Sunday, December 8, 2013

A Warm Welcome to Robin Patchen

It's so nice to welcome Robin back here today. Her novel sounds so touching and so meaningful. Read on to find out more:

Is there a story behind your book, Faith House?
At the end of October last year, like everybody else in the country, I was glued to my television, watching coverage of Hurricane Sandy as it decimated the east coast. I was shocked at the damage, the lives lost, even the beloved pets that were gone forever. I was also touched by the heroes, both the trained professionals and the everyday sort, who helped rescue victims of this terrible storm. When the damage was done and the storm had moved on, I, along with the rest of the nation, saw images of what the storm had left behind. I remember one photograph in particular where the homes looked like game pieces scattered across a Monopoly board. Only this Boardwalk would never be the same.

It struck me that each one of those homes represented a family, a story. I knew I would never know those stories, but the notion stayed with me. As October turned to November, Thanksgiving, and then Christmas, and as the rest of the country moved on, I couldn’t stop thinking about the victims of the hurricane. We were trimming our tree, and I thought of all the Christmas trees and treasured ornaments that were destroyed by floods. As I wrapped gifts for my kids, I couldn’t help but wonder about the families who were homeless and had no money to purchase gifts for their own loved ones. And as a writer, I couldn’t help but come up with multiple seeds for stories that could take place in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. Faith House is one of those stories. God-willing, I’ll write another one someday.

Even a year later, I’m still struck but all that was lost in Hurricane Sandy, so I’m donating a portion of my profits from this book to help victims of the storm.

What started you on your writing journey? 
Writing was always a secret dream of mine, but I was a very insecure child and teen, so I didn’t have the courage to truly pursue it. I majored in Journalism in college, but then went to work in marketing instead, telling myself it was because I needed the money the higher marketing salary would offer. Truth be told, I was afraid to try to get a job writing—afraid I wasn’t good enough. Since college, most of my writing has been in my personal journal.

And then my husband gave me a laptop for my fortieth birthday. I’d had this story bouncing around in my brain for years, so I decided to write it down. If nothing else, at least I’d get it out of my head. I spent the next few months writing, finally penning a 240,000 word novel in three months. It was this terrible, rambling mess, but in the process of writing that story, I rediscovered that childhood dream. If not for my faith, I still wouldn’t have had the courage to pursue publication, but I believe the Lord gave me that dream because He wanted me to pursue it, so with much prayer and trepidation, I’ve embarked on this journey, and God has blessed me all along.

What kind of books do you enjoy reading? (Book recommendations very welcome!)
I love everything by Charles Martin. His latest, Unwritten, is beautiful. My favorite is still The Mountain Between Us, perhaps because it was the first of his I read.

I’ve recently come to love Athol Dickson’s novels. I think The Cure has been my favorite so far, but they’re all great, unique stories.

Which character in your new release most interested you while you wrote? Why?
The main character, Sadie McLaughlin, is an interesting heroine. She’s absolutely determined to save her hurricane-damaged home in the face of trial after trial, because she fears if she loses her house, she’ll lose her opportunity to find her father. Writing her character was both fun and challenging, because she refused to sell when the average, normal (sane?) person would have admitted defeat much sooner. I wish I were as determined as Sadie, and at the same time, I’m glad I’m a little more teachable than she is.

If you could paint or sculpt like a famous artist who would it be and why?
My husband and I had the privilege of visiting Paris in September to celebrate our twentieth anniversary. We went to the Louvre, of course, but we both much preferred the Musee d’Orsay. I’ve always been a huge fan of Monet, but seeing the Renoirs in person really affected me. His paintings aren’t just beautiful. Each one evoked emotions in me I hadn’t expected. This one, for instance, Le Moulin de la Galette, had me sitting and studying the faces, the gestures. I could almost hear the music and the chatter, the giggles of the single women as their interested suitors looked on. If I could paint like Pierre Auguste Renoir, I’d never type another story. Better yet, what I want is to paint these kinds of pictures with words within my stories.

What is your favorite season of the year?  
I love autumn for so many reasons, not the least of which is that it signals the end of summer. Strange, I know, but I don’t like the heat. Living in Oklahoma, where we’ve had temperatures in the 110 range in recent years, I’ve learned to appreciate autumn all that much more. I also always love the start of school, football season, apple cider, and Thanksgiving. Much more than the New Year, autumn signals newness to me.

What do you like most about the area where you live and/or grew up?
I grew up in Londonderry, New Hampshire, a little town—at least it was little back then—about forty miles north of Boston. Like I said above, I love the fall, and there’s nothing quite as beautiful as New Hampshire in October. Much as we would complain about all the tourists—leaf peepers, we called them—clogging our highways every fall, I was as much a peeper as the rest of them.

Londonderry is in a perfect location, too: An hour to Boston, an hour from the seacoast, an hour and a half from the beautiful lakes region (and you haven’t seen a lake until you’ve seen Lake Winnipesaukee—crystal clear waters surrounded by the White Mountains), and two hours to great skiing. I like to joke that in Oklahoma City, I can drive an hour in any direction and be smack dab in the middle of nowhere.

I’m often homesick for New Hampshire and our family and friends back there. And then we go back and get stuck in traffic. And my husband and I will look at each other and say, “Never again.” Oklahoma is home until God tells us differently, and we love it here. But I’ll always have a special place in my heart only New Hampshire can fill.

Are there spiritual themes you like to write about?
When I first started writing, I didn’t think about themes in my writing. It was all about the story. And I suppose for me, it still is. But the themes make themselves known, don’t they? I find most of my main characters could lecture about redemption. They’ve almost all had shady pasts, times of serious sin, and so they’ve all experienced great redemption. Redemption is often an underlying theme of my stories. I also find recently that I like to write about trusting God and surrender. Faith House is about surrendering to Christ and trusting Him with the results, something my very stubborn heroine fights like an angry terrier. The themes in my books reflect the things God is teaching me in my own life. Funny how that happens.

Share a verse or Scripture passage with us that is special to you. (and why it's special)  
2 Peter 3-4. “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.”

I remember when I first studied this scripture, probably fourteen years ago now. I meditated on it for hours, trying to figure out what Peter was saying. And over the years, I’ve gone back to it many times, the most recent of which was yesterday morning in church. The idea that I already have everything I need for godliness—that seemed impossible when I first read it. Today, I think I understand better that between the scriptures and the Holy Spirit’s instruction, I can achieve that amazing divine nature. Not that I’ve arrived or will ever arrive, but I can look back on the last fourteen years since I first studied these words, and I can see the changes God has made in me. I am not who I was then—praise God!—and if I cooperate with Christ, I am not now who I will be another decade or two down the road. And that’s true not just for me, but for my loved ones, too. To me, that’s a very great and precious promise.

When is your next book due out and can you tell us about it? 
Faith House will release December 1 from White Rose Publishing, a division of Pelican Book Group. It’s just one of the stories that came to me as I watched the coverage of Hurricane Sandy last year. My heroine’s home has been hit and flooded by the hurricane, and she doesn’t have flood insurance to fix it. She feels she needs to save the house, because it is the home where her schizophrenic father grew up, and she believes, though she hasn’t seen him in 20 years, that he will come home someday. If the house is gone, will she ever see her father again?

To buy her book, go here:

About Robin:
If time and money were no object, Robin would travel constantly. Her goal is to visit every place in the entire world--twice. Because, as you know, the first time, you don't know exactly what you want to see. So you flit from one tourist attraction to another and enjoy every minute of it. But it's always on the last day that you find the best thing, and you don't have enough time to explore it properly, and you wished you'd discovered it first (but even if you had, you wouldn't know it was the best thing, because you hadn't seen everything else yet). So you have to go back a second time. It's just logical.

Alas, time is short and money is scarce, and Robin’s family doesn't really want to follow her all around the world, so she does the next best thing: she writes. In the worlds Robin creates, she can go back to the best places time and again. And when they're not perfect, that's all right—she just edits until they are.
In the real world, Robin is married to the man of her dreams, Edward, and together they have three children, Nicholas, Lexi, and Jacob. They are a close second on Robin’s list of priorities after her relationship with Jesus Christ.

So that's her life: God, husband, children, and made-up worlds where she has complete control. Who could ask for more?

Connect with Robin here:

Robin is giving away a copy of Faith House. The giveaway is only available to U.S. addresses.
To be entered in the book giveaway, leave a comment along with your email address. You may enter the book giveaway twice--once on each spotlight post. (It's not too late to go back and leave a comment on yesterday's post)

Happy Reading!
Caroline Brown


karenk said...

thanks for the chance to read this novel :)

kmkuka at yahoo dot com

Deb R. said...

I really enjoyed this author interview, although I must say that I don't get excited about Autumn, even though I live in a beautiful forested area on a mountain. Please enter my name to win a copy of her book. djragno [at] hotmail [dot] com

Jackie McNutt said...

I have to tell you that it is heart warming that you continue to think of the enormous losses due to Hurricane Sandy and how people are still suffering today.
Thank you for what you are doing for them.
really it has been a pleasure to learn about you and your books. Best wishes on it's release.

sm said...

Interesting to read novels now about Katrina. This looks like a good read. Hope to win it! sharon, CA wileygreen1(at)yahoo(dot)com

Patricia Bradley said...

Loved getting to know Robin better and would love to win the book. I particularly liked what she said about creating a Renoir with words. And I love autumn too.

Anonymous said...

Hello Robin. I really found this interview interesting and the book too. I'm glad you visit the BDBL ladies.
Please put my name in the drawing. Thanks!
Maxie mac262(at)me(dot)com

HomePlace Gatherings said...

It will be interesting to read it through the survivors eyes. Hoping to win!

priviesandprims@yahoo dot com

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