Patti Lacy and I met online through Jeanette Levellie. I've read two of her books, recommended them, and look forward to her next offering.
She's done some awesome research, but I'll let her share during the interview. Let's give Patti a warm, Christian Writer/Reader welcome!
1. I loved your new book, Reclaiming Lily. How long did it take you to research and write this story?
Susan, THANK YOU! I spent around a year developing the proposal for Lily while finishing galley proofs on The Rhythm of Secrets, then capped off preparation for my China project with an international trip! For seventeen days, the sights and smells and sounds of a glorious country unfolded!
For this my fourth novel, I signed a contract in the summer of 2010, BEFORE the story was completed, and had to ramp up my scribbles on paper since Bethany House set a due date of November 15, 2010. For me, this was big-time pressure, but thank God, I did it!
2. What's your secret for writing well-defined characters? Do you use character charts?
Susan, no character charts yet, but I sure might one of these days! My secret? I pick and choose from the traits of neighbors, friends, and acquaintances, so be careful if you know me or live in or around Normal, Illinois!!!
3. Did you visit small Chinese villages like the one in Reclaiming Lily? The detail puts the reader in the setting.
China's so spectacular, she just demanded to be a character in the book! I DID visit a strand of small villages, nestled in a fertile valley. (There were seven when viewed from atop a nearby hill). One special village provided the inspiration for Kai's childhood home. God blessed me with attentive, gracious hosts who cooked over a fire stove and served steaming cups of tea in a shaded, spacious courtyard. Yes, I spent a lifetime in China - for 17 days.
4. Dr. Kai Chang's thought processes reflect the culture. Did you find it difficult developing her character? Did you have an "expert" help you?
Over 20 research books, a couple of films,and a wonderful tour guide, banker, and friend (also a Chinese citizen) opened her treasure trove of memories to help me, I hope, get it right. Of course, as I state in my author's notes, the real Dr. Kai ripped open her heart...and sorrowful past...to share what compelled her to come to America. It's such a subjective thing to dissect and probe another person's motivations and goals. I did hear that Dr. Kai bought books for all her friends! Do you think that's a good thing???
Thanks, Patti. We'll post Part 2 of the interview next Wednesday (1/25).
What's the biggest thing you've done to research your book? Patti traveled to China. Have you taken a trip for research purposes? Have you gathered information from experts? We'd love to hear about it.