be.
What’s the most rewarding moment of your writing life thus far?
I wrote an article for a local magazine, published by the historical society in my county. I enjoyed the interviews I conducted, but the reward came when I was able to pull all the information together and tell a story that became worthy of publication.
What is the most valuable insight you’ve gained since you’ve been writing?
Never give up. If the Lord has laid it upon your heart to put your thoughts into words, He has a divine purpose in that.
If you could share one piece of advice with beginning writers, what would it be?
Read writing craft books and magazines. Attend writer’s conferences. Join local writing groups. Listen to those who are more experienced than you. Always, always, look to the Lord for guidance on your writing journey.
Thanks for sharing your author insights with us. Looking forward to seeing more of your WIP.
Thank you, Brenda. Your questions were thought provoking. They helped me take a deeper look at my writing goals. I look forward to seeing more of your story as well.